“Hello?” TK called out into the garden. This was his first time in a simulation like this, and shifted his weight from foot to foot, unsure of himself. He took a step forward, fighting the dream sensation of being stuck. He was moving freely here, but his body was sitting still in a room somewhere that felt very far away. The sensors in these new Prizm sims were unbelievable.
The grass under his bare feet was granny apple green and springy, bursting forth with artificial life. The boughs of the trees were heavy with ripe fruit, peaches and plums and every kind of good thing he could think of. It was breathtaking.
There was a fence around to his left, to define the outer edges, but it gave the appearance of a tended yard. He assumed the tallest trees to his right were the right border. It wasn’t a very big setup for this type of virtual reality.
Well. He wasn’t here to explore.
“Hey,” a low voice spoke from behind him. “I’m back here.”
TK faced the other way without moving. “Oh wow,” he said before he could stop himself. The digital trees looked crude in comparison to this man. “You’re beautiful.”
The man sitting on the grass rolled his eyes. His hair was resting slightly past his shoulders, and his ruddy cheeks and skin gave the appearance of someone who’d just had their face shaved and washed thoroughly. “Must be why they took me out of the war sim, hey?” He pushed his hair behind his ears, and held his hand out.
A shiny purple plum appeared in his palm when TK blinked. He took a slow bite, and TK tracked the trail where the pink juice lazily dripped down his wrist. “You want some?”
“Sure,” TK said, and lowered himself to the ground. He let himself be pulled in closer to the man and bit into the plum. It tasted incredible, and also like nothing at all. The heat of the sim felt real as he leaned in to lick the juice from his mouth. A laugh bubbled out of TK’s chest, and he pushed the sim-man back into the grass to kiss him again. “What are you wearing?” he breathed against his ear.
“You can’t see it?” The sim looked concerned, which still did it for TK somehow. “That’s strange.”
“Nah,” he put his hands in the sim’s long hair. “I literally can’t not look at your face.”
“Hm. Do you use Prizm often?”
“No, I’ve only done this once before,” TK said, fitting their hips together and grinding down. The sim gasped and nodded.“Yeah, keep doing that. You’ll get used to the way the brain sensors work.” He made another soft groan into TK’s neck. “I’m wearing- It’s like a dress, sort of. Like a slip.”
“Oh,” TK said between kisses when he reached his hand down to the sim’s thighs and his fingers rubbed against the hem of some kind of thin fabric. “I feel it now.” It made him shiver to touch it, the slippery fabric between them.
TK’s clothes were missing now, even though he didn’t take them off. Must’ve been a feature of the sim. He didn’t mind too much, especially when he could feel the hands that carefully traced over the lines of his body and came to rest softly at the dip of his spine. “Do you like this?” he asked.
The sim blinked up at him in surprise. “Does it matter?”
The way he said it made TK’s heart beat fast in panic, as if someone could have hurt a computer program. “It matters to me.”
The sim let his eyes slip shut and put his lips to TK’s forehead. “I like it. Thank you.”
They got lost in the kissing for a while, TK reveling in the warmth of the sim against him, the tiniest sounds he made when he pressed his mouth to the shell of his ear, the juncture of his neck into his chest.
“Is it supposed to be like the garden of Eden in here?” he asked, and the sim laughed.
His hands found TK’s ass and pulled him down into his hips again. “Do you always ask this many questions in simulations?”
There were birds singing above them, and a breeze made the sims’ long hair flutter against the grass.
“You know,” TK whispered, running his hand up his chest which was suddenly bare, “You’re big enough to have been in a war sim.”
“I wasn’t joking about that,” he said with a wry smile. “C’mon, in me now, please,” he sighed, and when TK ground down again, without any effort, he was inside him.
“Oh god,” TK shuddered, tucking his head into the sim’s neck, overwhelmed. “That’s good.”
“Yeah?” The sim said it softly, like he wasn’t a program designed for this purpose, like he wasn’t sure.
TK moved his hips cautiously, grinding in, and- “You’re really wet,” he said, fucking into him again. “God.”
The sim blushed.
“That’s a cute feature, holy shit,” TK laughed, and kissed both of his burning cheeks.
The sim groaned, and fought against a smile. He tilted his hips up into TK’s, asking with his body for more.
The sex was slow and dreamy and wet, the sim panting damp ino his face as TK got the angle just right. He kissed the sim gently, pushing his hair away from his face when he could tell he was getting close.
They came one after each other, and the sim groaned when TK collapsed into his arms.
