Chapter 4

Wonderland by Emily


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Synopsis: Ryan's in trouble and has to find a way to escape

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I ran between cars and I could hear the sound of boots hitting the pavement.


I ducked down between cars and zigged and zagged through the parking lot.  Where was I going?  I tried to think of the best route to escape.  I can’t do this.  I’m a not a fighter or a soldier.  I’m a software guy.  I sit at a desk all day.  


I peeked through a car window. Bill’s car was still here.  But that would require me having to deal with a dead body. A dead body of someone I just has sex with last night.  My stomach turned to think that Bill died because of his association with me.


My own car was here.  But my keys are with the rest of my belongings in a locker inside the Wonderland building.


I could hear footsteps approaching.  I got up and dodged to the next car.


I heard a gun cock behind me and a male voice yell “Stop”


I looked to see a guard pointing his gun at me.  I involuntarily raised my hands.  It’s not like I had any weapons.


“Up,” he said.  Other guards surrounded us.


I slowly stood up while keeping my hands visible.  


“Move” he said.


I saw Anna Davis and she was talking into a phone.  “We have him.” she said.  “Understood.”


They escorted me back to the Wonderland building.  


Nothing else was said, but I walked with them and they led me back to the Simulation room.  Like when I was here on Sunday night, the lights were dim.


I heard the door shut and I looked around.  I was alone.  Neither the guards nor Ms Davis followed me in here.


Maybe I can run for it now.  Maybe I can find another exit.  I searched the wall for additional lights so I can search for more doors.  I found a slider and slid it up and the room grew brighter.


The room was bigger than I realized.  Lining the room were transparent tanks filled with bodies.  Just floating there in water.  


I looked at them, shocked at what I found.  Were they alive?  They didn’t appear to be breathing or hooked up to any machery.  Just floating in tanks.


I was stunned.  What is this place?  What was really going on here?  This isn’t simply just a virtual reality platform.  Does Eric know about this?


In the center of the room were the immersion tanks from earlier.  Only 3 of them.


I ran to the first one.  I opened the lid.  It was empty.


I ran to another.  Maybe Eric is still here.  Empty again.


Third time’s a charm.  Third one had me floating there.


My body’s eyes were open and staring straight up.


What do I say to my body?


“Ryan,” I said to myself.  


He didn’t respond.  


What if… “Ashley?” I said.


His eyes looked at me.  Holy shit.


I heard a door open.


“Ryan,”  Eric said from the door. “Is that you?”


“Eric,” I said.  “Oh thank god.  There’s been a mistake.  Something went wrong. Something’s not right here.”


He got closer so we could see each other better.  He looked calm and collected.  It suddenly occurred to me that he may know more about this place than I originally had thought.


“Ryan, look at you,” he said. “Wow.  I did not expect you to choose to hop into the body of a woman.  A hot one at that.”


“Eric, this thing isn’t a simulation is it?”  I asked.


“I knew you were the smart one.” Eric said.  


“You knew?” I asked.


“I’m the head of this division.  You’re right.  This isn’t a simulation.  Wonderland allows you to swap lives with a living individual for 24 hours allowing a paying customer to inject themselves into anyone’s life.”


“So I literally swapped places with Ashley in the real world?”


“Yes.”


“Why?” I said.  “You had me at the idea of an immersive simulation.  This was awesome - until I realized this was real life.”


“Imagine.  This has significant applications to… everything. Imagine a person whose body is failing them.   Imagine witness protection.  Or better yet, for the right price, someone can inject themselves into a world leader and make anything happen.  Powerful people will pay for this.”


“That’s sick,” I said.


“That's the ultimate power,” Eric replied.  “And I will make more money than anyone could possibly imagine.”  He came close to me and ran a finger along my bare arm.


I recoiled from his touch.  “So what happened?” I said.  “Why didn’t I swap back?”


“It never actually worked correctly,” he said.  “Ever. It’s supposed to swap both minds and keep the one here in stasis.  We’ve been able to inject a customer into a remote body, but on the trip back, the remote mind is lost.  We tested your body for signs of consciousness, but there isn’t any.”


“What about you?”


“I’ve never actually done this.  You only watched me enter the room.  The goal was to get you to be our guinea pig.  I’m much too valuable to test on.”


