U. L. T. R. A., page 1
JAMES ARMSTRONG and the VIRTUAL REALITY LIBRARY
U. L. T. R. A.
ALSO BY GRANT FAUSEY
CHARLIE THE CAVEMAN
THE FAMILY GOOPS
EYE OF THE MACHINE
OF CRIMSON INDIGO
POINTS OF ORIGIN
OF CRIMSON INDIGO
TALES OF THE MASTER-BUILDERS
OF CRIMSON INDIGO
OF CRIMSON INDIGO
OF CRIMSON INDIGO
MARAUDERS OF THE BLACK SUN
JAMES ARMSTRONG and the VIRTUAL REALITY LIBRARY
Fausclan Entertainment, LLC.
Copyright ©2014 Grant Fausey
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including Photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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Because of the dynamic nature of thee Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this works are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.
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Cover Art by Grant Fausey
Printed in the United States of America
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Fausclan Entertainment, LLC. rev. date: 03/02/2014
The concept of virtual reality fascinated James Armstrong, a young computer nerd with no future, friends, or reason for living other than his roommate’s sister, Jennifer Jones, pretty daughter of one of the richest men in the town of Bucks Falls. In fact, if not for Jennifer’s constant interference in his life, no one cared if James Armstrong existed. He wasn't at the top of any scholarly list, or recipient of a Pulitzer Prize or even valedictorian. He was shy, man in a boy’s body with an impeccable interest in science and Jennifer Jones.
It was obvious James wanted a relationship with this girl, even if it meant outsmarting the town nobility––namely, her relatives. He practically worshiped the ground she walked on; infatuated as he was. But daddy's little girl afforded Jennifer extra privileges. Her father’s influence kept her at an arm’s length from farm boys like James. The young scientist was from the wrong side of the tracks, which made him an unacceptable candidate for his precious little miss. Nevertheless, James was on a journey that would catapult him from private lessons to the threshold of a force so powerful, it would unleash a fury within him, making another reality his own ...
* * *
Hometown University wasn't the typical institution of higher learning, but rather an educational academy of considerations, and a place unto itself. The university shared the usual similarities to any college campus, although it had one thing other schools didn't have—a remarkably futuristic Library and a pretty, twenty-something year old female he couldn’t admit he was in love with. Nevertheless, James was a lovesick puppy, and he was showing all the telltale-signs of being a wimp about it! She figured sooner or later he'd get around to asking her on a first date. It wasn’t that he stepped over the boundaries of their adoring friendship, she tolerated that aspect of his devotion, it was just that the science came first, after all, he was here for an education. Not that the girls didn’t interest him. He had other things on his mind. It was mid-winter, and spring was still a few weeks away, summer even further.
Jennifer Jones, however, had no intention of being labeled a distraction. Making intelligent choices took precedence, even if he did admire her womanly features long, dark hair and crystal clear, blue-green eyes.
Jennifer Jones, on-the-other-hand, considered herself anything but perfection, she was just as much in love with him. Although, she didn't know how to approach him, he was awkward and, in some instances, a loner.
Life, of course, went on. Late night commutes were customary for James. He often traveled late at night along the dimly lit back streets across campus–traditionally crossing the university route from the computer center to the high-rise dormitory of his famed alma mater on a faithful timetable. The ride had merits, up hills, down hill runs, always challenging; a real workout for his nerves. Especially, when it came to unusual sounds and exceptional shadows, dark alleys and the like. The night had a tendency to play tricks on him, his imagination giving way to fear. Tonight, however, was unlike any other night. Something special orchestrated their destiny.
James noticed, the wintry breeze. The night air was cool and something other than somewhat chilly. In fact, it was becoming down right cold and, oddly enough, it was beginning to snow.
James' bike slid across the frozen ground, depositing him in front of the old library on his hindquarters. Not too appealing for a freshman, let alone a second semester junior. He felt like a new attraction. Thank God the library was closed for renovation. James looked to the front door, the windows glowed with an eerie illumination; the upper gable appeared to be nonexistent, as if it had simply disappeared into the glowing orb covering the top of the building. The interior lighting was so bright and beckoning, it made everything else dormant. The place had somehow opened for business on the coldest night in history. James, being the coward that he was, wanted nothing to do with this unusually spooky event, so he headed home peddling just as fast as his legs would propel his Schwinn across the icy ground.
James arrived home safely, but huffing and puffing. He took a moment, looked back at the library. It appeared locked up tight, but why? What was so bazaar about the library? Obviously, it was more than he remembered. He was apprehensive, of course, his evening experience, carrying his bike up three flights of stairs. This was anything but typical college life. And security was nowhere to be seen. It was as if the entire campus was locked down: Eerily silent, except for the noise coming from his apartment. For the first time in his life, James needed a beer and a place to crash. But neither was forthcoming.
