The following piece of fiction contains strong sexual
content and is meant to be read only by adults. If you
are not at least 18 years old, or if you are offended by
this type of material, please do not read any further.
"The Garden of Tranquility"
Jace Smith propelled himself smoothly along the ocean floor
with slow, even kicks, his arms trailing loosely by his sides.
The warm water was so clear it was nearly invisible, but he could
feel it sliding and rippling along his body as he passed through it.
He was mesmerized by the white sand sliding past below him
and by the sound of his own slow even breathing, and when the
bottom suddenly fell away into a sheer coral cliff he gasped with
surprise, feeling his sphincter contract and goosebumps break out
on his arms. He hung there in the still water, two hundred feet
above the sea bottom, feeling like Wile E. Coyote just before
another plunge into the desert.
"Awesome," he muttered to himself.
He gazed down along the cliff, noting the way the water
slowly gained a deeper shade of blue with increasing depth. Far
below him, sinuous shapes moved in slow circles, forming and
reforming into small groups, never stopping.
He swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and then arrowed his
way straight down along the cliff with powerful thrusts of his
fins. As he approached a depth of a hundred and fifty feet the
sharks resolved into view, and he paused to study them with a
There were three different species in this particular habitat
- nurse sharks, tiger sharks, and hammerheads. As he watched, a
large silver fish strayed too close to a tiger shark, and was
ripped in half by a single savage snap. The tiger shark began
swallowing the upper half of the fish, while the lower half, still
twitching, was immediately set on by several smaller nurse sharks.
The commotion attracted the attention of one of the big
hammerheads, which glided over and surveyed the situation with a
baleful stare from one hideous yellow eye. Then it torpedoed into
the fray and seized the remaining scrap of fish from the nurse
sharks. A few seconds after the initial strike, the ocean
returned to its deceptively calm state.
Jace allowed himself to drift down into the layer of water
containing the sharks, and soon found himself surrounded by dozens
of the gray, incurious creatures. He studied their movements
carefully, noting the interactions between members of the same
species and of different species. Then he identified a few
individuals by their scar patterns and followed each for a few
minutes, studying their behavior.
There was a beeping sound in his ear, and a voice said "Five
more minutes of air."
The warning distracted him for a moment, making him lose
track of the twelve-foot hammerhead he had been watching. As he
scanned around for it, he realized to his surprise that the sharks
were swimming away, dispersing along the cliff face and leaving
the ocean suddenly empty. Then he saw it. A shadow, rising up
from the shady blue depths, growing in size as it approached.
"What the fuck...?"
He felt a queasy trickle of fear in his stomach, and he
forced himself to breath evenly and remain where he was.
The creature was immense, easily twenty feet long, and he had
never seen anything like it. It vaguely resembled a shark, but
its tail was horizontal instead of vertical. It had a head like
an alligator, with knife-like teeth overlapping the lower half of
the jaw. And it was purple.
He watched it with a grim smile of disbelief on his face,
rotating his body to face the nightmare it as it circled him.
After three circuits, the creature flicked its tail and surged
directly toward him, jaws agape. It veered at the last second and
passed within a few feet of him, and as it rocketed by he saw its
smooth purple skin resolve into a geometric pattern of polygons.
He braced himself for a violent shaking from the creature's wake,
but the water remained perfectly still, as if it had been a ghost.
The creature swam directly away from him, its curiosity
apparently satisfied, and disappeared back into the depths.
"Thirty seconds of air," said the calm voice in his ear.
He shook his head and grunted with amusement. Then he
started kicking for the surface, suddenly anxious to get back to
At about eighty feet his air ran out. Enjoying the
challenge, he kicked harder and accelerated upward toward the
shimmering silver ceiling. Then, not ten feet from the surface,
he felt a sickening lurch as he popped upward and then sank back
down again. He was stuck, unable to move up to the surface no
matter how hard he kicked, and now his lungs were burning like
"You're on the surface, Jace!" crackled a loud voice. "Take
off your regulator and breathe."
He spit out his regulator and in a breath of dry
laboratory air. Unsettled by the sensation of breathing
underwater without a regulator, he ripped off his mask. The ocean
disappeared like the mirage that it was, and his laboratory
resolved into view. The violent transition was too much for his
brain to handle, and he vomited violently into an orange bucket
next to the VR station, placed there for just that purpose.