The growing dread that I was in danger here was starting to grow.  I looked to the immersion tank where my body was floating. “So Ashley is dead?”


“More like in a vegetive state.  For some reason the remote mind cannot function correctly in the local host.  We don't know why. Maybe they know what’s going on and are resisting it. We went back to the drawing board and made some changes.  I arranged to have you test out our fixes.  We were hoping that this time we would be able to save the remote mind.  We weren’t.  So back to the drawing board.” 


I’m hoping I can find a way out of this. I can bide my time so I can alert the authorities. Maybe if I offer my assistance.  “Fine.” I said.  “Put me back in my body and I can help you track down the bugs.”


“No, sorry Ryan,” he said.  “You know too much now.”  


So much for that idea.


He flipped a switch on my immersion tank and the breath monitors stopped. “Good night Ashley,” he said.


“You son of a bitch.” I said.  I went to turn the machines back on.  I wanted to turn it back on.  But he moved to block me.


“It’s over.” he said.


“But she looked at me.” I said.


“She’s brain dead,” he said.  “We already checked.”  He looked at me and shook his head in disappointment. “Previous beta testers were just content to live out their lives and never came looking for their previous life.” Eric said. “I thought you would’ve been one of those people.  You were the perfect tester.  No friends, no family.  If you went missing, nobody would know.  You didn’t like your life and were looking for a new one.  You should’ve lived out Ashley’s life.  You shouldn’t have come here looking for answers.”


I started backing away.


“Where are you going Ryan?”


I didn’t answer.


“It’s over,” he said. “There’s nowhere to go.”


I darted back across the room and into the locker room.  


“You’re just going to get more people killed, Ryan” he called.  “Ashley.  The guy in the car.”


I exited the locker room and down the hall towards the lobby.  I heard footsteps running towards me, so I ducked into a random room.  


It was a generic office space full of desks and computers.  


“Ryan” I heard Eric call from the hallway. “Come out come out.”


I heard footsteps running by me. 


I went over to a computer and wiggled a mouse.  The computer’s monitor came to life and displayed a login screen.


I entered my “The Hub” employee credentials.


“Access Denied” the screen read.


“Shit.” I whispered in frustration.


 I ran back into the hallway and heard a loud gunshot and I fell down.  Piercing pain like I had never felt came from my leg.  I let out a yell.


Eric was down the hall holding a gun.  


I could see blood gushing from my thigh. A leg shot?  Was he toying with me.


I grabbed a door handle and pulled myself up. The lobby and exit was between me and Eric. I was holding onto the handle to the locker room.


“Now you really can’t go anywhere.” he chuckled.


I decided to go back the way I came and into the locker room.


“There’s no exit that way” Eric called.


I closed the door behind me and locked it.  I found a deadbolt too.


I heard gunshots fire at the door handle and I limped away.


I was in so much pain.  I needed a new plan. I painfully limped to the locker where my stuff was.  I reached into my jacket pocket and my car keys fell out and onto the floor.


I tried to bend over but my leg throbbed too much and I collapsed onto the floor.  


I tried to hoist myself back up, but the pain was too much.


I sat there on the cold tile floor.  The pain was making it impossible to think.  I was getting tired and my eyes were getting heavy.  I tried to put pressure on my thigh.  It wasn’t enough.  The wound was too large and I was losing too much blood.  


My shirt from Sunday had fallen out of my locker.  I wrapped it around my leg.  I tighten it as the pain surged through my body.


Do I have any chance of escape? Any chance of getting to a hospital? Is this it?  Is this how my life ends?  I was blissfully happy yesterday.


I thought back to only 24 hours ago.  Valentine's Day.  A comforting warmth spread over me at the thought.  Eric was right.  I should’ve stayed.


The sharp pain broke me out of my dream.  I realized my eyes had closed and may have been dozing off…


I can’t feel my right leg past my knee anymore.


I looked beside me.  My car keys were still there.  I didn’t think I could get to my car anymore.  Beside the keys was a tablet.  I grabbed it and looked at it.  


The tablet was ready for another simulation.


I could hear people trying to unlock the door.


I have a slim chance.


