by Thomas Giles

The man stood in the white space, feeling his skin tingle as it acclimatized to the artificial reality. He looked down at his virtual body, dressed all in black in an attempt to hide his overweight belly. He looked up at the icon hovering ahead. It showed the silhouette of a cocoon, a human embryo shining in its centre.

He reached out and tapped it.

The program loaded, white room turning grey, a mirror appearing in front of him, showing his now naked body. He could not escape his life, even in the virtual world it seemed. After a long day of work, he’d log in just like anyone else. His body was scanned, and character model updated, always accurately reflecting his real-world appearance. The rumour was, this Cocoon program could trick the hardware into seeing whatever body you made using it.

The man gestured, drawing a new figure onto the mirror, shaving away the fat and unsightly features. After a few minutes’ work his body was akin to Michelangelo’s David… but it wasn’t what he was looking for. He carved off more and more; making his virtual character taller and skinnier, its frame stretched until it was tall and gangly, face gaunt, sunken eyes barely recognisable.

The man smiled. No one would recognise him. In the virtual world he could now leave his old life behind. He entered as a fat caterpillar, bored with his old life and wanting more. Now he could spread his wings and fly.

Thomas Giles is a writer specializing in science-fiction. With many years experience with programming professionally, he enjoys bringing the technical side of sci-fi to life and strives to make such topics accessible to a wider audience. He writes on a regular basis for the kind people supporting him through Patreon, his friends and family giving feedback on his works and helping him hone his ability to create worlds and share them with readers.

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