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
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
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
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 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