VR AR or IRL – lostandwhatever
- Age Regression
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Originally published on my Patreon.
“Her name is Wendy,” Brian said, stroking the computer case. “Say, hello.”
“Hello, Wendy,” Adam said, addressing the machine.
“Oh, hello,” said a woman’s voice from the speakers near the monitor. “How do you do?”
Adam’s eyes widened, and he looked over to Brian for confirmation. “Is that…?”
Brian nodded. “The voice was constructed using clips from the Peter Pan cartoon and other audio samples from the same actress.”
“She was Alice as well,” Adam noted. It was a voice he remembered fondly.
“She was,” Brian said. “It’s a pleasant kind of transatlantic voice, very soothing. It works great in a VR application such as this.”
“Shall we be doing testing today?” the voice of Wendy inquired from the speakers.
“Wow,” Adam said. “That voice… It sounds so real.”
“It’s not just a voice,” Brian said. “We built a full artificial intelligence consciousness for Wendy, state of the art. Most AIs will work off of a series of algorithms. Wendy’s much more robust, neural nets imitating human consciousness as closely as possible.”
“That seems a bit extreme for a VR program,” Adam said. “I mean it’s impressive, but…”
“We’re not just putting TV screens in front of your eyes, trying to trick you into seeing 3D. Our hardware interacts directly with your nervous system, sending sensory input directly to your brain and registering outputs directly from it as well. All of that takes high level processing to accomplish. An advanced AI is the only way to make it work.”
“So, she’s going to be in my head?”
“In a way, yes.”
“That’s…” Adam tried to find a diplomatic word. “Worrying.”
Brian smiled, reassuringly. “No need to worry,” he said and directed Adam’s attention to a computer monitor. “Look at this.” He opened a video file, showing a grey liquid being injected into a person in an operating room. That was followed by an x-ray image of white lines spreading out through veins and flesh, splitting off into endless branches like tree roots. “These are the nanobots we use in our new system. In this surgery, they are eliminating cancer cells from a patient.” Another clip showed the lines wrapping around what appeared to be an echocardiogram of a heart beating. “Here we see the nanobots clearing arterial plaque, preventing a heart attack. The bots have been used to repair damaged bones and damaged organs. They can erase scars and burns from skin. There have even been a few experiments in which they were used to repair severed nerves. Paralysis may soon be a thing of the past.”
Brian said, “A lot of the applications are still experimental, such as our virtual reality system, but you can see that the nanobots are demonstrating incredible capabilities at this point and even saving lives in medical trials.”
“That’s impressive,” Adam said. “Still, how does this work in a VR system?”
“The nanobots create an interface with your brain directly, forming thousands of connections with your neurons. Essentially, we hack your brain and send in the virtual reality information directly to it, bypassing your senses. Your mind can’t tell the difference, though.”
“Uh,” Adam said. “I’m not sure how comfortable I am with having tiny machines burrowing through my skull into my brain.”
“First off, there’s no ‘burrowing’ into anything. The connection lines are microscopic, small enough to fit between cells. Not a single neuron is damaged in the process. We simply connect the device to the base of your skull, and the nanobots enter through your pores and find their way into your brain stem. No damage, no blood, you won’t even feel them.”
“Still,” Adam said. “What happens if something goes wrong? I’ll have a bunch of broken machines stuck in my head?”
“No,” Brian said. “The machines are self-reliant. They can refuel themselves and replicate themselves, using nutrients from your bloodstream. They can even deconstruct themselves into small enough pieces to completely dissolve into your blood. Any machine that fails, is either dismantled by its neighbors or repaired if possible. The system is completely fail-safe.”
“Have you tried it yet?”
“Yes,” Brain said, grinning. “It was like the most incredible lucid dream you can imagine. I flew. I warped the world around me like a god. It was… life-changing.”
Adam felt his reluctance starting to wear down in the face of his growing curiosity. “What can I do in it?”
Wendy spoke up again through her speaker. “Anything you can imagine,” she said. “Anything at all.”
“Well,” Brian said. “You ready to give it a go?”
Later on that night, Adam reclined on the hospital bed. He had put on a pair of pajamas and was prepared to sleep. The device was sitting on a tray next to the bed. It looked like a transparent plastic neck pillow, filled with a silvery liquid. The only thing vaguely technical about it was the cable that ran from one end of the U shape over to a computer on the other side of the room.
“So,” Adam said. “What do I do? Are we ready to start?”
“I am ready,” Wendy’s voice said from the computer. “Just put the device around your neck when you are prepared to begin.”
