Here is Part 2 of a story I wrote based on a picture drawn for me by my good blogging friend, Sorina at Chosen Voice. You can read Part 1 here. It is a science fiction story based on a world where people live inside multiple virtual reality worlds in a program called Real World. They create the first one and then the computer creates iterations of it to go deeper in realism and intensity.
The Horse Bridge, Part 2
I was ready to go into the 5th iteration of Real World, the deepest I had ever descended into a computer-generated world. At first, new iterations could only be reached from the ones right before it; in this case the 4th iteration. In the corner of my inner sanctum were a bunch of ropes hanging from the ceiling, each one a quick-jump link to a different world. I chose one of the 4th iteration ones and climbed up.
I climbed up into a vast cavern, filled with dragons. The walls glowed with pink phosphorescence. In this world, I had set the physics so that I could fly and the dragons respected me as an equal. I flew across the cavern while dragons stopped and saluted me with jets of flame. The tool to make a gate to the 5th iteration was in the form of a crystal bottle, with burning red liquid inside. I opened the bottle in mid-air and poured out a drop. It formed a glowing yellow orb that hung in the air like a miniature sun.
Before I entered, I pulled up a small menu in the air and selected Random Iterations. Every iteration enhanced and played off certain features of the previous one. If I wanted to, I could reiterate the dragons to make them more terrifying, more deadly, faster, anything. I could reiterate their reverence of me to make them worship me as a god.
That was where the danger of iterative computing lay—the computer could successively reiterate certain features to inhuman and dangerous levels. Many guys filled their home bases with beautiful women, then choose the iterations with even sexier women and more erotic fantasies. By the fourth iteration, the woman were like living goddesses: beautiful and sexual far beyond human limits. For some men, this was perfect, but for others, it destroyed them. It is not healthy to live in a world where you are a worm compared to all the other inhabitants; a tiny blemish on an otherwise flawless mural.
Other people went for darkness, choosing nightmare scenarios, and going for the darkest iterations until, deep enough down, the evil and sickness that they had purified through successive iterations drove them insane or to suicide.
When the settings were ready, I took a breath, and flew into the glowing orb.
I found myself on a flat, grassy plain with mountains in the far distance. The sky was overcast with clouds that twinkled with points of undulating light. Far away, a corona of purple hung over the hills.
For a moment, my senses were overwhelmed. It was not the otherworldly scenery, but instead just how real it felt. Real World had made amazing leaps in graphics and mood enhancers, but just like watching a movie in a theater, there had never been any doubt that it was a computer rendering. This, however, seemed like UX: for the first time, it felt like the real world outside.
I set off running and found that I could run at any speed. I jumped and then willed myself to jump further, which I did, rocketing a hundred feet in the air with each bound. Unlike other iterations, which had setup menus and parameter guides, the changes here were mind-controlled and instantaneous.
It was like a dream, I realized suddenly. I tried to change the landscape with my mind and the mountains rose up at my mental command. The clouds roiled and blazed with purple. I leaped into the air and started to fly, soaring over the landscape at the speed of a rocket. As I got higher, I saw that the entire world was on the back of a colossal dragon flying through an ether of milk and purple—the ridge of mountains was the ridge along its back and the plain was its hide.
I saw movement below me out of the corner of my eye. It was the white horse, galloping below me and matching my speed. Again I wondered if this was a feature of the 5th iteration, like another Helper, but I didn’t like it showing up uninvited. I mentally tried to change it into an elephant. Nothing happened.
I started to wonder if it was a virus or a glitch. I changed the land under it to ocean but the horse ran on, its hooves barely touching the surface of the water.
I flew down to its level until I was running along the surface of the water next to it. Abruptly, it stopped and looked at me. Purple light encircled its neck and its liquid eyes gazed steadily at me.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am a bridge,” it said. “I can take you places you cannot go on your own.”
“This is my world; I can go anywhere I want.”
“Not where I can bring you. If you want to try, then get on my back.”
This seemed like a waste of time, but I wanted to see what would happen. I climbed on and the aura of purple light surrounded me.
The horse took off running, the land sliding underneath it in one continuous blur. It launched itself into the air and kept running, treading the air with its pawing hooves and pulling itself higher and higher until the whole of the dragon-world was laid out below us. One of the glowing balls of light in the sky began to grow bigger and started swallowing up all the smaller lights around it. When the white light had filled the whole sky, a mist seemed to disperse in front of us and I saw a deep blue lake appear, surrounded by dark-green spruce trees.
The horse was descending now, aiming for one place on the shore where a tent was set up and a figure was cooking over a fire.
It was a man in his mid-thirties, dressed in a flannel shirt and khaki pants. He straightened up from the fire and smiled at me as I landed.
“Hello, Jeremy,” he said, holding out his hand. “You’ve got perfect timing. Come have some lunch.”
I stared at him. “Dad?”
(to be continued tomorrow)