headspace cruises

chapter 1- part 1

Chapter one-The Pink Shark

A sizable cluster of crew members huddled around the terminal to board the cruise ship. Most of the individuals were dressed in the cruise-line’s emblemed polos. Disbursed through the crowd were crew members holding duffle bags. Other crew members were wrapped in fuzzy blankets. There was a nip to the cool sea air, because the sun had not fully risen yet. Down the long stretching concrete pier two noisy seagulls fought over a donut. That was all that interrupted the silence. Finally, maneuvering around the crowd appeared a towering man with a shiny bald head and scruffy grey stubble. He stopped in front of the terminal. He cleared his throat as he leaned up against the gate blocking the entrance to the massive ship.

“Good morning, everyone! We have about twenty minutes before corporate and our special guests get here. To start off I would like to introduce Rory. Rory will be our newest edition to the cast. This is his first day. Rory could you please raise your hand?” The bald man paused and pointed into the group.

A short brunette with sun bleached highlights perked up. His face young and enthusiastic. He waved his arm up in the air happily. A small cluster of other cast members cheered to welcome him.

The main speaker cleared his throat and started again.
“I am going to go over the trip agenda, again. As you all know at Headspace Cruises, we have state of the art cruise entertainment aboard. Due to complexity of our groundbreaking technology we have government regulatory officials coming aboard. We want these guests to see how our cruises work and why they are so popular. I worry due to the reduced crew and the lack of guests many of you may not take this trip seriously. I would like to caution you. Corporate will be here entertaining and educating the officials. There may only be a few guests but this is not your paid vacation. Please maintain your strong work ethic on this trip.”

The speaker paused for effect. However, the crew seemed mildly unfazed. He stepped back from the terminal gate, and with a jarring clink it came unhooked.
After a scratch of his shiny bald head he continued “ Regular deck staff please go to your cabins and begin prep for cast off. Cast members please stay here for further instruction.” A good deal of the crowd funneled into the ship as instructed.

“Welcome to Headspace Cruises! I’m Andy,” A tan guy with spiky dark hair said, and offered his hand for a shake.

“Rory, but you probably heard me introduced earlier. It’s good to meet’cha Andy”, the shorter brunette smiled, shaking the outstretched hand vigorously.
As a good deal of the crowd cleared a woman made her way towards Rory and Andy. Her hair was mostly black. When the early morning sun shone on her hair just right a hint of sea foam blue became visible. The blue tones were usually disguised as black unless the light was just right. As she shuffled in their direction Andy nudged Rory with his elbow. “That’s Sam, the cast manager, in other words our boss,” Andy spoke in a hushed voice. Upon recognition of Andy’s explanation Rory immediately straighten up to greet the approaching woman.

“Hello Rory, I apologize we haven’t gotten aquatinted sooner. Do you have any previous experience with virtual reality cast work?” The words rolled out quickly.

“No m’am, however I’ve read up a lot on virtual reality and I have a deep acting background.” Rory quickly rebutdtaled.

Sam laughed, her tone softening a little. “It’s alright, Headspace Cruises is the only company that uses virtual reality to the extent cast members are required. I wasn’t expecting you to have any experience yet.”

With that the somewhat gruff woman changed her attention.
“Everyone, gather around! I want my prop technicians over here, cast members dead center, and all tech support personnel move to the left!” The crowd began reshaping itself under Sam’s direction.
“Cast members,” her yell becoming shrill and demanding “We need to wow these guys tonight if we want to keep operating the way we have been.”
She paused and Rory heard her her suck in a big breath to fuel another line of screeching.

“I want you to get a good read on the guests!They don’t know it but CAST MEMBERS are the driving force of the simulation! Figure these guys out early and give them what they crave!” Her yell hit a fever pitch at the end and a couple cast members cheered.

