Image Credit: ‎Philip Bawasanta

The Veil

Elliot Tuckerberg grew up admiring the promises and imagining the possibilities of Magic Leap. He knew from his uncle that the headset would be something expensive, so he saved up for three years so he could afford it. He didn’t get a bike, got lunch from home, didn’t waste cash on chocolates and snacks and music. He was mesmerised by that dreamy ad with a life-sized whale in front of a bunch of kids, staring in amazement.
He was only fifteen when the billion-dollar company unveiled their first product, and it was a huge disappointment.
He imagined everybody using Augmented Reality technology to interact on a sort of an overlay of the digital world over the physical one, a world where you could flip through the pictures on your digital gallery as easily as you could through a pocket dossier of printed photographs. He imagined AR pets, educational aids, people connected through wondrous technology.
All he got was some goofy glasses.
Sure, they were cutting-edge at the time. But the gap between the company’s promises and what it could actually do was bigger than the Grand Canyon.
He bought the beta pack, of course. It was more than he had squirrelled away, but his uncle chipped in for the rest. He was the only one who understood Elliot’s obsession with AR. He was an entrepreneur with plenty of failed startups and crazy ideas under his belt, until he settled on a winning micro-import company and finally achieved the success he needed. He’d say, ‘It took me fifteen years to succeed. I started at my mid-twenties, so now I’m forty years old. If someone had prodded me to start my businesses earlier on, it would still have taken me fifteen years. But I would have succeeded earlier, I’m sure.’
Elliot’s parents disagreed and didn’t want him spoiling the kid, but the uncle was adamant that they should shove their opinions up their behinds. It was easy to be heard when you were finally successful, Elliot noticed. Perhaps that lesson was the one he treasured the most. He kept watching them for years as his parents ignored his uncle’s crazy theories and aphorisms about life and success. ‘Keep reading your self-help books,’ they’d tease him. He was after all, a failed entrepreneur with crushing debt leftover from his silly startups.
But, once he got his first million, everybody’s attitude changed. Suddenly everyone shut their mouth when he spoke. They wanted to take selfies with him. They huddled up in family dinners to chat him up.
Success is what makes people listen to you, is what Elliot learnt from that.
He’d settle for just a girl, for now. “Mindy,” he said as she ignored him and kept walking while texting on her phone. He caught up with her, “Hey, I wanted to ask…”
“Mmm?” she said dreamily, her attention still on her phone. It glinged, then again, then made a bloop sound.
God, he hated technology sometimes. “Mindy, wanna go out with me sometime?” he blurted out before his brain would get in the way and made him think things.
Mindy froze for a second, staring at him. She opened her lovely mouth to speak. “What? Me and you?”
Then she laughed in his face.

Elliot played around with the Magic Leap goggles. They were quirky and round, made you look like Willy Wonka. They were well-made and again, truly a cutting edge of tech, but something was lacking. Elliot knew it.
He stayed up nights trying to figure it out. He had this vision of everything in the world being mapped in real-time. He knew that would require immense amounts of processing power, but that didn’t bother him for now. It was an engineering problem, and there were people who could figure it out. That was another one of his uncle’s aphorisms. Then he’d quote things from Ford or Musk, people who actually knew what they were talking about, but who ignored their engineers when they protested that what they were asking for was impossible, like the V engine or the reusable rocket.
Elliot toiled away for an entire year, stealing hours from his nights, taking naps whenever he could in the day classes, skipping going to cinemas and hanging out. It wasn’t like he didn’t wanna go do those fun things, but every time he actually did go out, he ended up writing down things on his notepad, or sketching AROs and coming up with various applications and experiences.
The cinema, for example. Imagine an experience, where each viewer customises his own overlay as he watches. A girl might want a layer where she gets information about the costumes and the clothes people are wearing, available with links and prices. A guy who is a cinephile might want tidbits on the movie, like trivia, comments, where that b role had played before, or even the Mr. Skin listings for that sexy actress.
The possibilities were endless, really. As he went through the world in his city of New York, the ideas kept coming at him.
All he needed was a format for all this, some sort of a baseline so that others could build upon it.
“Oh, you need an API,” his friend Becker said when he explained the problem.
“What’s that?”
“It’s a programming thing, where you can build something that gets external commands from somewhere else, like another website. So, you build your own engine, and then make an API where others can use it to call data from your own, and make their own applications or adapt their current ones to support theirs.” Becker finished the rest of his ice cream.
“Really?” Elliot said, getting lost in thought again. Guess he needed to learn these things. He wasn’t very good at programming, but how hard could it be? There were books and courses to take. Oh, they were doing programming at school, but it was so basic that even Elliot knew those lessons were useless.
No, he needed to study by himself.
Another one of his uncle’s aphorisms, ‘An entrepreneur keeps on learning.’

