The technological advancements of the house of Lydia and George Hadley have relieved them of having to wash clothes, cook, turn on lights, or do most anything else. It also has relieved them of their children, who feel no need to be with them since they have a nursery that creates a veldt complete with smells and heat and sound and lions.
(1) However, when Lydia and George approach, the virtual reality is frightening and they bolt from the crystal walls:
"I'm afraid....Did you see? Did you feel? It's too real."
"You've got to tell Wendy and Peter not to read any more on Africa."
(2) The children are creating too much danger in this room, the mother feels. She mentions that the children are even distressed in a different way:
"When I punished him a month ago by locking the nursery for een a few hours--the tantrum he threw! And Wendy too. They live for the nursery.
At dinner, Lydia and George eat alone because the children are at a special plastic carnival across town and had televised home, telling their parent that they would be late. As the robotics provide their meal, George chews "tastelessly on the meat." He ponders the idea that the children may be using telepathic death emanations, and is greatly concerned.
(3) When the children return from the carnival, George asks them with false joviality about Africa; however, the children say that there is not African veldtland in the nursery. When George checks, it is true. After the children go to bed, George picks up an old wallet of his and again smells lion.
There were drops of saliva on it, it had been chewed, and there were blood smears on both sides.
Distressed by the occurrences, both Lydia and George lie awake in the middle of the night, wondering about the strange events of the day and the old wallet. They hear screams and no that Wendy and Peter have broken into the nursery. On the next day George tells Peter he is going to shut the house down. Peter is very upset, so his father calls his friend David, who is a psychologist. George asks him if there is any way that the lions can become real, but David says he does not think so. But, the two then find a bloody scarf.
On the advice of the psychologist, George decides to turn off the house, but Lydia weakens and gives the children more time. Then, they hear the children calling them into the nursery. When they enter, Peter locks them in and they are attacked by the lions, suddenly realizing the screams they have heard have been their own.