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Getting Into a Mood at Senax

Chuck had tried to persuade Brad to go to Disneyworld this Sunday. Brad wasn't having any of it. Senax was where it was at; you couldn't hold your head up high as a kid if you hadn't been 'Senaxed.'

Senax made Disneyworld look an amateur. It was five times as big and made Disneyworld look like an early home computer game with shitty graphics. Disney was on the precipice of going bankrupt.

It wasn't just that Disney was smaller; kids just weren't into those sorts of characters anymore. Its demise left the last Disney loving generation, of which Chuck was a member, rueful. Their kids would never know the wonders of Mickey, Donald or Snow White. The innocent pleasures of having a tidy story with a happy ending, where the good people won and the evil people didn't.

Senax was early training for life, sometimes the goodies lost and the baddies won. Overall it worked out about even.

You could plug Senax via mega reality headsets but sometimes, even now; people liked a dose of real, real reality, whatever that was. Half the time people couldn't distinguish the difference.

Virtuosos, virtual reality dropouts were everywhere in big cities. Instead of taking drugs, they wired up to dose up on adrenalin, the original buzz.

The net effect was the same. Although the drug inducing reality simulations were, in fact illegal, people could get into them, if they knew the right people with the right codes: some might call them dealers. Down and outs stole, mugged and killed to pay for 'buzz time.'

Professionals secretly took weekend drug simulation weekends; and apart from feeling a bit dazed could still go to work on Monday as innocent as Larry the lamb. But if they passed a virtuoso on Monday morning begging in the street they would walk pass with a huge dose of parsimonious superciliousness.

Senax scared the shit out of most adults but to kids, it was all, just "good fun" as Brad had said to his Pa.

So it was with a leaden heart that the plane touched down on the Senax airstrip. The plane had been dodging anti-aircraft fire for the last ten minutes and had been engaged with fighter planes on route. Mr. Ellephanie felt quite nauseous.

Of course it hadn't really but to the kids it might as well have been real. All the oxygen masks had come down, the three thousand passengers had been asked to buckle up as the plane did an inverted loop. Kids and parents were screaming with fear. All in the name of fun.

Senax, even if you didn't embrace the concept, was an amazing marriage of technology and imagination. Senax had a fifty mile radius, the whole landscape mirrored what a city would be like post holocaust. It was a real life theme park or as real as it could be.

It wasn't quite realistic. In reality there would be very few people left given the radiation levels prevalent. But here the strangling survivors fought each other for precious resources; food and water in a carefully rehearsed 'mega life game.'

Rubble and debris lay everywhere. Gas spewed out into the dark, vermilion sky. Swathes of black clouds swirled around in the perpetual twilight of the vast dome.

When you arrived at the airport, cars, or more precisely engines mounted on chassis were chasing around with gangs shooting at each other fighting over water and food supplies. These gangs were the visitors who paid to come here. This was simulated war proper anarchy: gritty, shitty violent stuff without the comfort of a happy ending.

On arrival people were given a radiation suit, 'live ammo' for live death. (The kids thought it real and there were plenty of simulated people in Senax with their heads being cleaved from their torsos spewing generous amounts of blood. (Cow's blood in fact). They were given a live Senax hero to accompany them, (all the kids knew the heroes, even if the adults didn't) through the apocalyptic jungle.

Most of them resembled a character who had been around in films of old, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kids loved these characters. They were tough, resilient action heroes, tougher and stronger than Pa, which always made Pas feel woefully inadequate. This was even more the case, since Pas were bad shots compared to heroes.

Vordor had been assigned to them; Chuck had seen him on TV. Vordor bristled with muscles, a hard haircut and was seven foot and a half if he was an inch. He wore body-plated armour with guns implanted into his suit.

Actually, this was not so far from reality as soldiers wore these suits in war. The big difference was that they were shit scared and six feet tall. Vidor was seven and a half feet and about as wide.

'Oh neat,' said Brad beaming ' Vordor's the best.'

Sometimes even Mr. Ellephanie thought that children grew up too fast these days.

They were standing in the queue to register with all the other parents and had just donned their suits. Suddenly there was a huge explosion, which rocked the terminal registration building, ripping open a huge hole in the concrete floor leaving a twisted multifarious mixture of blasted cement, iron bars, cabling and broken pipes. Mr. Ellephanie and all the other parents and children had hit the deck.

Mr. Ellephanie felt his heart pounding. Suddenly a stream of vehicles smashed through the front of the lobby and screeched to a halt next to them.

A huge man appeared next to them.

"The Wharf are coming, we've got to go now," Mr. Ellephanie heard the laconic voice say in grizzly deep tones into his ear-mike.

It was the Vordor; he had come to save them. Well they did promise it would be real. Vordor picked both his 'protectives' up in each of his arms, slung them in the back of the wreck of his vehicle and they tore off into the war zone.

The noise was deafening, planes shot over their heads from troop carriers to mini drones. Vordor tore between the wreckage of what was once a city. The sky was ablaze with explosions, burning planes, gunfire, laser fire and plasma fire. In the very far distance a familiar mushroom leapt towards the ceiling of the sky.

Chuck couldn't wait for this. He gritted his teeth.

No wonder kids liked this more than Disneyworld. Fuck Mickey Mouse and Mini too. It would in-between times allow him to think a bit more about how to become Mayor. It was the appropriate, aggressive environment to dream up good strategies. He might even learn a thing or two.

He had spent most of the morning making calls to various people of influence in the town, most of whom seemed to be supporting, at least tentatively, his move to become Mayor. He knew there would be a lot of work to do and he doubted very much whether the venerable Mr. Anderton would accede to his needs to expand the factory. Still, we would see what his wife's little piece of espionage revealed.

‘Shame if he did give way' as the car hurtled past a land mine which exploded. He could see this experience was going to really put him in the mood. He buckled up his laser cannon and grabbed Brad close to him who wriggled to be free so he could be next to Vordor.

Mr. Ellephanie unleashed his laser canon on some of the bad guys and watched as entrails splattered the inside of the remains of the “bus” they had been travelling in. 'It isn't real murder but it feels nearly as good,’ Chuck thought.

“Cool Dad,” shouted Brad with a look of admiration.

They were heading towards Vordor's besieged laager, a hive of bellicose activity. Chuck watched another character, Bellox, wielding a large axe; yet another baddie's abdomen was split open and a bloody mass was pouring out of his body onto the oil-encrusted ground.

Mr. Ellephanie was going to have a good day, unlike Duncan. Sometimes you can't beat the reality of being there in real life, whatever that is.
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