The Origin of a "Sudden Gust"

One of the advantages of having a mammoth parallel-processing computer system like the CUBE is its incredible ability to network a wide variety of simulation data. Teagues, without even realizing it, is participating in the virtual world of fellow health buff Amanda Denny, who is working out on a treadmill across the room from Teagues, wearing a headmounted display and a pair of wired and weighted gloves.

In Amanda's world, she's power-walking on a path along a beautiful riverbank shaded by willow trees, with her virtual poodle obediently by her side. As she struts along the gently curving path, feeling the gentle breeze wafting over her (provided by a small rotating cooling fan mounted to the front of the treadmill), she waves to the various other walking, jogging, and bicycling avatars she meets.

As she rounds a bend, she encounters what at first appears to be a dust cloud hovering directly above the path ahead. But as she nears the cloud, it resolves into a swarm of rather large mosquitoes, flitting about in a random fashion. "Oh, well... This is a virtual world - they can't hurt me," she thinks to herself, admiring rendering of the swarm's realistic movements. But just to be on the safe side, she gives it a wide berth.

As she rejoins the path, she turns to take one last look at the swarm. Something buzzes very close to her right ear, and she brings her hand up reflexively, swatting at the air. In horror, she realizes that the mosquitoes have adjusted course, and are now following her on the path. She faces forward and redoubles her step, but to no avail. The swarm easily compensates, taking up airborne positions all around her head and shoulders. Amanda, now becoming agitated, breaks into a jog, but still the mosquitoes match her speed, seemingly attached to her. Swinging her hand at another one buzzing her left ear, she turns and runs in the opposite direction, leaving them behind for a brief moment.

Soon, the swarm is back in full force, and Amanda is beset on all sides by the horrible buzzings of tiny wings as they orbit around her head. At this point, she's getting more exercise from the swatting than the walking, although she continues her forward momentum in an effort to keep the bugs behind her, unaware that the CUBE's mosquito swarm-positioning algorithm has now fixed itself to a position at the base of her avatar's neck, and will remain with her for the duration of the simulation.

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