When the negotiations were over for the day, Vystar and his team spread their wings and spiraled down out of the tree, landing on the enormous lily pad at the base as protocol demanded. With nods and whispers to each other, they each blinked out to their separate evenings. Vystar went a few thousand meters up and several regions west, floating in an undulating purple mist as he changed from avian form to something more relaxed, a curvy young woman with feathers for hair and long purple fingernails, dressed in cotton lounging pajamas.
She whispered to Patrice and Gentle Logan, to AnyFred and WhaTilde, and eventually was summoned to the latest version of the Sound Crystal Amphitheatre, suspended above an orange desert, where five or ten of her friends sat or sprawled on cushions in the crowd listening to a young dragon playing a citern and singing imaginary folk songs. Patrice had a new collection of semi-autonomous follower objects swarming around her head, and Vystar amused herself sending them little rushes of force and meaningless commands, just to see what they would do. Patrice stuck out her tongue, but was too absorbed in the music and some quasi-sexual exchange with a winged warrior to do anything about it.
The dragon finished his set to general applause and the launching of numerous color-rockets, Vystar fended off a pair of whispers from annoyingly persistent ex-lovers, and people had just begun discussing where to go next when she frowned and lay back in her ornate golden seat.
“Excuse me a moment, folks. Something happening Outside.”
Patrice crinkled her face at her, and Gentle Logan said, “Be careful”; Vystar’s eyes glazed over and her body relaxed.
He put down the controller and stood up from his lounge, blinking as he pulled his gaze away from the screen that covered half the wall. He flexed his arms and shoulders, opened and closed his hands, out of the healthy habit that everyone tried to cultivate when going Outside. The noise that had disturbed him continued, and he crossed the room to the window, a slightly pudgy pale man in undyed cotton pants and a thin shirt.
The room was small and spare, clean, subtly lit by indirect lighting. It contained only the lounge, the screen, the terahertz box, a selection of controllers and goggles, a small refrigerator in one corner, a door leading to the shared bathroom in the other. Vystar stepped to the single window, and looked down.
Down below, the usually empty street was half filled by a mongrel band of ordinary Outside humans, who walked or slowly drove battered-looking autos between the plain faces of the apartment blocks on each side, blowing the horns and whistles that had disturbed him, and waving signs.
“Come out and play!”, the signs said, “The Real World Needs You!”, and “Remember What Matters”. One of the leaders of the ragged march was a tall unnaturally fit-looking man that Vystar remembered vaguely having seen on an Outside feature on some news program; the former owner of a defunct automobile company, or newspaper, or something.
Slow and noisy as it was, the disturbance moved out of sound and sight soon enough, into what looked like an Outside evening. Vystar shook his head and went back to the lounge, rejoining the world to find that most of his friends were still there in the Amphitheatre, looking at the night’s list of public performances, debating the merits of the artists, remembering old adventures, making ridiculous hats.
“Back,” she said, stretching her legs and putting on a tall conical headpiece with a slowly-turning propeller.
“What was it?” Patrice asked, from under what appeared to be a squid.
“Bunch of noisy Meaties out in the Outside street. Having a protest or something.”
This was met with much laughter and rude noises.
“Walking right down the street?” asked Scarflame, a friend or associate or alt or something of Patrice’s.
“Walking, and even driving. Old automobiles! Can you imagine the carbon footprint?”
More rude noises.
“Meaties,” said Gentle Logan, the swirls around his horns expressing exasperation.
“Yeah,” said Vystar, shrugging her shoulders, “what can you do?”
Thanks to someone, maybe Ahuva, for pointing me at an article that I can’t find right now that suggested that, far short of brain-uploading, people might simply start leading sparse and spartan RL lives, because their virtual lives would be so much more interesting and rich. So here we are. This story is not intended to express any particular opinion, positive or negative, of the possibility…
Filed under: Fiction | Tagged: Fiction, virtual worlds | 22 Comments »