He couldn’t stop his hands from wandering, even after they finished what they were there to do, running over the caps of the sims’ shoulders, his nipples, the interior crease of his thigh.
“Did you enjoy your experience in Virtual Reality?” the sim asked, and TK caught the hint of sarcasm in the pre-programed question.
“Yes,” he whispered, and kissed the sim again. He didn’t want this to be over.
“Why did you choose this experience?” The thin dress reappeared over him. TK was glad to touch it again.
He clung tighter to the sim, as if it would extend his time here. “It was half price, and I always wondered what it would be like,” he answered.
The sim closed his eyes at that, like he was displeased at his honesty.
“I wish I could see you again,” TK continued. “This was really nice.”
“You can enter this simulation again,” the sim replied, smoothing his hands down the front of TK’s shirt. He wasn’t meeting TK’s eyes.
“I wish I could see you outside of the simulation.”
The sim turned his head away. “Don’t say that.”
“I’m sorry,” TK said immediately, and ran his fingers through the sim’s hair. “I didn’t mean to-”
“Don’t pay to use this sim again,” he whispered furiously against TK’s ear. “Just remember me.”
An electronic tone sounded from outside the simulation, and when TK blinked, he was standing in an endless field of grass. He blinked again, and he was in total darkness.
“Yes,” TK said. He didn’t want to discuss ‘his experience’ with this random employee. His eyes smarted at his surroundings, somehow more and less real than the virtual reality.
“Great. That particular… model has been glitching recently,” the employee said casually. She finished the final latch near his feet, stood up, and gave him a nod. “Have a nice day.”
“Thank you,” he said. “You too.”
He left the building feeling sick to his stomach.
Maybe he should’ve told someone his plan, or ran it past someone who had more common sense than he did, but there was no way to explain this. He had a strange feeling about the Prizm, and he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he knew for sure.
The simulation center was fairly easy to break into for a building that had thousands of dollars worth of equipment inside. An exterior window had been left unlocked, and with a little effort, TK pushed it open and shimmied inside.
He’d only lived in the urban district for a few months, but had picked up enough knowledge to at least get the Prizm to boot up. TK slipped the goggles over his eyes, settled into the harness, and waited.
“What?” the sim said blearily, and jumped when he realized someone was standing over him. “Shit, what? What are you doing here?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said. “I can’t move, I don’t know how to put the touch sensors on myself.”
There was a buzz of nocturnal insects and frogs croaking around them in the night, but there were no stars in the simulation. He could barely make out the sim’s face in the darkness.
“TK, don’t- don’t get any closer,” the sim said nervously, scooting backwards.
Shit, he didn’t even consider how this would look. Breaking into a sex simulation after hours-
“No, no I’m not- I’m not here for that. I can’t move, I swear.”
“You need to get out of here,” the sim said. “You can’t be here, it’s not-”
“Listen, I just need to know-”
A cloak appeared around the sim’s shoulders.
TK sighed. “Are you real?”
The sim’s face screwed up. “Used to be.”
“Oh my god,” TK said. He’d heard stories- all declared old wives tales, but stories about where people went when they disappeared in the Outerlands. Brought into the cities to be part of simulations, because how else could they be so real? “Are you… are you alive? Are you-”
The sim stood up and put his hands on his shoulders. TK couldn’t feel it. “TK, they’re gonna know you’re here. You need to go.”
“Who is they? Where’s your-” TK swallowed. “Where’s your body.”
The sim looked panicked. “Near here. I don’t remember.” An artificial owl called out behind them, the sound ringing clear through the darkness. “Under the ground, near here. Now go,” He put a hand in the center of TK’s chest and pushed, and TK snapped back into his body in the harness.
He rattled the knobs on every door he could find, half of which were locked and the other half all went to war sims. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” he muttered, jogging through a hallway back into the Eden sim. “Where are you?”
He jumped at a clattering sound that resonated from the floor beneath him.
“Under the ground- shit” he said, and started knocking his heel against the floor. Toward the center of the room there was a hollow thud, and he scrambled to grab his knife from his pocket and cut at the carpet on the ground.
The door cut into the floorboards pulled up without much effort.
TK lowered himself into the basement, the thin white light of his phone lighting the way, and there he was- the man from the sim, lying on a cot with wires trailing out underneath him from every angle.
“I’m here,” he said under his breath, and pushed his eye covering out of the way.
He blinked, squinting up at TK. “This is real?” he asked, voice dry and hoarse.
“Yeah,” TK nodded. “This is real, and we’re gonna leave here right now.”
“Thank you.” He closed his eyes and a flicker of a smile crossed his face.