When he was done, his assistant Todd spoke with a worried
look on his round face.
"What happened? Why didn't you breathe?"
"Because I was still six feet underwater, that's why! The
program must have gotten screwed up on my depth. I can't imagine
why, can you?" This last was delivered with more than a little
Todd was visibly crushed. "You didn't like the Barnesaurus?"
"If you're referring to that purple monstrosity, no, I
As his stomach settled down and his eyes focused on the
familiar environment of his company's testing lab, Jace felt his
normal equanimity returning. He saw that Todd, who was the best
VR programmer he knew and a fiercely loyal employee, was pale and
close to tears.
"Listen, don't mind me," he said. "I just hate getting
cybersick. The Barnesaurus was actually pretty cool. Although it
deconvoluted as it went by, and didn't leave a wake."
"It's not done yet," said Todd. "I finished the prototype
last night, and thought I would surprise you with it."
"It surprised me. Did you come up with that design
Todd shook his head and grinned, his good spirits returning.
"Sure looks that way, doesn't it? But it's actually a dinosaur.
Creatures that looked a lot like that guy actually existed a
hundred million years ago. I downloaded all the physical specs
from the Smithsonian Archive."
Jace peeled off his custom skintight VR suit, and began
wiping the thin layer of conductive jelly off his lean, fit body
with a towel. In his early thirties, he ran his own company,
Custom Virtual Environments, and was one of the leading minds in
the field. He was a handsome with a lean, tanned face and
alert blue eyes that radiated intelligence and curiosity.
"So these dinosaurs were purple?" he asked.
"Well...that color would have camouflaged it at very low
depths," said Todd, not sounding very convincing. "But it's just
a guess. The real name is a mouthful, so I named it after Barney,
that kids' dinosaur everyone used to hate."
"Well, it was actually quite impressive, Todd. But this
ocean environment is supposed to be accurate down to the smallest
detail. The scientists at Woods wouldn't be amused."
"Right, right. But I thought we could market a version of
this environment to the arcades. I think people are gonna jump at
the chance to swim with the sharks, and having the occasional sea
monster drop in like that will kick ass."
Jace grimaced. "Until someone has a heart attack. Then it's
our ass that gets kicked by a lawsuit."
Todd shrugged. They both were fully aware of the recent
trend of people dying in VR. Recent improvements in the
technology had led to an unforeseen quantum leap in the quality of
the experience. At the current level of sensory input, the human
brain was interpreting the artificial surroundings as reality.
Customers in the VR arcades were forgetting that they were in a
game environment, and were responding to monster attacks,
gunshots, and car crashes as if they were real.
Jace finished toweling off and stepped into a pair of faded
jeans. "It's late," he said. "Why don't you take off and get
some rest. Don't worry, we'll find some use for the Barnesaurus.
Maybe we'll toss it into the next version of our SCUBA training
Todd smiled dutifully, but looked uncomfortable. "Are you
coming back later tonight?"
Jace was tying his running shoes and didn't respond right
"Yes, I've got some stuff I'd like to work on alone."
"You're going into V-World to see her aren't you?"
Jace sighed and nodded.
"You shouldn't do that alone. It's too dangerous. You're
totally submerged in an environment that's generated somewhere
outside our lab. If their environment crashes, or goes haywire,
our computer here may not be able to compensate. It could cause-"
"A brain seizure or a heart attack," finished Jace. "I know
"Of course you do. You contributed to the original medical
journal article on cybertrauma. What I'm trying to hint at here
is that you shouldn't trust Xanadu to have your best interests at
heart. No offense."
Jace smiled. "I appreciate your concern, Todd. Really. But
I have an excellent working relationship with Xanadu Software."
He didn't tell his assistant that what he was going to do tonight
was riskier than he even imagined.
After a quick dinner at a local restaurant, Jace returned to
the nondescript warehouse that housed his company. All the
available floor space was covered with computers, biophysical
testing equipment, and prototype personal VR stations, leaving
only narrow aisles for moving around. Only in its fourth year of
operation, Custom Virtual Environments was already outgrowing its
Passing by the older-model VR station he had used to test the
ocean environment, Jace walked over to an advanced prototype
station his company was developing. He switched on the interface
computer and used voice commands to launch the control program as
he stripped off his clothes and sprayed conductive fluid on his
"Virtual Explorer ready," said a soft female voice. "Please
"Bradbury Hub," said Jace. "I'm going to take the scenic
route to the Club."
