Catherine then had to endure two hours of silence, looking around her at everyone reminded her of her son. They all sat there faces basking in the glow of their little screens. There were even a few who sat dead still looking straight ahead not moving, catatonic. Some would say they were staring except, how could you possibly stare when wearing oculus goggles.
It was these people who hurt the most, they reminded her so much of Gary. She wondered if they recognised the danger they were in, wondered if they were lost already. Catherine regretted the day she’d bought Gary the Oculus Roam. At least before the Oculus Roam, they knew where he was, yes he was tethered to the console in the house.
There though they could try to regulate his time on the device, the rules of the house, homework, reading, sports, all of those things meant there was some balance. He enjoyed those things, he thrived on the soccer field, School was something he was good at.
They did know he had an addiction to the games, in truth they did not really know what was in the games, neither of them knew. Catherine and Doug did not ever look inside of the oculus goggles to see what he was doing, never thought of what was occurring in front of his eyes, or the affect this was having on his mind.
Being made to stop and sit on the train Catherine was shocked at how prevalent the technology had become. Looking around her know one was speaking, yes some where communicating by typing messages on there devices, else there was no human interaction, not even brief moments of eye contact.
These people were zombies, all of them and Gary was somewhere amongst them. The Oculus Roam fed his addiction. Yes, it was impressive technology, it was always impressive technology ever since Steve Jobs invented the phone everyone was wrapped up in the technology.
Now it was almost as if the technology was marching forward to the detriment of society, most definitely to the detriment of her family.
Finally, ‘Clunk’ she heard the lock open and the LED turned green. Catherine pulled the handle down and stepped out onto the train platform. It was fresh, bracing even after the suffocating warmth of the train. Turning Catherine walked towards the turnstiles, blending in with the growing herd as others alighted from the train, adeptly stepping around, dodging, moving in front of those people in the crowd who had not managed to break the glowing tether of their screens.
Where could he be? Michael said Gary did not get of the train at Gosford to make the short work to school, that he was wearing his Oculus goggles and would not respond to his brother no matter what, even when Michael pressed the external pause button and yelled at his brother to get off the train.
That was four hours ago, even though Michael had called her as soon as he was off the train to tell her that Gary had done it again, it had taken her some time to organize for someone to look after Maggy, and then the tortuous train trip.
If she was right Gary would have sat there on the train, like those other goggle zombies she saw, he would have sat their until the train terminated at central station, no doubt he would have still been sitting there if the transit police had not moved him on.
This was not uncommon, talking to one transit cop on the train he said it was incredible how many people he had to remove from the trains when they terminated, the problem was so bad now special stops were even scheduled at St Leonard’s near the hospital to try and help those who were truly lost in the devices.
Catherine called to one of the platform staff as she went through the turnstile. ‘Can you tell me where the nearest induction charger is?’ He simply pointed, nothing more. Catherine was glad she did not work in the city anymore, the impersonal frozen faces of everyone always frustrated her.
Belmore Park that is where the man had pointed. This place had seen every phase of addiction ever, everything from cocaine, meth, crack. Now incredulously the council had approved the installation of an induction energy dome, a charging base for the Oculus Roam’s.
As she walked into the park she was amazed at how unchanged it was the tents up the hills against the fences, people moving around amongst them, some sitting and talking, others going about there business, this lot were the homeless, disadvantaged, meth heads and others, this was not where the deadheads hung out.
Deadheads were the oculus addicts, they would not be up there, oddly the two groups looked down upon each other, the deadheads thinking they were better than the addicts, the addicts thinking the deadheads were fools, they tolerated them as they were such an easy mark. If they ever needed cash they’d just go pick the pocket of a deadhead.
Catherine was scared of the addicts, keeping to the paths with other commuters who for whatever reason, expediency or need were passing through the park. She knew the energy dome was in the middle of the park; this was deliberate as it was the way they kept the deadheads out of the traffic.
Walking towards the dome was amazing, she had never seen so many of them. So many young lost people, predominantly men and boys there were two or three girls amongst the crowd of 20 odd people standing, not necessarily facing towards the energy dome, just in its proximity, facing all directions.
She could not see Gary, she started walking amongst them, they were harmless, oblivious. You did have to be worried if one of them flayed about as they fought some beast, or something else in the game they were playing. Watching were you walked was critical, rubbish lay everywhere, discarded backpacks; all unzipped their content spread everywhere. The work of the predatory addicts.
To be continued