Home at Last


It had been a while since I had been home and I mean truly home. Due to the nature of my business, there are times when the holoscreen is not quite enough and a flesh to flesh meeting is unavoidable. I had been, for the last six months moving from place to place, not only on the Earth but also out to Luna twice. Doing what, you may ask? Well, pressing the flesh mostly, making true physical contact with my numerous friends and colleagues.

I switched from Brisbane Central control to Queensland State control and set the coordinates of my GM Nova for Atherton FNQ. The nose of the flitter twitched momentarily, then raised skywards taking me out of the Brisbane traffic restriction area and up to the 10,000 m ceiling for cross continental flight. The on board computer gave an ETA of 13.20 so I had little under fifteen minutes to relax before I had lock into my own house system, for the final leg of my journey. The autopilot would give me ample warning before I had to do anything, so I sat back and relaxed. Letting my imagination go; I found myself reminiscing. How had it all started.

My involvement with Dreamtec , started in the companies early years while they were still a relatively small concept developer, based in Brisbane. Initially I worked as a special FX lighting consultant, but later as Dreamtec grew in size and reputation, ended up head of the New Concepts team. The first major Dreamtec project was the "Virtuodyssey" concept back in '96. The Queensland prototype proved to be an instant success. By the year 2001, there where a total of seven "Virtuodyssey" centers up and running, five here in Australia, two in Asia, a further six under construction and four others under negotiation.

Initially responsible for the specification of the various effects, both lighting and otherwise, it had become clear that my imagination was to take me so much further. Back in those early days, Greg the owner of Dreamtec, invited to one of his think-tank sessions. Always being one to enjoy the interaction of conversation between like minds, I remember looking forward to participating eagerly. It ended up being one of the most fortuitus Days of my life. It was during this think tank session that we were to try and come up with an appropriate name for the project. By the end of the session the tentative name for the project was "The Imagery," a name that seemed pretty good at the time but that with thought became slightly less appropriate.
It must have been about a week later, when; after reading Weaveworld by Clive Barker. I suddenly remembered seeing another book by the same author recently in a book shop. The Name of the book was "Imajica." The thought hit me, what a great name for the project; although I was not entirely happy with Clive's spelling, for his novel perfect but it did not quite fit in with the Dreamtec project. It was later again when that working title, "Imagica", was again changed to "Virtuodyssey" as it is known today.

The autopilot tone brought me out of my reverie and twenty years beyond those early days. I had arrived in the Atherton airspace and had to set the final sequence to lock on to the house beacon. Only five more minutes and I would be home. The flitter had dropped down to 1500m, allowing me to enjoy the view as we flew over the Tablelands at the greatly reduced speed of 300 klix. The speed and altitude reduced further when the house flitter park came into view. A quick command over rode the landing sequence and caused the flitter to alter course and head directly towards a rocky outcrop. The flitter approached the rocks and then promptly flew through them coming to a rest 20m further on facing the entrance to a cave. I looked up through the Nova's canopy into clear blue sky with the odd cotton wool cloud. It still amazed me, that from one side of the hologram projection it was totally invisible, but from the other side look like a natural pile of rocks. That's what you get for working for an organization that excels in turning dreams and fantasies to reality. I eased the flitter forward into the cave and got out, heading to the house proper.

The house, if I can call it that, had been a dream of mine for years but was only finished two years ago. Just enough time for the disturbances caused during the building period to be erased by the natural re-growth of the native bush. Purposely built to blend completely into the natural environment the house had been carved into the rock face of a rainforest watercourse. A group of small waterfalls and shaded rockpools incorporated into the design, created a magic atmosphere and brought coolness to the tropical heat.
I entered the house calling out "roof," the quiet sound of electric motors the only prelude to a thin but constantly widening slice of bright daylight. Fifteen seconds later the two roof panels had completely parted to reveal a glassed in atrium complete with rainforest plants, waterfall and rock pool. The atrium was the central focus of my underground home and when opened provided natural lighting to most of the living area's. Turning right, I called out "front," there again was the quiet sound of electric motors, as the three roller shutters opened up to reveal through a misty waterfall, a rainforest lined rockpool. As I approached calling out "doors" the glass wall in front of me lowered slowly into the floor, giving me access to the verandah and the outside.

To all appearances it looked like the opening to a natural cave. So much so, that from the rockpool and its surrounds it was almost indistinguishable from any one of a number of picturesque waterfalls and rockpools found all over the Tablelands. Water from the natural watercourse, diverted from its original course was controlled by the means of various small pools, sluices and hydraulically controlled gate systems. As with all the systems I designed for the house, the utmost care had been taken to give the finished, artificial, watercourse a completely natural appearance. The system I had designed allowed me to divert a variable degree of flow to the atrium waterfall, with the remainder flowing around the atrium opening into the pool that fed the waterfall above me. During the wet season, additional channels took any excess water to one side of the house and a third waterfall. The water from the atrium waterfall after collecting in the pool, ran under the floor until it bubbled up again into another pool on the verandah. From there the water fell down two metres into the rockpool below.

I threw off my clothes, leaving them on a convenient rock, a dived out through the waterfall into the pool below. The rockpool itself had been significantly reformed from its natural shape and size, ensuring plenty of depth for diving from the verandah. The pool then gently sloped up over it's twenty metre length to less ankle depth before becoming yet another, this time natural waterfall and shallow rockpool. I swam lazily for a few minutes before heading back towards the house. On reaching the waterfall I took a quick breath and dived down towards the bottom. Three metres below the surface, directly below the waterfall, was what appeared to be a crack in the rock face. The crack opened up to approximately one metre wide at the bottom and with a couple of kicks I was swimming directly in to it. The crack went straight into the rockface for two metres then did two quick doglegs; first left then right, finally opened up into an underground pool the size of a eight person Jacuzzi. As my head broke the surface concealed infrared sensors turned on the lights to reveal a small cave like room. A set of stone spiral stairs sat to one side with a rack containing towels on the other. Pulling myself out of the pool I grabbed a towel from the rack and toweling myself off I headed up the stairs. The stairs appeared to go nowhere. However as I stepped on the third step, a circular panel above my head raised twenty centimetres and then almost silently slid to one side, allowing me to climb on up into the house.
The exit from the underground pool came up into the lounge area of the house under a huge terra-cotta pot containing a small palm. I kicked the concealed switch and the panel, pot and palm swung slowly back into place completely concealing the entrance.

Call me paranoid, or call me overcautious, but I had designed the house with a total of five different ways in, or out as the case maybe. There were two obvious entrances, although when I say obvious, I mean only if you knew where to look. The main one from the visitors flitter park and a second slightly less obvious entrance up from the rockpool. This second entrance was natural rock staircase leading up from the rockpool to the verandah. Of the other three; I have mentioned two, the entrance from my own private flitter park and the second at the bottom of the rockpool. The third entrance, well that was the least obvious, and from both the inside and the outside. The underground pool was not the only concealed area in the house, in reality the total area of the entire underground complex was nearly twice as large as was apparent to the eye. A feature wall at the rear of the main house area in the main bedroom concealed a number of rooms. These included store rooms, a fully equipped workshop and duplicate living rooms, in fact another complete house. Leading out from this concealed area was a tunnel made of concrete storm water pipe. The tunnel cut through the ground for over twenty metres and exited through a jumble of rocks, one of which was mounted on a counter-weighted pivot. If you knew where to grip this particular rock, it could be easily moved to one side to allow entrance or exit.....

To be continued...


© copywrite Hugh C Fathers 2003