The walk back was uneventful, he took a wide berth around the streets he had used earlier and encountered no trouble on the way home.
Mary was still speaking to him, and he found what she had to say fairly interesting.
As soon as he made eye contact with each person they passed on the street, Mary would whisper into his mind a secret about them. She said one man was a murderer, another a child molester, one had lied to his mother about his sexuality.
All trivial in the lawless mess that the world now was. But knowing what kind of fucked a stranger was when he passed, made him feel... safer.
Arriving outside the apartment, he saw that the street out front of the apartment had been cleaned and swept, and the building looked like it had received a fresh coat of paint. That was a nearly startling turn of events. He hadn't even known the building was being managed by anyone, it was more of a squatter's apartment. He had never paid rent and now he began to worry that he would lose his home. What if the owner had come back and was kicking everyone out? Where would he go?
His anxiety increased as he saw that many of the familiar clouded faces of drug users and prostitutes weren’t out in the halls playing their usual business in the usual places. Whole world’s going wrong, he thought.
Arriving at the apartment, he stuck his hand into his new pants and pulled out a key for the lock on his door. Something he never remembered having, or doing. But once again he didn't mind. After all, he had a new VR set, and this building was not exactly safe.
He went inside and placed Mary into her enclosure, which he also noticed seemed to be quite a bit bigger than he previously remembered.
He picked her up from the bag and also noticed that she was quite a bit bigger than the small hamster sized creature he had first found. She was now about twice as big or maybe even three times.
Well, he did feed her well.
As he left Mary to her own ministries, he sat on the couch and began checking all the individual pieces of the VR set. He had a similar model when he was a kid, though that one had come with external sensors, but this one appeared to have them built into the helmet itself. All the connections seemed good, and the controllers still had a charge somehow. Lastly, he checked the charge on the helm itself and found it reading full in green LED.
Well, there was nothing left to do but to see if it worked. He placed the helmet over his head and gripped the controllers in each of his hands.
A static ‘hello’ appeared in front of him, and caused him to jump.
“Would you like to see what gaming opportunities are available?” a familiar sounding voice said.
He nodded yes and then felt foolish at the gesture.
He was about to say yes, when the menu seemingly understood his nod, and changed to show a list of available games and apps.
It was a ‘who's who’ of video gaming for the last thirty years.
With a gulp he asked, “Are all of these titles accessible... umm VR?”
“My name is Mary,” the headset said, “and yes. These titles, and more, are currently available. Though some titles may need to be updated. Would you like me to show you which titles are ready to play now?”
He again nodded yes. The screen which had been filled with dozens of titles slowly whittled down to one.
“Garden of the Aztecs.”
“Play.” He said.
End of Part 1.