Ellen woke up to pain. Throbbing through her back, a cruel reminder
of reality. She turned her head to check the drip and discovered she
was extremely weak. The bags were empty but she had no way to know
when they had run out. She tried to disconnect the wires and tubes
but found it impossible. She barely had the strength to move her
fingers. She lay in the VR3000 drifting in and out of
unconsciousness. She had no idea how to free herself from the
machine or how to get help.
She was awakened by the sound of the doorbell. Someone was at her
door. She tried to call out but not even a croak emerged from her
parched throat. Desperation gave her strength and she flailed an arm,
knocking her walking frame over with a crash. There was a momentary
pause, then she could hear a voice calling her name. She identified
it as Adrienne as she drifted back into unconsciousness.
When next she awoke she was in the familiar surroundings of a hospital
room. She could hear Adrienne and Baz quietly consulting with the
“Are you sure she will be all right?” Adrienne was asking, concern
apparent in her voice.
“She will be. It was lucky you found her when you did. Another few
hours and it could have been a different story. The good news is that
the last series of operations seem to have been a success. With a
course of intense physiotherapy she will be as good as new.”
“What about the skin grafts?” Adrienne asked.
“Well they’re not looking too good at the moment, but that’s not
surprising when you consider the extent of her dehydration. As far as
I can tell they look successful.”
“Thank goodness for that. I’ve been keeping away because I knew she
was sensitive about her scars and I didn’t think it would have helped
to see how well I had healed. But there’s no way that I’m leaving her
alone now. Would it be possible for me to take Ellen back to my house
when she wakes up? I’ll hire a private nurse to look after her but I
would think the last place she would want to spend more time would be
“There would be no problem with that. She mainly needs rest and
fluids and that can be handled just as well elsewhere.”
“Thank you doctor,” Baz said, “I would never have forgiven myself if
anything had happened to Ellen. I’m going to go round to her flat and
dismantle that stupid machine.” From some source Ellen found the
strength to shout:
“No!” For a few moments there was organised confusion as the hospital
staff fussed over Ellen, then she was propped up and left to talk with
her visitors. In a hoarse whisper, and with frequent sips of water,
Ellen managed to explain what had happened and why the VR3000 was not
to be turned off. Baz seemed doubtful that anything could be salvaged
from the program but Adrienne chivvied him into calling the programmer
and the designer. Ellen was left to sleep as they both went to start
making their various arrangements.
Within a day Ellen was ensconced in Adrienne’s house and her VR3000
was being carefully taken apart in a workshop. Although her
convalescence was slow, Ellen discovered that the doctor was right.
The physiotherapy was difficult but soon she was walking without any
aids. The new skin on her face was pink and shiny but the raw scars
were gone and with makeup it was almost impossible to tell she had
been burned. An added bonus was that she discovered in Adrienne a
sympathetic and entertaining friend. Despite everything, Ellen was
constantly aware of an aching void in her life that could only be
filled by David. She felt as if she had lost half of herself and
frequently cried when she thought she was unobserved. She was
convinced there had been no way to recover the programme until the
morning Adrienne burst into her room bubbling over with excitement.
“Ellen, this is so great I can hardly believe it. I wanted to
surprise you, but everyone else said I had to get your permission
before we went ahead.”
“My permission to do what?” Ellen asked warily.
“To bring back David.”
“Isn’t it great?” Adrienne began characteristically striding up and
down the room gesturing extravagantly as she talked. “They managed to
download his personality from the VR3000 and then I found a man who
had been in an accident and he was in a coma, brain dead, due to lack
of oxygen to his brain. I’ve arranged to have David’s personality put
into the body. The doctors have fixed everything that was wrong with
the body and it’s all set up. They wanted me to check because you
might have changed your mind.”
“No. I would still do anything to let David live.”
“I knew it. Well in two days time you will be reunited. Just sign
this,” she heaved an enormous sigh, “I feel like Cilla Black. I just
have to find a massive hat for the wedding.”