I scanned the tablet for non-celebrities.  I only have one shot at this.  I found what I was looking for.  


I clicked “Choose this person”.


I started to crawl towards the simulation room.  I pulled myself up by the handle and hoped for the door.  


I managed to stand on my good leg.


I saw an empty tank.  


I hopped and limped over as far as I could before I fell down.


I crawled the rest of the way leaving a path of blood across the floor.


I found the controls.  They were simple.  I pulled the lever to start the liquid.  I turned on the breathing apparatus.


I could hear liquid flowing into the tank.


I saw a timer on the machinery.  Counting down from 30 seconds.


I don't have time to disrobe.  I grabbed the breathing tank and pulled myself into the tub.


I screamed in pain as my wound brushed the outside of the tank.


I fell into it.


I heard loud banging in front of the locker room.  They were just about through the door.  I put the breathing tube into my mouth and closed the lid to the tank.


How many seconds are left?


The tank I opened.  I opened my eyes and they fired shots at me through the water.  I felt the bullets piercing my chest.


My breathing stopped as the world got dim.


* * *


There was a moment during sex that Bill’s eyes locked with mine.  I was Ashley and the real world didn’t matter.  I could be Ashley forever.  I could see her and Bill's future together.  


Bill reached over and brushed my hair out of my face and gently caressed my cheek.  He whispered.  “I love you.”


I whispered “I love you too” back at him.


“How did I get so lucky?” Bill asked me.


I looked at him.  “I don’t want tonight to end.”


“It doesn’t have to” he said “Let’s just live in this moment forever.”


* * *

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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for my to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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marter

Omg! I hope our MC can take down Eric
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marter

I didn't realize this was completed.
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Emily

It is, but I left it open to your imagination. I had a few other endings written, but decided to leave the reader guessing whether Ryan was successful in jumping into a different person... And who.
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marter

I like to believe she made it
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Elron

That was a great move on the part of Ryan to save his life. Seems like more of a happy ending than a horror ending. Too bad Ryan couldn't have gotten a little revenge on Eric in the process. Maybe pushed him into a tank and set the tablet to 'Guinea Pig'. Overall the writing was great, the pacing was just right, chapter breaks were in good spots, and the descriptions were detailed enough for the length of the story. I still think this could be fleshed out into a longer story with more about what happened to Bill and Ashley. Thank you for entering this story in the contest.
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Emily

Well, I never said whether Ryan was successful. I intentionally left it open to interpretation. I had a few ways I could've gone. Ryan "leaps" into someone in charge and attempt to shut it down, she "leaps" into someone unrelated and tries to live a normal life again. I also had Eric forcing Ryan to leap into a 'guinea pig' and have her suffer. Maybe one day I'll expand on this universe. But yeah, horror isn't really my forte. It's fun for a change of pace though.
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Elron

I think you handled the elements of the contest very well, and the mystery ending was a bonus. I'd like to think Ryan (as Ashley) and Bill are lovingly reunited in the Elysian Fields enjoying eternity together. I like happy endings.
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Elron

OK, now that I've had a chance to sleep on it, some confusion has set in. There never was a simulation. The whole project was to swap minds between two people in the real world, in real time, but it never worked right. The swap from the tank to the real world worked perfectly, but the person who wound up in the tank was brain dead. So Ryan was stuck as Ashley unless (until) she went into a tank again and made a new selection. So when Bill drove Ashley 8 hours back to the Hub, that was a real Bill and Ryan in Ashley's body. Ashley's mind was in Ryan's body in the tank, brain dead. Then while 'Ashley' was inside the lab, real Bill was killed while waiting in the car. So at the end, it was Ryan in Ashley's body in the tank being shot in the chest as they 'leapt' into a new body selected on the tablet. But it couldn't/wouldn't have been Ashley's body because her body was in the tank being murdered. So Ryan's mind is now in a third body (1=Ryan, 2=Ashley, 3=??). And Bill is dead in his car back at the Hub. So is the last paragraph some sort of a dream sequence of what might have become of Ryan and Bill in the afterlife? At any rate it was a fantastic story. Your creativity abounds, and I can't wait to read your future stories.
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Emily

Yes. That last part was Ryan dreaming.
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