VR—A Dystopian Tale
By Mort Laitner
Filled with anticipation, I walked into my neighborhood Virtual-Reality store. The dank air filled my nostrils as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the chamber. Standing in front of the counter, I glimpsed at the balding, bespectacled cashier. He held a dog-eared, paperback copy of Orwell’s “1984”. The cover read:
Inserted in the center “O” of the word FOUR was a vein popping, reddened eye filled with a dilated black pupil. The eye starred at me.
“How much to rent an Oculus Rift and a room for a half hour? I asked.
“Fifteen bucks and you get your choice of one VR activity and environment for free,” he replied.
I thought for a second and then asked,” Can I see your program catalogue?”
The clerk handed me the ten-page booklet. In all caps, 20 point font the cover read:
THE OCULUS RADICALLY REDEFINES DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN IT.
STEP INTO THE FUTURE.
I glanced through the first five pages. They were filled with titles and subtitles covering your typical array of pornographic delights. But on page six I found a program that caught my interest—Trump World—Travel to the Future and Experience it.
I handed the cashier a twenty, and said “I’ll take Trump World.”
He returned a five, the Oculus and two hand controls.
“I’ve seen you here before, haven’t I?”
“You know the rules? he queried.
I glanced at the back wall where the rules were painted in black.
I nodded and gave him a soft “Yup.”
He passed me a pen and a general release form. “Please read it and sign on the bottom line.”
Then in his high-pitched voice, he volunteered, “Good choice. These days, that’s a really popular number. But it’s a bit scary. Pass through the hallway and on your left you’ll see a green door marked with a five. Your session will end in 30 minutes. If you feel ill, we recommend you remove the Oculus and leave the room and take a five minute break.”
Walking down the hall, I heard the cashier staple the receipt to my release form.
Entering Room 5, I put on the finger controls and placed the Oculus over my eyes. The Oculus was a bit heavy.
I had entered a new reality. My virtual hands were in sight. Wiggling my fingers, I watched them move.
I stood in an average-looking American town—on Main Street. Seeing no one, I started walking down the street. The store fronts looked like Middletown in the Sixties.
I touched a parking meter and the fender of a Ford. The cold metal sent a shiver up my spine.
Next to the parking meter, I saw a poster attached to a stop sign. It read,
Declaration of Martial Law,
The following constitutional rights have been suspended by order of the President and shall stay in effect until further notice: The right to assembly, the right to bear arms, and the right to practice any religion.
Remember there is a nightly curfew in place commencing at dusk and terminating a dawn. Failure to obey curfew shall lead to immediate imprisonment.
All citizens must carry their ID cards at all times. Failure to possess an ID shall lead to immediate imprisonment.
Failure to immediately obey any police order may lead to your execution.
It was signed by President Trump.
Another shiver froze my spinal column.
I took a few steps foreword and then I stopped in my tracks. Plastered to the wall above the Walgreens sign was a 20×20 mural of Trump. He made his imperial face. The one that said: I am your emperor. Above the mural were the words, TRUMP IS ALWAYS WATCHING YOU!
I starred remembering the Communist and Fascist posters that adorned the walls of Moscow, Rome and Havana.
In a window, in the center of the wall, a grandmotherly figure peered out at me. She hid behind a off-white lace curtain. “Was she spying on me?”
Before I had determined the answer to my question, I noticed two brown-shirted policemen walking in my direction. They carried Uzis. My heart palpated, adrenaline ran through my veins and my fight-or-flight mode kicked in.
The two cops wore embroidered TRUMP POLICE caps. The younger cop removed his cap to wipe his brow. As he held his hat in his hands, I glanced at the tag—” Made in China”.
The older Aryan-looking officer yelled, “Halt or we are going to shoot.”
“Put your hands in the air! Quickly raise your G-d damn arms!”
I raised my arms and begged, “Please don’t shot!”
“Where is your identity badge?” barked the older cop.
Now my tongue froze, my stomach flipped, I tasted vomit leaving my stomach and crawling up my esophagus.
I pulled off the Oculus and the finger controls. I ran out of Room 5, toward the cashier; toward the bathroom; toward the toilet.
I washed the puke from the rim of my mouth. I washed the sweat of my face. I needed more than a break. I needed to get the hell out of Trump World.
What the readers are saying:
Love it! Welcome to the Trumpite Zone. Do not read before going to sleep! It will be your worst nightmare!—Toby
Julie Hagan Bloch Wow. A teensy bit of hyperbole there ( 😉 ), but probably indicative of what the Don wants. Eeeekkk!