The technician gave him a final thumbs-up after testing the radio link between Rob's neck plug and the device. Like most people, that's what Rob called it, not liking the way his mouth has to work to say its full name. The guy flipped a few switches to activate the thing, closed the cover, then left.
Rob slowly scanned the room, looking at every detail. It was large, much larger than any normal bedroom, and all the walls were hung with black velvet drapes. The center of the room was occupied by a huge circular bed, fully ten feet across, and covered with a thick satin comforter. He was seated at it's 'foot', opposite the large bookcase-like headboard. "Impressive," he decided. "So much attention to detail, getting the mood just right."
Ignoring that thought, he scanned the rest of the room. A large hot tub occupied one corner, not too far from the built-in bar. In the opposite corner were some tables, padded for comfort, which could be used for massages, among other things.
In a third corner were some standing dividers, blocking off his view of the walk-in closets and the bathroom. The hot tub corner was completely glassed, with french doors opening out onto a balcony which gave one a magnificent view of downtown, the river, and the ocean beyond. The city lights gave that corner of the room a faint blue-white sheen which reflected off the ceiling. The only other illumination came from the half-dozen candelabra, containing three dozen lit red tapers, giving everything else in the room a yellow glow.
He knew why he was here, knew what would happen, as did everyone else. The script had been read and approved by all. It had to be, since this was a full test of the device, only the second one since approval was given to link more than two people into one scene. Even knowing that, he was still excited, anticipating what would come. He watched the far wall, looking at where the door was concealed, waiting for her to appear.
Doreen pushed open the door and stepped into the velvet-lined room. Fighting her nervousness, she closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath. No, not part of the script, but necessary for her. It was allowed. The script was flexible that way. Scanning the room, she saw everything Rob had, except that she also saw Rob.
Tall, well-built, blonde and sexy, he wore a thick black kimono and little else. He contrasted well with the pale yellow of the satin behind him. Gathering her courage, she stepped into the room.
[ Dr. Feldan monitored the thought traces of the five subjects under his purview. He could do little, as others controlled the devices and their inputs and outputs, and still others carefully monitored the physical and mental reactions of the subjects for the purposes of this test. His responsibility was to the long term mental health and stability of these five. There were at least another two dozen subjects, he knew, but they were not his concern. He watched carefully, noting all the tell-tale slips and jolts indicating the state of awareness of each of his five, and the level of mental stimulation provided and accepted.
Bored, he began to think of the history of each of them in turn, as he checked the individual sets of readouts. Being the best, he was handed the oddballs, the special ones, the cases needing more care and attention than the rest. He accepted this as normal, since this was the way it had been throughout his career. ]
Several thousand miles away, Janet also walked into the velvet-lined room, admiring the blond adonis sitting on the big round bed. She knew she was sitting comfortably in a recliner in her livingroom, and if she concentrated hard enough, she could feel the coolness of supple leather under her bare skin. The device was somewhere behind her, attended by two technicians. The plug in her neck tickled for a second, then the sensation was gone. Somewhere else, researchers, doctors, psychologists, and many others were studying and monitoring the physiological and psychoreactive outputs from the sensors attached to each of the participants. All this registered only as the merest background thought as her attention returned to the room. She also knew the script, but that only enhanced her reaction to the situation. She clenched her thighs, feeling a warm dampness beginning to spread between her lips.
In yet another city, Brian watched the lady enter the room. She looked at him for a second, smiled, then walked toward the bar. He admired her beauty, this lady of ladies, elegant yet sensual, almost regal in her bearing, seemingly untouchable until she turned and let her lips move into that slow, seductive smile again. He knew the script, but he was sinking deeper into the holo/dream sequence, becoming less and less conscious of anything other than living this unfolding fantasy.
Raymond and Yvonne sat side by side in separate chairs, attended by technicians, both wired to the same device. They were the only couple hooked up to a single machine in this dream run.
He watched the lady walking across the room, staring at her beauty, the way her chestnut hair glinted and sparkled in the candlelight, the way her split gown showed occasional glimpses of her tanned leg and slender thigh, and the way it bulged in front, hinting at the hidden treasures within. He was already deep in this fantasy, following along as though he were the principal, the device feeding him all the correct actions and responses, making him feel he was in charge.
Yvonne was even deeper under the machine's control. All her actions and feelings were now those being fed to her. She was a little nervous, yet still very excited. Small thrills ran through her every time she glanced at the blonde beauty on the bed. Soon, he would be all hers. Soon. She stopped at the bar and opened the bottle of champagne she found half buried under the ice in the sink. Pouring two glasses, she looked at the man on the bed, smiled again, and headed for the hot tub.
Don (or Estevan in his professional life) felt a tickle in his neck, then the image of the room faded, returning him to his studio for a few seconds. Behind him, he heard some quiet muttering, interspersed with curses. The view of his studio, with the two active holo cameras in the corners, faded again, and he was back in that room. Getting up from the bed, walking easily in that tall, athletic body, he headed towards the lady who was waiting for him and holding out a glass in invitation.
Rob took the glass being offered to him by Doreen. Taking a sip, he savoured its light, crisp taste and the tickling of all those bubbles bursting on his tongue and in his throat. Shrugging out of his kimono, now only dressed in a loose swimsuit, he stepped into the water. It was warmer than he expected, but not uncomfortable, and quite pleasant as he slipped in up to his neck. He looked at Doreen who was looking back at him, another of those sensual smiles on her lips.
Doreen watched Rob as he slipped out of his robe and sank into the water. His lightly tanned body was almost godlike in its perfection - lond hair, beautiful strong face, broad shoulders, bare, sculpted chest and stomach, and long strong legs. There were only hints of his hips and bottom inside his last article of clothing, and hints of something else in front, something she knew would be hers before the night was over. The script said so.
Janet, now standing beside the hot tub, took a sip of champagne. The taste was strange at first, then quickly took on the more familiar crispness she was used to. She shrugged off her robe, leaving herself dressed in a white one-piece swimsuit, the brightness contrasting with her deep tan and the darkness of the rest of the room. She had given up on normal consciousness now, allowing the device to feed her everything, living a waking dream, just as she was supposed to. Nothing intruded into that world - not the technicians, not the feel of the chair, not the slight chill of the draft flowing from the air conditioner, not even the pains from her body. The machine blocked out all those sensations, just as it was supposed to.
[ The doctor thought first of Janet, the most delicate of them all. She was still physically strong, with well-toned muscles and healthy heart and lungs. The illness was taking over though, and would eventually reduce her body to a helpless shell. Hers was the most delicate and fragile mind, constantly near the edge of a breakdown. She was too young for that to happen to her, but it had. Knowing that the sick bastard who deliberately gave it to her was dead now, the state giving him a lethal injection, did little to help. He wished they could find the ones who had forged that medical certificate for him, the one stating that he had received the complete immunity package.
If these tests are successful, for both her and the device, she would receive a two-person unit. This would allow her to finally enjoy the company of her husband, the husband she dared not touch because of the slight chance she could pass it on to him. In the dreamworld, there is never any risk because there is never any physical contact. He is scheduled to be included in the next test of the device. ]
.... There is more of this story ...