The lights danced across the rippling waters, and I stood there on the beach, letting my backpack slip to the ground. People weren’t allowed to swim here. It wasn’t because of the water… or maybe I should say that the water wasn’t the most dangerous thing out there.
The two weeks they let people swim, the swimmers have to sign release forms stating that this isn’t VR, that life can be extinguished here in the blink of an eye and there was nothing, no program, no uploads, nothing to bring it back. Other than that people used this area to mostly shop in, or maybe to walk along the beach. Not many seashells here, but many pretty little pebbles. Sharp ones that quickly tried to cut the sole of my feet.
So I was supposed to worry about the boats, and stay away from their propellers. (In VR, it was pretty normal to play a game of Hang On by grabbing and seeing who among friends would be the last holding on.)
I was supposed to worry about currents. (Not follow them out for miles to be swimming with sharks and whales; there was no one here that would notice me go missing, and even if I was able to raise the Coast Guard, there was no guarantee.)
I was supposed to worry about the microorganisms and viruses multiplying in the water. (Unlike in VR, these would make me sick, possibly even kill me, and there was no “high score” for picking up the most.)
I was supposed to worry about everything, yet everything was the same though. Loud laughter across the waves (which I couldn’t turn up to hear or use subtitles with). Cold sand hungrily sucking at my feet (did the cold mean water? could I be infected this way?). Lights shimmering and flickering, but a little blurry (was that natural?). No scents of the ocean, no taste of slat upon my tongue. (There were other scents… was it true that this place smelled like trash?)
Everything was the same, I tried to tell myself. I could still contact mother Anne and mother Marie. All my friends would talk with me when they weren’t busy, or in Yuki’s case even when she was busy since she never stopped moving. I could access all the books in my room, all the reports I’d written. I’d even been able to score a room that was shaped like the one I’d used growing up on the space station – hexagonal, with gravity controls and everything wired to be automatic. And both my moms would be coming down to check on me in the first few weeks of my adjustment.
It’s just… everything else is not what I’m used to. That’s all.
I glanced at the landing card in my hand; no return time glowed in the faint light.I’ll just have to get used to it.
Can anyone ever get used to living in a mirror universe? Is that something that’s possible?