The line of people bordered the corner of the Salud street until arriving near the doors of a famous book store on the Gran Vía, in Madrid. In a light-hearted way, some of them having a coffee or smoking a cigar, chatted and commented with each other about the novelty of which they were going to be participants while they waited their turn. And it is that, in fact, the curiosity had seized of those passers-by who, having a free space in their agendas, decided to try that mysterious experience that was offered for free.
The cargo container, with dimensions of a small truck box, was located on one side of the sidewalk, in a longitudinal direction to it, to facilitate access to the library and the normal course of pedestrians on the busy sidewalk. Its walls were covered by large black curtains that fell to the clean sidewalk, and that from time to time, and before some small breeze of air, its undulations left exposed, momentarily, what looked like a series of photographic prints, barely deductible, on methacrylate walls.
A pretty woman, at the entrance of the container, was giving way to the people in the row while announcing by megaphone the virtues of the virtual reality machine that was inside, as well as its gratuity. At the exit of the container, a handsome man provided the users with brief instructions and, immediately after, these users waited on the sidewalk in front, looking towards the container.
From that sidewalk, one could see if paying attention, that people entered the cargo container with a smile and some expectation, and that they came out pale and even with tears in their eyes.
Inside the curtained container, a comfortable and ergonomic black chair, with speakers in the headrest and a new system of vibration and rotation on an axis, waited empty in front of a modern 3D screen and their corresponding glasses.
The dark and soundproof interior promoted a greater concentration of the spectator for the projection of a sequence first-person images, whose duration did not exceed ten minutes. The images and sounds followed each other, faithfully reproducing the environment, the environmental noise and even the thoughts of the protagonists with a voice-over.
From that little boy who was happy playing with dolls and imagining stunning dresses under the disapproving look of his parents, to a woman in her forties who, looking at herself in the mirror while her mascara was running, thought of how unfortunate she was to have to adapt to the role of a good married woman, relegated by the puritanical society, while she dreamed of wearing a nice suit with a tie and seducing some beautiful woman as the handsome gentlemen do.
The thoughts reflected the reality of those people, as well as the environment that criticized them, rejected them or, in general, made them suffer.
That teenager who felt the rejection of his classmates for not being one more playing football, while in his room hung pop boys posters instead of those of the stunning models who liked the rest.
The pain of that man in the postoperative period after breast implants and the operation of sex change and, at the same time, the full happiness of feeling fulfilled, identified with herself finally.
The booing of that radical group about the woman who, with shaved hair, loose clothes and some acne, walked hand in hand with the only woman who had understood her in all her life.
That father, who when explaining his true sexual condition and future purposes to his wife and children, felt how fear and emptiness seized him and his now empty house, while he saw them leave in a hurry with suitcases in tow.
The dull sound of a fist striking the delicate face of that woman, who watched in amazement as the individual in front of her rebuked and threatened again with his fist, for not having revealed him before her past as regional rugby player.
The impotence of that man in military service who, even managing to perform like the rest of his comrades, had to endure the laughter of the officers, regarding that he should have stayed at home weaving scarves with his mother.
Ten minutes spent fast, in a whirlwind of images and sounds that left the bitter feeling of having lived ten lives full of anguish. Usually, people got up dizzy from the chair and, with tears in their eyes, proceeded to leave the container, staggering.
When a large number of people had already passed inside the container, the woman and the man at the entrance and exit, respectively, announced through the megaphone the withdrawal of the black curtains from the container.
The curtains gave way to various labeled images, both of the woman and of the man, before being operated on sex changing. Various images of accusing fingers were interspersed; images of both with a black eye on a occasion when they were attacked; but also photos were interspersed with hands outstretched in support and their own faces, smiling and happy, all forming a quite representative collage.
In the center of each side of the container, highlighting above all and in very large letters of different colors, a labeled phrase claimed: A virtual reality machine called EMPATHY.
The applause of the audience that waited on the sidewalk next to the applause of other people, who did not even get to enter the container, was the melody that accompanied those two watery looks adorning, with smiles of rejoicing, the complicity of their old link.
All images used in my articles come from Pixabay and are hyperlinked to that page.