The Brummagem Clan Ablated
by Fred Ollinger
|part 1 of 4|
Beverly’s life is filled with disappointments. Her roommate, Anida, has qualities of her own but is hard to get along with, and Beverly’s “day” job in the virtual reality sex trade holds no place for dignity and authenticity. And yet one client seems to open the door to reality...
4:23 AM. Though her eyes were closed, Beverly saw the time in tiny red letters at the bottom of her visual field. She had an implanted clock chip. For her, the time never went away. At least the company spared her the second count so that the clock changed only once a minute. And the colon didn’t blink.
She was so used to it she didn’t notice it when she was awake, but she always knew exactly what time it was. She only noticed the clock when she slept. Then it entered her dreams. The eights were the worst. They often appeared as a row of snowmen. She hadn’t considered that there would be side effects when CyberMe TM Inc offered her the free implant. They just wanted to make sure she got work on time.
She had about four and a half more hours until her next shift. Though she lay in bed with her eyes closed, she wasn’t asleep. She had gone to bed at 11:54, but now she was awake again.
She exhaled loudly through her mouth then sat up. A red night-light illuminated the yellow wallpaper and knit-work of Mario, the happy-to-lucky adventurer in the old school Mario Brothers video game.
In Beverly’s version, Mario’s red hat was extra fluffy, almost like that of a baker. His mouth wasn’t visible beneath a giant black mustache that was turned up in a hairy smile. Below his expansive head (no neck), Mario wore blue overalls. He ended at the waist. His white gloved hands, which were on his hips, were half done. Still connected to the knit-work were four different colored balls of yarn.
Remembering her promise to finish the knitting soon, she reached for it, but it was too far. She opened her goodie drawer and looked at the colored tins that contained her chocolate supply. She tried to decide what kind of filling she wanted: cream, raspberry, peanut, or brandy. Then she became conscious of her pants straining against her belly. She shut the drawer.
She pulled back her dirty blond hair into a scrunchy then hit speed dial on her holo-phone. A three dimensional image of a man emerged from the phone. He wore a comfortable looking button down shirt with no tie. He had a healthy light tan and curly brown hair.
“You’re up!” exclaimed Beverly.
“You kidder!” he said in a booming voice, “I’m always up when my baby needs me.”
“I can’t sleep, daddy,” Beverly let her voice slip into the sing-song of her childhood.
“What bothers you, honey?” asked her father. His forehead crinkled and he bit his bottom lip. “Is there something you need to talk to your mother about?”
The holographic head of her father divided like an amoeba. When it was done, her father’s head floated on the right side of her mother’s. She had short blond hair that was combed over to one side. She wore a pearl necklace and a colored shirt covered with purple tulips.
“Anything the matter, honey?” asked her mother as if her life depended on the answer
“Can’t sleep, mommy,” said Beverly. She tried to keep her voice low. Anida, her roommate, had to get to work early, too. She never had problems sleeping unless Beverly made too much noise. In that case, Beverly would never hear the end of it.
“Oh, darling, I wish I could come there and hold you right now.”
Beverly reached out, but kept her head from touching the hologram and ruining the illusion. Her parents reached out their arms as well.
“Lie on your belly,” said her mother, “and close your eyes. We’ll be thinking of of you, love.”
“I will,” said Beverly. She went back to bed and closed her eyes. In a few moments she dreamed of teddy bears, cotton candy, and warm sunny days. She didn’t even notice the time.
* * *
Walking on the plush red carpet illuminated by fluorescent lights, Beverly passed a series of black doors on both sides of the hall that had names like: cheating, mmf-threesome, light bondage, and snuff.
Beverly entered the room labeled ‘incest’. Despite the different labels, the insides of the rooms were all the same.
Beverly set her handbag on the desk, and pulled out the chair. There was just enough room to push the chair against the door while she squeezed between it and the desk so she could put on the VR gear. The rubber suit looked much like a wet-suit. She held her breath while she got it on; it smelled like rubber, mold, and body odor. On her head she wore goggles.