He pulled on his VR suit, and after a moment of deliberation
he removed the fabric panel covering his groin and replaced it
with a larger unit that fit around his genitals. Then he stepped
inside the station, which resembled a small shower stall, and
pulled the door shut behind him.
The muted hum of servomotors filled the station as padded
sections of biomimetic plastic molded themselves around his body.
Jace dropped his visor into place and watched the glowing text
scroll by as the configuration program ran. He was asked to flex
his arms and his legs, and then to turn his head from side to
side. Then a series of geometric shapes appeared in front of him,
and he manipulated them as asked.
"System calibration complete," said the female voice.
"Contacting Bradbury Hub."
After a few seconds of total darkness, Jace suddenly found
himself in a small room with a shiny metal door directly in front
of him. He reached out and activated the door latch, noting with
satisfaction the perfect visual match between hand and lever and
the realistic feel of the smooth, cool aluminum against his palm.
The door slid open, revealing a huge corridor that resembled
a crowded airport terminal. This was Bradbury Hub, the central
point of the rapidly growing entity known as V-World. From the
earliest days of VR, people had felt the need to organize
different VR environments into a three-dimensional grid of
locations, like a real city. Now V-World spread out around
Bradbury Hub like a bizarre, dreamlike metropolis. No two people
experienced V-World in exactly the same way, but many people
thought of it as their second home.
Jace stepped out into the corridor, joining the stream of
virtual citizens who were using the Hub to move from one location
to another. Many of them looked like normal people, although most
wore strange costumes. Some took on exaggerated physical
characteristics, and a few weren't even human. As usual, Jace
chose to simply resemble himself.
Walking behind three Imperial stormtroopers who were no doubt
heading to the popular Gaming Level, Jace located the central
tower on the detailed overhead map. It wasn't necessary to walk
anywhere in V-World, of course, you could always just "zap"
directly to your desired location. It was an interesting
sociological phenomenon that people often preferred to move around
the fashioned way.
A few minutes later he stood in front of an unobtrusive door
made of polished green wood. He touched a yellow panel next to
"Welcome, Mr. Jace Smith," said a male voice. The door
dissolved from view with an elegant shimmering effect that bespoke
high-level programming and plenty of throughput. Jace stepped
forward into the small, old-fashioned elevator. As the door
resolved back into place, a wiry figure wearing black ninja garb
made an acrobatic leap into the elevator.
"Bad idea," said Jace with a grin. "Security here is very
The ninja didn't reply, because he was already frozen in
place, disconnected from V-World by the Club's control program.
There was a low pitched buzzing sound, and the ninja disintegrated
into a small pile of charred ashes, which then vanished.
"We apologize for the intrusion, Mr. Jace Smith."
The elevator door shimmered opened again, and Jace stepped
out into the 21st Century Club, the most exclusive private club in
V-World. Membership was exclusive, and the cost of the required
personal VR equipment was prohibitive. Many of the members were
celebrities and politicians who used the Club to socialize
anonymously or to satisfy their kinkier cravings without being
caught by the media. Other members were successful entrepreneurs
and executives who found the Club an excellent place to make
The throughput assigned to each member when they were inside
the Club was much higher than in Bradbury Hub, and the citizens
milling around the bar in the middle of the large circular room
appeared with a correspondingly greater amount of detail. As Jace
smiled and greeted people, he could see individual hairs,
sparkling eyes, and smooth, realistic skin.
He drifted toward the curved outer window, which afforded a
spectacular 360-degree view of V-World from the perspective of a
hundred-floor skyscraper. A riotous, hallucinogenic quilt of
flashing lights, tangled streets, and gravity-defying architecture
extended as far as the eye could see.
Just west of the central tower was the huge Adult Village, a
sea of glowing pink neon advertising every sexual service that
could be conceived by the fertile human imagination. The fact
that virtual sex was a mediocre experience at best with current
technology didn't stop it from being the number-one activity in V-
To the south stretched a long row of virtual casinos, where
more money was wagered every day than in Las Vegas. A growing
chorus of social commentators warned that V-World was creating a
community of modern lotus-eaters who would drag society down into
a morass of unproductivity, and the view from the 21st Century
Club was often used to illustrate their point.
