LIT & ART

A section for my miscellanious creative wonderings:

Wonder

– a Sci-Fi short story

The first thing Vivian thought of when she entered the bathroom was the dust. On the mirror, the black marble counter, the cute little soap dispenser, the walls. Negligent of the staff and maybe herself. The dust was gone soon enough, spotless surfaces gleaming all around, and Vivian washed her hands quietly in the echoing bathroom. She couldn’t tell exactly whether the echoes were in the walls or between her own ears.

Outside the bathroom, the fancy little bistro was bustling with life, tastes, sounds and smells, shifting with the arrival of every new customer. The faux-antique letters printed across the café’s windows said ‘WonderDiner’. At one table sat Calvin, who was amusing himself by throwing weightless, virtual pennies at the slot in the jukebox behind the counter, changing the tune in his own head every few seconds. What little character Calvin had could be described in two words – cruel and arrogant. He laughed when a child outside the WonderDiner windows dropped his ice cream and started to cry.

Vivian wished very much that Calvin would disappear like the dust on the sink, but WonderLand didn’t work that way. She herself, of course, could vanish at will, but that would mean defeat and a wasted ticket to this would-be-utopia. Toughing it out with Crude Calvin seemed like the only option. Maybe she’d have enough time to go on the roller-coaster before her WonderLand countdown ran out.

She took her lipstick out of her purse – she should look her best after all, though clearly not for Calvin. The WonderDiner was visited uncomfortably often by her co-workers on Sundays, their company’s staff-benefits WonderLand vouchers (one-point-five hours a week for clerks, three for a department manager) made sure of it. Although her own hard-earned ninety minutes were rather precious, she’d rather waste time scenting her lipstick – in WonderLand, it smelled of champagne – than talking to her much-regretted date.

Calvin, the bastard, was still in the booth when she returned. He didn’t offer to split the bill and kept running his mouth as the waitress ran Vivian’s voucher card through the counter terminal. Vivian pinched her lips coldly, there was barely enough cash left on the card for a single-rider ticket at the Fair. The door swung behind them with finality, they’d clearly not meet again or, if they did, wouldn’t recognise each other. Blocking other people’s existence from your own experience was a premium feature in WonderLand, but probably well worth activating this time. Vivian took off, on a mission straight away; Calvin looked around for some other easy meal.

She almost ran past the Ferris wheel towards the more adrenaline-filled joyrides. The following morning, she’d have to go fill out more spreadsheets: numbers, statistics and so on, but in this limited time and space she could almost run away from it all, cliché as it was, or ride away, on the fastest roller-coaster WonderLand had to offer. The visitors could, of course, build their own, create whole worlds on a lent-out empty pixelated grid, but in those ugly short one-and-a-half hours given to white-collars, one would be lucky to get round the standard WonderLand Fair, pre-built and attached to the all-inclusive vouchers.

The little carts rattled, and Vivian braced herself for the corkscrew in the roller-coaster. She’d probably feel the hot metal rails on the wind which swept back her hair, and there was the familiar steel smell in the air as soon as she’d considered it. Liebestraum played in the background and she thought of all the things she could herself build in WonderLand, if only she had the time. Imagination within imagination. Just in the vertex of the vertical loop on the thrill ride, Vivian’s VR goggles went black.

Gallery of own illustrations