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Worte und Wörter
This kind of therapy 
10th-May-2014 00:13, Sat
Frederik Pohl’s Gateway (1992)



> press the power button

You press the button. The couch starts to hum with power and the collar begins to glow a dark blue.

Everything around you fades to a milky white. Then a picture begins to form...

Patches of greys and browns appear and then slowly resolve into pieces of well worn leather furniture. A yellow streak becomes a beam of bright sunlight pouring through a window. You are in a comfortable study filled with books and papers. A small bespectacled man in a tweed outfit sits next to you.

"Good day, my friend, and welcome to the stress-relief Virtual Reality. I'll preface our session by telling you that this program has been scientifically proven to relieve the types of stress typically experienced by the normal Gateway prospector.

"If, however, you at any time feel the need to leave, simply press the red button. Otherwise, please do exactly as I instruct. Now, relax a minute while I organize my notes."

> greet Sigfreid

"Yes, yes. Very nice to meet you sir, but we really must get on with the program".

"I'd like you to scream as loud as you can." He looks at you expectantly.

> scream

You bellow until your throat gets sore.

"I'll bet releasing all that primal energy felt good. I think you're ready to move on." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> scream at Sigfreid

He looks quizzically at you and quickly scribbles something in his notebook without responding.

"I'd like you to feel the leather couch." He looks at you expectantly.

> feel leather couch

It feels like very smooth, very soft, and very expensive leather.

He smiles. "I know I like to do that. That's why MY chair is leather." He gives the chair a little pat and scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> look at Sigfreid

He looks like a fragile man, perhaps in his late seventies. He wears a brown tweed suit, with a light tan vest, complete with breast pocket and watch. In his hand, he holds a very sloppy notebook, which is more truthfully a collection of papers that may once have had a binding . He also holds a black fountain pen.

"I'd like you to simply stand up, please." He looks at you expectantly.

> stand up

You get off the leather couch.

"Good. Now we can move on to the more complex stress-relief actions." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> take papers

You pick up one of the papers from the desk and realize that it is useless without its companion piece. So you pick that up and realize that IT is useless without still another page. The process snowballs and by the time you've regained control of yourself, you have an armful of papers. You plunk the whole pile down on the desk in frustration and give up.

"I'd like you to hop a bit." He looks at you expectantly.

> jump

You jump up and down a few times and then need to rest.

"A trifle lacking in form, but that's all right. It just takes a bit of practice." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> jump on chair

The old man sinks deeper in the chair and eyes you a little fearfully. "I empathize with your need for human contact, but I feel that this attempt is inappropriate. Please, stay with the program."

"I'd like you to hit yourself." He looks at you expectantly.

> hit me

You give yourself a solid blow to the midriff and collapse in excruciating pain.

"VERY good. That's one of the hardest actions to take, but one of the most important. It brings self-doubt and hatred to the surface where it can be dealt with." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> hit Sigfreid

You slam your foot into the old, defenseless man. He falls off the chair and sprawls on the ground. After a moment, he gets up, climbs back into the chair, and starts writing vigorously. He also gives you a 'I hope you got something really good out of that' look.

"I'd like you to step on your hand." He looks at you expectantly.

> step on my hand

You step on your hand and hear your knuckles crack. Upon reflection, you decide this isn't very much fun at all.

"I realize this last action was somewhat painful, but you used your hands to hurt yourself a moment ago, and it was vital to punish them for doing so. This re-establishes psychological equilibrium and destroys a potential breeding ground of unwanted stress." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"Now, I'd like you to smell your hand." He looks at you expectantly.

> smell my hand

Basically, your hand smells like a well used doormat.

"You see? Every action has its consequences. You stepped on your hand, so now it smells like a doormat. It takes some patients YEARS of this kind of therapy before they see the light." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> smell Sigfreid

You inhale deeply, attempting to get a good whiff of Sigfreid. He doesn't seem to have much of an odor.

"I'd like you to climb the walls." He looks at you expectantly.

> climb wall

You leap up against the wall, scrabbling to find hand and footholds. You make such little progress that you soon give up and drop back to the floor.

