Beckler emerges from the warm outdoor pool after finishing a glass of champagne. In that instant he walks into the large mansion from the deck. His skin misses the gleam of the sunshine. His lean frame in fitted white shorts. It takes 5 minutes to walk through the lavish home to the front door. It opens.
Beckler is released from the virtual life sensory chamber in the old, dark, empty warehouse. He treks to the nearest food station to refuel on vitamin essentials. There is no longer need for prepared food. Sensory chambers are designed to allow one to taste full meals without ever gaining a calorie or digesting any real substance. But vitamin injections are required for survival. Stations are few and far between. Government officials must keep stations fueled for what remains of mankind.
It's dim. There are no longer sunny days. Smog and pollution have permanently hovered above the atmosphere. Yet the climate is overheated. Protective gear must be worn whenever leaving a domicile. Some lather with sunscreen for additional protection. The man lives in a small abandoned warehouse with only a power supply for his virtual chamber, where most of the day is spent. In his downtime he sleeps next to the chamber in a small cot.
Beckler walks through the rough and empty terrain. Concrete and stone are the only remains of nature, no grass or greenery. Constant fog fills the skies. Small caves and abandoned structures serve as housing, each dwelling a mile or so apart. There is no such thing as "neighbors" any longer. On his trips out for sustenance Beckler cannot recall seeing another human being or other living creature in quite some time. He wonders if anyone occupies the area anymore.
There's a whipping sound up ahead. Beckler can barely see what is before him. It's a large vehicle, flipped on to it's side. As he gets closer he sees a wrecked helicopter. The blades on top struggle to move against the grain of the rocks. He can tell the energy is dying. Someone is inside.They appear to be in search of something. Moving closer he views two bodies falling from the chopper. Someone or something is tearing at them and within the vehicle itself. Feeling a sense of danger, the man attempts to run the other way but is stopped by a sound.
It's a gentle, sweet voice. Was this the same person that appeared to attack the fallen men? He turns to her. She moves in close. Her protective gear, tattered and a scarf covers her face. The only thing he could see of her were her eyes. Eyes full of panic. He asks, "Did you?! Did you hurt them like this?!"
"No, no there was an accident! I was waiting for them."
She points to the emblem on the side of the helicopter. It's the government symbol.
"They were to refill the machine with survival nutrients. I saw the copter crash and the cargo spill. It's all contaminated! I checked them for nutrients. I need to survive!"
"The nutrient dispensing machine is empty? Completely empty?!"
"No. It's not."
"Did you use your I.D. pass?"
"I lost it in the caves. My domicile collapsed on me. My chamber shattered!"
"How long have you been out here?"
"Days! I searched for someone, somewhere to be. I yelled, screamed. I tried to kick in doors and search caves. The few that I could find were too secure or empty."
"I can't imagine going days without my chamber!"
He runs to the copter and searches over the men once more. Looking at the cargo, he finds busted vials of sustenance, unusable. Beckler hears the crackling sound of communication devices and picks up one. "Hello. Hello? Is anyone there?" With no response he picks up the device, hiding it within his protective clothing.
The man heads to the dispensing station nearby. The stranger follows.
He slides in his I.D. pass and the very last vial of sustenance is released to him. He starts back toward his dwelling. The stranger follows.
"What do we do? What do I do?"
He answers,"I don't know."
They walk silently. Beckler not acknowledging her presence. He reaches the warehouse and opens the secure door.
"Please please help me!"
"Why! Why should I?! Besides what do I have? The last vial of sustenance? After that, I don't know what will be my fate. I survived this long alone. Every man for himself!"
"Please!" She begs with teary eyes.
Opening the door he nods reluctantly allowing her to enter.
She rushes inside.
The man closes and secures the doors. Taking off his protective gear he enters the chamber.
"Wait! What about the vial?!"
"What about it?! It was retrieved by my pass. It belongs to me."
"So you invited me inside to lay here and die?!"
"I invited you inside to secure you from the elements. Not to conversate with you, not to save you! Why should I? I don't know you!"
The woman begins to unwrap herself from her ragged protective gear and head scarf. Her hair falls to her shoulders, dark and curly. Her light brown skin spotted with soot dressed. She wears a basic gray tank, loose camo pants and big dark boots. Her lean feminine frame called to his eyes.