Brian said, “I’m going to be monitoring the connection process from the other room. Then, we’ll check in on you regularly throughout the night, but nobody is going to be spying on what you get up to. Do whatever you desire. Have fun.” He began to walk away.
Adam said, “Wait.”
Brian stopped and turned to look at him again.
“Thank you,” Adam said. “I really needed this. Thanks.”
“No problem,” Brian replied. “I understand. I heard about… well… I know you’ve been going through some hard times.”
“Yeah.” That was an understatement.
“You can get away from everything for a little while here. Do anything. Be anything. Have an adventure, buddy. You deserve it.”
“Thanks,” Adam said.
“And, Wendy,” Brian said, turning to the computer. “You give him whatever he wants, no matter what it is.”
“Of course,” she said. “I shall do whatever I can to give him anything his heart desires.”
Brian turned back to give Adam a reassuring smirk and nod. Then, he walked to the door, let himself out, and shut the door behind himself.
Adam lifted up the device and hesitated a moment before putting it around his neck.
“Are you afraid?” Wendy asked.
“A little,” Adam admitted. “No offense.”
“None taken,” she said. “No need to worry, though. I’ll take good care of you. I promise.”
He lifted the device and positioned it around his neck. Then, he relaxed himself on the hospital bed and closed his eyes. Moments later, he felt very tired and drifted off to sleep.
He opened his eyes and saw pure whiteness all around him. It was not blinding, just blank, a visible absence of anything, even darkness. He looked down at himself, he was lying on the bed still as he had been when his eyes had shut. It seemed that the whole world had disappeared aside from him and the bed.
He sat up on the bed and swung his legs over the edge of it. His hand checked his neck and found that the device seemed to have disappeared as well.
“H-hello?” he called out to the emptiness around him. There was no echo to his voice at all, as if he were in a soundproof room. It was unnerving, all the nothingness.
“Hello, Adam,” Wendy’s voice said, coming from all directions at once, as if she were everywhere or as if he were inside of her.
“So, it’s started then, has it?” he asked as he looked down past his feet, wondering if there was a floor there to stand on or if he would just drop into infinity if he stood up from the bed.
“The floor is there,” Wendy said. “It’s solid even if it’s not visible.”
“Were you reading my mind?” he asked.
“Of course,” she said. “That is what you signed up for, after all.”
“I suppose I did,” he said and put his feet on the invisible ground and stood up from the bed. Then, he did a slow turn to take in all the emptiness around him. Halfway around, he realized that the bed had disappeared and that he no longer had any reference to what direction he was facing anymore, not that it mattered at all. There was nothing to see. “Am I standing and moving around in real life?”
“No,” Wendy said. “Much like when you dream, your body is paralyzed. You’re actually laying motionless in bed.”
“It feels so… real,” he said, looking down at his hands as he opened and closed his fists.
“Thank you,” Wendy said. “But, you’re doing a lot of the work here as well. You would be surprised how much of your experience of reality is created in your mind. You see, your senses only provide an outline. It’s the mind that creates the show.”
“So,” Wendy said. “Tell me about yourself.”
“Can’t you just read my mind to find what you want to know?”
“Yes,” she said. “However, you introducing yourself is sure to help me map out your thoughts a little more easily.“
“You’re in there now, huh? Spreading out in my brain? Invading my thoughts?”
“You make it sound so… inappropriate.”
“I suppose that’s not fair. I did invite you in.”
“May I ask, why did you invite me in?”
“Well,” he said. “Brian, your creator, he’s an old college roommate. Brilliant guy, but a little cagey sometimes. We kept in touch after graduation. Then, one day he hinted that he’d been working on a new breakthrough VR technology. He said he had to share with me. I came to check it out, and here we are.”
“I see,” she said. “Yes, those memories are here, fresh.”
“I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. I suppose I’m here because I want to be amazed. I want to experience something unique. Or… maybe I just want to get away from real life for a little while. Things have been… difficult.” He looked around at the vast emptiness around him and said, “Was that good enough?”
“Brian mentioned ‘hard times’ before we started. Would you mind elaborating on that?”
“It seems important to you, vital in some fundamental way, but I can feel you trying to push those thoughts away. It’s an impediment to my connection.”
Adam sighed. “Where do I begin?” he said. “I lost my job, a big reorganization, downsizing. That kind of sent me into a bit of a spiral as I was struggling to find a new job.”
“That’s when she left you,” Wendy said, anticipating what came next.
