It was early evening when Ted finally had time to plug in. The monotonous duties he performed daily at the factory served to feed his nightly ritual involving the massive ingestion of carbs, energy drinks, and an insane amount of time plugged into the virtual landscape of the Engine. Tonight’s experience promised to be more exciting than usual, at least, and Ted savored every moment.

Ted approached the package he discovered at his doorstep with awe. Ordered over 4 months ago, the VR system promised to be the most revolutionary immersive experience ever released, utilizing the latest technology in altered perception and tailored memory. Tapping directly into a person’s consciousness to offer personalized vacations and experiences was a technology that had been around for over a decade, but the technology involved took up most of a room. Having the experience in the privacy of your own home, much less with a barely noticeable headset being the only restriction, promised to be revolutionary.

As Ted settled in, preparing his snacks and giving the instruction manual a cursory glance, Ted texted the others that he was about ready to log on. He knew at least John and Maria had received theirs yesterday but had promised to hold off until everyone could join in. Earnst and Harris were scheduled for delivery today, like Ted. The anticipation created a sensation of butterfly’s in Ted’s stomach as he patiently waited for everyone to join the “waiting room,” a generic virtual space devoid of all features except animated avatars of the players expected to link in. These areas were found all over the Engine, the virtual landscape the internet evolved into long ago. Almost like virtual car-pool parking, allowing for shared experiences gaming, browsing, or even setting up meetings. Al devices utilized the space, including Ted’s new gaming system.