Julie placed motion detectors in the library and connected them to her grandfather’s computer. Then she took a pair of VR goggles and a piece of Latex out of her briefcase.“This is a prototype of the VRAI Seer I, grandpa.”

“That piece looks like a shower cap.”

“It is, but a shower cap with modifications. We wanted it to be easy and comfortable to wear. Sit down in your armchair and I’ll put it on for you. I thought you should be the first person not in ArkTech’s R&D to try it out.”

“Because I own the company?”

“And because you’re my favorite grandpa.” Reginald gave Julie a big smile as he sat down.

“That’s all right, I can manage myself.”

“Not yet, grandpa. The cap has sensors that need to be strategically placed.”

Julie placed the cap on Reginald’s head and adjusted its positioning. Then she handed him the VR goggles.

“These you can put on yourself, grandpa. Once you have them where you want them, I’ll attach them to the cap.”

“I can’t see anything,” complained Reginald after donning the glasses.

“Just wait a minute. There I’ve made the attachment. Now, stand up.”

“I still can’t see anything.” 

“That’s OK, I’ll help you.” Julie helped him stand, then walked him to the center of the room.

“Now, just stand still for a minute. Once I launch the app you’ll see a wall of options in front of you. That’s your menu. All Make a few selections, then we’ll get you started.”

“Whoa! That’s impressive,” Reginald admitted, once the menu screen displayed.

“I take it you can see it then. Just follow the prompts. They’ll guide you through the selection process.” Julie watched as Reginald stood in the middle of the library, stretching out his hands and pointing in the air. After he pointed to five spots, he started walking.

“Be careful, grandpa. You have room to take about three steps, then you need to walk in a different direction or you’ll lose the images.”

Reginald walked in different directions for ten minutes. Then he stretched out and pointed to places invisible to Julie, and walked around some more. After the third tour of the library, he stopped, chose “Off”, and gave her a loud “harrumph.”

He took off the goggles and sat down in the armchair again. 

“What’s the matter, grandpa? You look angry.”

“What is all this nonsense? Did you program this to show me what you wanted me to see?”

“That was all you, grandpa. The Seer I is programmed to give you a virtual view of your future. Where did you go? What did you see?”

“I went to the Club, one month from now. I tried to look at the stock prices in the newspaper and on the wall monitor. They were all blurred out.”

“One part of the algorithm blurs out details like that. We can’t have every user trying to manipulate the stock market, or other events, after they return.”

“I guess I can understand that. Then I went to the villa in Spain, to see if Nancy or Reginald V was there. But it wouldn’t let me select the villa without a date, and it wouldn’t accept ten years from now.”

“One of the current limitations is five years forward.”

“I chose one year from now. That worked. The villa looked the same as it does today, and Nancy was there. I didn’t see myself. Does that mean I was dead, and she inherited?”

“Not necessarily. It means she was there, certainly. You may have been there, but in a part of the villa you didn’t visit. Or you could have been somewhere else instead of at the villa. Or it might mean you passed away by then.”

“Then I chose my funeral, and the date was greyed out.”

“You can’t know the date of your funeral, in the current iteration of the Seer I. If you actually saw your funeral, that means it does occur within the five year limit of the device.”

“Oh, I saw my funeral, all right. Nancy was there, and she looked just like she does now. So were Marsha, Karen, Sheila, and Judy. None of them had aged one single bit. Samantha was even there, looked just like she does today. All the grandkids were there, and they hadn’t grown up.”

“The Seer I draws from your own mind, grandpa. Memories, beliefs, imagination. That means you think you will pass away soon.”

“Harrumph. Well, I heard what they said about me. Everyone I heard had something nasty to say, no matter how much I left them in my will.”

Reginald pulled the shower cap off and threw it at Julie. Then he threw the goggles. “Fix it!” he bellowed. “It’s not ready for the public yet. Or should I say, the public is not ready for the Seer I.”

“I’m so sorry, grandpa.” Julie picked up the goggles and the cap and beat a hasty retreat from the library, leaving the sensors there. The computer was Reginald’s. She let herself out, got into her Jaguar, and left.

Reginald stomped out of the library, down to his study, slammed the door, and stalked to his desk. He snatched the antique landline handset off the telephone and punched the #1, his speed dial for Norman, his attorney.”

“Grayson, Farthing, and Whatt. How may I help you?”

“Get me Norman, and get him now.”

“Whom shall I say is calling, please?”

“Reginald Witherset IV.”

“One moment, please.”

By the time you say the word moment, Paula, several moments have passed.” Reginald’s acerbic but accurate thought appeased him just a tiny bit while he waited for Norman.

“Hello, Reginald. Paula said you sounded quite upset.”

“I am, Norman. I’ve just been to my own funeral, and …”

“You’ve what?”

“What? I said I just imagined my funeral, and I need to make some more changes to the will.”

“I thought I heard you say you’d been to your own funeral, Reginald.” Norman chuckled. “Maybe my hearing is starting to go. How’s Friday look for you?”

“I need to do this now, Norman. Today, if possible.”

“Well, I only have one appointment left today, and that’s in half an hour.”

“Hold that one for me. I’ll be there.” Reginald pressed the button to hang up and started to ring George to ask for Hammond to bring the car around. Then he remembered that Hammond had the day off. Deciding there wasn’t time to involve George he took his spare keys out of the desk and rushed to the garage.

The Bentley roared to life when Reginald turned her over. He pulled out of the garage, spun tires on the ornamental gravel, and sped towards the gate. As he left the gate he looked left, saw no cars, looked right, saw it was clear, and accelerated out of the drive. Right in front of a delivery truck. There was no time to stop, so the truck T-boned the Bentley. The airbag deployed, but Reginald was already dead.

September 03, 2020 21:42

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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