In honor of that spooky, fun holiday, Halloween, I’ll share this story with you. It may change into a children’s book someday if I can find the right button to push.
Ten-year-old Ian didn’t know he was a hologram. At least he didn’t find out until his eleventh birthday, which just happened to be October 31st.
The morning started out as mornings usually did. Ian’s mother called him down to breakfast, but instead of hopping out of bed, Ian covered his head with a pillow. He wanted five more minutes to finish the dream he’d been having.
No such luck.
Dad came into his room and shook him. Ian opened a narrow slit in one eye, thinking he was in serious trouble. But Dad was smiling!
“Happy birthday, son,” he crowed. “Today will be an amazing day for you. Come on downstairs and join Mom and me.” With that cryptic announcement, his dad turned and left.
Ian scrambled into his clothes and stumbled to the kitchen. By the time he reached the table, he was nearly awake. He gasped as he spied the present on the placemat in front of him.
“Go ahead and open it,” his mother urged.
“We wanted you to have it early,” his dad added.
Ian picked up the package, shook it, held it next to his ear and listened, and set it gently in front of him. He tugged at the ribbon, which came untied at once, and pulled it free. Ian stared at the beautiful, multi-colored wrapping paper. It appeared to change colors as he moved his head.
“Go on,” Dad told him.
He took a deep breath, let it out, and touched a corner of the package. In a frenzy, he ripped the paper to shreds and tore open the box. Whatever lay inside was encased in bubble wrap. Ordinarily, Ian would stop to pop the bubbles, but he was too excited and curious. He undid the tape and carefully removed the plastic from what appeared to be some sort of electronic device. He picked it up by the strap and held it up for all three of them to see.
“What is it?” he asked his parents.
“It’s your Halloween costume,” Mom explained. “Strap it on your arm.”
“Move it up closer to your elbow,” Dad suggested. The Velcro strap made the task easy, and Ian soon had it positioned halfway between his elbow and his wrist.
“Okay. It’s kind of a weird costume, though,” he mused.
“That’s because you haven’t properly programmed it,” Mom said. “Before you do, though, I’d like you to go stand in front of the full-length mirror.”
The three of them migrated to the hallway. The parents stood to one side so that Ian could get a good view.
“There’s a button to turn it on.” Dad pointed to a raised spot on the face of what looked like an oversized watch. “When the device is activated, you can speak to it and tell it what costume you’d like. Just be sure to say the word ‘costume’ after you tell it what you want.”
Ian thought for a long moment about what he wanted to be for Trick-or-Treat. He considered an astronaut, a police officer, a fireman, and a rock star. Ian finally decided and voiced his request. “Ghost costume,” he told the watch.
There was a shimmer, and all the molecules that comprised Ian rearranged themselves and became a see-through image of a white, misty ghost. As Ian moved, he floated about two inches off the floor and wafted down the hall back to the kitchen.
“Maybe you should get back to looking like Ian for now,” Dad suggested. “Just say ‘Ian image,’ and you should be back to normal.”
Ian complied. His arms and legs looked like they always did, and the strange contraption was once again visible on his arm.
“Push the button to turn it off for now,” Mom whispered.
“That was really strange, Mom,” Ian said. “But it was way cool. How did they do it? Does it project a hologram, or what?”
“Well, yes,” his mom replied. “In a way. Dear, why don’t you explain it to him?”
“Explain what?” Ian looked from his mom to his dad. “It’s just a piece of really rad technology. Isn’t it?”
“Actually, Ian, you are the piece of really rad technology.” Dad sighed. “We knew we had to explain it to you before you figured it out on your own. It’s just been a matter of timing.”
“And since it’s your birthday, and we knew you’d want to go out with your friends tonight, we figured we’d better tell you.”
“Tell me what?” Ian threw his hands up and shrugged his shoulders.
“Ian,” his dad said slowly, “you’re adopted. Actually, you’re a hologram.”
“That doesn’t mean we love you any less,” his mom added quickly. “It’s just that we knew this day would come, and we wanted you to feel like an ordinary child for as long as you could.”
Ian shook his head. “It can’t be true,” he murmured. “I eat real food. I sleep. I can reach out and touch things and even pick them up. Holograms can’t do those things.”
“You’re a very sophisticated model. Person. Boy.” Mom stuttered.
“The costume device we gave you allows you to change your appearance at will. It can help protect you from those who would steal you and take you apart for the technology,” Dad told him.
“Besides,” added Mom, “Dad and I are human, and we won’t live forever. We had to find some way to protect you when we weren’t there with you.”
Ian sat in his chair, and his head sank into his arms. After a minute, he sat up straight and gazed at his parents. “You’ve never lied to me, so I guess what you’re telling me is the way it is. I had no clue, but I’m glad you kept it from me until now. And it makes today, my birthday, an extraordinary one. From now on, I’ll always think of this day and of myself as Holo Ian.”