He lugged those heavy programming books around. Then he started making room in his schoolbag for them by leaving the others back home. His teachers weren’t pleased, and neither were his parents when they got called about it.
“I guess we can’t really be mad at him, since he isn’t goofing off but rather learning new things. Just not the things he’s supposed to learn in school,” his mother said, resigned.
“Computer programming is not the lucrative profession it was in our day, honey. That was then. Nowadays, they’re little more than menial labour,” his father said, shaking his head.
“We’ll see. Let’s not force him to stop learning to program. He might get bored of it on his own.”
Elliot didn’t get bored of it. Sure, it wasn’t the breezy subject he wished it was, but it was interesting. Unlike the real world, it made sense. Basically, you needed to boil down real-world problems to a logical progression of commands. You broke down the problem to an algorithm that solved it. And if the problem was too complex to handle, then you broke it down further to smaller pieces.
It was a way of thinking that made sense to Elliot.
Unlike girls, for example. He stared at Mindy as she talked with her friends. Elliot knew from her social profile that she wanted to become a marine biologist, having suddenly grown an interest to it the past year. She’d visited an aquarium on a school trip and loved it. Of course, the idiot girls she hung around with thought it was lame. They thought everything was lame, if it didn’t came out the mouth of a celebrity. They liked inane things, popular stuff. If it didn’t have a hashtag, it didn’t matter.
That’s why Elliot liked Mindy. He knew she was clever, she just didn’t really show it all that much. Girls who were both pretty and clever always seemed to rely of the former quality, abandoning the latter.
Also, Elliot admitted, he liked Mindy because she had grown into a pair of amazing boobies.
There was that, too.

Elliot sighed and slammed the book shut. He also turned off his laptop, being gentle around it. He was frustrated, sure, but he wasn’t stupid enough to bang his most expensive property shut.
It so happened that his uncle was visiting. So his mother called him and he went downstairs.
“I’m giving up coding,” Elliot sighed, when his uncle took him in a corner to chat.
“Why? You love it.”
“No, I just love what it can help me do,” Elliot tsked.
“Same shit, kiddo. Look, let’s boil down the concept to its bare essentials. Why do you wanna make this AR thing. Really, imagine it, and tell me what you see when you make it happen. Say whatever comes to mind, I won’t judge,” his uncle said, slashing the air with his palm.
“Well…” Elliot hesitated and stared at his shoes. “There’s this girl, Mindy? I always imagined I’d figure this out and become rich or something, and then she’d be impressed and go out with me. It’s stupid, I know.”
“No, it’s not stupid. So, you kinda wanna do it in order to impress a girl.”
“Fine, yeah!” Elliot admitted, exasperated.
His uncle nodded. “Okay then. Do it to impress a girl,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Stop making fun of me.”
“I’m not! Half the things men do are so they can impress a girl. Or a woman. Or many women. It’s a valid application. Make your project capable of impressing a girl. It’s a common need. Your invention can fulfil that need.” Uncle slashed the air with his gestures.
“That’s where you make millions,” they both said in unison.

Elliot went back to his studies and opened his books, then fired up his laptop with a sense of determination. Coding was a way to solve problems. The problem was, ‘Impress a girl.’
How do you do that? Elliot had no clue.
But what he did have was the urge to figure it out. Break it down, like an algorithm, bit by bit. If it’s unsolvable, break it down even more, solve each piece separately.
He cracked his knuckles.
Yeah, he could do this.

