#TeamCyberPunk - Part Six: Epilogue

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Flights of Fantasy - Epilogue - RoshelleD

The tall man smiled and waved at people who passed by him in the halls, but it never reached his eyes. What had he been thinking? For the past two years he'd helped pioneer this new VR technology. Had already imagined the papers he'd author and even the Douglas Award he'd win for successfully integrating VR with modern medicine.

It had all been for nothing. He didn't know the outcome, but had to fix this somehow. The man closed the door to his office, a signal he didn't want to be disturbed. When times got tough, the notebook became important. Probably not the best idea given confidentiality agreements, but no one bothered with those anymore except for the clueless.

The man slumped down into his seat, wrapping his hands around his gargantuan stomach while looking at the various pictures and certificates that lined the walls. He'd made it far in quite a short time. The plague from two years ago couldn't have come at a better time for him. But over the past two years, greed won out. His shortsightedness had outweighed his ambition. Hopefully his superiors could protect him.

The man got out his pen and chewed the end of it before writing.

Final Notes on Patient JD #245-12-xxxx-xx.

A woman in black was found standing over Raphaella Wright's lifeless body in April of 2021. The woman we found had no memory of what had occurred. She said one second she was using her VR headset and the next she was there covered in blood. A note found next to the victim read,

You took someone I love so I'm returning the favor.

It was signed with a name followed by a phrase in parentheses.

Max (powered by the MOAV)

Given that the subject couldn't even tell us her real name, we concluded "Max" was mentally unstable. After trying to search for family we released her from the hospital and brought her to our facility. A team of neurosurgeons, psychologists and VR specialists were able to get a look inside the subject's head for the first time six months ago on January 2022. Our goal was to use tools to improve the VR technology and help get the victim out of her own mind in hopes of speeding along a full recovery. A few members of the team thought she would come out of this, if only we knew what this was...

John Carmack said at its core, VR is about being freed from the limitations of actual reality. The ability to jack in whenever and wherever one wants changes the experience both in VR and real life for the better. It's hard to say if Max is better off than when we found her.

Rather than sedate her, the technology was available to keep her under observation with intermittent usage of VR technology. We'd also use the most high-tech medical technology. Robotic imagery and lasers would be able to get us the most useful information on Max's brain. The theory was that keeping her in a world she'd created would help us understand why she committed this crime, while also being less stressful on her.

So far all we've seen is this group of repeating scenes where she's trying to find Ms. Wright's killer. It looks like our good intentions have created some sort of loop where the subject can no longer discern what's real and what's made up. When she's not in this scene, there's only a massive room surrounded by walls glowing yellow and blue.

A meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow to see if we need to cut off access for good. From there we'll have to decide if she even knows what she did or is merely using this to throw us off. I for one don't think this is the case. After seeing such a bleak picture time and time again, I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to experience it even once.

It's my personal opinion that these people and events can't possibly be real. After reading a myriad of notes, test results and scans, however, my educated opinion suggests these are in fact actual experiences. Perhaps Max's life has been such that she turns to these events as a means of escape. Is it possible that she doesn't want to leave? Could it be that her brain is creating this in order to prevent further damage?

I have no answers. This question of reality vs fantasy was one of my biggest fears with the VR technology and one I hoped I wouldn't have to answer so early in my career.

For her sake, I hope we can agree on the correct decision.

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