A Story by Paul Hunter

It's the world around you that defines who you are.



Lexi Allen strode onto the stage and looked around at the audience. For a moment her eyes met John's. He watched as a massive white projector screen was lowered down the wall behind her.

"None of you are really here. You're sitting in a coffee shop or your living room watching this with virtual goggles. We all know that." Everyone nodded their avatar's heads. "It doesn't even really feel like you're here. You can't touch the arm of your chair or smell the air around you. You can just see those things. You can't feel them."

"So it's pretty obvious what it is we need to do to enhance virtual reality. We need to move beyond the visual and integrate the other five senses in a way that allows us to have a realistic experience." She looked around the room to allow the effect of her words to sink in. "In order to do that, we're going to have to throw the headsets away and build a completely new device--one that our bodies and minds can interface with. With that principle in mind, we've developed the Cannula by Virtual Systems."

Lexi motioned to the screen behind her where an image of what looked like a long needle with a mechanical base appeared.

"What this device does is it allows us to directly access the brain and feed it information directly to provide you with a seamless, real life experience." John watched as a young man walked in from behind stage with two technicians in blue scrubs wheeling in a hospital gurney behind him. It was strange to see that kind of equipment at a technology seminar.

"Now you won't just see your fantasies. You'll live them, and here's how we're going to make that happen." She motioned for the man who was standing beside her to turn around. The crowd gasped. Some cursed and were immediately blocked. Others just sat frozen to their seats, too shocked to even move. A metallic implant had been drilled into the back of his skull.

"Now, I know how it looks." The woman looked out at the crowd with a somber expression. "But implants have already been used extensively in every walk of life, from business to recreation. How many of you are listening to me with auditory implants?"

Several people in the crowd rose their hands. Some shrank back in shame.

"What about visual implants?"

Less than a handful admitted to using them, though John knew several people that had already had the surgery done.

"What's the difference? The brain is a part of your body. It's an organ just like your eyes and ears. What about the things we could do if we begin enhancing our minds? Have any of you ever sat down and thought of that? It would be the next step in human evolution. We just don't want to admit it. It scares us, because it's too close to home. Our mind represents who we are as a person. It's that ever present voice that runs through our heads even when we're sleeping. You don't want to compromise that. You certainly don't want to open it up to foreign influence, and we don't want you to do that either. This device is carefully constructed to do nothing but access the senses without influencing your thoughts or changing your natural body chemistry." She paused a moment to let her point sink in.

"See, this is what we humans do with new technology. We judge it before we know what it's capable of. It's a tale as old as science dating back to the first telescope. the people back then were so close-minded they thought there were little people trapped inside of it. I want you to open your minds, figuratively speaking so you can see what the Cannula can do before you write it off."

John watched as avatars started disappearing left and right. He didn't want to see what was about to happen, but he couldn't close his eyes for fear he might miss something. With the help of the technicians, the man laid down on the gurney with his shaved head raised on a head rest so that the port was exposed and facing the floor. Then the technician took out a long needle, more than 4 inches in length and held it up for the audience to see. Then, when they slid it into the back of his head, John could hear the sound of metal grinding against metal.

The boy seized up suddenly, a
s if a millions of volts of electricity was shooting through his veins. Then his body jumped what must've been at least three inches off the table. They had to tie leather straps around him to keep him in place, and place a piece of plastic in his mouth to keep him from biting off his tongue.

"That's disgusting," one man screamed as his avatar started to fade away.

"Arrest her!" A red faced woman shot up out of her seat and quickly faded.

"Listen," Lexi Allen's voice was magnified across the auditorium. "We know how this looks, but this man begged for the chance to do this demonstration, and you would too if you knew what he is about to experience. If you don't want to see this, or you can't stay quiet, you're welcome to leave." She cast an accusatory glare around the auditorium. John stayed still. He couldn't leave. He knew that he was seeing something miraculous, something that would change the world.

Implants were about to take over. People loved them. There was no doubt in his mind that this device would be readily accepted in mainstream society. No matter how grotesque it was, the world would become dependent upon it in the same way they were dependent on VR.

