Opening up a new search page, he typed in “online dating”… again. He had signed up for every site on there at one time or another. He was about ready to give up, though. He had met quite a few girls off of each of them, but none of them even began to come close to what he was looking for in a partner. What was it about girls his age that made them want to hang out with “bad boys”, wild and out of control guys that always seemed to want to abuse them instead of treating them like another human being. Marty talked to these girls online in the chat rooms all the time, listening to them moan and groan about how badly they were treated, but when he told them that they deserved better and to walk away, he always got the same response… that the girls loved the guys… and things would work out.

    Well, maybe what he was looking for was just…impossible, he thought. “All I want is a girl who has SOME semblance of intelligence and can think for herself… one that can see what needs to be done and just DOES it… one that can be soft and cuddly, or hard as a rock, whatever needs to be at the moment.”

    “Yeah, right!” he muttered as he went down through the listings that were displayed on the screen. He signed into them one after another and checked his messages in there, deleting all the ones who were emailing him looking for “a good time”, then the ones looking for a “discreet encounter”, then the ones who were “separated” or “undisclosed”… finding that he had already dated all of the ones who were still left.

     He was about to turn off the computer and go to bed when he noticed that now the little blue box in the corner of the screen was blinking… faster and faster…

     “Well, Stanley said it wouldn’t hurt to use it…” he moved the cursor up over the box and clicked on “open”…

    The window opened up. “Man, its just another dating service.” Marty looked up at the address bar, which was blank! “Ok, now this is just plain messed up.” he said as started looking through the site. “Perfect match every time, guaranteed,” he read aloud. “Yeah, right, that would be a miracle if it happened only once.”

    He scrolled on down to the membership costs. “Free… sure… maybe to start, then you have to pay to read your email, or send it, or for them to actually post your profile!” But as he read farther, he couldn’t find anywhere where it said that there were any costs. “Well, can’t beat that.” he said as he started filling out the information… first name… “Marty”… last name… “Prince”… age… “21”… number of dragons killed… “Huh?”

    He looked at the last blank and then laughed. “Must be one of the role-playing sites then.” He grinned and then typed in “5”… “Not too many, not too few!”

     He finished his profile, and then uploaded a picture of himself to put on it. “Done!” He went to the “search” tab, and checked off all the boxes that pertained to what he was looking for in a partner. “On the outside, anyways.” he sighed. It wasn’t really what a gal looked like that he was interested in, for the most part. Oh, for sure, he wanted a gal who was at least a bit attractive on the exterior, but he knew that if he couldn’t talk to her at the same level, that all the beauty in the world wouldn’t make a bit of difference.

     “Wow… only three matches?” They must not have much of a database then, he thought. Usually a dating site came back with hundreds, at least. “Let’s see what we have here then.” He clicked on the first one that came up.

    “Maiden needs rescuing from evil stepmother. Yeah, that headline is sure gonna get the guys chasing over there!” He went on to the next. “Are you my Prince?” He laughed at that one. “Well, my last name is Prince, so technically…” He opened up the profile and saw the most strikingly beautiful girl that he had ever laid eyes on… there wasn’t a supermodel alive or dead who had ever had the sort of beauty that this girl did. He glanced down over the profile information. 18 years old… a little young, but not too much. Wanted to have children… “We can talk about that one!” Still lives with parents… probably hadn’t started college yet. Doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink… “Give her points there!”  Likes horseback riding, needlepoint, walks in the forest, sunsets… and watching the tournaments. “She must like basketball or something.” he thought, wondering what tournaments she was talking about.

    He had read enough and didn’t even bother going on to the other sections. He clicked on the “express interest” button and entered the special code that proved to the system that he wasn’t just a program but a real live human being. “And they call this progress!”  he shook his head. He just felt that every year people became more distanced from each other, what with the cell phones and computers and email and voice mail… what sort of interaction was that? You could deal with people for years and never know anything about them, not like years ago when business was done on a handshake and a mans word was his bond… nowadays you couldn’t believe anyone and had to have two forms of identification instead of just being “Dan Prince’s boy”… it really didn’t seem to be progress at all to him, anyway.

     He shut the computer down and glanced over at the clock. “Oh man, it’s late!”  He had to get to bed so that he would be up in time for Stanley to get the computer. He didn’t stop to think about the fact that what he was going to have Stanley get rid of was the window to the new dating site that he had found… and hadn’t been able to save a link to!


     Early the next morning, Stanley arrived to haul off the CPU of Marty’s computer. “We’ll change out the hard drive and reload your operating system and junk for you, and throw in a few programs that might keep this from happening again.” Stanley assured him.

