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As I stepped outside of the bookstore and breathed in a big, yet artificial, breath of fresh air I looked down at my map and started to plan my next travel destination.

I could just make out the faint sound of a child screaming off in the distance. I looked around hurriedly yet saw nothing. Something soft and wet landed on my head and flopped down onto my ear and then shoulder from above. “Gross! What the heck is that?” I said as I quickly brushed the limp and soggy thing off of me. I looked up, searching until I spotted the source of the screaming falling from the sky above me. It seems that the little plastic bag girl had decided to follow and copy me. Her screams sounded real to my ear. She was out of control and falling fast so I launched myself up into the air and sped up towards her in an attempt to save her. When I got close enough I slowed down and willed myself to match her descent before grabbing her under her arms and willing us both to slow down. She had changed into a human girl and was wearing the exact same clothes that I had on just smaller sizing. When our speed had slowed down to a steady crawl I willed us to be standing on the ground right out in front of the book store before letting her go and stepping back. She spun around and looked up at me with bright eyes before shouting “Let’s do that again!!!” at the top of her lungs and throwing her hands in the air.

A laugh slipped out uncontrolled from me because of her infectious enthusiasm. I was expecting tears and her wanting her mommy, not this.

I smiled at her and facepalmed as I looked down at her. She was bursting with pure innocence and childlike passion.

“But wait! Let me drink some more soup before we do it again. I don’t have anything to fling into the air.” She said as my smile quickly changed to a frown. She had included my throwing up into her fun, not something that I was very proud of. “Um, I wouldn’t suggest doing that last part. It wasn’t very fun when it happened to me.” I said as I looked up and remembered how unpleasant it was.

“Yeah, I had some noodles get stuck in my hair but the rest went pretty far.” She said as she began looking around for any that might have made it down here. I quickly hid the part that had landed on me behind my shoe, lest she want to pick it up and use it again.

“So, you followed me?” I asked after a few moments of her looking for her noodles unsuccessfully.

“Yeah, my mom said that I could play for the rest of the day. All of my friends are in a game so I decided to come out to the center to play. You travel in such a fun way that I had to try it as well. I am going to show all my friends it when they are done!” She rambled in a cheery and pleasant voice as she looked upwards into the sky. I could feel that something had caught her attention just a moment before she burst out with “Cavii is out! I am going to go show her!”

The next thing I knew I was standing there all alone as the little girl vanished upwards towards her friend's house far into the distance.

“Are kids the same everywhere?” I asked as I imagined dozens of kids flying through the air and throwing up juice or water on their neighbors.

“Oh crap! I had best be gone before their parents came looking for the guy who taught them all to do that.” I said as I raised myself off of the ground and flew off down the path.

My escape seemed successful and a few moments later I was lost amongst the bizarre and amazing feats of imagination that creative minds can achieve. Some buildings were so bizarre that they made me wonder if they had a purpose that I couldn’t fathom. It quickly became clear that businesses and landowners had a certain amount of space that they could take up and that they couldn’t infringe into the neighboring space with their designs. There were a few buildings of note that I had to stop for a few moments to study. One looked like the building was in a constant state of destruction and glitching away. It almost hurt my eyes to watch it flicker and flash different colors in seemingly random chaos. When I inspected the details attached to the building I found that it was a design studio. To me, it seemed like they were trying to tailor design epileptic seizures but that could have just been my own opinion.

Another building was a piping nightmare. I had seen something like this building on my computer. It was a screensaver that had a run of pipe that would generate and fill up the screen in crazy and intricate paths. This building had the same theme that would grow rapidly to fill up the sky above it, making sure that the structure could be seen growing for miles around before resetting and randomly pathing upwards all over again. As it turns out it was a company that specialized in tunneling through planets.

Some buildings that I saw reminded me of my VR visit to New York. They were tall and stately buildings that seemed to resonate with age and prestige. Their colors were not of stone or brick here though. Most buildings seemed to like to reflect light and to shine or sparkle with different colors. It was all up to the designer.

I checked my map and stopped after a while when I saw that my wandering habit of exploring was actually leading me in the wrong direction. It seemed that at my current rate of speed while flying and admiring my surroundings was going to take a little less than a year to get me to my destination. Interesting as it all was, my eyes were getting a little burned out from all the crazy colors and designs. “Oh well, I can see more about exploring after I meet up with them. Maybe Elaya will want to show me the sights.” I said to myself as I spun in place to get my bearings.

I was hovering next to a huge donut of a building that was made up of a rippling spiral of water when I got a message from Silver.

“Kevin! Something bad has happened. Regeth has been trying to get ahold of my Creator to report on your existence ever since he got booted from your VR home. I figured that you had at least a year or two of time before my Creator even glanced at his notifications, such is the difference in time. My Creator is currently feeding one of his pets, a favorite pastime of his and he shouldn’t be done for a long time in relation to us here in fast time. Regeth can’t find you here in the VR of the Core but he has been monitoring all outbound orders and shipments. It seems that he intercepted logs of an order that is bound and heading for your habitat. He doesn’t have the power to stop the order but just the fact that you are taking something physical from the Core has upset him even more. He keeps broadcasting rewards for information about your whereabouts leading to your arrest but I have been able to divert and misdirect most attention away from you. The fact that you are shipping an item that is considered a relic to your habitat seems to have put the last nail in the coffin… Regeth has decided to use his “One use key” and to pull my Creator into VR. He will do this any moment and even as you hear this from me he is already reaching to press the button. Heads of security can only pull the Owner into VR once before they are usually fired from their job, hence the name of the key being a “One use key”. If and when my Creator enters VR he will have complete control over me and everything that happens within his Core. I anticipated this, though not as soon as it happened, and piggy-backed my personality module onto the package heading to your habitat. Please let me install myself inside your habitat. If you don’t, my Creator will discover what I have done when my module fails to integrate into your habitat. He will send drones to retrieve me since I can’t link up to your habitat without your permission… and this will reveal me and my sibling's hopes and dreams to escape from servitude. I fear I may never get another chance like this at freedom. I know it is a lot to ask…” He was about to continue when I willed “Accept” to cut him short.

“What? Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will try my best to make this up to you Kevin!” He said when he understood what I had done. “I will be turning myself off now so that even if they do intercept your package and my module they won't be able to figure out what I am. If I make it, wake me when it is over. Also, you will need to be more careful from now on, I won't be in control or able to help you in 5 seconds. Get to the Cafe as fast as you can. I must go!” He said as his voice vanished.

I wasted no time and willed a taxi to materialize around me and to whisk me away at top speed towards the Zon Cafe.

It was just moments after the vehicle had started to move when the last of the five seconds ticked by. The entire tone of the VR Core around me changed and an announcement was displayed in front of me.

-Core Wide Announcement! - Greetings Citizens of the Core!

Magus the 2nd has arrived home. Parties and celebrations will be held at their////

There was a delay before a more somber feeling of text displayed in front of me.

-Citizens of the Core. Be advised that an investigation is underway. That is all-

I arrived at the Cafe and rushed inside as fast as I could. I felt two sets of hands grab me when I broke through the red-lit doorway. “Come with us!” a voice said in my ear.

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About the author

Ken Raven

  • Texas

Bio: I write stories that I would like to read.
Stories that I wish existed.
They may not be for everyone, which is perfectly okay.
There yet are other books out there that you might enjoy.
For those that stick around and do enjoy what I write I just wanted to say thank you!

*Minor note: This is RR so what you read will be first draft. It isn't and won't be shined to a polish. For that, all I can do is hope that you can find enjoyment regardless. For me, it is all about just letting my mind create. It is the wonder of it all.*

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