Publish Novellas 10 April 2022
EPISODE 2 – VIRTUALITY
To relinquish himself from a troubled past, a man goes beyond traditional psychotherapy into a 3D world that is dimensions beyond augmented reality.
On Saturday morning, Ronald Jackson returns for his mixed reality treatment. Dr. Beverly Richardson greets him. “Good morning, Ronald. I have most of the information programmed for your virtual journey. I just need Nicole’s surname and the year when this pivotal decision is made.”
“The defining year was 1980 for Nicole Allaband.”
“Okay, that does it. You will be wearing a special wireless headset that covers your eyes. Stereo sounds and images will be in three dimensions. Rendering of familiar people, like Nicole, occurs from your memories and the photos you provided. They will integrate with dynamic 3D characters and settings.
“We find that it’s best to have clients experience their new life in a large room that is free of obstacles. This allows you to move easily through the 3D space. So that your imagination is not influenced by the appearance of the empty area, I will lead you there with your eyes closed.
“Beyond a chair and mattress on the floor, there will be no obstructions for at least 30 feet in all directions. After placing the headset on you, your new reality begins. Are you ready?”
“Yes. Hook me up!” Ronald reacts with excitement.
“Mr. Jackson, I hope you enjoy your new life.”
There is darkness. When he hears a voice, the scene gradually illuminates. At first all he sees is a fantasized representation of Nicole’s face—slightly different from reality.
Then his view pans out to include her entire actual form engaging in a conversation. “You do realize that we should be together,” she says at this pivotal moment.
“I want that—very much. But I have become involved with religion to cope with the events of our relationship. I don’t blame you for rejecting my lame proposal in response to your pregnancy announcement.”
“Ronny, are you saying that God doesn’t want us to be together?”
“No, I am asking if you feel you are open to raising a religious family?”
“This is quite unexpected given the nature of our relationship from the beginning. I am tempted to say yes because it is what you want to hear. But I am not at a point in my life when I can make that promise.
“Taking it step by step, you first need to answer whether you want to be with me. Then we can go about building our physical and spiritual life together.”
Feeling that establishing controversial conditions could lead to another missed opportunity, Ronald replies, “I don’t want to blow this because I am still very much in love with you. So my answer is yes, I do want to be with you. Transitioning from that clarity, our trajectory has been reset by your aunts. What role will they play in our future?”
“I was young and scared. They were unofficial guardians whom my father appointed to keep me out of trouble during my education. Since then I have become my own woman. If and when I become pregnant again, what we do will be a discussion for you and me alone.”
“You hurt me badly when you stepped out on me a couple of times,” Ronald admits.
“Brad was a rebound. With school and pressure from family, my emotions needed a break. That relationship ended after a few dates. What other time are you talking about?”
“My brother told me that you two kissed.”
“That was just once. I should of told you but I was ashamed and tried to forget it. I am sorry for that. Is this going to turn into a point-by-point disclosure of errors? I thought we had a very passionate relationship. If you weigh that in the scales of what you are bringing up, I can’t see how it compares.”
“I totally agree and accept your apology. What about our living arrangements?” asks Ronny.
“Well, I notice that you have a small apartment. If we move in together, I can save the money on the dorm.”
“And your aunts would be okay with that?”
“As I said, I am my own woman now. So if we are back together, when are you going to break up with Tamara?”
“I need to let her down her easy. She has expressed interest in the religion I have been studying.”
“You’re not backpedaling, are you?” asks Nicole.
“No, I want things to work between us.”
“Good. So rip the bandage off—unless you want me to tell her myself. Phone Tamara now to tell her it’s over. I don’t want you two canoodling in that church anymore.”
It is apparent that the decision to be with Nicole requires sacrifices. Returning to an immoral, godless life is just the tip of the iceberg. Ronald also notices that Nicole is more assertive. Responding to her demands, he phones Tamara to end that relationship.
“Perfect, Ronny. I knew you had it in you. We were meant to be. Can you help me move in at the end of the month? This place needs a woman’s touch.”
“Sure, Nicole. That sounds great.”
“I can’t wait to tell Jenny and Miguel. You remember them from the dorms? We should double-date on Saturday. They will be happy to see you again. Do you have a phone extension in the bedroom?”
“No, but the phone cord will reach.”
“Have the telephone company add another jack back there. And I need a separate number. I am sure you can schedule that before I move in. I’ll take this phone in the bedroom to call Jenny now.”
After telling her best friend the great news, Nicole excitedly suggests, “Let’s go for a walk on campus so I can show you off to classmates.”
Nicole has two more years left in college. They use dual protection to prevent pregnancy.
After graduation, she gets a job offer at a newspaper. “Ronny, the career counselor got me a journalist position upstate. Isn’t that exciting?”
“It’s wonderful. I’m happy for you.”
“We can finally move out of this area for some different scenery.”
“That would be great. I’m sure I can find freelance work there too,” Ronny adds.
“With at least one regular income, we may be able to raise a family, but not too soon.”
“It all sounds great. When do you begin your new job?”
“I told them two weeks. It does not leave much time to find a place. We should take a trip up there this weekend.”
“Whatever you think is best,” says Ronny.
After relocation, Ronny’s role transitions to homemaker in a small apartment with a Murphy bed. He prepares meals for Nicole when she arrives home. Freelance work is sporadic. Ronny is not happy with subservient role but they are not married yet and he does not want the relationship to suffer.
Three years at the news paper allows Nicole to feel stable enough about taking a sabbatical and writing her first novel. She always has been good (and fast) at developing stories. The first draft is ready to show to a publisher within three months. After another month of edits, the book heads to the presses. This is record time for a new author.
The novel is a great seller in a niche market. This brings in enough royalties to finance her second book a year later. It nurtures a loyal following.