After she suited up, she reached under her desk, and found the power switch by touch. CyberMe INC was one of those companies that tried to cheap out everything to maximize profits, but they spared no expense on the VR gear. There were no cables, the whole suit ran on wireless so Beverly could perform her act unhindered.
The screen showed up in her goggles. The corporate logo appeared as a rippling flag. It started out small and grew to the size of a movie screen from the days when people actually left their homes to view films. The flag faced Beverly at an oblique angle, and it was close enough that she could touch it if it were real. Though the flag was made of glass, it rippled.
A giant hammer came down and smashed it. Pieces flew out at Beverly. When she first saw the boot screen, she ducked beneath her desk. Now she tapped her foot waiting for the startup process to complete.
The logo disappeared, and she was home. That is she was in a McMansion that didn’t look anything like the home she knew; it was the home of her role. On the walls were posters of the latest boy bands. She sat on a comforter on a bed covered in cartoon characters. The bed was only a couple of feet off the floor and was a lot smaller than her bed at home. But to clients she appeared smaller, too.
She got up and looked outside her window. A white picket fence surrounded a lush green lawn. A white stone path outside the gate led out to a street lined with trees and more McMansions. They were all overly large, yet plain and covered with bright white aluminum siding. From downstairs, she could hear a voice echo “Hello?”
She slowly walked downstairs. In the kitchen she found a giant duck. The duck asked, “Is this the right house?”
Beverly had preprogrammed her virtual reality client to show all men as anthropomorphic animals. It made them seem less threatening and the job less boring.
Back when Beverly first started, she saw the clients as they wished themselves to be seen. They usually pictured themselves as large, muscular guys. Occasionally a few guys chose online avatars that mirrored their real life appearance. At least that’s what Beverly suspected. She didn’t think many young, good looking people fantasized about being fat, balding, and old. One guy had chosen to look like a woman. After that, Beverly did some research on avatar policy. That’s where she learned that she could choose the way her clients appeared to her.
Her clients had picked her image from a menu of every imaginable fetish. To each client, she appeared as a ten-year old girl. They could choose her hair color and a few other minor features, but she always wore a pink t-shirt with roses around the bottom, a matching pair of shorts, and flip-flops.
Beverly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror above the dining table. She looked like a walking, talking banana. The whole change-up had been amusing to her for a few days, but now it was the same old thing.
To the man, she said, “You’re home early, daddy.”
“But I just walked into a random house. I want to be sure that I’m in the right spot.”
“Or what? Find the wrong girl?” In her reflection, a banana twirled its single lock of golden hair around a yellow finger.
“Yea,” quacked the duck.
“I could be the wrong girl.”
The duck was breathing hard now. To Beverly, it was a low-pitched squawking. In real life, she reached below her desk and turned down the volume.
She posed in ways they had taught her in orientation. The duck just stood there. Beverly continued to pose. In the lower left corner of her eye, she watched the time tick away. Interactive VR was expensive. Most customers didn’t waste time standing around, but it was his money to waste. Then she remembered what they had told her last week. Many first-time customers were not returning. The ones who bothered to answer their exit surveys said that they were “unsatisfied.”
“I’m a big girl,” she said. “I make my own bed. Wanna see?”
The duck had his hands on his hips.”Are you really ten? Because if I entered the wrong VR scenario, I’m sorry. I know that they use VR in schools now.”
“Look,” said Beverly. “I’m twenty-eight. I’m here because you’re paying for it. All the houses on the block have me inside. That’s how VR works. You walk into any house, and you wind up with me. School VR networks are completely separate from porn networks.”
“Oh,” said the duck.
It was over in ten minutes. Beverly took him through the standard moves. She resisted when he was aggressive. She was aggressive when he was passive. In his suit, he felt the whole thing as if it were really happening. All over the inside of the VR suit was rubber that changed shape at the command of a computer.
Beverly’s suit was different. It only had a little bit of feeling in it, just enough so she could respond appropriately to his touch. If she had actually had to feel every caress of the sordid scene, she would have quit a long time ago.
When it was over, the pervert gave her a rating of three out of five. He would return. That was good enough for Beverly.
* * *
Copyright © 2008 by Fred Ollinger