31-Jan-2020

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31-Jan-2020

Grandpa’s First Time in VR

I glared at Chrissy. Those big blue eyes and that blond hair was enough to make most men crack, but not me. I’d agreed to take the girls to new Rocket World in Toronto, but I never said I would participate. I folded my arms across my chest. “No.”

“Come on, grandpa, everyone is doing it.”

I glanced at the door to the VR room, and then returned my gaze to my granddaughter. “Everyone is vaporizing too. Should I try that?”

“Vaping,” Chrissy’s friend, Joan, said not looking up from her phone.

“Whatever,” I growled.

“We just need one more player,” Chrissy said. “You can basically stand there.”

Vivi, the third girl in the entourage, nodded. “You run a pub with really grouchy old people in it all the time. This should be a piece of cake.”

“A piece of cake?” I pat my head. “I’m too old to put some silly looking contraption on my face and pretend I’m somewhere else.”

Chrissy’s doe-eyed smile didn’t waver. “It’s like an interactive video game.”

“And how many of those have you ever seen me play?” I asked.

“Uh…”

Vivi moved in front of me and pat me on the shoulder. “It’s okay. Old people have trouble with this kind of thing.”

She was baiting me. I knew it, she knew it, and everyone in the waiting room knew it. I’m a grown man. I don’t have to rise to the bait of a pack of fifteen-year-old girls.

And yet…I could never say no to Chrissy’s mother either. It was those blasted eyes. “Fine,” I grumbled.

“Yay!” Chrissy yelled.

Vivi let out a little squeal.

Joan glanced up from her phone and gave me a nod.

Great. I got a nod. Go me.

I looked down at my watch. “I only have an hour, then I have to get back.” It wasn’t wise to leave the pub in the hands of my minions for too long, especially on a Friday afternoon. All of those distraught blue-collar workers would be heading home for the weekend in just a few hours. They needed a place to express their displeasure and drown their sorrows, and I needed their money. Win-win all around.

“Come on.” Chrissy grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me forward. Everyone in the room watched us go. I knew they would be watching the game too. Just like I’d been watching the group before us.

Chrissy’s dad was going to pay for this.

We stepped into the room and several perky employees greeted us. I listened as they took us through the ropes: Don’t get to crazy, try not to trip over your own feet, this was going to be a 5-D experience with air spraying on us, among other things.

The young punk that put my VR helmet on—what looked like a huge, solid pair of sunglasses—smirked just before he settled it into place.

“Does that fit okay?” he asked.

I nodded, then shook my head back and forth a few times. The dang thing didn’t move. “Should be okay.”

“Great. Now just wait right there.” His voice came through an earpiece, and I didn’t hear him leave.

Standing in a room, not being able to see, made me feel more than a little isolated, and my fingers twitched to pull the helmet up so I could see. Right before I gave in to the temptation, the screen in front of my eyes flickered on, revealing a beautiful landscape.

“You should be seeing a villa in the south of France.”

I’d never been to France. This was kind of cool.

“Take a moment to get your bearings. Move around a little to get used to the helmet.”

I grunted and turned my head. I stood on a balcony. Behind me the villa rose almost like a castle. The sky overhead was a brilliant blue, and the floor beneath my feet—

I swore and jumped back.

Then I jumped back again.

The stupid floor was glass! I could see through to the area below, and my brain wailed that I was about to fall.

“Language, grandpa,” Chrissy said.

They could hear me. Great. Just great. “Sorry,” I muttered.

“Okay, everyone, we’re going to test your 5-D experience now. Turn toward the lake and wait.” The teenage boy was in my ear again.

The trees around the lake shifted in the wind, and the scent of moisture and dirt filled my nostrils. The hair on the back of my neck stirred as more wind kicked up.

“No one panic,” the teenage boy’s voice said.

Good thing he warned us. Suddenly, as if accelerated a hundred times, dark clouds filled the sky, ran pattered down on us, quickly turning to hail.

Cold drops of water actually hit my skin. I shivered.

The clouds went from dark to green, and began to swirl.

Just like that, my hand started to sweat and I took a step back.

I knew it wasn’t real, but I’d always been afraid of tornadoes. I watched in horror as this one formed, then began reaching for the ground. The wind around us kicked up, and I felt small bits of something hitting my cheeks.

One of the girls screamed as the tornado touched down and started for us.

I was glad she beat me too it. I stood riveted in place, wondering if I was going to wet myself, when the tornado suddenly dissipated. The clouds cleared, the sun came back out, and the teenage boy was talking.

“Okay, everyone, great job. Now for the really fun stuff.”

All three girls let out a cheer.

I grunted. The things I did for my granddaughter.

***

Oops, I used Rocket World as the setting. My bad. Ah well, it works!

Genre – Rocket World

Character – Pub Owner

Setting – Toronto

Random Object – Tornado

 


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