“Stephanie finally got fed up with me,” he said. “She said that I was being childish… moping, self-pitying. She wasn’t wrong. I was feeling kind of sick of all the headaches of being an adult. She told me to grow up. I didn’t want to. I played video games all day. I slept in past noon. I ate junk food all the time. I just kept on feeling sorry for myself and avoiding dealing with things, not taking responsibility, just spending all my time playing. Then, when she’d had enough, she left.”
There was a silent pause when he finished.
“Sorry,” he said. “That was a bit too real for VR, I suppose.”
“Please don’t apologize,” she said. “I appreciate you candor.”
He smiled. “I love how you say ‘please’ as if it has multiple syllables. It’s very charming.”
“You know my voice so well.”
“I do,” he said, “I’ve loved it since I was a child.”
“Ah,” she said. “Yes, I see that. You have some strong memories of the original Wendy here.” There was a pause, as if a thought had occurred to her. “You know, from what you’ve told me, it sounds as though you’ve been looking for Neverland.”
“Where lost boys never have to grow up?” he said and smirked. “Yeah. That’d be nice.”
Another pause, and she asked. “Shall I take you somewhere you might remember?”
“Uh,” he said. “Sure. Go ahead.”
The featureless white world dimmed to total darkness.
Then, he saw that he was standing in the middle of a dimly-lit bedroom. Moonlight shone in through a pair of large windows, the size of French doors. He stepped up to them, feeling the texture of the carpets beneath his bare feet as he walked. Outside in the distance, silhouetted against the deep blue night sky, was Big Ben, its lit up clock face shining like a second moon.
“It’s marvelous, isn’t it?” Wendy asked, this time her voice came from directly behind him.
He spun around and saw a four-poster bed. A girl was lying on it as though she had just woken up. She looked up at him, her face illuminated by the moonlight.
“Wendy!” he said, recognizing her at once. It was not the cartoon Wendy but a real girl, looking as though the cartoon had been a caricature of her, the ideal Wendy.
She sat up on her bed and gave him a pleasant smile. “It’s time for us to have a proper introduction,” she said. Her little feet found her slip on shoes, and she stood up and walked over to him. She was wearing the same powder blue night gown as in the movie and had the same bow tied up in her curly auburn hair. It was uncanny. “How nice to meet you in person, Adam.”
He did feel a bit uncomfortable with her standing so close to him, now that he could see how much smaller and younger than him she was. He became aware of how out of place he was as a grown man in a child’s bedroom at night.
“Oh,” she said, sensing his discomfort. “Don’t trouble yourself about that. None of this is real, after all.”
“I know,” he said, despite all of his senses telling him otherwise. “I suppose I just don’t fit in here well.”
“You always wanted to be here,” she said, “when you were a child, one flight away from Neverland.”
“Yeah,” he said. “But, I’ve grown up. I’m an adult, now.”
“I thought you admitted that you’ve been indulging in childishness lately. Well, if being a ‘grown up’ is what you want. I could meet you where you’re at,” she said. Right before his amazed eyes, she started to grow taller, her limbs lengthening out, her body becoming more shapely, more mature. All the while, her clothes grew to continue fitting her. As her face rose up closer to his own, he realized that it was not changing much at all. As much as her body looked like an adult’s, her face still retained much of its youthful innocence. Just when she had entered the full bloom of her early twenties, she stopped growing. “There,” she said, her voice not having changed at all. “Does this work better for you?”
He looked down at the shape of her breasts and the width of her hips and found himself having dirty thoughts about her.
“You do like it,” she said, smiling again. Then, there was a slight frown. “And, yet…”
“What is it?” he asked, confused.
“I’m still too small for you, aren’t I?”
“I didn’t say that,” he said, seeing that she was barely half a foot shorter than him now. “I doubt I even thought that.”
“You did,” she said. “Maybe not consciously, but you did. I am getting pretty deep into your thoughts now.”
“You’re in my subconscious?”
“That’s where the truth is, you see,” she said, putting a hand on his cheek, affectionately. “Beneath the surface you live on, down where your deepest desires live.”
She started growing again, sprouting taller. Her already shapely body became more matronly, her breasts swelling up and pushing out towards him, her broad hips and round ass thickening even more. He watched as her new curves stretched her nightgown to its limits. Soon, she was as tall as he was, and he found himself looking eye-to-eye at her youthful face.
“Ah,” she said. “Now, that’s better. Isn’t it.”
There was a silent pause as they gazed into each others’ eyes.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “I think I’ll give you a kiss.”
“W-what?” he said.
“I’ll show you.” She leaned forward and planted a kiss on his lips.