“We are running the virtual simulation Mermaid grotto for dinner, so the next thing on the agenda will be to debug your mermaid skins and...” Sam abruptly stopped. Her voice changed from commanding to unreadable in a matter of seconds. Her last word finished with the noise tires make as they come to a screeching halt. In the absence of her talking Rory heard a few mutters from the crowd surrounding him. Their voices seemed to be simultaneously whispering. Through the crowd he heard one word repeatedly rolling off lips, Evelyn. With a buzz of curiosity, Rory couldn’t control himself, and he spun around. At the edge of the crowd stood a tall, extremely pudgy woman, who must have walked up just moments before. Her lips were pursed around the straw of an iced coffee. Her eyes were veiled behind big sunglasses. Based on what she was wearing and her large stature she seemed easily differentiated from the other employees. As his eyes ran up and down her, he heard Andy mutter a string of unrecognizable swear words under his breath. Rory swerved to face him, “Is something wrong?” Rory whispered sheepishly.
Andy shook his head dismissively, “That’s Evelyn. She’s in story and character development. She works with the programmers to develop virtual reality experiences for guests.” Andy shrugged and then stretched while stifling a yawn. “If she’s here that means corporate will be here soon.” Rory heard the previously bewildered Sam begin carrying on with her speech. However, he was having trouble focusing on her booming voice.

Rory looked around apprehensively. Andy’s response didn’t seem to explain the magnitude of the crowd’s reaction. After a minute of mulling it over, he looked at Andy pensively. Andy just cracked a goofy carefree grin, “Don’t worry about it.”

New people trickled into the crowd periodically. By the time four new crowd members had arrived, Sam stopped her speech and disbursed into the crowd. At some point the corporate employees clamored to the front of the crowd. One began providing an overview of the company and the night’s agenda.

“The ship features virtual reality equipped rooms, and dinning halls along with all the amenities reality has to offer. Tomorrow when we dock at the VR island there will be access to virtual reality arenas.” After a brief pause he finished “Well folks, if we want to make our dinner appointment tonight, all of y’all need to have your VR chips calibrated and create your new virtual look. Plus our staff needs to get cooking because none of the food is virtual! Now follow me on in and I’ll get everyone set up.” Soon only those in employee uniform remained outside the ship. Rory watched as the crew began to follow inside.

“I’ll show you the cast member cabin space.” Andy whispered as both filed into the ship behind everyone else.

Rory soon found that the behind the scenes of virtual reality was not unlike preparing for opening night in theater. The newcomer followed closely behind Andy who seemed to be glued to Sam’s hip.

“Have all the corporate employees been calibrated for virtual reality?” Sam barked at what Rory assumed was an IT specialist.
He watched as a flurry of cast members ran around preparing for when they would be usher into the dining hall.

“I believe so,” responded one woman after a few taps on the tablet in her hands, “ but I don’t think all of them have theme appropriate avatars.”
Sam groaned.
“Get all the tech support people you can find to create mermaid skins for them.”
The woman nodded and sped off, her tablet in tow.
“Sam?” Andy piped up “Rory is the new hire. I don’t think he’s been calibrated yet.”
She came to a complete halt at that point. Rory felt himself tense as she spun around to face the two. Her expression turned to visible irritation quickly. Without a flinch she reached over into the sea of humans rushing around them. She grabbed and yanked one of them by their shirt collar.

“Mathew” it sounded more like a question than her addressing him. Instinctively he responded
“YeSS?” Mathew immediately changed direction and he halted there with a tech tablet in hand.

“Rory isn’t calibrated for tonight can we get that done?”
Mathew nodded and reached into his pocket. Before he knew what was happening Rory had an electronic chip slapped on to his forehead.
Mathew tapped away on his tablet furiously.
“Oh! He’s an easy one!” Mathew cooed. Under his breath he muttered something about some people taking hours to calibrate.
A minute or two passed and then the light on the chip turned green.

“Alright he’s ready to go when the show starts.” It was obvious by his body language Mathew was already trying to escape Sam and make his way across the room.

“He doesn’t have a theme appropriate avatar yet.” This time Andy chimed in.

Mathew sighed and turned back around.
He walked back over engrossed in his tablet.
“Oh Sam, does Evelyn have a mermaid skin? She’s not corporate so we hadn’t included her on the list...” his voice trailed off.
10 chapters, created 3 years , updated 2 years
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GrowingLoveH... 3 years
I love the relationship dynamics. Nicely done.