We perch atop a skyscraper surveying the city. My friend's name to the world is Cruel Fate. They know me as Dread Naught, which means 'fear nothing'. We are superheroes, like half the population of the city. I ask my friend "Where do you think people go when they log out?"
CF snorts derisively. "You think too much, Dread. They don't 'go' anywhere. Nothing happens between logins."
"How do you know?"
He rolls his eyes the way he does when he thinks I'm being dense. "Because I've logged out hundreds of times and nothing has happened to me. So have you. It's like going to sleep."
"You don't dream?"
"Of course not." He is still scanning the streets below, looking for roving gangs. Then he thinks enough to ask: "Do you dream?"
"I think so, sometimes. It's like I'm a big green orc in another world, only it's not quite me, you know? It's a bit like here, but different."
He scrunches his forehead, thinking hard. "No, sorry, Dread. I don't know what you mean."
"I think there are other worlds out there, but they're not really ... connected to ours. It's like we're all different parts of someone else's dream."
"You mean, like, we're not even real?"
"Like that, yeah. We're all kind of playthings. A game played by God, or something."
Fate gets a deep, distant look as he considers this. Then he spots a mob on the street, points with a gleeful "Ha!" and drops like a stone over the edge of the building. I follow quickly, not to miss out on the action, and the wind whips our capes like flags as we plummet thirty stories to street level. He's probably right. How could this not be real?
Mokalus of Borg
PS - I just wondered one day what it would look like to MMORPG characters when other characters logged out.
PPS - And how it would feel for them.