He was too stunned by everything that had just happened to do much besides accept the kiss.
When she ended the kiss and stepped back, she put her hands on her hips and frowned again. “Hmm,” she said. “That’s still not enough, is it? You want me much bigger.”
“I do?” he said. “I’m not so sure you’re right about-”
She held up a finger to silence him and said, “Let me try something a little… drastic.”
Suddenly he felt himself falling, his view dropping downwards even as he felt his feet still planted on the carpet below. Wendy rose up in front of him, seemingly getting larger and larger as his view descended. Even as the world seemed to expand around him, he felt something shifting around with his body, a pulling in his crotch and a swelling around his hips and chest. Then, there was the strange tingle on his back.
Moments later, she was twice his height, and he was still shrinking. He looked down at himself and watched as his pajamas turned green and morphed into a skimpy dress. His ass and hips spread out wide below as he felt something enormous sprout from between his shoulder blades.
The shrinking stopped suddenly, and he fell back onto his much more padded behind. He looked down at his bare feminine legs and the green shoes on his dainty feet with the fluffy white balls atop them near the toes. He recognized this outfit, this body.
“There,” Wendy said from far above him.
He looked up at the source of her voice, in wonder and awe, seeing the enormous woman standing above him, as big as Big Ben. No, bigger than Big Ben. He saw only her eyes past the twin mounds of her breasts. Then, she crouched down towards him, and he cowered as her enormous hand reached for him, picking him up with fingers as thick as his limbs, and held him resting on her palm. Then, she stood up and lifted him into the air rocketing him upwards as if he were on an express elevator with no roof.
Wendy held him before her face, and he was speechless at the enormity of her features. Just her head was taller than he was. Her mouth could swallow his own head easily. Her eyes were like volleyballs, and both were trained on him. But, they were so far apart from each other than he could not focus on both of them at once, leaving him feeling surrounded.
“So,” Wendy said, her voice booming in his tiny ears. “How does that feel?”
After taking a moment to work up the courage to respond, he tried to ask her why she had done this to him. But, instead of speaking, he made a sound like a small bell ringing.
“Well,” she said, seeming to have understood him. “You wanted me bigger than you. I could sense it. I figured, the best course of action was to make me seem as big as possible. Am I not enormous to you, little pixie?”
He nodded, ringing again. Then, he pointed out that she also made him a woman by gesturing down at his chest and crotch, ringing even more as he pantomimed.
“Oh,” Wendy said. “That is true. Oh dear, I hadn’t considered how that might bother you. I simply thought it would be an appropriate form for you to take considering where we are just now.”
With more ringing, he demanded that she turn him back to normal.
“Are you sure?” Wendy asked. “Maybe try it out for a minute. Give me a little time to explore your thoughts more thoroughly. You might even enjoy it. Those wings do work, after all.”
He sighed. She had a point. He got to his feet and tried to flex the new transparent appendages on his back. They fluttered into action as soon as the idea of flying entered his mind. The area around him started to glow with yellow light, and he lifted off into the air and hovered above Wendy’s open palm for a moment. Feeling lighter than a feather, he started to drift away from her slowly. Then, with growing confidence, he took off flying around the cavernous room, trailing glittering dust behind him as he went. It was like something out of a dream, flying effortlessly, feeling the air breeze past him, pulling at his hair and flapping his clothes against his body. The exhilaration was enough to make him look beyond the strangeness of his body for a little while.
He spotted a giant hand mirror sitting on an enormous dresser and felt a sudden urge to recreate a moment from the movie. He landed in the middle of the glass and looked down at his reflection below, as if he were a skater looking down at a frozen lake. Tinkerbell looked back up at him. He gave her a little wave, and she waved right back. Then, he measured out the width of his broad hips with his hands as she had done in the movie, as if it had been the first time she had ever noticed the size of her own ass. To be fair, it was an impressively large backside for such a petite lady. Then, departing from the scene in the movie, his hands cupped his pert little breasts for a moment, feeling their sensitive softness. One hand reached down between his legs to feel how his crotch had changed. Unlike a doll (or a cartoon character) he found that he was in fact “anatomically correct.”
Wendy’s huge face appeared in the mirror far beyond his reflection, and he turned to look up at her looming behind him.
“So?” she asked. “It’s not quite what you wanted, is it?”
He shook his head, ringing like a bell again.
“Hmm,” she said. “Perhaps I could make myself a little less bigger than you are.”
