The place was bustling, filled with all manner of people from social positions high and low. An old lady, face sagging with age and skin sagging with jewels, trotted her way across to the nearest table, seating herself upon the synthetic mink-fur chair.
A middle-aged man, dressed in a suit of black and white glided slowly up to her, a small pamphlet in his hands. With a wave the lady dismissed the piece of paper, instead signaling for the waiter to come close; those looking closely would notice a small metal card being pressed into the waiter’s hand.
The waiter smiled, flowing back over the rich, neo-silk carpets to pass through the syn-oak double doors at the back. Moments later, he returned, bringing upon a platter a small, silver orb.
“Your order, madam,” he intoned, lowering the dish, “Master Devon has taken great care with his latest masterpiece. Hopefully you will find the balance of sensations tweaked exactly to your liking…”
With a look of almost feral hunger the woman brought the orb slowly to her forehead, where the neuro-interface jack could interface with the data inside.
The world went white-
All around her, the winds were howling. Air currents powerful enough to tear entire tech-homes into scrap metal battered against her body, threatening to toss her to her doom. Thankfully, her power-suit absorbed most of the shock, enough that she could continue surfing along the currents without any serve injuries. Bits of rocks, leaves and the occasional tree flew past, caught in the endless wind-spiral within the tornado. Only she alone remained untouched, guided by the flight regulators in her harness and suit.
Readying her airboard, the Glider shot a brief glance at the monitor’s sensor suite, checking for the predicated paths of all nearby debris.
The scanners on her visor glowed green. With a muffled whoop the Glider released the harness, throwing herself to the mercy of the winds.
The sudden burst of air that caught her nearly caused her to lose control. She grappled with the wind, forcing it down, channeling its fury at being caught into the waiting grooves on her airboard. Almost immediately, the turbulence ceased, as her board shot forward like a bullet into the heart of the storm.
Lightning crackled. A boulder the size of a small dog flew past her, barely missing her head. Still she dived, cutting through the swirling clouds of dust and dirt, going closer…closer…
A flash of brown. Up! UP! In a sudden burst of adrenalin she caught the tip of her airboard, turning its nose towards the sky. Her fall seemed to stretch, slowing as it fell towards the ground, reaching ever so close…
The board soared, rising higher and higher, weaving complex patterns and elaborate routes that always had her barely missing a random piece of debris. Rocks, bricks and metal bars hurled past her head in a single, heart-stopping thrill. Like an arrow she pierced through the swirl of the tornado, streaking through walls of dirt and debris; sticks, stones and tiny leaves battered against her protective suit in a hail of noise, mixed with the screams of the storm in a symphony that brought both terror and wonder to her heart. Layer after layer she passed through, as the sky became brighter, clearer, more colorful-
Behind her, the tornado moved on, continuing its rampage through the artificial turf. Above, the sweet sun sparkled like a diamond in an ocean of blue, the bluest blue she had ever seen, or will ever get to see. She was clear.
The computer took over at this point, activating the gliding rockets, lowering her gently towards the soft, green earth. The sun was growing brighter and brighter as she went down, forcing her to squint. The glow consumed her vision, washing everything in white-
The old lady lowered the jack, releasing a deep sigh of satisfaction. Ah…to be young again…
The waiter was still there, smiling expectantly. With a touch of reluctance she returned the program to him, a second card already on its way to his pocket;
“The mix of anticipation and unease, combined with the use of danger in middle contrasted wonderfully with the sense of relief and freedom towards the end,” she breathed, part of her mind still lost in the after-shocks of her trip “a most excellent experience. Do pass my compliments to the programmers.”
The waiter simply nodded, helping the old lady leave the establishment. Above the exit, the large digital tag-board gleamed in the evening sun’s light:
“Vicarious Living.Inc – Building dreams, One dish at a time”