www.whyville.net Oct 1, 2020 Weekly Issue

Through Uncloaked Eyes

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In a world where virtual reality is the norm, one boy resists blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

BRRRRRRP. BRRRRRRP. Max's alarm clock was the definition of "no chill." An ear-grating noise pierced through the boy's bedroom, simultaneously echoing its reign of terror throughout the rest of the house. Max heard grumbles and muttered swearing throughout the house, and he knew he'd be scolded for letting the alarm go longer than what was absolutely necessary. With a deep sigh, he turned over and slammed the snooze button.

Max hadn't managed to see much of a world without virtual glasses -- they really took off when he was around three years old. As a little kid, he was initially excited by the new technology, largely because the true way to a little kid's heart is a shiny plaything. His parents had promised him his own when he was a little older. However, these plans went completely off-course due to a rather traumatic event that occurred a little later on in his childhood. Wanting to keep the older generation "hip", Max's parents purchased his grandmother a pair of virtual glasses. Things seemed to be going smoothly for a few months until his mother suddenly got a frantic phone call and rushed to their grandmother's home. Their grandmother had at some point encountered virtual food in the virtual reality world, and due to how realistic it was, had completely forgotten to eat in reality. As such, she starved to death in the middle of an intense round of virtual reality solitaire.

Max had gotten used to a day-in, day-out routine. He got ready for school on his own, his family rarely acknowledging him, preoccupied with whatever was going on in their glasses. He sat alone on the bus playing with his phone, which he was sure paled in comparison to whatever was going on in everyone else's glasses.

Even school wasn't an escape from the glasses. Rather than resisting the new technology, schools had tried their best to change their curriculum to heavily incorporate the use of virtual glasses. After all, you couldn't very well tell a child to take their glasses off for seven hours a day when there were so few adults, including the teachers, who could manage that. Teachers frequently gave Max the side-eye, as he was the only one in all of his classes who required a paper copy of his assignments. Max had trouble communicating with any of his fellow students, as the fact that he lacked a pair of glasses seemed to dehumanize him in their eyes. As such, he was always alone, even on group projects. Teachers just assumed he was a loner by choice.

Everything about Max's day had been per the usual until lunchtime. Sitting alone and unpacking his lunch, he suddenly saw somebody coming towards him.

Max's day is about to take an unexpected turn! Check out the next issue of the Times to find out what happens next.


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