James disappeared into his dorm room, and made his way past his roommates and their half naked dates.
“Awe,” he thought. “The comfort of home…”
James' dormitory room, although rich in decor, left little to his imagination. The walls were covered in out of date photo posters of old scientist and social media artworks hung by any range of teenage fantasies, an unmade bed, clothing, and another pile of clutter that was unrecognizable, except for the haven of empty beer cans in the corner. Except for a small computer desk in the corner, the room was similar to any other student’s living space on campus. Genuinely uncomfortable, cluttered with roommates that did not seem to share the same concerns, laughing off his experience while tossing him another beer. “Suck it up,” laughed Carl, his imagination definitely strange for even him. None of his companions put any faith in his experiences. Nevertheless, outside, hidden in the cold of night, a bright
The next morning James awakened to an empty shell of a room. Alone—amidst the silence, his head clouded, feet on the floor, sneakers melted, the rubber in a pools surrounding the soles of his shoes; his classmates out and about; no longer at home but off to campus and classes. He looked at his shoes, as if eyeing a plate of pancakes without syrup. Browned on the bottom. Inedible.
Immediately, on the phone to his best friend, Jennifer Jones, the young computer nerd forced to deal with her father, quickly ended the conversation,
“Please,” said James, “let Jennifer know that I called.”
A moment later, James picked up his backpack, slipping it over his shoulder as he headed for the door. However, in a rage of disbelief, he slammed on the breaks, nearly hitting the doorframe. A new computer on his desk in the corner, real, and very unusual, perhaps top of the line gleaned at him from the crossroads of where the desk met the walls. The backpack hit the floor. James ran his fingers across the top of the monitor then down the side of the wireless keypad. "Wow!" he exclaimed, thrilled at the sight of his very own computer. "Where did you come from?”
He thought for a moment.
“You weren't here last night!"
The youth made a beeline straight for the window; did a double take, and headed the library. Everything seemed normal; the building was still closed for renovations. The old building, in disrepair, called for a closer look.
"A closer look," thought James to himself, as he headed out of the room excited by the prospect.
The door slammed behind him just as the computer screen lit up with the same eerie yellowish-green glow as the library. James, however, didn’t notice. He was too far along the dorm hall to see what was definitely going on behind him, especially, the glowing pattern of light coming from under his door.
James eyed the grassy field between the administration buildings heading in the direction of the library. His footsteps, although lively, were somewhat staggered from his jaunt down the stairs and the thin layer of ice, which had formed along the edges of the doorframe, sealing the edges between the two pieces tightly into place.
James bounced back, as if he had struck a wall. Matt Jacobson, a huge, menacingly individual with death in his eyes, stepped out directly in front of him—POW.
“Oh, sorry,” Matt laughed.
James looked up at his ironsides football jersey and apologized. His first thought was to run from the bully, but he knew the Neanderthal would never leave him alone if he did. Instead, James took a step back, then two. The next thing he knew, he was on the ground; his arms bent behind him in a half nelson, his face grounding against the ice like a hockey goalie. It hurt just to look at him.
“Stop it Matt,” screamed Jennifer Jones, considering if she should report him or not. A firm slap to his arm seemed sufficient. She had dealt with Matt before, and had no intention of leaving her friend on the ground, bully or no bully. “God, can’t you just grow up and be human being for a change—quit picking on guys half your size!”
“Yes, your majesty,” Matt grumbled, with a bit of a snarl under his breath. “Come to save your minion, did you?”
James cowered in her shadow.
Jennifer cringed, fire in her eyes. She was really pissed, but she knew if she helped James from the ground and walked off with him across campus, everything would look better. “I hope someday you get to see your actions through the victims eyes!”
Matt chuckled. “Yeah, right.”
“You okay?” asked Jennifer. She was definitely outraged at how Matt Jacobson got the best of him. It was oblivious the bully was off in his own little world, but she couldn’t understand how James could just stand there and take it. "Are you listening to me," she insisted, questioning him as if he needed a mother. "You're not, are you?"
James hesitated. Lowered his eyes. He drew in a deep breath, trying not to answer. It was obvious who was in control. Jennifer huffed.
“You ever going to get over this …” he asked.
Jennifer took him by the hand, and headed for the campus Pizza shop. “You hungry?”
James shook his head.
“Damn if I understand you!” she said. “Com’on.”