     “Whatever…” Marty yawned, anxious to shut the door and head back to his bed for a few hours more sleep. “Thanks.” He shut the door and staggered in to plop onto his bed and back to sleep…


     He woke up a few hours later to his cell phone ringing. Fumbling it open, he managed to answer it just as whoever it was hung up. “Sheesh… they couldn’t even leave a message!” He yawned and ran his fingers through his hair, untangling it a bit as he looked to see who it was that had called. “Stanley… oh man… I forgot to save that address!”

     He hurried and called Stanley back, and when he answered, quickly asked him if he had changed anything on the computer yet.

    “Yeah, it is all done.” Stanley assured him. “It was a slow day, so we did that right off first thing.”

     “Damnit!” Marty exclaimed.

     “What? I just did what we talked about last night, Jeez…” Stanley defended himself. “If you changed your mind, then why did give me the computer this morning?”

     “No, it’s not that, Stanley… sorry… but I went to a site last night and forgot to save the address to it, is all.” Marty thought for a second. “But can’t you still get it off the old hard drive?” He was pretty sure that all they had to do was put it into another computer and all the old information would still be there, and the browsing history would show where he had been.

     “Well… usually you can.” Stanley kind of hemmed and hawed for a second. “But I kinda reformatted the old one, then ran a file shredder program on it to make sure that bug was gone.”

     “You what!” Marty yelled into the phone. “Oh man, you just killed me!”

     “I’m sure its not all that bad, Marty.” Stanley reassured him. “Just do whatever it was that you did to find it the last time.”

     “That’s how I came up with that bug that you just killed, moron!” Marty’s phone clicked as Stanley hung up on him.


    An hour later, Marty opened the door to see Jessica there with his computer. “Where’s Stanley?” he asked.

     “Probably out being a moron somewhere, I suppose.” Jessica said in her most sarcastic voice, which was considerable. She scooted the CPU in through the door. “He said to tell you that if you were that pissed over not saving a dating site, then you really need to get a hobby… or laid… he wasn’t sure which.”

    “Yeah… something.” Marty wasn’t comfortable at all around Jessica, and Stanley knew it, which was probably why she was the one to return his computer. She was a bit too intense for Marty, who always felt like she was looking at him trying to decide which limb she was going to rip off first before she beat him with it. “Thanks.”

     He decided to let her walk out by herself, sure that if she was accosted by any of the street punks below, they would certainly deserve whatever she gave them.


     Hooking the computer up, he watched as it tested the memory… checked for hardware… then booted up the operating system. He clicked on the icon to connect to the Internet, and waited till his browser opened up… no little blue box anywhere to be seen. “Damnit…”


    He ran the same search that he had the night before, but with no such luck. All that he found were the usual dating sites that he had been to a million and one times before with no luck at all. He tried typing in all the variations of the name that he could remember, but all of them came back with sites other than the one that he was desperately looking for.  He clicked on the “history” button, knowing that it would be blank other then the places he had gone this morning, but still…

    There was only one entry there, where there should have been many, many more…


     The page opened there before him, just like it did the last time, except that it had automatically signed him in, which should have been impossible since this was the first time that he had used the computer since Stanley had worked on it. But there it was… and it had a little box flashing in the corner… “New Message”… he opened it and began to read.

     “Martin,… Martin?” he had hated that name as a kid, and when he had turned eight years old, had insisted that everyone call him Marty from then on, refusing to acknowledge anyone who still called him anything else. He read on…

     “I was pleased to receive your message, and await anxiously to hear from you again. I have been waiting for so long for someone worthy of my attentions, and am hopeful that you might be the one whom I have been searching for. There are so many questions that I am sure remain unanswered for the both of us, and I cannot wait until such time as we might meet so that all things might be addressed. With all regards, Lady Tara.”

     “Lady Tara?” he had to shake his head in dismay. “You sure are pretty, Tara, too bad that you’re a nutcase!” He opened her profile, figuring that he had better read it a bit more thoroughly than he had before.

     “Oh man…” he sighed as he read farther. “She’s a princess? And her dad is a King? Man, she had gotta have a few screws loose, and that is just my luck… gorgeous but a total airhead!”

    He went back to his first search, intending to look at the other three matches that he had come up with. Reading the profile of the first girl, he had to stop and reread it just to make sure that he had seen what he thought he had. “She’s a princess too…”

    He clicked on the other profiles, one after the other, to find that all of them had one thing in common… all of them were supposedly Princesses… and all of them seemed to need some sort of help! “Why do these insane things always seem to happen to me?” Marty leaned back in his chair and looked at Tara’s profile again. “Well, if nothing else, it will keep me from getting bored to death.” He sighed and opened a new message… then another and another until he had sent one to each of the three girls. Shutting off the computer, he glanced over at the clock. “Five AM? Crap!” He scurried about getting ready for work, already late as it was. They were in the middle of this immense project, and his boss had put him in charge of the waterfall portion of it, and he just couldn’t seem to get it the way that he wanted… and he had to finish his part of it before any of the rest could go forward, so being late was very, very bad…

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