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A-Nu-U: Kerriby: C. Sprite © February 2001
The attendant finished making the adjustments to the special Virtual Reality helmet, in the long term travel ward, and said, "Alright, Mr. Finch, we're ready to proceed with your journey. Now just relax and you'll feel yourself falling asleep. When you wake up, you'll be at your destination. Have a pleasant trip."
A mere year after the A-Nu-U company was established in 2010, its success had been such that centers were now open in all the major cities of the USA, such as this one in Kansas City, and even abroad.
Roger Finch came awake and found himself standing against a wall in a gymnasium that was filled with young girls engaged in various gymnastic routines. Finch turned to his left and caught a glimpse of his reflection in the glass of an office door. It was true. He had become Kerri Strug.
He hadn't really believed that it was possible. He had heard the claims by the company and read the testimonials, but deep down he had not really believed that you could actually be someone else, and live in a world that seemed as real as well the real world. Yet here he was, the identical image of world famous gymnast Kerri Strug. He reached to his face as he felt tears beginning to well up in his eyes. This was the culmination of a dream that he had had for years, ever since he had seen the real Kerri perform in the 1996 Olympics. He had watched spellbound as her gutsy performance, while injured, helped to win the gold in the team event. For now at least for a short time he was Kerri.
"Come on, Kerri. Stop goofing off and get up onto the balance beam," a voice from behind her said.
She turned and saw another girl smiling at her, so she smiled and nodded and walked over to the balance beam. In a few seconds she was going through her normal routine. The computer had implanted all of the information that Mr. Finch would need to fulfill his dream. Throughout the rest of the day, Kerri worked on perfecting the skill that she hoped would make her a medal winner in the upcoming Olympics in Atlanta. You see, Mr. Finch had chosen to have his trip begin two months prior to the 1996 Olympics. Finch was thrilled beyond words at being able to share in this world, if only for a few months. His VR trip would end just after the Olympics wrapped up, while his real body was fed and maintained by the attendants at A-Nu-U.
By the end of the day's session Kerri was exhausted, and yet exhilarated. Her mom arrived to pick her up and bring her back to the apartment that they had rented to be near the facilities. Once home she was treated like any other teenage girl, and she loved every second of it. Who wouldn't love to have caring parents that constantly sacrificed to give their child the opportunity to achieve her dream?
The new Kerri reveled in the grace and fluid motion of her body. She applied her skill to everything thing that she did, and even the mundane household tasks took on the appearance of ballet movements.
During the following days, Kerri spent most of her waking hours at the gym. The trainers kept at her incessantly, trying to make every practice session a perfect 10. Although it was grueling work, Kerri couldn't get enough of it. With each new day, the Olympics edged closer and she was determined to win. The computer system didn't guarantee that she would make it, only that she would have the opportunity to make it, just as in real life. Despite the aching muscles and physical exhaustion, the determination of a winner shone through, and Kerri got a little better each day.
When the day finally came for the Olympic entrants to parade around the track at Atlanta, Kerri was so happy that she thought that she would bust. The smile on her face seemed engraved there. After her walk around the track, and a short speech by their coaches, the girls were free to enjoy the rest of their first day. Kerri and the rest of the team wandered around the arenas and Olympic Village talking to people and making friends.
U.S. gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi carries injured Kerri Strug following the awarding ceremony at the women's team gymnastics competition at the Centennial Summer Olympic Games
When the competitions started the girls were ready. They had dedicated almost their entire lives up to this point to be here. In Kerri's case she had worked harder over the past two months than at anything she had ever done in her life.
Each day was a new adventure for Kerri as she competed against the world's best gymnasts. The months of practice had prepared her body for the events, but had not prepared her for the excitement of actually competing in the Olympics. She was so nervous a couple of times that she was sure that she would be sick. But she always braced herself and climbed up onto the platform when her turn came.
The VR adventure proceeded just like the original real-life adventure and the U.S. women's gymnastic team won the Gold Medal. Kerri played as important a role as the real Kerri had played and she was ecstatic.
The entire trip turned out as good as, or better, than Finch could ever have hoped, and he was sad as he realized that it was coming to an end. As Kerri left the arena in the arms of her coach following the closing ceremonies, an Olympics official stepped up to them and said, "It time to go home now, Mister Finch."
A few seconds later he was waking up in the long term VR ward. A nurse stood over him watching the computer monitor as he came fully alert.
"Well, Mr. Finch, welcome back. Did you have a pleasant journey?"
For a moment Roger Finch didn't know where he was. He lay back in the arms of coach Bela Karolyi. But it wasn't Bela; it was a nursing orderly who was holding him. Finch just looked at them and smiled. The nurse stepped back out of the way so that the orderly could place him in the waiting wheelchair. He had been only six-years-old when he had watched Kerri Strug's performance from the hospital bed where he was lying in a full body cast, following the car accident that had killed his parents and broken his neck and back. Since that day, 15 years ago, the 70-pound quadriplegic had repeatedly dreamed of being Kerri. And, for the past three months, thanks to A-Nu-U and the inheritance that he had received on his 21st birthday, he had realized his dream.
It would have taken dynamite to remove the smile from his face.
copyright 2001 C.Sprite
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