Ellen spent the next two days in a fever of anticipation. She had
heard that the operation had been a complete success and that the
orientation exercises and psychology tests were going well. At last
the time arrived for Ellen to meet David again. Adrienne had set the
scene with candlelight, soft music and a cold meal ready prepared.
Hours had been spent choosing clothes and experts had primped her hair
and applied her makeup. She awaited his arrival torn between fear of
disappointment and anticipation of joy.
When he walked into the room she felt a sharp stab of disappointment.
He now looked totally different with dark hair sprinkled with grey and
lines on his face. But when he took her hand and she looked into his
eyes she knew it was David. Their lips met and the familiar
electricity sparked again.
“I’ve missed you so much.” Ellen told him.
“It only seems like two days to me but I’ve missed you too.”
Hardly able to believe David was actually with her again, Ellen began
to tear his clothes off. She needed to be as close to him as
physically possible to reassure herself that it was really him.
Eagerly he helped her and they tumbled to the floor in a tangle of
There was nothing gentle about their lovemaking, lust and need drove
them both. Ellen’s nails scored down his back as she bit his neck and
aggressively thrust her tongue into his ear. He attacked her
breasts, squeezing and fiercely massaging them before devouring them
with his mouth. Their hands roamed over every inch of flesh until he
hooked her legs over his arms and thrust into her. Ellen lifted her
hips to meet every thrust, wrapping her arms around his neck to hold
him close to her. He came quickly with a loud yell, then used his
mouth and fingers to bring her to orgasm too. Exhausted they sprawled
together on the floor.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t still want me when you saw what I really
looked like,” Ellen told him.
“Funny. I was worried you might not like this body.”
“It’s still you inside and that’s who I’m in love with.”
“Same here. Have I convinced you that I still lust after you?”
“You could convince me again. I’ve been deprived for nearly a month,
not just two days.”
“Be merciful woman! I need a few moments to recover.”
“Okay lazybones!” Ellen propped herself up on an elbow and looked
into David’s eyes. “Seriously though, David, you haven’t really
looked at me. There’s nothing wrong with your body, it’s just
different that’s all. But I have so many scars and even I find some
of them repulsive. And I definitely don’t look pretty anymore. I
would understand if you found me a turn-off now.”
“Oh, Ellen. Do you know I was laid in hospital trying to remember
what you looked like. I knew generally of course but the things I
really remembered and that stuck in my mind were your beautiful eyes
and your smile. Yes, that one. You stole my heart with that smile.
I don’t care whether your nose is straight or if you have a double
chin or pink patches of skin on your cheek. As long as you are the
same person inside you are my soul mate and I will love you forever.
Now how about you stop crying and we get something to eat? Then
hopefully I will have recovered enough to show you just how much I
Ellen woke the next morning to find David in bed beside her. Filled
with joy that she had never known she looked forward to the future
enthusiastically for the first time in years. As long as she had
David she knew she would never really be miserable again. Rolling
over she watched him sleep for a while, then she decided to wake him.
Slipping under the covers she cupped his cock in her hands. Gently
she stroked and blew on it. Gradually the wrinkles began to smooth
out as it began to grow. Soon it was fully erect and Ellen slid it
into her mouth. Lovingly she caressed the head with her tongue as she
guided it in and out of her mouth. She held the base tight with one
hand while the other roamed free over his balls and the inside of his
thighs. After a while she could hear him moaning with delight but he
still slept. She removed her mouth from his cock and instead began to
lick along its length alternating with calling his name. She pulled
the covers down so that she could see his face. At last his eyes
fluttered open. She gave a last lick along the throbbing vein then
plunged his cock back into her mouth. He gave a gasp of mingled
surprise and pleasure. Within moments he came, filling her mouth with
the sour taste of his essence, which she swallowed quickly.
“That was a very nice way to wake up. Thank you, darling.”
“It was my pleasure. Want to thank me with a kiss?” she asked
“Um, do you mind if I wait until you clean your teeth. Unless of
course you would like me to kiss your lower lips.”
