Derek Malone was a fairly normal American guy. Well, that's not exactly true. He was normal in the sense that he'd never caused any trouble to American society as a whole. Never been in any serious trouble with the law other than that one parking ticket he'd paid promptly, never shoplifted, been drunk and/or disorderly, and he'd never been the slightest bit of trouble really to any of the teachers he'd had when he had been in school. In fact, if his teachers had been asked, they would have universally remembered him as, "That quiet boy who always sat in the corner, never made any trouble, who never volunteered the answer to any of the questions, but always knew the answer when asked."
School was far behind him, however. He'd slid through high school as smoothly as possible - leaving almost no trace of his presence except for the almost non-impression he'd left in his teachers' memories. He'd had no friends in high school, nor any desire to make them. He preferred to be alone. He didn't even really like people all that much, and he would have told everyone that if anyone had ever cared enough to ask. His parents had died two months before he graduated high school in a tragic car accident, leaving him their sole beneficiary. He had no other living relatives and he had been an only child. He'd been eighteen when they died, his birthday was in late February. So he'd finished high school before leaving that world forever behind. After graduation, he'd continued to live in the house his parents' death had paid for. After everything was settled, the house mortgage was taken care of and the bills were all paid, there was enough money for Derek to live some years in comfort, if he was very frugal.
Derek, in addition to being somewhat of a misanthrope, was also agoraphobic. His fear wasn't so extreme that he couldn't even bear the thought of going outside, but it was strong enough that he avoided going outside as much as he could. He had a car, but he didn't drive it very often. Between the agoraphobia and the accident that had killed his parents, he had little desire to get into a car and go someplace. He only used his car once a month when he went to the grocery store to buy food for the next 30 days. He always went to the 24-hour grocery store that was closest to his house, and always precisely at 3:45 a.m. That wee hour of the morning was the perfect time for him to go grocery shopping because there was rarely more than the cashier and one or two people shelving stock in the entire store. The time was perfect because it was too late for anyone who got the munchies after going out and too early for people to be stopping in for pastries before work; so there were very few, if any, other customers for Derek to deal with.
The girl who was invariably the lone cashier on the night shift when Derek was shopping, got used to him after awhile. Its easy to remember people who have orders that large - especially when they always did their shopping at such a dead hour. He was a good distraction from the tedium once a month. Doreen Wilcox, the cashier, always thought he was kind of weird though. He looked like he might be tall, but he was always slightly hunched over, so it was hard to tell for certain. If she had to guess, she'd say he was in his mid-20s somewhere. He had wire-rimmed glasses covering eyes that were a gray so light that she almost thought he didn't have irises at all. His hair was so dark of a brown that it might as well be black, but it was his skin that made Doreen stare. It was so pale that it was nearly translucent. Doreen was more than half convinced that he was some weird freak who thought he was a vampire and went around avoiding sunlight because he thought he'd die if he saw it. Still, he was sort of cute... she'd like him better if he didn't ignore her every time she tried to start up a conversation though.
So Derek lived, worked, and played at home. Almost the only person who ever even saw him was Doreen the grocery store cashier. He was so far under society's radar that he wasn't a blip... not even a tiny smudge. A pinprick, maybe... if that. Both Derek and society were content to have it that way. Derek wasn't afraid of sunlight, but sunlight was outside, and that was somewhere he was firmly against being.
Even at home, Derek wasn't all that interesting. He did mailings from home to supplement the meager savings he possessed seven years after his parents' deaths. He was endeavoring to stretch his income out enough so that he never had to work in an environment other than his own home and so that he dealt with people as little as possible. So far he had done fairly well. He didn't buy anything excessively expensive such as a new car or even expensive food. He didn't drink, he didn't smoke, he didn't do drugs, he didn't date or visit prostitutes, and he never visited doctors, dentists, or other members of the medical profession so he had no outrageous bills for health care.
Derek was a man without vice. Well... almost. Derek's one vice was the Internet. He allowed himself the luxury of internet access because he couldn't live without it. It gave him the ability to be whoever he wanted to be. He could be thin, fat, gay, straight, male, female... anything at all, and no one would be able to say otherwise. He could create whole new identities for himself and no one would be the wiser. No one would really know that he was just plain Derek Malone: loner, agoraphobe, and virgin.
Still, even in this one vice, Derek remained a frugal soul. He bought the cheapest kind of Internet access he could find - dial-up. If he could have found anything at all cheaper that let him stay on the Internet nearly 24/7, he would have used that instead. His Internet connection was barely a step up from free. If he could have found a free service without monthly time limits, then he would have used that. As it was, the cheapest thing he could find that was reliable and banner ad free (he loathed banner ads because he felt that they impinged upon the personal space that was his computer) was the service provided by his local telephone company. The phone service was a remnant from the time when his parents were alive. If it hadn't been for the combination phone/Internet service package the company provided its customers, Derek would have cancelled the phone altogether. Derek didn't really need a phone after all... there was no one he would ever want to call and no one who'd ever call him save telemarketers. But he did need Internet access. So the phone stayed.
He had only the single phone line and left his computer connected to the Internet at all times to save himself from having to take the time to connect and to make sure that if a telemarketer ever called that they couldn't get through. The service was pretty decent as dial-up connections go. It wasn't terribly fast (because dial-up modems never are), but it was remarkably steady. Derek even had his connection set up to automatically reconnect on the off chance that it ever disconnected, and he also automatically connected to the Internet when his computer started up. Derek was a certified Internet junkie. He knew it, he even admitted it to himself, but he didn't care. It made him happy and kept his life from being a completely humdrum existence. Also, it gave him that vital means of connection and communication with other human beings that all people need, whether they admit it or not.
His only other connection with the outside world came, rather unexpectedly, from his next-door neighbor, Monica Delamater. Derek had always made it perfectly clear to his neighbors that he wasn't interested in being their friend or in having them visit him. Monica, however, had paid no attention whatsoever to his protests and declarations. Instead, she'd steamrolled right over them, barging into his life until he simply didn't know how to get her to go away.
Oh, he'd tried to get her to leave him in peace. But it just didn't work somehow. He didn't really understand it. She'd defeated him with her incredible charisma and the stubborn way she only heard what she wanted to hear. He'd tried to get her to go away... then he'd tried some more... and some more... and again. But after awhile he got tired of trying to get her to leave when she never even paid attention to what he had to say. After she broke through his natural reluctance to be around any human being on a regular basis, he became accustomed to her presence. She was even a friend of sorts.
If he was honest then he'd admit that the real reason why he hadn't tried very hard to get rid of her after awhile was because she was a beautiful woman and after twenty-five years he was getting rather curious about what it would be like to have sex with an actual woman. No woman had ever bothered to try to scale the veritable Wall of China he'd placed between himself and the outside world. But Monica was different. She hadn't even bothered to try to climb over his defenses. Instead, she'd simply blown her way through them and left a Monica-shaped hole behind. She'd probably had an easier time of it than most because she was absolutely gorgeous. No, she was better than gorgeous - she was a full-fledged siren. A raven-haired seductress, Monica could have easily made a living as a model, if models came in a variety other than stick thin that is. She was tall, perfectly proportioned, and had a face that could have made Da Vinci weep. Her long black tresses, full red mouth, and striking amethyst eyes combined to give her a sinful, wicked look. Half the time Derek wondered if she was an angel in disguise, the other half of the time he wondered if she was a succubus come to drive him mad, and all of the time he fantasized about what it would be like to be with her for just one night.
.... There is more of this story ...