Mindy dozed off during the class break. Oh, she was still standing up, but her mind had completely shut down. Cindy was droning on about some celebrity couple’s recent breakup, and she was pretty animated about it. Mindy cared not for such things. She had decided to go to college, and these matters seemed less important to her right now.
Alas, she couldn’t just tell Cindy she was boring her to her face, could she?
She checked her phone. Just a couple of minutes left before Trigonometry. She could hold on for two minutes.
Walking towards the class, she thought she heard a whale song. The school was noisy and she couldn’t be sure, but she was sure she’d heard it.
Classes went on, and she heard it again as she was standing up.
Come on, that was a classic call of the humpback whale, or what she was properly called, the Megaptera novaeangliae. Why was she hearing it, in school of all places?
Uh! Was she going crazy?
Nah, it was probably some ringtone or something. She shook her head and tried to put her mind at ease.
Next class, she heard it again. It was definitely there.
“What are you looking for?” Cindy nagged as she craned her head around.
“Nothing. Just thought I heard something.”
“As I was saying, Jacinda then posted-”
Mindy tuned off after that. They walked to their lockers. Mindy opened hers absent minded as she had done a million times, and she saw something she didn’t expect. There was a weird device in it, something like a pair of goggles, round ones, attached to a smaller device. It had a note on it that said, ‘Wear Me.”
Nothing else, just that.
“What is this Alice-in-wonderland shit?” she muttered.
“What?” Cindy said, too focused on her phone to see anything.
“Nothing,” Mindy said and snatched her book from inside the locker, then shut it quickly.
They went through the last class of the day, and then Mindy went home. She kept trying to push it all away from her thoughts. But someone had definitely broken into her locker. Should she report it? And get tagged as a snitch? No way! Kids pranked each other all the time. She’d only report it to the principal if it was something yucky, like a dead rat or something.
No, this didn’t feel like something mean. It was elaborate, sure. That device thingy looked expensive. Gosh, where had she seen that before? She was certain she’d seen it somewhere.
She couldn’t sleep. She hugged her dolphin plushie tight and tried to calm herself, but she was way too curious at this point.
In the early light of dawn, she caught a few minutes of precious sleep before going back to school.

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This time she had decided to do it. Yes, it was probably a prank and yes, they’d definitely record it on their phones and it’d be up on YouTube in no-time, but she couldn’t stand it any more. She needed to know.
After class was over, she ditched Cindy who wanted to hang out. Then she opened her locker and faced the weird goggles. She looked left and right, made sure nobody was looking, and put it all in her bag.
In the football field, she was alone. She lifted the goggles in her hands, it was light. The main weight was on the processing thing which seemed to clip at her belt. The note said nothing more, and she tossed it away.
“Here it goes,” she muttered, and then put the goggles on.
Nothing happened. She just looked like a dork.
Oh, wait, there was an on switch.
There it was.
She looked around. And she heard the whale song. From the ground came a translucent whale, swimming in the air as if jumping up from the ocean.
“Wow!” she exclaimed. It was so pretty.
The whale was ghostly, then it impossibly swam in the air around her. As she turned her head, it stayed in the same place, as if she really was there floating about.
It was magnificent!
Then the whale swam towards the street.
“Hey, wait!” Mindy said raising her hand. The whale was getting away. So Mindy ran after her, still wearing the goggles.
She got a lot of stares on the street, and yes, she felt idiotic. But she couldn’t lose the whale, it was so damn interesting! Okay, for a second, she took off the goggles just to make sure. The whale vanished. She could see it only when looking through the goggles, like a magical lens that allowed you to see a 3D animation, but in real life. How cool was that?
Was this a marketing stunt or something?
She followed the whale down the streets. She kinda knew where she was going. “Heading home, huh?” she asked her, but expected no response. The experience felt real, it was like she was actually following a floating whale in the streets of New York.
She turned the corner to catch up.
And there it was. The aquarium.

Elliot felt hot. His neck was sweating, and his t-shirt was too tight. He waited on the bench. Would she be here? He had set up everything right, but she hadn’t taken the bait yesterday. His program pinged the activation code today, so here it was, take two.
His heart pounded as he heard footsteps.
There she was, Mindy, wearing his Magic Leap goggles. Even looking goofy like that, she was still so hot.
Elliot suddenly felt thirsty, so thirsty that he could dip his head into one of the tanks in there and start drinking the entire thing.
“Hey, Mindy,” he said timidly when she walked close.
She stared at him, her beautiful blue eyes gleaming through the lenses. “Is this yours? Oh, right, I remember now,” she slapped her head and struck the goggles. “Oh, forgot I was wearing those.”
“It’s okay,” Elliot said, looking down at his shoes. “Did you like it?”
“You made it?” she exclaimed, taking off the goggles.
He knew what she was seeing, he hadn’t programmed anything else on the whale’s path. She was just swimming around them after reaching the aquarium. “Yeah, I did. It’s kinda my passion project? And I really wanted to it to you. It’s okay if you didn’t like it, really…”
“Oh-my-God! I loved it,” she squealed, and her voice echoed inside the aquarium. People turned and shushed her. She didn’t seem to care. “What else can you show me.”
“I… Uh. This is all I programmed, but I can do more if you give me some time. A couple of days, perhaps?”
“Yes!” she smiled at him.
Mindy gave him the headset and sat on the bench.
“I’m gonna leave you alone now,” he said and stood up.
“Hey, wait. Elliot, right?”
She shrugged and looked away. “Since we’re already here, wanna hang out? My friends never want to come to the aquarium with me.”
“S-Sure,” Elliot stuttered.
And then Mindy told him all about the various sea life on their first date.