Jace's heart was beating rapidly, but not because of the
view, which he was quite familiar with. His eyes scanned the
crowd in the Club continuously, but as usual, her voice came from
directly behind him.
"Looking for someone, Jace Smith?"
He turned and smiled. "Karma. You're late as usual."
The woman who stood facing him was breathtaking. She had an
exotic heart-shaped face with high cheekbones, a small nose, and
large, widely-set eyes of constantly changing color. Tonight she
had long black hair which was wound into an intricate knot that
echoed the design imprinted on her blue silk dress. Her
appearance was slightly different each time Jace saw her, and this
time her features had been subtly morphed to give them an
Her physical beauty was not unusual in a world where citizens
chose their own appearance, of course. What set her apart was the
quality of her image. While all the patrons in the Club had an
image quality higher than the average citizen, Karma appeared with
a level of perfection that was stunning. A living, breathing
woman down to the tiniest detail, she seemed to be lit from within
by a primal glow.
After a few seconds spent absorbing Jace's gaze, Karma raised
an eyebrow and said "You like the dress?"
Jace nodded, glad he wasn't programmed to blush in this
environment. "Can I touch it?"
He brushed his knuckles along the side of her ribcage. The
silk was cool and slippery, but he thought he could sense the
warmth of her flesh underneath.
"Incredible," he breathed.
She pouted playfully. "I only wish it was me you thought was
incredible, and not just my dress."
"Everything about you is incredible" said Jace. "You're
better every time I see you."
She smiled and twirled playfully, causing the dress to float
up around her thighs and then settle back in place. "Thank you.
I wouldn't be possible without your new biointerface technology."
Jace smiled at the common V-World indulgence of treating
one's virtual self as a separate entity from the real version. He
didn't know the real person behind the beautiful image he was
facing. Curiously, he didn't really care. The entity he knew as
Karma was intriguing, sexy, and self-consistent. To use the
V-World expression, Jace was virtually in love with her. That she
was a rep for a huge software company with whom he was currently
negotiating an alliance was a fact he tried not to dwell on.
"You've used our biointerface technology and taken it way
beyond anything we've been able to accomplish," said Jace. "I'm
glad I lent you the prototype."
Karma tilted her head to the side and purred "With our
software and your hardware, we hold the future of V-World in our
"So why are negotiations between CVE and Xanadu Software
going so slowly? The outlined plan on the table is fair, but you
They smiled at each other like friends who have been
having the same argument for years.
"Oh, Jace...let's not talk business tonight. You should
experience the new software from the inside. It's like nothing
you've ever imagined."
She stepped closer, almost pressing herself against him, and
whispered in his ear. "I want to give you a demonstration that
will show you the full potential."
Jace nodded, and they walked hand-in-hand to an elevator
unit. He could feel jealous stares from other patrons as they
waited for the door to open. Once inside, Karma spoke the
coordinates of the main Xanadu campus, and added "Garden of
The elevator dissolved completely, leaving them standing in a
small, formal garden. In front of them was a smooth rock wall
with a small waterfall cascading down into a round pool. A tall,
perfectly-trimmed hedge enclosed the garden on the other three
sides. There were no physical entrances or exits to the garden,
creating an atmosphere of privacy and solitude.
The grounds consisted of a thick, closely-mown lawn from
which small fruit trees grew at artfully random intervals. The
level of graphics was equal to the image of Karma herself, and
although Jace had been in environments created by Xanadu's new
software before, he once again found himself marveling at the
glowing, jewel-like perfection of every detail.
"They wanted this environment to create a feeling of
relaxation and inner peace," said Karma. "It's based on a real
garden on the grounds of the Japanese royal palace. Come here - I
want to show you something."
She led him over to the pool beneath the waterfall and
pointed downward. Beneath the rippled, shimmering surface swam
several colorful koi. They were as realistic in their appearance
and motions as any artificial creature Jace had seen in V-World.
"Beautiful," he said. He dipped his hand into the cool water
and reached toward a large white one with orange spots. Instead
of swimming away, it ignored him completely, and his hand passed
right through it. The minor discontinuity made his heart pound
and his stomach lurch, and he realized how deeply he was embedded
in this alternative reality.
"They're visual only," explained Karma. "There's a real pool
with real koi in it, and these fish are a real-time mirror of
Jace remembered Todd and his shark programs, and was
comforted by the thought that they could still teach Xanadu a
thing or two about VR programming.
