The Artificial Mirage by T. Warwick Excerpt





A relentless pursuit from Vietnam to Saudi Arabia in which augmented reality distorts the nature of attachment and desire.

In a world where augmented reality blurs the line between the real and the computer generated, Charlie cherishes the reality of Lauren….

His life as a young American banker in Vietnam seems idyllic until a series of events precipitate her disappearance.

When her trail leads to Saudi Arabia, he must navigate a criminal underworld. The stakes grow higher as it becomes apparent that reality isn’t what it once was.

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A long list of dim sum items came floating in front of his wives on a bamboo scroll the size of the table. He looked over at five Chinese women shouting and laughing in conversation as they tapped their chopsticks in midair. He glared at the waitress through her AR glasses, and she promptly returned his knowing look and deducted the items with a swift virtual strike through the air with her long forefinger. He tapped out the payment for his salad and flicked the confirmation into a folder that returned automatically to the collapsing file cabinet in his bottom right line of sight. They always made their attempts at theft abundantly obvious. It was impossible not to notice multiple orders of sea cucumber. Yet, it was understandable since most of the customers they got never bothered to check the bill. The Chinese came in large groups and scrambled to pay or at least feigned an attempt if commissions were low that month. The waitress would transmit the bill to the table with a puzzle. The first patron to solve the puzzle projected on the table had the honor of paying the bill, which they proudly did without bothering to check it. An AR courtesy host named Cindy opened an IM window to discuss his budget while in Bahrain, but he dismissed her with a wave of his stylus.

Curtis arrived in a gray silk Armani suit at least one size too big for him. He shuffled as he approached Saleh’s table, guided by eight fluorescent green hummingbirds that disintegrated as they approached the red AR lantern hovering above Curtis’s head.

“Curtis, my friend,” Saleh said as he stood up to greet him with a nose kiss. Curtis was the only foreigner he knew who didn’t shun nose-kissing.

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