During the distant future...virtual reality has replaced all of the lost beauty in the world. People now cling to the past through visiting virtual landscapes that recreate what their ancestors once helped to destroy. Most of the last habitable pieces of land on earth are divided into prison like zones where everyone is numbered...and they live sealed away in bleak concrete and steel compounds to shelter them from the harsh environment. To escape from this desolate reality...even the poorest citizens have access to advanced computer generated technology.
Iris places an almost translucent curved disc into each eye...and her vision turns black for a moment. Data scrolls across the augmented screen as the startup sequence commences. The program inside the chip at the base of her neck reboots and updates...wirelessly sending information to the lenses and syncing audio and visual. Artificial intelligence translates the neural impulses from her brain to create a flawlessly detailed virtual setting based on her wishes. Her eyes have now become windows into dimensions of pure unlimited imagination.
With one thought...she also connects 'Zone 53 - Resident 67392758' with 'Zone 08 - 'Resident 19362846'. Her skin tingles in anticipation of seeing him again. The sparse and minimalist room around her has already faded away...to reveal an old english style garden at the center of a manicured hedge maze. While waiting for her mind to artificially connect with his...she looks up into the brilliant blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds. There are no laws of physics here...and with one fleeting thought she could float up and away into the ever expanding boundaries.
Iris perceives his presence nearby...and hears rapid footsteps approaching. Her heart nearly stops when he suddenly appears from around the last corner. Ezra. His warm brown eyes are filled with lonely majesty...and such bittersweet happiness. At finally seeing him again...her own eyes begin to shimmer like melted diamonds. Ezra instinctively reaches out to wipe away her tears and they both burst out laughing. Their physical appearances are so well rendered...they sometimes forget they cannot actually feel touch...and in this curious place they are only made of three dimensional pixels.
Almost like some fairytale...he eagerly tells her about other citizens who are leaving the compounds and joining colonies that are learning how to adapt to the outside world. Although they are currently thousands of miles apart...one day they will find a way to meet in person. Iris and Ezra have both long since decided they would rather brave the ravaged world together...and maintain a real connection than spend the rest of their lives locked away and surrounded by this false reality. For better or worse they are determined to live in authenticity...even if that means being forced to find the hidden beauty around them.