"This place is beautiful," said Jace truthfully.
"You haven't really experienced it yet," said Karma
seriously. "Are you ready?"
Jace nodded. "How does this work?"
"Xanadu's computer is standing by to take over. You just
need to open a direct interface to your own computer and tell it
to switch you over."
Jace took a deep breath and said "Jace Smith to control.
Request direct link to Virtual Explorer."
He heard a soft beep in his left ear and his female computer
said "Control to Jace Smith. Direct link open."
"Requesting transfer to the local control program. Maintain
current status and position."
There was a pause, and Jace had the silly notion that his
computer was going to refuse, or give him a motherly lecture on
the dangers of outside control programs.
"Successfully linked to Xanadu control. Touch your palms
together to initiate."
Jace touched his palms together and the universe flickered
out of existence, then returned a moment later. The first thing
he noticed was the sound of the waterfall, which was louder and
more musical. Then he took a breath and inhaled the sweet scent
of grass, flowers, and soft earth.
"Jace? Are you all right?""
"My God...I can smell the garden!"
Karma beamed a radiant smile. "I told you you would be
She reached up and plucked a heavy, pink peach from a thin branch
that hardly looked strong enough to bear its weight. She bit into
it, and Jace heard the delicate sound of her teeth slicing through
the ripe, juicy flesh.
"Delicious," she said. She held it up to his lips.
He leaned forward and bit into the fruit. A sunburst of
flavor exploded inside his mouth, and he gasped. Juice dribbled
down his chin as he stared at her in disbelief. He chewed the
pulpy mouthful and swallowed it, feeling it dissolve away into
nothing as it reached the back of his mouth.
"They've figured out how to generate tastes and smells by
manipulating very small electromagnetic fields around the brain.
As I understand it, if you're biting into something that looks and
feels like peach, your brain is already anticipating that it will
taste like a peach and just needs a little encouragement."
She put her arms around his neck, tilted her head up, and
licked the peach juice off his chin. "Don't you want to know what
*I* taste like, Jace Smith?"
He kissed her gently on the lips, then pressed his mouth
firmly onto hers, and she melted against him. He ran his hands
down her back and pressed his palms against the firm swell of her
buttocks, and she mewled deep in her throat and slipped her warm
tongue into his mouth.
Jace was suddenly aware of the normal male sexual response.
But instead of the expected uncomfortable resistance of his tight
VR suit, his cock seemed to be growing smoothly, straining
joyously upward. He separated himself slightly from Karma and
looked down. The utilitarian virtual clothing he was wearing
earlier had been replaced with thin, loose-fitting cotton pants
and a tunic.
"You're dressed to match the Japanese theme," said Karma.
She reached down and touched his cock through the tented fabric.
A throbbing, pleasurable sensation coursed through his body, and
"I'm glad you wore the genital unit. This is one particular
biointerface I haven't been able to test yet," she added with
smile. "How does this feel?" She was gently rubbing and
squeezing, exploring the expanding length of him.
"Unbelievable." He noticed that her nipples were poking at
the thin silk of her dress, and he slid a hand upward until he was
cupping one firm breast. Her nipple felt like a warm marble, and
he rolled it between his fingertips. "How does that feel?"
They kissed again, and Jace found the zipper in the back of
the dress. It opened easily, making a perfect, crisp unzipping
sound. She stepped back and eased the dress forward off her
shoulders. It slithered down her body with a soft whisper, ending
up in a puddle at her feet. Of course, she wasn't wearing
anything underneath. He held his arms up tentatively, drinking in
the sight of her, and she moved forward until her small, white
breasts were pressed against his hands.
"Do you like my body, Jace?"
"Of course. Jesus, Karma..."
"You're mixing your religions. The reason I ask is..."
She closed her eyes, and he suddenly felt her growing
under his palms. Startled, he released his grip and gaped.
"...I can make any sort of adjustments you might prefer."
He laughed out loud. Her were now large heavy
globes, out of proportion to her narrow frame, but mouthwatering
just the same.
"That's maybe a little too big," he said. "They were fine
"As you wish..." Her shrunk back to their previous
"So what do you think? See any profitable applications from
this sort of thing?"
Jace shook his head slowly. "This is beyond profitable.