"Now let's stop for a moment and try to grasp the magnitude of what you're about to see. This isn't a magic show, it's a man living the virtual experience, not with his eyes, but with his mind." She went quiet, and took a look at everyone watching, just to really let it sink in. Then she turned around and took the man's hand. Wisps of energy began rising out of his body, taking corporeal form. It was as if he had died and his spirit was rising out of him, then it moved down towards the floor so that the translucent image was standing and staring out at them.

The form jumped in the air with excitement and looked around like a newborn child discovering the world for the first time. "It's everything you said it would be. It's real, everything, the floor, the air." He ducked down to sniff her. "Are you wearing perfume?"

"Just a little something for the demonstration," she blushed.

"It's seamless." He stood there like an idiot sniffing at her shirt.

"Is it cold in here?" Lexie asked, changing the subject.

"No, it's not. It's bland, like there's no code for the temperature, but I can feel it on my." The audience just stared at the man as he rubbed his arms and looked down at himself. John didn't know what to think.

Lexie turned back to the audience and started strutting around the stage confidently. "It's not just your five senses either. We can turn off pain and pleasure. We can make it so that you feel tired or weak. All of the emotions and sensations that your body are capable of can be simulated with the Cannula." Lexie thanked the man and he reentered his avatar body.

"Now we've all seen senior citizens that don't know how to use their goggles, or even access their at-home console, and it's a shame. They're missing out on what the world has to offer. You don't want to be like that, do you?"

"We're aware that consumers have concerns about this device. It's something new and scary. Many of you have probably already decided not to buy it, and that's OK. We have to prove that we can change the world before we can really change it. That is why Virtual Systems is standing by with twenty-four seven support ready to answer all of your questions and concerns, so that when you're ready to make your order, you can feel safe in knowing that you're in good hands. And if you've already decided that you want it, the procedure is available at all of our local offices."

There were no questions, no remarks. The woman just walked off the stage silently and the simulation faded. When it was over, John took off his googles and looked around at his living room with his old couch and his at-home console sitting in the corner. The world around him would be bland compared to the things that device could do.

He wanted to see the blue sky and walk through fields of flowers instead of shuffling through a haze of smog and cracked dirt. The Cannula would allow him to view the world as it should've been, rather than the way it was. The Earth might've been dying, but he didn't have to deprive his senses.

© 2017 Paul Hunter

Author's Note

Paul Hunter
Tear this thing up. If there's anything wrong with it, tell me. :)

My Review

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Featured Review

You put a lot into this chapter. Create interesting situation and create wild visions for the reader. I became part of the story. I like John reaction to the demonstration. I did like the ending. Earth was dying and he tried to find some enjoyment. Thank you for sharing the excellent chapter. I wanted to know and read more.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Bravo! This story is filled with suspense/tension, which as I'm sure you know are ingredients to keep the reader reading. As I was going through, the question kept entering my mind of what this experience would be on an individual basis. Can people use the technology to go back to key moments in their lives and find resolution. What do people see that is relevant to only them? Is the technology going to be used for people with disabilities, either to see what they've never seen or even heal the disability itself? Obviously, I have no idea where you're going with this, but I am interested in seeing more details.

Posted 9 Months Ago

I was drawn into this story - where virtual reality offers an escape.
The interface between technology and the human experience - [a premise that no longer remains simply in the fictional domain] is presented quite effectively.

Just curious about the name 'Lexi Allen' - any novelistic reasons?

Look forward to following this story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago

Paul Hunter

2 Years Ago

I used a name that I thought sounded good. I figured it kind of fit.
You put a lot into this chapter. Create interesting situation and create wild visions for the reader. I became part of the story. I like John reaction to the demonstration. I did like the ending. Earth was dying and he tried to find some enjoyment. Thank you for sharing the excellent chapter. I wanted to know and read more.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Added on January 15, 2016
Last Updated on April 18, 2017
Tags: SciFi, Science Fiction, VR, Virtual Reality, Speculative Fiction


Paul Hunter
Paul Hunter

Tucson, AZ

Freelance writer and ghostwriter with an insatiable desire to lure readers in. more..