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Shy Dave goes on a virtual date.

Virtual date, coming soon to an arcade near you!

It was a viral marketing campaign, one which Dave was very familiar with. It was only logical that with the advances in virtual reality, that virtual dating would soon be here.

Until a year ago, virtual reality was a clumsy technology. You would put on a special suit, with gloves and a helmet, and enter the chamber. It worked fine for games, you could box with Ali, race against Patrick, or even go on magical quests with swords and dragons. Everything would look and sound real, but that’s where the immersion ended. The suit would provide crude tactile feedback. You lean against walls, feel it when you hit something, or when something hit you, you could even pick up virtual objects and the suit would make you think you were actually lifting something. What it couldn't do is feel the difference between the walls of a stone dungeon and the soft skin of a woman’s cheek.

A year ago, they made a breakthrough in neural-computer interfaces that let you actually enter the computer. All five senses were finally open to exploration. Dave couldn't wait to try it out. Dave was shy, and not very comfortable around women. He also wasn't very cool. He didn't drive a fast car or play any sports. He spent his Friday and Saturday nights exploring fantasy worlds and piloting interstellar ships.

This Sunday, he would finally go out on a date, albeit with a virtual woman. Officially, his local arcade wasn't going to have them ready for rental until Monday, but Jason, the owner, was friend with Dave. Jason ordered two of them for the shop. They were rather expensive, and even with the boost in popularity arcades went through when VR Chambers were introduced, the average arcade wasn't the most profitable of ventures.

Dave spent a lot of time on VirtuaDyne's website. He knew the users manual cover to cover, and spent a lot of time in the forums speculating on how realistic the experience was going to be. One rumor the company was quick to quash was the possibility of erotic encounters. He already had his date planned.

Since access was paid for by the hour, the company let you plan your date on its website. First you pick your girl, or guy as the case may be. You could select by any ethnicity, then you chose their body type, there were over a dozen to chose from. You could even choose her voice, perky cheerleader or sultry librarian, or anything in between. They also had selections for education level, hobbies, personality. Then you picked the actual encounter. A walk on the beach, a picnic, stargazing, or any of a hundred possibilities. Once you were done, you clicked submit and printed out your confirmation image, which would be scanned by the computer when you were ready for your date.

“Everything ready Jason?” Dave asked eagerly. “I can't wait to try this out.”

Jason looked up from the console as Dave walked in. “They should be ready to go soon. They are just installing an update right now.”

“An update? Already? They just hit the market last week!” Dave leaned over and watched the progress bar on the screen.

“Yeah. Seems like there’s always an update about five minutes after a game or app is released. This is just a small one though, probably a bug fix. Wouldn't want your date to start yelling at you in German would you?

“Not personally, but I bet there’s someone out there that will request that eventually.” Dave chuckled.

At last the display went dark then brought up the welcome screen. Dave pulled the printout out of his pocket and placed it in the tray. A moment later, an image of his date popped up on the screen next to the options he selected.

“Wow Dave, she's a looker.” Jason whistled. “Have fun. I'll be out doing inventory if you need anything.”

“Thanks man.”

Dave picked up what looked like a divers cap. It was a soft flexible fabric with over thirty silver pads the size of pencil erasers spread through out it. It had a long flexible cord that ran to the back of the machine. It was rather impressive. Compared to a regular VR chamber, this didn't take up any more space than a home computer.

After putting on the cap, and running through the synchronization process, Dave hit the countdown button and laid back in the recliner. After a ten second count down, Dave closed his eyes and heard a soothing voice. “Enjoy your experience.”

It felt like he was floating. Like he was back in the womb. It was neither warm nor cold, too light nor too dark. Then the program started.

“Hiya Davie, running late for our Date?” A pleasant looking woman in her early twenties said as she climbed into the passenger seat of Dave's 1968 Charger Convertable. She leaned over and gave him a kiss that set his heart racing.

“Nope, right on time, Amy.” Dave said, sounding smoother than he felt. He shifted the car into first and barked the tires as he took off. He pulled on to the highway and headed for a romantic spot he knew, a cliff overlooking the river. The perfect spot to stargaze, and to make out.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2020 Chris Claus,

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