|LAIR OF THE SORCERESS|
Robin did her best to look hurt. "Since when have any of my inventions been unsafe?"
"Two words: Mythos Virus."
"That was not my fault!" Robin protested. "You're the one who spilt it! I got us back to normal, didn't I?"
"Okay then, how about the electric pantyhose?" Cindy said, counting off on her fingers. "Or the teleporter that left me naked in a Georgia swamp? And let's not forget the...."
"Alright alright!" Robin exclaimed. "So my aim was a little off with the teleporter. I assure you nothing can go wrong with the MVR helmet."
"That's what you said about the electric pantyhose," Cindy muttered. "MVR? What's MVR?"
"Mental Virtual Reality," explained Robin. "Ordinary virtual reality machines just project images in front of your eyes. Big deal. They're fancy Viewmasters. With *my* invention the sensations are projected directly into your brain. Of course with your brain, the machine might have trouble hitting the target."
"Ha ha. Very funny." Cindy knew she would be cajoled and wheedled into trying it eventually, so she resigned herself to her fate and sat down. "Okay. So how does this work?"
"It's simple," Robin said as she placed the helmet on Cindy's head and strapped it on. "The sample adventure is ready to go. I call it 'Lair of the Sorceress'. It's a fantasy sword-and-sorcery type thing."
"You've tried this yourself, haven't you?" Cindy asked.
"Later on I plan to have a system that allows multiple hook-ups," Robin continued. "Then two or more people can share the same adventure. I'm already thinking up some special ones just for us. I've got one idea in mind where I'll be a dark elf and you..."
"You didn't answer my question," Cindy interrupted.
"Okay, everything is in place," said Robin. "All I have to do is turn it on. Ready?"
"No, I'm not ready. You haven't told me what I'm supposed to...."
Cindy looked around and blinked. A second before she was sitting in Robin's lab. Now she was outside and standing just inside an open wrought iron gate. Ahead of her was a garden path lined with statuary and greenery that led to an impressive looking mansion. "Wha... how did I... where...? Oh. It worked. It works!"
With a laugh, Cindy spun around, then looked herself over. She was wearing the typical renaissance festival type outfit for an adventurer, right down to the sword on her belt. She pulled it out, then put it back before she hurt herself. "Amazing! It feels real! I take back all the awful things I ever thought about Robin. Well, most of them." Cindy looked around again. "Okay. Now what? Robin never gave any instructions. She said something about a sorceress. I guess this is one of those tales where the beautiful heroine defeats the ugly old witch. And *I* am the beautiful heroine."
Slowly Cindy proceeded along the path toward the mansion. The trees and flowers of the garden looked odd with weird shapes and twists. The statues were all remarkably lifelike. Most of them were naked women with fearful expressions. It was quiet, but Cindy still thought she heard faint sounds as a light breeze blew through the trees.
Quickly Cindy let herself inside where she found a grand foyer. "I hope no one minds that I didn't knock."
"I'm sure the doorknocker didn't mind," said a voice. "She finds it very uncomfortable to be used." Cindy turned as something flew past her head, yanking out a few strands of hair as it went past. She yelped in pain, then saw the thing flutter over to a bust and land on top of it. "Hiya," said the half human, half bat creature with a grin. "How's it hanging?"
"Are you... the sorceress?" Cindy asked, rubbing her head. "Me?" replied the tiny creature. "Uhmmm... of course I am." Just then there was the sound of a throat being cleared as an alluring woman entered the room. "As I was saying, of course I am NOT."
"Bat, I've decided I want eggs for tonight's meal," said the woman. With a simple wave of two fingers, the bat creature was instantly transformed.
"Oh mistress, not *BAWK* again," the now feathered Bat protested weakly.
"I want three... no, four eggs ready by evening mealtime," the woman said plainly. "I will either have fried eggs or fried chicken. The choice is yours." Without another word, Bat flew from her perch, this time far less gracefully. When she was gone, the woman turned to Cindy. "It's so hard to get good help these days. I believe you were looking for me?"
Cindy gave a nervous laugh and briefly considered posing as a lost Avon Lady before reminding herself this was only a game. "Yes, I..." she squeaked, then swallowed and tried again. "I am Cindy, the bold and the beautiful. I am here to defeat you and uh... free the prince or find the treasure. Something like that."
The Sorceress raised an eyebrow and looked unimpressed. "Are you now? Well I think you asinine."
"Yow!" yelled Cindy as twin pains struck her ears and the base of her spine. Her ears felt long and hairy now and she could see over her shoulder that she had grow an ugly looking tail. "All right, that does it! Where's the pause button on this thing? It was bad enough when the flying rat pulled my hair, but that really hurt! Robin, turn this thing off! I am not going to be made into a donkey. And I have to go to the bathroom."
The Sorceress shook her head. "Gibberish," she sighed. "You were mad before you came here. I should have realized. Ah well, you won't be any fun." She half-heartedly gave a wave of her hand, then turned to go. "I'll have you moved outside later. Maybe that spot in the far corner with all the briars and weeds."
Cindy watched the Sorceress go, but that was all she could do. She couldn't move, speak or even blink. ("Hey, what happened? Oh, I get it. Those statues. Idiot! I should have realized. So now what? Is the game over? There's not much I can do turned to stone. Say, maybe a handsome prince will come rescue me. Then I can reward him. Yeah! I'll bet Robin has something like that built in.") Cindy waited, not having much of a choice. ("Boring! How long is this going to last?")
"I don't know how this will last," Robin sighed, looking at Cindy's still form. "I'm sorry, kiddo. I guess my machine found your tiny little mind after all. The only problem is... it turned it off. I've never changed you into a vegetable before. I'm still not sure what happened, but don't you worry. I turned your brain off, I can turn it on again. I just have to figure out how. At least there is one good thing about you being comatose. I know you're sleeping peacefully in there."
("Okay, Robin, joke's over! How long are you going to leave me standing here? I'm sorry I said those things about your mother last week. Robin! You are going to get such a smack when you let me out of this! It's bad enough you leaving me here this long as a statue, but I still have to go to the bathroom. Robin. ROB-BIN!! ............ Robin?")