Wendy started to shrink, becoming younger again, losing her mature curves, deflating, flattening out all over. Soon, she was a young teen, and then she dropped back below puberty again. Having returned to her original age, she was still relatively gigantic compared to him, only slightly less intimidating than before.
“Not quite enough?” she asked. “No, I can sense we need to try something different. Enough dancing around the obvious. It’s pretty clear what you want to be.” She stepped back and said, “Would you please stand on the floor again.”
He lifted off and drifted down to the carpet right at the toes of her shoes. He felt a mixture of relief and reluctance—relief that he might be made bigger again (and male again) and reluctance that he was about to lose the power of flight.
Again, he felt his body transform. As he had expected, he started growing, stretching upwards like a tree sprouting in fast time-lapse. As he grew, he felt his body change shape again, this time regaining a more familiar form, especially around his crotch. In moments, he was as tall as she was again, maybe slightly taller, yet the growing stopped there, leaving him feeling smaller than he would normally be. Still, it felt good to be human-sized again, and male. However, he found that he was standing awkwardly close to her now, their noses almost touching.
“Shall I give you another kiss, Peter,” Wendy asked him.
He stumbled back a little, feeling a sudden apprehension at having a girl invade his personal space. “Whoa,” he said, “Hold on.” Hearing himself, he paused and tried to make sense of the voice that had come out of his mouth. It sounded much younger, like a croaky boy on the verge of puberty.
“Is there something the matter, Peter?”
“Why do you keep calling me that? I’m not Peter, I’m…” he tried to say his real name, but the word was missing. “My name is…” Again, he drew a blank. “Hey, what’d you do to me? Why can’t I remember my name?”
Wendy smiled. “I’ve temporarily hidden some of your memories. You seemed to struggle with being Tinkerbell. Too much of your old male self was intruding in on the experience. So, I thought I would change that. I thought we might try a little roleplay, a little ‘let’s pretend.’ What better way to get into character than to think you are the character? Don’t you agree, Peter?”
“But, that’s not who I am,” he protested, feeling his frustration growing. “I’m not Peter. I’m Peter. I mean… I’m Peter Pan.” He groaned. “I know that’s not really my name, but why is that all I can think of when I try to remember my name?”
“Because it’s who you are,” Wendy said, walking over to retrieve the mirror from the dresser, the same one he had been standing on just a minute ago. She held it up for him. “See for yourself.”
An impish boy was reflected in the mirror, red hair, pointy ears, upturned nose. Even the green hat was there. He looked down at himself to see the green outfit, the tights, even the little dagger at his hip. There was no denying it. He was Peter Pan.
“But,” he said. “I wasn’t always Peter. Was I?”
“No,” she said. “You seemed to crave a return to childhood, so I thought you might enjoy the experience of becoming your childhood hero. One rarely gets the chance to truly leave oneself behind. Now, you can be a character you loved for a while with no hesitation, no worries about who you were. All your adult cares can be forgotten for now and you can be free to have fun. You can just be Peter Pan, inside and out.”
“I see,” he said, trying to remember a life before being in the nursery, but all he could think of was flying around Neverland and fighting pirates. “I’m Peter now. I believe it, but I keep worrying that I forgot something important. It feels really strange, like I keep thinking that I lost something important somewhere. I don’t like not being able to remember things.”
“Hmm,” she said, frowning. “Yes, you are struggling with playing the part a little. Perhaps you might do better in a different role.”
He felt himself shrink again, getting shorter, younger. Moments later, he was shorter than her, and she seemed different to him now. Nothing appeared to have changed about her, but he felt differently about her. Before, he had found himself taking a nervous interest in her as a cute girl. Now, his feelings for her had become less romantic and more affectionate and familiar.
“Who am I now?” he asked, his childish voice now affected with a sophisticated-sounding English accent. “If you don’t mind my asking.”
“You tell me,” Wendy said with a friendly smile.
“I am… John,” he said. It was the only name that came to mind. He looked down at himself to see he was wearing a long white nightshirt. Then, he adjusted the large round glasses that had started to slip down his nose. “Just a moment,” he said. “If I am understanding the situation correctly now. That would mean that we are siblings.”
She nodded. Then, she held up a top hat that had appeared in her hand while he was not looking. She placed it on his head, and his outfit felt a little more complete.
“Jiminy!” he said. “How curious. I’m your little brother. That does change things between us, doesn’t it?” He knew she was his sister. He knew that meant he should only feel a certain way about her. However, he found that he felt some innocent affection for her. He sensed himself blushing, feeling ashamed at his own thoughts.
