Virtual Reality Traveller
By David K Scholes
"It doesn’t actually take you to other worlds, dimensions, or realities,” he warned us. “It just provides a virtual trip to places of your choosing. Unless of course you press this big yellow button here. Then you actually get transported to the place you are only visiting virtually.”
With that the salesman pointed to a bright yellow old fashioned style button. It looked out of place among the otherwise sophisticated instrumentation. It was well contained inside a formidable looking metal grid. Also there was a “press only in an emergency” sign near it.
“If you press the yellow button then the company disclaims any and all liability for the consequences,” said the salesman.
“Why do you even have the button there then,” inquired Joy.
“If something should go wrong in the virtual reality travel and you should inadvertently end up on another world it might get you back here. You get Earth back on a virtual reality visit then pressing the yellow button should get you back here. No guarantees of course,” he smiled.
I wondered if they were actually daring us to press the yellow button. If we virtually experienced a world we really liked and might be tempted to actually go there. Even stay there.
Joy and I took a step or two backwards and took in the whole virtual reality traveller.
It was big compared to most virtual reality machines. A metalloid matrix inside a scarcely visible sheath of energy. A large robotic shape overall. Inside the metalloid matrix there was a comfortable amount of room and provisions for two people for a while.
“It looks more like a late model battle droid. Such as the type used in the Dleene wars,” observed Joy. I nodded realising I knew there was something familiar about the thing.
“Well, if we accidentally end up in some god forsaken place and the yellow button doesn’t work I guess we could do worse than be piloting a Dleene war battle droid,” I laughed though not very convincingly.
“Of course you can go anywhere in this, virtually,” the salesman said. “To any of the worlds, dimensions, or realities charted by Earth or its allies.”
“Which allies?” asked Joy.
“All of them,” responded the salesman “including the Dleene,” he turned somewhat furtively to see Joy’s reaction.
“Ooohh!” was all she could say. We both knew the Dleene would have charted many more worlds than Earth ever had. It was beginning to look like we could go almost anywhere.
“I think we’d like to have a trial run,” I replied. “Virtually speaking,” I added. My attempt at humour falling flat on the salesman.
* * *
Joy and I had ourselves a wild ride. Without even leaving Earth. All were virtual reality visits and yet it all seemed so real. As if we were actually there. We lost all sense of time, as we moved from world to world, and could have been at it for hours or even days.
Finally though we ended up, virtually, in a world deep in the Dleene Empire which proved to be not quite as inviting as we had expected. In fact the place was downright grim. Like something right out of the Dleene wars. .
“This is as good a time as any to end the virtual reality travel,” I said to Joy, shuddering a little. We went to step outside only to realise that we still seemed to be stuck on the Dleene world. “Time to find out if the yellow button works,” I said. “This is an emergency.”
I pressed the yellow button and absolutely nothing happened. I pressed it again then really hit the thing with the same result. “I knew the damned thing would never work,” I yelled “it’s probably just a dummy switch or something. Well let’s hope this virtual reality traveller really does also double as a battle droid because from the look of what’s up ahead I think we are going to need it!”
“I thought the damn war was over,” replied Joy, starting to tremble.
* * *
“That couple’s virtual reality traveller disappeared,” said the sales assistant “I guess something took their curiosity and they couldn’t resist hitting the yellow button then?”
“No, I don’t believe so,” replied the salesman. “I think there was one of those occasional accidents. The computer shows it was a Dleene world they were visiting virtually when the accident happened.”
* * *
One month later the virtual reality traveller that looked a lot like a late model battle droid was back parked in the lot. More than a little the worse for wear and with no human occupants. The fail safe mechanism (if the yellow button didn’t work) that always eventually returned them to Earth had finally cut in.
“You, uhh, you did tell them about the fail safe? Didn’t you?” enquired the sales assistant.
“I forgot,” replied the salesman apologetically “and I never thought they’d need to know.”
“We could contact the Dleene,” offered the assistant ‘just to let them know what happened.”
“Over just two of us Earthers? Not likely,” replied the salesman.
- - -
The author has written over 140 speculative fiction short stories, many of which appear in his six published collections of speculative fiction short stories. He has also published two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and Beam Me Up Pod Cast sci-fi sites and more recently Farther Stars Than These. He has also been published on 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is about to publish his latest book: “Human Hunter and Other Science Fiction Stories.”
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Virtual Reality Traveller
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