His Surrogates called him, Earl Stump. The boy emancipated himself when he was twelve, the age of consent. During the first twelve years it was considered essential for a child to experience the “real world” in order to counter “arrested development.” When Earl donned the VR Helmet for the first time he changed his name and persona. He called himself, Johnny Biggie Wang, and connected to the Fast Track in search of entertainment. In the beginning he was ensnared by viral videos and dumb snap-chats. His personal entertainment value was zero and that meant no chits to pay for food, lodging, and maintenance. At this rate Johnny Biggie would starve and his physical body would be recalled and recycled. Johnny had to find a shtick. He needed a gimmick that could make him a star like The Donald. Johnny knew he could never outdo The Donald, no one could. Johnny just wanted to emulate his hero.
He tried pole dancing at Provenda Empora, but even in virtual reality he couldn’t dance and his morphing skills were not mature enough to perfect a really hot body. No one was interested in a barely pubescent boy no matter what he made himself look like. The few chits he managed to earn were from tired pervs. Doing it with a perv did garner some attention, but not enough to keep Johnny’s real heart pumping. Before leaving school, Johnny read a book about the value of entertainment. He knew everyone was a potential star. Once you donned the helmet and stepped onstage, you were either “In or Out.” Everyone was on camera 24/7. As a young boy, before his hormones kicked in, he was dismayed to learn the best entertainment involved sex, dismemberment, and death. Once he was optimized with testosterone and doctor approved medication he was ready for the big time, eager to be like The Donald and provide the best possible entertainment.
Johnny loved spinning along the web, visiting fancy habitats and disreputable pleasure domes. Everything was free to experience. The only price paid was the reminder from a cell phone about a person’s physical body that was always in need of something. The phone was the umbilical cord to the outside world. It rang every hour with a report on an individual’s entertainment value, the debits and credits.
Johnny tried the reality show circuit where specific challenges pitted contestants against one another. Winners got the most chits. Losers were put on display in the most humiliating circumstances and their chits were dissolved. But losers were given a fair shake: they were rewarded if their misery and groveling provided sufficient entertainment value. Everyone voted. A true democracy. Biggie did poorly on the reality show circuit. He had a twelve year old mind that made him an easy mark who was too trusting. He ended in the dog house every time, able to recoup some earned value by howling and whimpering like a spanked puppy. He finally did what The Donald would do and switched tactics. Like his role model Johnny learned how to gain interest on his entertainment coefficient in the free-market stock-exchange where votes and chits were bought and sold. He learned to play the game. He smoked out newbies and put them in his debt until he could foreclose.
He pretended to be The Donald and that became his Shtick. Johnny Biggie Wang flitted like a butterfly across the wireless-net, but he bit like a cunning shark. He made a killing in the Suicide Dispossium. The suicides were always great entertainment, filled with desperate losers trying to gain a few extra chits to live long enough to enjoy a wing-bang farewell party. Johnny convinced new arrivals to try the suicide route. He provided ample chits for an unforgettable departure; then, he’d receive the entertainment value that resulted once the poor sap left the stage for the last time. He always came out a winner.
He became a wheeler and dealer like The Donald. He earned value and chits from the blood and guts of Virtual Reality — Murder, Inc. was a model entertainment built around an old movie that played every night at the Cinerama Dome in Megaplex City. Murders ended in the real world with the physical body sold off for spare parts. Torture and mayhem were lucrative ventures for someone as clever as Biggie. His physical body was pampered due to his accumulation of chits — food and other healthy nutrients were fed into his body through tubes. He lie on a comfortable Barca-lounge, naked except for a diaper and a VR helmet. Electrical stimulation provided exercise and massage. The helmet never came off. Johnny was living in paradise until everything began to melt. (end Part 1 of 2)