The light was golden and warm and she could smell the grass turning to hay. She was running in the countryside, on a small paved road, fields surrounding her. Must have been around 8 in the evening, must have been late July. Her feet were pounding on the tarmac and every once in a while an insect flew close enough for her to hear its buzz for a moment.
Nature was ripe and fragrant in the evening light. She could hear a spring gurgle by, and knew that in the last part of her run the sun would set and she would start seeing fireflies.
As a red tailed kyte shouted its call from above her, she wondered why some people ran while listening to music. She preferred the sounds of the countryside, the rhythmic impact of her feet on the road and the sound of her own breath.
At a distance, she spotted a figure under a tree. “That’s impossible”, she thought. “Must be something else. Shadows.”
As she drew closer, though, more and more she could make out the silhouette of a person standing under the tree.
“Must be a glitch” she thought and started feeling irritated. Could someone else be in her virtual space? It was supposed to be segregated. Had there been an access mistake and someone made it in?
From a few meters distance, she could tell it was a man, and he was looking at her.
She thought it might be someone from the gym who needed to pass a message that couldn’t wait, so she slowed her pace and eventually stopped in front of him.
“Yes?” she asked, expecting him to be from customer service.
He looked a bit odd though. His clothes were old, he didn’t seem to look after his appearance much and he was older than most people she had seem working in the building.
He looked out of place, still hadn’t spoken and was staring at her with a frown. After what seemed like a whole uncomfortable minute of silence, he said “Hello Elaine. This is a sign, too” and disappeared.
Elaine took her VR mask off. A trainer noticed and trotted to her to asked what had happened.
“Someone gained access to my space” she said, agitated.
“That’s impossible!” exclaimed the PT with a smile, as if he thought she was joking.
“There was a man on the road and he spoke to me and called me by my name!” she shouted at him.
“Oh my goodness that is terrible I’m so sorry” he blurted out, “please follow me, let’s go speak to a manager”. He put his hand on her back and started gently pushing her away while some of the people around were staring with a horrified expression.