Elliot still couldn’t believe he had a girlfriend. Any girlfriend, let alone Mindy, the girl of his dreams. But, she was real, not augmented reality. He had squeezed her in all of her juicy, soft places. And they had kissed, and made other things that they both were very unfamiliar with, but very excited to do them.
It was fun. He had pretty much abandoned his project. He made a few programs for Mindy to enjoy with various sea life, and an octopus, that one was hard, but even she was very much into their love life right now to bother with dorky things.
The project was still on his mind, but he kept postponing it, and to be honest, all he wanted was to spend his time with Mindy and nothing else. It was like he was crazy for her.
One day, while hanging out in her room, he gathered up the courage to ask her for a blowie.
“A what now?” she giggled, covering her mouth.
“You know… We haven’t done it…”
“Say it again!”
“I’m not saying it.”
“Say it again, and I’ll give you one,” she said, her face serious now.
“Okay. Mindy, can you give me a blowie?”
She burst into laughter once again.
“Okay, if you don’t wanna, forget about it,” he said, pissed off.
“No, no, baby, it’s fine. It’s just, it sounded funny, you know. Why don’t you call it a blowjob, like, I don’t know, not-a-dork?” She brought her face up to his and was tearing up while smiling.
“I don’t know, it sounds dirty. And I don’t want it to be dirty, ‘cause I love you.”
“Oh, so sweet of you to ask me for a-” she snorted, “blowie and then say you love me.”
“I said forget about it.”
She pushed him back on her bed. “No, we’re doing this.”
“Sure, why not. We haven’t done it before.”
“Okay…” Elliot leaned back and put up a pillow. The feel of her fingers unbuttoning his pants was very tingly, and then they were cold as they pulled his little Elliot out.
She played a bit with it, Elliot was soft and he felt bad about it.
Then he stood at attention, and she gave it a kiss.
He really enjoyed looking at his girlfriend being down there, her face so close to it.
“Unh, don’t look at me!” she complained.
“Why not? You look beautiful, I like it.”
“No, I don’t like it when you look at me. Look away.”
She started at it again, then she stopped, again.
“What now?” Elliot said exasperated. He didn’t wanna pressure her into anything, but he was very, very horny right now.
She sniffed while she stroked him with her hand. She looked around her room. “Wait,” she said and stood up, rummaging her closet.
Elliot sighed, really annoyed now. “Baby, it’s okay if you don’t wanna do it, just tell me.”
She kept rummaging her closet. “No, wait. Hold on. Got it!” She came back and sat down, holding a green veil. She took the same position as before, her face on his little Elliot, but she threw the veil over her.
“What’s the difference, I can still see you through that?” Elliot asked, but didn’t really want to debate the issue as she seemed to have gone past any inhibition she might have had and was going at it full speed.
“Mmm,” she popped her mouth. “I know, but I feel better having it cover me up,” she said, and went back to the blowie.
Elliot looked down at his crotch. Of course he didn’t mind the veil, not as long Mindy was happy and sucking him-
Oh, crap, he was gonna-
He looked down. Mindy was smiling up at him, her hand still stroking him as he emptied out. She met his gaze, her twinkling eyes through the veil, looking up at him. She looked gorgeous, and he felt light-headed. The veil let the light through but was still there, like a digital overlay, it took shape by the physical world and let the light through to her eyes, her lovely eyes…
Elliot suddenly propped himself up at his elbows. “I need to call my uncle!”
“What, now?” Mindy complained, eyes wide.
“Yes, Mindy. The veil. I just figured it out!”

The end.

Read more of the God Complex Universe here:

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