“This is delicious!” Markos exclaimed, finishing swallowing his bite and smiling.
Through the cameras, Irina, the supervisor of the scientific study, closely monitored him from the next room, recording each of his reactions and comments on a sheet of paper.
Markos Panteli, the twelfth volunteer of the day, moved his arms and hands in the air, performing maneuvers and gestures that reflected his simulated activity, leaning gently on his swivel chair, wearing his virtual reality headset. For Markos, everything he was experiencing was as real as the bunion on his left big toe, which had been bothering him for six months.
“I’m glad you like the shrimp cocktail,” Irina told him through her microphone. “Why don’t you try the asparagus tart? Everyone agrees it’s a delicacy.”
“I don’t like asparagus. But if you say so, precious, I’ll give you a chance,” Markos said, dipping his spoon into the tart and popping a piece into his mouth.
He savored it for a moment and swallowed it, along with a sip of white wine.
“Not bad! I’m going to have to reconsider my opinion on asparagus.”
“I’ll ask you to moderate your alcohol consumption, Markos. We don’t want you to end up getting drunk.”
“But it’s virtual alcohol!”
“But your brain doesn’t know. The effect is very similar to that of real alcohol. Produces the same euphoria and disinhibition as physical wine.”
“Okay. I will keep that in mind in the future.”
Markos gulped down what was left of his glass. Without hesitation, he filled it again. Irina winced, looking at him on her monitor.
On the wall opposite Markos a huge virtual screen was being projected, from end to end, with a pleasant scene of a calm sea ebbing foamy waves on a tropical beach, with lush palm trees and a sun looming on the horizon. The sound of the waves gently lapping was relaxing.
“Won’t you select some music, Markos? You can choose from more than a million musical themes. Stretch your right hand and select the genre you prefer: classical, techno, blues, tango, jazz, rock, pop . . .”
“Carmina Burana. I would like to listen to Carmina Burana while I continue eating.”
Immediately, Carl Orff’s vibrant cantata began to play, with his powerful O Fortuna, adding to the sound of the ocean waves. Markos began to wave his hands as if conducting an orchestra with two batons. Irina noticed that his brain waves associated with pleasure were amplifying and achieving noticeable peaks.
The haptic effectors that lined the chair stimulated his entire body with vibrations in accordance with the moments of greatest intensity of the cantata, making the virtual experience superlatively irresistible.
Markos virtually got up from his seat and walked around the banquet table, serving himself delicacies on a large plate: mustard roast beef, mushroom cheese omelet, turkey stuffed with spinach and caramelized cherries, salmon with blue cheese, Beluga caviar. Then he returned to his place, which he had never really left, and began to eat with relish.
“There is no rush, Markos. We will not remove any food from the table. You have all the time you want for the test.”
Markos ignored the comment and continued to eat at full speed, interspersing bits of bread and sips of wine between bites. Irina kept recording everything down to the smallest detail.
After an hour of feasting, Markos leaned back in his chair, patted his belly, and smiled.
“I know I didn’t really swallow anything and my stomach is still as empty as when I walked in here, but my brain has never been so delighted. Well said, delighted? With delight.”
“Yes. That is the precise word: delight.”
Markos looked up and down the banquet hall and did not find what he was looking for.
“Can’t one smoke here?”
“Whatever you want. Brown or blonde tobacco, Cuban cigars?”
“I’d smoke a joint of marijuana. It relaxes me, especially after eating.”
Then a very beautiful girl appeared, dressed in suggestive clothes, with a small silver tray on which she carried some marijuana cigarettes and a solid gold lighter.
“Wow! This is great service! The idea of the Playboy model girl is great! Again, what was your name?”
“Irina. My name is Irina Sotnikova. I told you when you walked into the room.”
“Well done, Irina.”
“No, it was not my idea. Your brain inserts its wishes along with those offered by the program. The waitress would be your ideal girl, at least to serve you after the banquet.”
The beautiful girl smiled and pouted sensually.
“She can do whatever I want?”
“Anything you want. I am not going to blush. I’ve seen it all in this job.”
Markos took a marijuana cigarette and lit it. He took a few puffs, with pleasure, and looked at the girl, who was looking at him expectantly.
“Do you want one too?”
He lit another joint and handed it to the girl, who laid the tray on the table, leaned one leg on it, and began to smoke with obvious pleasure.
After a few minutes in which they both enjoyed the cannabis session, Markos put down his cigarette and motioned for the girl to come over to him.
“What’s your name, pretty?”
“Whatever you want to call me. I’m all yours.”
Markos thought of the name Greta. He had always wanted a girlfriend named Greta.
“Greta. I want you to be Greta.”
She pulled her bodice over her shoulders, smiled provocatively, and threw herself at him with determination. Markos felt the warmth of her lips, of her firm tongue, of her saliva, mixed with his, which still had traces of shrimp, asparagus, wine and cannabis.
Before he could even think about it, Greta unzipped his pants and extracted his hot and stiff cock, immediately shoving it into her mouth and starting to suck it. Markos began to moan and then to scream with pleasure.
Suddenly, Greta produced a stiletto from under her clothes and showed it to Markos, brandishing it mischievously.
“I know you like a little dose of masochism, my dear boy.”
“Now I don’t want to play those games, precious. Once . . .”
“Everything ended badly, once. I can rummage through your memory, my love. But this time, you are going to enjoy it like never before.”
Then, she began to perform small stabs around Markos genitalia, producing tiny bleeding wounds. She bent down and began to lick the blood that was slowly oozing out.
“Stop it! It’s no longer a pleasant thing!”
“Stop it, Greta, stop it! I order you to stop!” Irina exclaimed through the microphone.
Greta looked at the camera and smirked. He continued with his sado ritual.
Irina jumped from her post, opened the door that connected the two rooms and threw herself on the seat where Markos was writhing in pain. She could not see Greta because she was not connected to the simulation. When she was manually disconnecting Markos from the system, Irina felt a twinge of pain in her back. Horrified, she noticed the expression of pleasure on Markos’s face, as he finished plunging the knife he had hidden during the test into her back.
“My dear Irina, this time everything went well. The previous time, my victim got away at the last minute. Greta could not hold her. Now, between the two of us, we caught you. This, my darling, is the supreme delight.”
Irina Sotnikova collapsed lifelessly on the body of Markos Panteli, who could not stop laughing like crazy.