Jessie Turnblatt, aka Jesse Trueblood, guides virtual Vision Quests (and other themed experiences) for tourists in Sedona, Arizona, even though his wife thinks the job is demeaning. Tourists love the spiritual transformations they receive from Jessie’s custom mix of mystical shaman, spirit animal, and a touch of psychedelia. But one tourist asks for something a little different, and Jessie lets his guard down.

I love the idea of using a virtual world to simulate the “pretendian” version of a traditional vision quest, led by a Native American who falls right into character for his job. From the first few paragraphs, I identify with Jessie’s plight. You need a job, and when you find something you don’t hate, so what if it’s a fantasy that is only loosely based on your true cultural heritage.

Then, it gets better. Someone new arrives in town, and Jessie’s world is turned on it’s head. And like all great scifi stories, you’ll be left wondering which is the real world and which is the virtual one; who’s the tourist and who’s the local; who’s the real Native American and who’s pretending. The dreamlike quality of the story escalates quickly into surreal horror. Plus, this short story is written in second person, which deserves some respect.

Recommended for fans of surreal scifi! Read it for free here.