This is...Karma, it's like we're really here." He waved his arm
in a sweeping gesture. "The garden, the waterfall, you, me. It's
real. Do you know what I mean? This isn't just a game any more.
This is as real as anything. I'm trying to remind myself that I'm
sitting inside a little booth in an empty warehouse on the
outskirts of Chicago, and my mind can't begin comprehend it."
Karma nodded, and he thought her eyes looked sad. "Of course
I know what you mean. But don't get all metaphysical on me, Jace.
We have to leave the implications of this to the philosophers and
She dropped her eyes to the ground, and he wondered if she
was suddenly embarrassed by her nudity. He realized that as a
gentleman he should really be naked as well, and he started to
remove his tunic.
"I'm authorized to tell you that Xanadu is accepting the
latest proposal," said Karma.
Jace was taken aback. "Really? Just like that?"
She was staring at him with a hint of a smile on the corner
of her mouth. "You knew Xanadu would try to reverse engineer your
VR station. I guess you were pretty confident they would fail."
Jace answered her smile. "The biomimetic plastic is what
makes it possible. Making it is, to put it mildly, tricky."
"As in two hundred of our best scientists tearing out their
hair and getting nowhere, yes."
"That explains the delay in the negotiations, I suppose."
They looked into each other's eyes, and Jace said "So what
"There's a lot of virtual testing that needs to be done.
Perhaps we should get started?"
It didn't really answer his question, but he wasn't in the
mood to push it. Especially since she was stroking his cock
through the thin cotton of his pants again. Their mouths met in a
hungry kiss, and she undid the drawstring and let the pants fall
to grass. Holding his cock in her hand, she kissed her way down
his smooth, muscled chest until she was on her knees. She kissed
the head of his cock and then let it slide into her mouth until it
was pressed against the back of her throat. He moaned with
pleasure, and she winked up at him. Then she began him
with long undulating strokes that were as smooth and slippery as
the mouthful of peach he had tasted earlier.
He pressed his hips forward, and then began thrusting against
Karma's mouth, increasing the pace. He felt his climax starting
to build, and he tried to relax and back away from the edge. Jace
prided himself on his sexual control, but this time he seemed to
be as trigger-happy as a teenager.
"Karma, wait...slow down. I don't want to..."
Instead of slowing down, and she reached up and cupped his
testicles in her left hand. Her mouth became an endless devouring
tunnel, and a sudden, brilliant flash of pleasure bloomed inside
him, leaving him weak and rubbery.
He dropped to his knees to face her, and she smiled at the
consternation on his face. "Wasn't it good for you?"
"Incredible. But I wanted it to last."
"We're just getting started, Jace Smith. That was a virtual
orgasm - all in your head."
Jace nodded; he had been figuring it out as she spoke. As
the echoes of the climax faded inside him, he could feel that his
cock was still hard, anxious, and throbbing.
"Would you like me to do it again?"
"Of course. But it's your turn."
She sighed dreamily and leaned back into the soft,
grass. "I knew you wouldn't be a selfish lover, Jace."
He spread her legs gently and kissed her smooth white thighs.
Her was a delicate pink flower peeking out of a nest of
silky black hair. He kissed it, and teased her open with the tip
of her tongue. Her taste was unexpectedly sweet, like a faintly
musky peach. He looked up at her with a smile.
"You're full of surprises, Karma."
"You seemed to enjoy that bite of peach so much..."
"You taste even better."
She stretched and arched, offering herself up to him, and he
buried his face hungrily between her thighs, lapping up her sweet
essence like a devouring a saucer of milk. She stiffened, and
then cried out her pleasure in a voice a sweet and pure as a
Before she had fully recovered, he was on top of her,
sliding inside her. She was tight and hot and slippery, and when
she wrapped her legs around his back and pulled him in deeper
another orgasm flooded through his body, taking him by surprise.
As with the first one, his cock remained hard and his balls
"I don't believe this," he said.
"Believe it," she said. "And while you're believing it,
please fuck me."
He complied, and they spent the next hour using the
technology of the future to engage in the most primitive and basic
of human activities. Jace eventually discovered that with each
virtual orgasm he was moving closer to the real one, and the tenth
one continued to build in intensity until he thought he would pass
out from the pleasure, and then he finally felt the semen emptying
out of him.
Karma rolled him over onto his side and kissed him on the
lips, but he was already asleep.