"The showers are down the hall if you want to get cleaned up."
She stands close to him, right in his face with confidence and angst. Her warm breathe heats his skin.
"I'm Talah. NOW, you know me!"
He turns and locks the vial in a wall safe with other valuables. And enters his virtual chamber.
Inside, he finds himself entering the large mansion, back in his white swim shorts. He wants to feel the sun again but it's now dim, as night falls. Receiving a signal Beckler goes to one of the many communication stations. "Hello."
Leeza's face appears on the screen. "Hey baby."
"I want to take you out tonight."
He responds,"Me? Sure."
"You okay? Seems like your mind is somewhere else."
"No. I'm great. I'm always great. Not a care in the world."
Beckler stands in his virtual closet and picks an outfit from thousands of choice combinations. After making a selection he stands with his arms towards each wall. His shorts disappear, simultaneously he is fitted in beige dress pants and a custom white short sleeved shirt appears across his chest. In the next moment he receives a voice signal from the home. "Your guest has arrived."
As he descends the long stair case with ease, Leeza has been allowed inside. She stands there with her hair up, wearing a short red dress. She looks perfect, just as Beckler chose from the virtual mate synthesizer. He has his pick of a few choices that he rotates once he gets bored. There are hundreds of choices. At one point he did have his pick and took full advantage of all the body shapes, sizes and colors of female partners. But he narrowed it down to only three. Being greedy didn't suit him. the man felt a need for a sense of stability and routine.
Beckler hops into a sports vehicle in his multi car garage, where there are dozens of options. Once he chooses his transport, Leeza automatically appears next to him. They drive through a beautiful mountain terrain with greenery and sunset in it's sky. They stop in the city at a chic downtown seafood spot. He fills up on lobster and wine yet there is still a rumble in his belly. The two dance at a virtual club and drink the night away. Instead of returning to the mansion they get a large Hotel Suite on the pent house level. The pair share physical pleasures in the massive shower, the hot tub and the indoor pool, finally the King size luxury bed.
She asks, "How is that baby?"
Before he can respond her image fades in and out. A vocal signal sounds, "LOW ENERGY." The virtual world disappears around him and two options appear in red. Shutdown or suspend. He presses shutdown and the chamber opens. He falls out in exhaustion and hits the cold warehouse floor in white boxers. Looking up to see Talah laying in his cot. She now wears a long white shirt, found amongst the few items in Beckler's foot locker.
His vitamins are obviously running low. He shakes the girl. She awakens.
"I don't know what to do."
"Do with what?"
"I'm starving for nutrients. I've never had this feeling before."
She says,"I've had the feeling for days. I can barely move."
He pulls the vial from the safe along with it's built in injection casing. It's only one dose and can only be taken all at once. He prepares to use it, but looks up at the depleted woman. Imperfect, nothing like Leeza or the others he created virtually. He doesn't know her but part of him feels an unfamiliar need. It was the need to protect, to give more than take. In this time life was built on taking, for one's own survival. But with little thought he hands the vial to her. Hesitating briefly, she grabs it quickly. But before injecting, puts it down before her with indecision. Talah reaches out to him. The man is unsure of her intent. Their finger tips meet. Then slides her hands up his arms and muscular chest. The perspiration soaks her palms. He caresses the round of her shoulders.
"It's been such a distant memory, to touch another. One so different, skin so soft, with round smooth curves."
She answers,"The chamber allows touch all the time. But it's not the same. It's not not real."
He pushes her away. "It is real! It's our reality. It's all we have! There's nothing, nothing out here! It is our life, our purpose, our dream, our love!"
"No it is not real. This is real."
He leans back against the wall, on the floor, exhausted, frustrated.
She sits on top, facing him and whispers,"In this dim, cold dark place, I am real and you are real. In this moment, in this place and this time, that is what's real."
She looks back at the vial on the middle of the floor.
"And that vial right there is "life!" We have to choose who survives. That's real."
There's a crackling noise and a faint mumble. The sound comes from Beckler's protective gear. It holds the communication device from the helicopter crash.
Copyright 2017 Do not duplicate or copy this material. Thank you.