The children laughed as they ran around the park, playing with each other in whatever game they were plugged into at the time. The Spring breeze blew the trees, the leaves, everything in a gentle way that set a cheerful mood around everyone walking towards this way and that on their way to a destination they set out for themselves. The city I lived in was a metropolis. There were huge skyscrapers this way and that. Subways, air rails, trollies, arcades, movie theaters, bowling allies, skating rinks, malls, you name it, we had it. Not to mention the park. As for myself, I watched from the view of the window in my room. The safety of it that is. Yet, I still smiled and wished I was hanging out with my friends like any other normal girl would. But, I never acted upon my feelings. I don’t know what it is.

Maybe it’s the Virtual Reality I’m hooked on. I mean, after all, it does provide a bridge to connect with people without actually physically being with them. So, why would I want to go out of my way to meet up with them? Which brings me to my other hypothesis. Maybe I’m just lazy? I try to tell myself I’m not, yet the evidence proves otherwise. It’s bad in the way that I just can’t seem to actually go outside and do what normal teenage girls do. You know, go to the movies or the mall. Those kinds of normal teenage girl activities. Unfortunately, I think the real reason is I’m scared. Me, a sixteen year old girl, afraid to go outside. Way to act my age Scarlett.

It’s just….. I never had a reason to go outside. All of my studies are done over VR. I talk to all of my friends over VR. I play games through VR. It practically runs everything. Cars, trains, airplanes, boats, terminals, servers, buildings, you name it. It’s practically Artificial Intelligence, just more contained, so it doesn’t divert and kill us all. Sometimes I think it’s his fault I’m like this. I mean, he did create this new form of technology after all. These VR Collars of his….Though, I know it’s not his fault. After all, society is booming now. Everyone’s happier, friendlier, even loving towards one another. At least more than they’ve been years ago. That’s all anyone could ask for.

As I look around my pretty plain room, a bed, dresser, nightstand, I rise from the windowsill and head for the hallway. I release a sigh as I think over everything I’ve thought over and decide to finally get out into the open. To finally get over this fear of the outside world. I head downstairs, pull on my shoes, and, just as I put my hand on the doorknob, I hear my television come on. I walk over to the living room and watch the screen to see nothing but a silhouette of a man.

“Attention citizens,” The male said through some kind of voice masking device. Probably through his VR Collar I assumed.

“I am broadcasting this message worldwide to tell you your reality is nothing but a virtual one. And to prove this statement, everything you knew will be erased. Permanently.” The screen turned off an instant later.

“…What…?” was all I could say at the time. Then I heard—

“Oh my god!” I ran towards the door, open it, and gaze outside to see what was going on.

My eyes immediately try to look for the one who screamed, and when I finally see where the disturbance originated I see why she screamed. The driver of a car lost control and began to swerve into someone’s house. An incredibly loud crash sounded from the impact. Screams and shrieks rang from everyone in the vicinity, but it was only drowned by the sound, force, and impact of the explosion caused by the totaled car.

“No….” I say in disbelief. I couldn’t believe what just happened.

“What’s going on?” I ask myself, wandering around my house to figure out why everything wasn’t working correctly. I pressed the button on the side of my VR Collar, trying to connect to my friends to see if anyone knew what was going on, but even that wasn’t working. Then it all hit me. The car, the television, the VR Collar…..nothing’s working because the VR Tech isn’t working. That could only mean one thing. And, as the idea came to fruition, there was the sound of a plane coming overhead. I walked outside and looked into the air, watching the plane as it passed by. I thought, ‘Oh, well maybe everything is in working order now,’ Not the case. The plane wasn’t flying over, it was crashing. It crashed directly into a building in the bustling, well, once bustling, city we all loved so much.

“This can’t be happening,” I started to panic. On the day I decide to face my fear, my fear is only increased tenfold.

“Why is this happening?” I slid down the door frame, sat down, and began to sulk. Everything’s going up in flames, and for what? Because of this person who decided to show us the true “reality”?

“It’s not fair,” I said to myself. I looked up to see people running, screaming, or even letting their inhibitions loose simply because there’s no order anymore. Raping, killing, stealing, you name it, it’s happening right before my eyes. And it’s then when I realized something.

This was only the beginning.