Orphic Phantasia

28: An Illusion of Paradise

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Dante dropped his bag and shuffled over to the window. He also had more important things to worry about. Unless he found a way to lock himself in his room and block out the windows, there was no way he could escape it. It was everywhere he looked.

A lithe young woman ran laughing down the gold-paved street, her golden hair billowing in the summer breeze as three muscular men in tight shorts and little else gave chase. Sauntering in the opposite direction, hips a-swaying, a figure with a shock of leaf-green hair followed them with glowing eyes. It was like something out of a dream, a perfect, unblemished world that could only exist in fantasy, in stories. Avalon, with its clear, blue sky. Avalon, with its calm, gentle sea. Avalon, a world away from reality. Avalon, an illusion of Paradise.

Avalon, a lie.

Joel’s whine cut across the lounge. “Mate, where’re all the instruments? I’ve been through this thing, like, five times over already.”

“Instruments?” asked Chris. “Why would you want something like that?”

“To play music?”

“Why go to all that effort when they have a perfectly reasonable selection for you to consume?”

“Yeah, I looked at that. They don’t even have the latest Death Bastard album.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little violent? You should try something calmer. Something to soothe your soul.” Chris lifted his voice again, “Computer, could you play Pineapple Fantasy’s ‘Algorithm’?” As an electronic hum filled the lounge, he turned back to Joel and said, “This never gets old.”

It took about ten seconds of the jaunty, uplifting tune, with its synthesized chimes and choral cheer, for Joel to bleat out in abject terror and order the torture to stop. Even Dante, without the slightest care for music, had to agree that he made the right choice.

“Mate, don’t tell me you listen to that crap.”

Chris chuckled. “When I said ‘it never gets old’, I meant that they’ve been listening to that for longer than any of us have been alive.”

Why?”

“Because it’s what they do. They don’t question it. Nobody does. Which is why you won’t find any guitars or drum kits or anything else in that vendor, or any other. They don’t, for one minute, feel the need to challenge the status quo. Welcome to the Future. Please enjoy your stay.”

Joel perched himself on the edge of a chair. His face had drained of what little colour it had. “I thought we were supposed to have everything here? Like, proper Paradise an’ stuff.”

“Give people unlimited choice and they will never choose anything. When you have everything at your fingertips, nothing has value. And now you know why we don’t go handing out every little miracle.”

“Mate, if this is where you came from, I don’t blame you for coming to Torsten. This place is, like, an actual nightmare!”

They like their 70’s psychedelic trance.