"A marginal attempt, but at least you tried. Of course you recognize the symbolic element here, especially as it pertains to the contradiction of the underlying societal metaphor." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> take pen

The old man slaps your hand away from his ballpoint pen.

"Now, I'd like you to jump up on the desk." He looks at you expectantly.

> jump on desk

You're now on the maple desk.

"Putting yourself on display is difficult, but actors always feel much better after their performances. Accumulated stress somehow seems to dissipate in the act of public exhibition. Go figure." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> climb down

The old man stops you. "Please, remain on the desk. It's vital to the program at this point."

"I'd like you to sing a little. Don't worry about tonal quality." He looks at you expectantly.

> sing

"Tra-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la
Life is so wonderful!"

"Hmmm. I thought you'd be better than THAT! Ah well, it's not my job to judge." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"I'd like you to dance a little." He looks at you expectantly.

> dance

You move your limbs spasmodically for a few seconds to an invisible tune that only you can hear.

"That's cute." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"I'd like you to dance a bit more. It's rather amusing." He looks at you expectantly.

> dance

You move your limbs spasmodically for a few seconds to an invisible tune that only you can hear.

"Quite nice. Although I think you scuffed some of my more important papers with that little jig." Frowning, he scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"I'd like you to get down from the desk." He looks at you expectantly.

> climb down

You get down from the maple desk.

"I'm sure you found that exercise fulfilling, however don't be discouraged if you didn't. It's the cumulative effect of the entire program that's important, not reactions to individual components." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> take notebook

You grab at the notebook. The old man immediately snatches it away, but not before you glimpse a few doodles of superheros and nuclear explosions.

"I'd like you to attack the couch." He looks at you expectantly.

> attack couch

You bang on the leather couch, but it just sits there.

"Again, the importance of this action should be obvious. One must be able to vent one's hostilities on insensate objects in the immediate environment in order to become totally stress-free." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"I'd like you to clean the desk." He looks at you expectantly.

> clean desk

You shuffle the papers and various desk implements into piles. It's not exactly clean, but it's a bit neater than it was before.

"That didn't really have any psychological relevance. I've just been meaning to get that desk cleaned for ages." With a devious twinkle in his eye, he scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"Now, I'd like you to cry." He looks at you expectantly.

> cry

You let out a few heaving sobs. Now don't you feel better?

"Clearly the most time honored stress reliever of all." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"I'd like you to rub your hand." He looks at you expectantly.

> rub my hand

You carefully rub your hand.

"That was just a simple physical exercise to release tension - although the boot imprint on your hand did make me think you could use a bit more blood circulation in that area." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"Now, I'd like you to kiss the floor." He looks at you expectantly.

> kiss Sigfreid

"I understand that some theories state that kissing and, ahem, related activities relieve stress, however it is certainly not on OUR agenda!"

"Please. You MUST cooperate for this program to work. Again, I must ask you to kiss the floor."

> kiss floor

You give the floor a nice wet smack. After wiping the dust from your lips, you're thankful that you don't go in for french kissing.

"You must also feel comfortable with your environment; you can't let it build stress within you." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"Now, I'd like you to sit on the couch." He looks at you expectantly.

> sit on couch

You're now on the leather couch.

"This is the cooling down period. You've done very well and completed all the necessary tasks to bring yourself to a state of calm. If your attitude is one of acceptance and trust, rather than rebellion, you should find yourself so relaxed that you will soon be unable to stay awake." He scribbles something inside his notebook, nodding a bit.

> wait

Time passes...

"Now, I'd like you to sleep." He looks at you expectantly.

> sleep

You stretch out on the leather couch and relax.

You drift off into a deep sleep, totally relaxed and stress-free.

The hues and colors of the virtual world swirl in a soft cloud and drift away. Soon you are back in the real world, but after-images of the alternate reality linger in the back of your mind.

The tech glances over to you from his alcove. "Have a nice trip?"

>

// Frederik Pohl’s Gateway (Legend Entertainment Company, 1992)
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