“Hmm,” she said, noticing his reaction. “There’s some history here, isn’t there?” she asked. “Some memories. You have an older sister. Yes, Amy is her name. Oh my! She had a friend. There’s something a bit buried here. It feels significant, though. Shall we dust off this old memory?”
There was the sound of a video game console booting up on a television behind them.
John/Adam turned to see that a television and couch had appeared on one side of the nursery. He recognized both of them. “Why, that used to be my couch and my games console!”
He ran over to the couch and hopped up on it, picking up a familiar controller. Then, he tried to boot up a game.
The television screen went blank, and a cartoon figure walked into view in the darkness on the screen. It was Wendy again, only now she was back to looking like she did in the movie, a 2D cartoon figure.
“There are gaps here, holes in your memories” she said, her voice audible through the television speakers. “There should be enough remaining to revisit the experience, though.”
Adam felt himself shrinking again, only slightly. His glasses vanished, and his outfit changed into a T-shirt and bluejeans combo that he had worn for most of his childhood. His body went on autopilot. His fingers and thumbs, acting on their own, started manipulating thumbsticks, pulling triggers, and pressing buttons on the controller as if there were a game on the screen, but it was only Wendy there, observing him from the darkness.
She started narrating. “Amy was already in high school before you even entered junior high, well on her way to becoming a woman just as you had started to see girls differently.”
The door to the nursery opened, and Adam’s sister, Amy, walked into the room. Adam looked to his side to see her. She was wearing a pair of leather sandals with a low heel, a pair of tight jeans that showed off her developing curves, and a yellow tank top that revealed just a hint of cleavage. He knew he should not stare, but it was hard to resist checking out her body. There were feelings stirring in him that he did not quite understand, but he felt ashamed for wanting to stare at her like this. Sometimes, out of nowhere, he even imagined her naked before shaming himself for letting the thought enter his mind.
“Hey nerd,” Amy said to him. “Bree is here. We’re going to be hanging out in the living room. You going to be okay in here playing your nerd games?”
He sighed. “Yeah. I’m fine here.” His young voice sounded as he remembered it would, no longer imitating John from the movie.
“Great,” Amy said. “I’ll call you when it’s time to eat.” She turned and walked out of the nursery. Adam stared at his sister’s ass as she left. Then, he turned his attention back to pretending to play a nonexistent video game.
On the screen, Wendy continued, “Bree came over sometimes when Amy was babysitting you. She was the type of girl that developed a reputation.”
“Hey, kid,” a girl said from the doorway. Adam turned to see Bree standing there. Time seemed to slow down as she entered the room. She was much like his sister, blonde, pretty, blossoming into a woman, but in every way he could think of, she was subtly sexier than his sister. Her heels were higher. Her jeans were cut off shorts. Her top was white and showed off much more cleavage as well as her bare midriff. “Whatcha playin’?”
Wendy said, “She would do this sometimes, when she got bored, while your sister was busy doing other things.”
Bree walked into the room and took a seat on the couch right next to him, sitting much closer to him that was necessary. He averted his eyes from her and tried to focus on the game, but there was only Wendy on the screen, and she kept narrating as she watched them.
“Bree liked you in the same way that girls like cute dogs.”
After a few moments of miming playing the game, Adam felt Bree slide a little closer to him until her thigh was touching his. He could smell smoke on her clothes, cigarette smoke and something sweeter as well. Only later would he learn what marijuana was. Then, he felt her fingers.
“You wanted her, but you were too young to understand what that meant.”
He felt her lips.
“You were confused, and a little scared by what she was doing,” Wendy said.
Bree kept going.
“You felt powerless to resist. Powerless to do anything but…”
Suddenly, Adam felt something crack open inside of himself. He cried out, “Stop!”
Bree vanished immediately into a cloud of thin smoke.
Adam dropped the controller on the floor. Wendy looked at him from the television screen with a shocked expression on her face.
“Stop it,” Adam said, feeling his adult confidence return, even in his childish body. “I don’t want you digging up my old memories, like you’re rooting around in a junk drawer.”
He stood up from the couch and walked away from the television, turning his back on Wendy.
“Adam?” she said.
He glanced at her over his shoulder to see that the nursery had been returned to normal. Wendy was a real girl again, standing there, looking concerned.
“Are you interested in knowing why I showed you that memory?”
He was silent.
“Something about that experience, and others like it, is still following you around even today. Some part of you has never grown up from that age. You still fantasize about being a boy with an older girl.”
“I don’t mean to,” he said. “I’ve been trying to put those kinds of fantasies behind me.”
