'Virtual reality' - Finn Culver (Year 10)
I'm standing there, really standing there. Those are my feet standing on the curb, my fingers curling and uncurling in front of my disbelieving eyes. It’s busy. People are walking in every direction. So many people. Shops drawing people in and spitting them back out. The noise, it’s so loud. Everyone is talking, yet I can’t hear a thing they’re saying. Some are talking into small brick-shaped things, maybe communication devices. There’s a sharp, distorted yell that comes from behind me; I whip around to see a small creature tugging on a rope attached to its neck, held by a person. It’s making strange yipping noises, lunging, panting. I back off slowly, not knowing whether this creature wants to hurt me. The person tugs on the rope and turns the creature around. “Stupid dog,” I hear her mutter.
Looking up I see blue. Endless blue covers the sky like a second ocean. I look around to see a small fiery ball in the sky. It’s tiny, but it must be the sun. While I’m looking up I notice the buildings. They’re so tall. If I were to climb to the top I bet I could see the edge of the earth. A vehicle of some sort moves rapidly down the street, it’s got four wheels and carries scores of people. It comes to a stop beside me, the doors open and a few people, preoccupied with their communication devices, stumble off. The doors close again and the vehicle rolls away.
I glance left. In the middle of the street is...it’s… a tree. But it’s not brown, or gray… it’s green, surrounded by bright yellow flowers. Tiny insects buzz around it. Looking around I see they’re everywhere. Green trees planted all up the street, in the most inconvenient but beautiful places. This world. This future. I want to stay here forever.
Tick. as if on cue one of the trees pops, it just disappears; tock. then another. Now people are popping, tick. all of them disappearing out of existence. The buildings, the strange ‘dog’, soon everything is nearly gone. One tree is left sitting there as if it’s teasing me. Tock. everything goes black. Time has run out.
I reach my hand up to my face and lift the headset off. “What did you think?” The man in front of me says to my dumbfounded expression. I don’t know what to say or think, I just stare at the headset, thoughts swirling. I look outside to an unremitting desert. A distant sandstorm, the occasional dead tree, the dilapidated skeletons of old buildings. Utterly lifeless. I look to the sun, a menacing and relentless enemy dominating half the sky. He leaves my world parched and smoldering.
The man reaches for my headset. “So, when will this happen?” I ask him. “Will I be alive to see this wonderful future?” He looks at me, confused for a moment but then speaks hesitantly,
“I don’t know what happened, or what they did, but that my lad, is not the future...”
“It’s the past.”