| "Getting Real" |
Set in the Future
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
Ramirez was looking for work, looking for love, looking for drugs, looking for whatever he could find when an avatar appeared in front of him. She appeared to be an improbably beautiful, impossibly stacked Hispanic woman. She offered him Real which he accepted without hesitation. He placed the green square on the right side of his head just in front and above his ear and slowly crumpled to the sidewalk.
Ramirez faced a dragon who hissed "You shall not have my hoard". As Ramirez studied it, he could feel the soft leather of his boots grip his feet, the slight scratchiness of his woollen breeches, the soft smoothness of his silk tunic and the weight of the sword on his left hip. He drew it and brandished it at the dragon. The dragon breathed fire at him but the sword was magical and it transformed the flame to a harmless mist. The dragon shrieked in despair as Ramirez thrust the sword forward. The point pierced the hard scales and probed for the monster's heart, killing it.
With dragon's blood steaming and smoking on his sword, Ramirez sought its hoard. He found gold and silver both as coins, jewellery and objects. He also found rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds, set in gold and silver and lying in loose piles. Unexpectedly, he found a gorgeous redhead, naked except for her waist length hair. She gave him the hero's reward he deserved.
Ramirez opened his eyes and found himself in the real world rather than the Real world. He was in a police holding tank with about a dozen other prisoners. A couple were Hispanics, three or four were brown Indians, a couple of blacks, a couple of Asians and two whites, one scared shitless and the other impassive and looking as though he had been carved from granite. A typical mix.
The massive white guy scowled and said "So - you're awake, huh?" Ramirez replied that he wasn't but expected to be soon. The white guy found it funny and started to laugh calling him a comedian. Ramirez replied "Sure man. Me and the dragon." The white guy became thoughtful and made a Real user signal with his right hand. Ramirez became excited and asked if he had some. The white guy reached into the waistband of his jeans and gave him a square.
Snow swirled around Ramirez. His massive barbarian axeman companion pointed to a stand of fir trees and indicated that the enemy would be there. Ramirez agreed and drew his sword. Then the dwarves burst from the wood, howling their harsh battle hymns. Ramirez and his companion sprang forward to attack. Though the dwarves were little and ugly, they were also fast and mean and brave. The two battled hard and worked a fearful, fearsome slaughter. Eventually the dwarves had more than flesh and blood could bear and fled in terror. The two plunged into the forest seeking the dwarves' treasure and the women they had stolen to serve their lusts and then to be the main course of their foul feasts. Ramirez found both and was justly rewarded.
When Ramirez opened his eyes, he saw he was in the jailhouse's infirmary with two cops for company. The one with a full head of hair demanded to know if he or the white guy smuggled the Real into the cell. Ramirez replied that he didn't have to say anything. The bald one warned that they had everything on video. Ramirez retorted that then they didn't need to ask him any "dumbass questions".
This went on for a while until the cop with the hair in frustration asked why he used Real. Ramirez replied that it was more real than reality. In life you didn't notice half the things around you. Under Real you noticed everything and the sensations were more pleasant. The air smelled fresher, the food tasted better and being with a girl ... Wow! Memory wasn't a thing but a recollection of things and events. And if that memory was more vivid, then it was more real. The two cops just shook their heads and had Ramirez moved to a cell of his own.
A thousand spotlights in a hundred colors hit Ramirez. The glare prevented him from seeing the crowd but he could hear their shrill squeals. Pablo the Guitar God had arrived! He made it wail. He made it scream. And he made the girls scream too. After the concert he would get his choice. Meantime, playing was in some ways better than sex.
Ramirez opened his eyes. He saw he was lying in his own bed in his apartment. No one had hauled him off to jail while he was under. No one would. Real was suddenly legal. For a lot of things, that would take away half the fun. But not Real.
He remembered his latest time under Real as well as always. This one was different. He sort of knew how to play a guitar but not like that. He stood up and assumed the position for air guitar. Were his fingers faster and better? He needed a real guitar to find out for sure. If you were terrific with a sword, so what. But if you were a Guitar God, you could have as much fun in plain ordinary L.A. as you could under Real. And how could you beat that?