* * *
The campus pizza shop was anything but a typical cafeteria-style restaurant. It was quant, old world in appearance. Small dining tables covered in checkerboard tablecloths. A large plastic pizza rotated above the parlor, two lines approached the counter, giving the place a relaxed atmosphere. Jennifer knew James felt comfortable here. It wasn’t a social nightmare for the shy scientist. Jennifer figured it was as good a place as any to get to know James better. The pizza parlor was a safe haven, and since their relationship was at a stalemate, the least Jennifer could do was order a pepperoni pizza. Heaven forbid if she placed an order for mushrooms or a Hawaiian pizza—James couldn’t handle anything out of the ordinary. At least, it appeared that way.
Jennifer was beside herself. He was anything but daring. What did she see in him? His wide rim glasses made him a nerd. His short haircut was acceptable, but he was a whimp. Nevertheless, there was something about him that attracted her. Perhaps it was his dark eyes, they were mysterious, or his square jaw. It made him manly, but something she just couldn’t put a finger on left him defenceless. But no matter, she was here to stay, or so she thought.
James’ watch beeped. A little noise of cause and effect, nearly inadable, but there none the less. “What’s that,” she asked, hearing the trinket of a sound like that of a nearly silent buzzer alarm. She looked at him kind of funny, as if out of a dream. “What’s that?” she asked again, hearing a distant rumble come from the pit of her stomach. It was the oddest thing, but it had definitely caught her attention.
A rotating cylinder appeared just above the center of the table, diplaying a message out of thin air:
SIMULATION TIME LIMIT REACHED
Jennifer repeated the message to herself, and looked up at James half baked.
“DO I WISH TO CONTINUE PROGRAM?” She asked, talking to James as she raised an eyebrow.
James repeated the context of the message. "Awe. The simulation is over, Jennifer,” he told her haphazardly. “Guess I'll have to get back to you, later. Don't go anywhere, okay?"
Jennifer’s face turned to a grimacing look of horror, and her heart quickened as the restaurant around her faded out of existence, vanishing along with a computer simulation.
Only James Armstrong remained.
"That's unbelievable," said James, overwhelmed by the sheer realism of his experience. "It was as if I was there, Laura. It was absolutely, real.” The Virtual Reality Library to which he referred was hi-tech. The most advanced of its kind: Technology light years beyond most facilities, with files on some of the most exotic places on Earth. It was definitely magic to a young man’s imagination.
Laura Thompson, twenty-something, it didn’t really matter, although, James liked this one better. She was a pretty young blonde, who brushed her hair back with a sweep of her hand as she reached in to helped James Armstrong out of a circular chamber housing the virtual reality apparatus. “Richard Henry,” she said, addressing the handsome twenty-five year old male.
“I could feel every movement,” he said, “every touch … every smell. The surroundings … It's amazing."
Laura laughed, stopped him. "I told you, you wouldn't believe your eyes, or your ears. “Now Com’on, lets get you out of there.
The morning shifted into afternoon. We can talk about it over brunch."
Richard smiled, just as James had done earlier. Laura embraced him in a short hug and kissed his cheek, before leaving the project library via her passkey card, heading to the parking lot.
“Good morning,” she told the gate guard. Richard went on ahead of her as if he knew the way, heading across the parking lot toward a Ford
Laura unlocked the door. It was obvious who was the driver. Richard noticed, she was using a square key but didn't say anything about it. Instead, he addressed the obvious. "How long have I known you Laura?" He asked, getting into his side of the car.
He sat next to her in the front seat.
"Well—let's see," answered Laura. She put the car in reverse and started backing the car out of the parking space. Her voice grew older with each word. "I'd say close to fifty years. You married me when I was just twenty-two, remember, Richard?"
Richard’s eyes widened to the size of saucers. He looked over at her, fear in his eyes. She was old, much older than he remembered. Years had passed in an instant. But there he was in the midst of someone’s bed-ridden fantasy … worn and tired from years of life.
Richard pulled down the visor, and stared at himself in the mirror. His face wrinkled with the years of old age. The car swerved, an explosion rocked the road in an upheaval of upturned earth. Richard’s eyes shifted with the wheel. Laura plainly visible in the seat beside him, his concentration shifted from her to the rearview mirror: Her stunning twenty-two year old beauty, staring him in the face.
Laura pulled into a parking lot, and stopped. Richard opened the door and immediately exited the car, stepping into another world: A planet under siege. There were troops everywhere—ancient war machines lined the remains of a battlefield. The carcasses of deadly flying technologies orbited over head.
Drones, he thought.
“Welcome to hell, Lieutenant,” said Laura. “Sorry we couldn't throw you an arrival party but..." The conversation cut short. An explosion struck the closest bunker obliterating everything and anything that remained of its contents. Richard dove the cover coming up Mark Raymond, Colonial Marine—a soldier in the middle of off world combat.
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