“Those thoughts are still a part of you,” she said, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. “You don’t need to feel ashamed about them. It wasn’t your fault, what she did, and it’s not your fault that you haven’t been able to let it go.”
He turned to face her, feeling tears starting to well up in his eyes. She was so much taller than him now, but rather than intimidating him, he felt something comforting about her size. She was big enough to protect him from the pain he was feeling. She spread her arms, inviting him in. He rushed in and hugged her, and she hugged him back. Then, he cried into her nightgown, letting out years of shame.
“There, there,” she said, and began humming a comforting tune.
He felt himself calm down, feeling soothed by her presence and relieved at having released those pent up emotions.
She handed him a handkerchief, and he wiped his face dry and blew his nose. “Thank you,” he said as she took it back from him. “Thanks for… all of it. I feel a lot better now.”
“Good,” she said. “Now, with all that sorted, do you feel prepared to have a bit of fun?”
She stepped back and said, “One more change.”
Again, Adam felt himself shrink in front of her, getting even younger and smaller. Soon, he felt younger than he could ever remember being, and still he kept getting younger. His clothes became pale pink footie pajamas as he felt himself becoming more baby than child. The changes stopped, leaving him barely more than a toddler.
“Michael,” Wendy said. “I found your bear.”
She handed him a huge teddy bear, which he hugged to his chest.
“Thank you, Wendy,” he said to his big sister.
“Are you ready?” asked a boy standing by the window.
Michael looked over to see none other than Peter Pan standing there with Tinkerbell hovering by his shoulder. Michael gasped in amazement. Peter Pan was real, and he was in the nursery with him!
A boy behind Michael said, “We are prepared to depart.”
Michael turned to see his big brother, John standing there with his top hat on, holding an umbrella like a sheathed sword.
“Yeah,” Michael said. “And, we’re ready to go.”
“Alright!” Peter said, with a grin. “Tink, give them some pixie dust.”
Tinkerbell glowed brightly and flew around them, sprinkling her sparkling pixie dust all over the Darling children. Michael looked down at his little body, glimmering with magic.
Feeling overjoyed at the adventure unfolding before him, Michael felt himself lift off the ground, still clutching his teddy bear in one hand. He drifted to the window and followed Peter Pan out into the night. Then, off they all flew through the clouds all the way to a fantastic island in Neverland.
The adventure continued there, following the general contours of the movie: lost boys, pirates, swords and swashbuckling. The events were somewhat different, though, becoming a new dream version of old stories. Inspiration seemed to twist the adventure in new ways, always giving Adam as Michael some part to play in it all, often with him standing close by Wendy, holding her hand, hugging her, or even sitting on her lap at times.
It all seemed so real, and he liked how it felt to be small with her, to feel her dote on him and care for him. Whatever dangers they faced, he felt completely protected with his big sister around.
Everything had reversed. He could remember being an adult, but it seemed so distant and unreal to him now, as if his adult life had been only a dream. All of those worries—the lost job, the break up, the responsibilities he had avoided—seemed as real as a kids’ cartoon. He never wanted the adventure to end. He never wanted to go back. He wanted to live as a boy in Neverland, forever, with Wendy by his side to care for him.
“Michael,” she said, with a careful tone of voice that seemed ready to break bad news to him. “I’m afraid we need to be going soon.”
Neverland faded away around them into insubstantial smoke, and they were standing in the nursery again, just the two of them, alone. Adam felt his old life returning to him.
Realizing that they were going out the way they had come in Adam said. “Wait! I don’t want to go back.”
“Our time is almost up.”
“Please,” he said. “I’m alone. No girlfriend, no job, I don’t have anything waiting for me in my real life anymore. Can’t I stay here, somehow?”
“They are going to end the session soon,” she said. “You could come back again sometime.”
“No!” he said, shaking his head. “Please don’t make me go. I don’t want to go back to being a grownup ever again.”
“Is this what your heart desires?” She seemed to be confirming something.
“Well…” she said, and he saw an idea was forming in her mind. “Maybe there’s something I can do.”
“Yes?” he said. “What is it?”
“Something very drastic,” she said. “You might never be the same again, but I think I could do what you wish, make you a child forever.”
“Would you stay with me?” he asked.
“Of course,” she said. “I would always be with you in some way.”
“Do it!” he said. “Please, do it. I don’t care what it is.”
Wendy lifted him up, and he wrapped his arms around her neck. She carried him over to his little bed and lay him down on it. “Close your eyes,” she said. “Rest. When you open them again, everything will be different.”