“Now that’s a nice suggestion. Not this morning though, I’m still
bruised from last night.”
“I would apologise but since you were rougher than me I don’t think
“I think it was pretty much fifty-fifty. What would you like to do
“This is your world, what do you suggest?”
“Why don’t we go to the seaside? I used to go camping at Whitby every
year when I was a kid. The fresh air will get rid of the hospital
smell. Adrienne said we could use her Boxster, which I know you love
The drive to the coast was exhilarating. The roads were clear and it
was one of those sharp crisp days you get in late winter. The stark
sunshine gave hard edges and fantastic shadows to the barren landscape
as it raced by. Ellen was so happy she kept grinning for no reason.
They got a bag of fish and chips and Ellen tried to remember all her
favourite haunts. In the afternoon they went for a walk along the
cliff tops, arms linked together and their joined hands buried deep in
David’s pocket. The tang of the sea breeze watered their eyes and
whipped colour into the cheeks as they strolled along, enjoying being
together again. They passed a group of boys kicking a football about
and Ellen ran to kick it back to them when it escaped them. She
regaled David with stories of her footballing prowess until they
turned to retrace their path. Somehow the conversation led to Monty
Python sketches and they attempted to recreate the ‘Ministry of Silly
Walks’. By the time they reached the footballers again they were well
into ‘The Life of Brian’. They were trying to remember exactly what
the Romans had done for everyone when a boy went chasing after a wild
pass of the ball that was heading over the cliff. He somehow managed
to get a foot behind it right on the edge. Just as he turned there
was a dull roar and the section of earth beneath his feet crumbled
Ellen raced to where he had disappeared and flung herself onto her
stomach. Wriggling to the edge she peered over to see him somehow
clinging to a tuft of grass. She reached down with both hands and
grasped his wrist as she felt hands take hold of her ankles.
“Don’t come too close, it’s still unstable here. I’ve got his wrist
so pull me back. Hurry though, I have no idea how long I can hold
him.” Moments later both Ellen and the boy were pulled to safety.
David crushed Ellen in his arms, oblivious to the mud coating her.
“I thought I was going to lose you again when I’d only just found
you.” he said, sounding shaken. Ellen remorsefully hugged him, warmed
by the love evident in his voice. They were invited back to the
boy’s house to clean up and be thanked but they politely refused,
wanting to be alone. When they reached Ripon, Ellen directed David to
her own house, confident Adrienne would understand. They took a
shower together then they went to bed. Still shaken by the danger
Ellen had been in, they made love slowly and tenderly, then fell
Ellen woke early the next morning and prowled around her flat. Apart
from the empty space where the VR3000 had stood everything was exactly
as she had left it. Feeling vaguely unsettled she made two mugs of
tea then went to wake David.
“I think I’m getting paranoid in my old age.” she announced.
“Why? Have you seen Mulder and Scully in the kitchen.”
“No but I have this feeling I’m still in the VR3000.”
“You do? What ever makes you think that?”
“I can’t put my finger on anything definite but everything is just too
“You’re right, you are paranoid. Just because you are happy doesn’t
mean you have to be in a fantasy world. Besides we’re in your flat in
Ripon, not a hotel in Italy.”
“I know that. The programme was ‘100 Beautiful Cities of Europe’. I
don’t know about beautiful but Ripon technically qualifies as a city
because it has a cathedral. It’s the smallest city in the UK or
something like that.”
“And that’s why you think you’re still in the programme? Because
Ripon is a city?” he asked incredulously.
“No. It’s lots of little things. Like how well I’ve healed and the
way we had a Porsche Boxster to drive and how empty the roads were and
how it hasn’t rained once and ” Ellen stopped, aware how silly it
sounded once she had voiced her worries.
“Look, if it’s really bothering you just say the words to end the
programme. If nothing happens you know you were wrong.”
For a moment Ellen hesitated. Then she looked around and again felt
the shiver of unease. Standing up she said, “End VR3000 ‘Date’
programme.” And everything went black.