We hear a voice, although it's not clear where it is coming from. Our eyes open and reveal a spotless and sparse room with only the essential pieces of furniture. Everything in the room is coaxed in a white plastic laminate. There's a a young girl, around 16 or 17, laying with her belly against the bed and her heels kicking her butt.
"Are you coming tonight?" We can finally hear that it's Brandon and he sounds irritated, as if he has asked the question 100 times now.
From the girls view we see a hallucinatory world. An immersive ambient experience with a purple waves cast above her, similar to the northern lights if they were seen while on acid. There's a field of sounds pouring from every direction, music that matches perfectly with the hazy visuals- "Cherry-Coloured Funk" by the Cocteau Twins is playing.
Underneath the heavily layered and textured music she begins to hear Brandon's voice as a buzzing gnat inside her ear.
"Stephanie? Can you hear me?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"Fuck. Finally, what are you even doing?"
"Just hanging out."
"Alright well are you coming tonight?"
"Don't worry about it. Are you coming?"
"Alright come outside at 11pm."
"Cool see you then."
Stephanie was about to turn the simulation back on.
"Hey one last thing."
"You didn't take your pills, right?"
"Yeah don't worry. I flushed them down."
"Good. See you soon."
Stephanie found it hard to get back into the mood she was previously in. The music wasn't as intense and the visuals seemed dull. She begins clicking on a remote and the room changes into different scenes. From our view nothing is happening, the room remains the same- sterile and lifeless.
From Stephanie's view she is submerged in an aquatic environment, depicting an ancient under water city. She looks down to see her legs replaced with a single fin, like a mermaid, and in the distance a handsome merman swims in her direction.
"Oh my, Hello Stephanie. You look as beautiful as ever."
Stephanie cringes a bit. The last time she went through this simulation she was 8 years old and questions her younger self's taste.
Stephanie clicks the remote again and she's now seated atop the Eiffel tower, surrounded by Parisians on dinner dates.
"Hello Stephanie. You look delicious this evening. I would love to make love to you." Cedric says in a thick french accent.
Stephanie looked around. There was a beautiful sunset descending over the Parisian city. She sipped from her glass of chardonnay and went along with it.
As Cedric was undressing Stephanie in his apartment, she heard a knocking. It wasn't coming from Cedric's door it was coming from her own.
"Yeah Dad?" Stephanie had paused the simulation as Cedric was kissing her neck.
"Did you take your pills?"
"Yes dad." Stephanie groaned and resumed the simulation.
"Alright honey, love you."
There was only silence in return.
After a several hours of passionate love-making, they got dressed. Cedric told Stephanie about a party happening and she was invited. They walked through a perfect rendition of Paris at night. The world was updated hourly to match the real thing, with weather patterns and even real-time grafitti being synced up.
They arrived at an underground passage that led into the catacombs. You could hear the electronic music from the top of the stairs and as they walked deeper inside she felt the heavy bass pulsating against her skin. They entered the club that had dangling bird-cages with women wrapped in leather dancing. All sorts of people, real and simulations, dancing to the backdrop of ancient skulls.
Stephanie could hear that faint buzzing sound in her ear and went somewhere quiet.
"Hey where you you?" Brandon asked angrily, "I've been waiting out her for 30 minutes, hurry up!"
"Oh shit, I'll be there in a second." Stephanie paused the simulation and threw on an outfit. She was now wearing a short dress that was the same color as gasoline spilled on the road. She put on her platform sneakers that made her about a foot taller and some knee high socks.
Stephanie ran outside her house hoping nobody would spot her. Brandon was parked with his engine rumbling, he was driving an old-school hot-rod with its chrome engine raised above the hood. Neighbors were beginning to wake up from the noise and Stephanie slammed the door as Brandon stepped on the gas, creating a shockwave that triggered the houses flood lights.
Stephanie noticed Brandon gripping the cars clutch, it was stick shift. She had never been with a guy that could drive manual. Almost everybody drove self-driving cars at that point and she found Brandon swiftly shifting gears strangely erotic.
"So where are we headed?" Stephanie asked.
Brandon was busy maneuvering through a street dense with cars and pedestrians. Shifting gears rapidly.
From our vantage we see a flat and empty road with a single white car going incredibly fast. It appears as a blurred white streak against the concrete highway.
"The Dream Club." Brandon said with his eyes fixed on the road.
"You'll see. It's hard to explain but get ready for the experience of your life."
Brandon turned up the volume. The song "Halcyon On and On" by the Orbitals was playing. Nothing could be heard but the music and the screaming engine.
We skip ahead into the Dream Club. It's a a building without any objects inside, just oddly designed walls that narrow and open into a wavering path.
They pull up to the Dream Club. People are pouring from the exit falling onto the ground. There's a bright blue neon sign above titled "ENTER YOUR DREAMS." Stephanie walks out and the blue light reflects a mosaic of colors against her iridescent dress.
There's a long line to get in but Brandon skips over and puts an object in the bouncers front jacket. From our view, it's a plain white square without any markings. The bouncer lets them in and and presses a button against the entrance door.
Slowly Brandon and Stephanie walk through the corridor toward a faintly blue light. The walls get narrower and wider, and swerve from left to right. It feels like the more they walk the further the light gets but Brandon encourages Stephanie to keep going. As she continues walking she notices Brandon is no longer there, and the the walls begin to dissolve. She blinks and suddenly she's at her parents summer home, picking strawberries, at the age of three.
Her dad is sitting on a blanket with her mom. She notices something strange happen. Her dad goes form smiling to suddenly with his face pressed between her mothers legs, sobbing. Stephanie walks closer.
"Why is daddy crying?" she asks.
"Oh nothing honey. May I have a strawberry?" Her mother asks in a sweet voice.
"How much longer did they say?" Her father asked with tears streaming down his face.
The week after is when Stephanie's mother died of cancer.
Stephanie ran into the bushes and fell down, getting scratched up by thorns. She could hear her parents yelling her name, digging through the puddle of fallen leaves. She was yelling and then Brandon slapped her.
"Holy shit what's happening?" Brandon yelled.
Stephanie was heaving and unable to calm down.
Someone from the crowd that was surrounding her came up and put his thumb against the back of her neck. Holding it until the virtual mirage dissipated. Stephanie was now in a flat white world, without anything. There was a glowing sign that read "RESTART" she walked over and pressed the button underneath.