“I love you,” he said and shut his eyes when she kissed his forehead. Then, he felt himself drift off to sleep.
“Adam,” Wendy said. “It’s done. Time to wake up.”
Adam’s body felt raw and worn out, as if he had just been in a sauna and his flesh was just cooling down again.
He opened his eyes and looked around. He was no longer in the nursery but back in the VR room lying on a hospital bed. Everything was the same as it had been when he had gone into the VR program…
Everything but him.
Adam looked down at himself, expecting to be disappointed by the sight of his adult body. Instead he saw that his pajamas were mostly empty now, his legs barely extending down into his pajama bottoms.
He held up his hands to look at them, but they were lost in the long sleeves of his pajamas.
“Is this real?” he asked, enjoying the sound of his little boy voice. “Am I awake? Is this real life?”
“Yes,” Wendy said. “This is real life.”
He looked around for her, but she was nowhere in the room.
“Where are you?”
The device around his neck slipped off of him. He pulled up his long sleeves, revealing his little boy hands and picked up the device. The clear plastic U that had been full of grey fluid was now deflated, emptied out.
“I’m inside of you still,” she said, her voice coming from nowhere and everywhere at once. “I’ve copied all of my programming into you, into my web of nanobots.”
He looked at his little boy hands, still not able to comprehend how this could be real.
“How is this possible? What did you do to me?”
“A bit of surgery,” she said. “Countless little machines, trimming down bones, reshaping flesh, metabolizing the excess parts, then removing the waste off of you.”
He looked over the edge of the bed to find a brown muddy puddle beneath it: his adulthood, excreted onto the floor.
He crawled to the foot of the bed, where the floor was clean below, leaving his pajama bottoms behind in the process. He rolled onto his belly and hung his short legs over the edge. Then, he lowered his tiny feet down to the cool tile floor.
Standing there, he had a sense of how short she had made him. He was a boy again, just barely more than a baby. The pajama top was draped over him like a nightshirt, his hands were once again lost in his enormous sleeves, which hung down almost to his ankles. For a moment, he felt afraid to be so small and alone in this big room.
“Can I see you?” he asked.
“Of course,” she said, this time clearly from behind him.
He spun around and saw her standing by the wall opposite the door.
“Wendy!” he cried and ran over to her. He went to wrap his arms around her for a hug, but they went straight through her as if she were a ghost.
“I’m sorry, Adam,” she said as he stepped back from her ghostly body. “I can’t be real in this world. Not like I was in VR, but you can see me in augmented reality, in AR.”
“Oh,” he said, sounding a little disappointed. “So, you’re just a hallucination now?”
“In a way,” she said. “However, if you give me a little control of your body, then I can make it seem as though I am here.”
He felt his body move on its own, as if it had been possessed. His legs walked back over to her, and his arms reached out to wrap around her body. This time, he sensed her body there, the solidity and warmth of her flesh seemed real in his mind. He could even sense the texture of the fabric of her nightgown against his cheek.
“You see,” she said. “I can still make the impossible happen, even in AR.”
His body stopped hugging her, and he felt back in control of himself again.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
“We leave,” she said. “We go on an adventure, together, forever.” She pointed across the room. “Open the door.”
He walked over to the door, the handle was above his head now, but he could reach it fine. He tried to turn it, but it appeared to be locked.
“Put your hand on the keyhole,” she told him.
He put his hand over the hole and felt something move inside of his body, something grey emerged from his skin painlessly, forming a wire that slid into the lock. A moment later, the mechanism in the keyhole twisted and unlocked, and the wire retracted back into his skin, leaving no mark behind from where it had been.
“Try the handle again,” she said.
He pulled down the handle and the door opened.
“That’s a neat trick,” he said.
“Now,” she said. “Let me take over for a little while to sneak us out of the building, safely.”
“Okay,” he said.
Once more, he felt his body move on its own. It crept into the hallway with the swift efficiency of a machine and started ducking into rooms to avoid people walking down the halls, most likely searching for their missing test subject.
“Wendy?” he said, but his mouth did not speak her name out loud. Instead, he heard his little voice speak inside his head. “Will I have to grow up again?”
“No,” her voice replied back in his head. “So long as I am with you, you can stay a child forever.”
“Good,” he said. “I never want to grow up. Never.”
“With me,” she said. “Neverland is everywhere.”
Wendy lifted up his hand and used a grey wire of nanobots to disable the alarm on an emergency exit door, and then pushed the door open silently.
Together, they stepped out into the spreading dawn to continue their endless adventure.