He woke a few minutes later and saw that Karma's eyes were
closed and her face was wet with tears. He kissed her cheeks and
her nose, drying the tears away. Peach again.
"What is it, Karma?"
She opened her eyes, and they were the sky-blue of a newborn.
"They are going to betray you, Jace. Xanadu isn't going to
enter an alliance with your company. As soon as they figure out
how to manufacture your VR stations, they're going to cut you out
of the loop and bring this whole package to the marketplace."
Jace thought about it. What he had just experienced
fulfilled the wildest dreams of the cyber community and the direst
prophesies of the neo-Luddites.
"I believe you," he said. "Virtual reality will be better
than reality. Not only will people prefer to spend their time in
V-World, but they'll do anything to get here. A company that
springs this technology on the world will gain more than market
share and obscene profits, they'll control the future of the human
"Jace...I've known what Xanadu was up to all along. I've
Jace was silent for a few seconds. When he spoke his voice
was cold and even. "No. I always knew who you represented and
where your loyalties were. More importantly, I knew where the
technology I was developing would eventually lead. It just
happened faster than I thought."
She sat up next to him and hugged her knees to her chest.
"Pandora's box has been cracked open. Can it be shut again?"
"I'm the only person who knows how to build the
biointerface," said Jace. "The details are in my computer files,
but they are heavily encrypted."
"You need to go back to your lab and destroy those files, and
soon. Xanadu will find a way to access them."
Jace nodded. He had no doubt that Xanadu could access his
computer remotely despite the firewall. All his sensitive files
were protected by an encryption system that was supposed to be
unbreakable, but suddenly anything seemed possible. He stood up,
and pulled Karma to her feet.
"Will they let me go?"
"I think so."
He kissed her softly, and said "Jace Smith to control.
Exiting virtual environment."
"Xanadu control to Jace Smith. Confirming environment
The garden faded away slowly into darkness, and then he was
back inside his claustrophobic VR station. The local computer
sensed his arrival and activated the release mechanism. When the
plastic sheaths had retracted fully, he pushed open the door and
stepped out into his familiar lab.
Feeling dizzy and exhausted, he walked over to his private
office and placed his palm on the door lock. The door slid open,
and the lights and computer came on. He sat down in front of his
terminal typed in a series of complex passkeys. Then he brought
up the relevant files and deleted them one by one, using an
application that overwrote the sectors on the optical drive with
When he was done, he turned off the computer and pushed
himself away from his desk. Then he was startled by a soft knock
on his door frame.
"Jace? Everything OK?" Todd was standing in the doorway, a
concerned expression on his face. "Sorry to bother you. I came
back to make sure you exited Xanadu's system safely."
Jace was touched by Todd's concern. "I've had a pretty wild
night. But I'm fine."
"You want to tell me about it?"
"We're not going to ally ourselves with Xanadu, Todd. In
fact, we're not going to market the new biointerface at all. I
just deleted all the files and data."
Todd nodded slowly. "I understand."
"Of course. But you can't stop progress, Jace. Pandora's
box, and all that."
Jace smiled grimly. "That seems to be the relevant analogy.
But maybe I've delayed progress long enough for the world to catch
up with the implications of it."
"You did the right thing, I'm sure."
Jace stood up and stretched. "I'm going to go home and get
Todd looked like he wanted to say something else, but he
finally just nodded and said "Sounds like a plan. We can talk
about it more tomorrow."
Jace walked over to the main exit, still feeling vaguely
disoriented. He turned the latch on the steel door and pulled it
open. The doorway was completely blocked by a featureless white
wall. He stared at it dumbly for a few seconds, then pressed his
hand against it. It had no texture or temperature, it simply
exerted a smooth resistance that prevented his hand from going
He had been tricked. Xanadu Software had his passkeys now,
and they would be decoding his files this very moment. Jace
realized that only one person besides himself could have created a
such perfect virtual replica of CVE and his personal office
He turned around, but Todd wasn't there. Instead, it was
Karma looking back at him. They stared at each other for a few
She dropped her eyes and nodded. "I'm sorry, Jace. I
wouldn't have done it for money. But they told me I would be able
to make love to you."
The End, "The Garden of Tranquility"
© 1998 by DG (Dionysian1@hotmail.com)
1) Thanks to The Bear (Baird Allen) and Bitbard for their helpful feedback.
And thanks to Bear for proofing.
2) All my are available on my web page: