Excerpt: Virtual Blue by R.J. Sullivan

I’ve got a treat for your Monday! This is an excerpt from Virtual Blue, straight from the author RJ Sullivan!

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Did you ever wish you could escape to a virtual world? What if you could…but then couldn’t get out?

Two years after her deadly clash with a vengeful ghost, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer still can’t shake off the trauma of that night. Moving to New York with her father didn’t help. Neither did absorbing herself in her college classes. Not even her poetry provided the solace it once did. She convinces herself that ending her relationship with Eugene “Chip” Farren, her long-distance boyfriend and final tie to the horrors of that night, might bring the closure she needs. Blue travels to Bloomington to break the news to Chip in person, but her timing couldn’t be any worse.

The Sisters of Baalina, vengeful cultists who practice a new form of “techno-magic,” have targeted Chip’s multi-player videogame as the perfect environment to cast a dangerous spell to free a demoness from the very pits of hell. In the process, their plan may trap Blue in a prison of the mind with no locks, no bars, and no escape.

Book Two in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer.

In this bit, Blue sends herself to the virtual world for the first time….
Blue sat and stared at the monitor. The huge CGI tree loomed, dominating her vision.
      “Okay, then.” A shudder caused her voice to tremble.
      Chip’s voice sounded from behind her. “Alright, Blue, I’m right here. And I’ll join you in a few minutes.”
      “Yeah …” Her finger hovered over the forward-arrow key, and she couldn’t bring herself to apply pressure to move the avatar forward. “Um … so … I’m going to go now.”
      “Now is good.”
      “Okay … Uh,” She swallowed back bile. Suddenly, she thought she might be sick. “I really don’t want to.” She wondered if she’d still have this upset stomach when she transferred into a CGI body. Can avatars vomit? Who the fuck gets to find these things out?
      Chip’s hand fell on her shoulder.
      She closed her eyes, listening to Chip’s voice, willing herself to let his words reassure her. “I’ve got you. I’ll take good care of your real body.”
      “Uh, huh. Perv.” She meant to sound teasing and flippant, but she couldn’t keep the tremble from her words. “I know how you are. Send me away, and have your way with my poor, unconscious body. You forget, I know all about you lonely nerd types and your secret lascivious desires.”
      “I won’t do anything to it without buying it dinner first.”
      She laughed at the bad joke, then reached up and gripped the hand that lay on her shoulder. “I really don’t want to do this.”
      “I know. I love you.”
      “I love you, too.” Still, she hesitated. “Damn, I hate peer pressure.”
      “Do you want me to count to three?”
      “No, I’ll do it.” She pressed the forward key. “Three!”
      She thought she’d close her eyes as the animated character stepped forward, but instead her eyes locked open as the tree came fully into view.
      And then her vision faded away into a bizarre pixilated fadeout.
      Because of the nature of her then-new-boyfriend, she couldn’t escape seeing certain nerd movie standards from his DVD collection during the last half of her senior year.
      One of those standards was Tron, the 80s Disney experimental cult classic in which a computer programmer gets “zapped” into the video game he’d programmed years earlier.
      Though she couldn’t honestly say she liked the movie, one sequence struck her at the time, a sequence she still remembered in the years since, and which had been replaying in her mind nonstop since knowing she’d be transporting herself into a computer game.
      The programmer – whose name was Flynn, she thought, Jeff Daniels at his most hunky, for sure – gets zapped from behind by a conveniently placed matter breakdown gun thingie, and his body transports block by neat digital block into the video game, where he is then just as systematically re-assembled on the other side.
      In the meantime, Flynn gets treated to the best LSD-inspired cinematic hallucination sequence since 2001 a Space Odyssey (another movie she saw that same year, and enjoyed more, somewhat) courtesy of the finest computer graphics of 1982.
      Her actual transport into this actual virtual world was nothing at all like that.
      Instead, one moment, she stared at the computer screen with her own eyes. Then everything faded away, like those times she’d stand up too fast and get a momentary dizzy spell.
      But when the black spots faded back to normal, everything changed.
      The texture of the world had changed.
      The tree still loomed in front of her, only now she was standing in front of it. And she could step away.
      But it didn’t feel right, it was like standing in thick rubber boots up to her thighs.
      She reached down and ran her hands over her legs – her now perfectly shaped, gorgeous legs. But her hands lacked sensation as she rubbed along her leg muscles.
      She held her thumb and index finger in front of her eyes and rubbed the digits against each other. Still a partial numbness, but also a tingling sensation.
      She turned her head, or rather, thought of turning her head. The view shifted before she registered her neck muscles moving.

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