“The pixels start to form into a jungle. We start the game. We blow through the first 250 levels with ease. As we went through the levels, Romelo and I couldn’t walk anymore.”
RUN FASTER! I tell myself. My legs are throbbing in pain because of the arrow that’s stuck in them. I hear yelling in the back and another arrow flies past me, just missing my head. I look behind me and see a whole tribe of Indians racing behind me with knives and all sorts of dangerous weapons. I see it! The doorway to the next level. Almost there. I jump for the door and make it. I look behind me and everything fades away. I put the golden Idol in the treasure slot and wait for the next level to load.
I have been in this game for at least five hours. I press the menu button and take off the VR headset (Virtual Reality). I look at my leg to see where I was shot by the arrow, there was a big bruise there. I take off the RE suit (Real Effect), I turn on the newest AI assistant AIA (Artificial Intelligence), and ask for the time.
“It is 5 AM Mr. Lucas. You should start to get ready for school, sir,” she said in her robotic monotone.
I go into my closet and pick up some clothes on the floor. I tell AIA to get my bag and schedule ready. I go to the restroom and set the shower and sink to the right temperature and get ready for school. I get my bag and get onto the bus that has been waiting outside for me.
I hop on the bus and find my friend Erin. I start telling him all about the game. I show him the bruise and how when I got shot it felt like I was really getting shot. He says it must be a glitch because that only happens in the VR competitions where people compete for money.
“How do you win the competition?” I ask.
“You have to be the first to complete all 500 levels. It takes a whole week for the competition to finish.”
We get to school and go to our classes. School was slow. I had the usual classes math, English, history, and EI class (electronic intelligence). I get home and get straight back into the game when my mom calls me to come downstairs. I go down and see a man on the couch drinking some wine.
“Lucas, this is Mr. Oscar, he is here to talk to you about your VR gaming.”
“Hello, Lucas. Me and my colleagues have been watching you play and we want to ask you to represent America in the international VR competition with a few other kids.”
I was so shocked I could not talk at all.
“What do I get if I compete?”
“You will have the chance to win 500,000,000 dollars and will also receive an RSVR headset for participating (Razor Speed Virtually Reality).” He must have seen that my mom did not want me to go so he said that I will be monitored by professional doctors so I will be in safe hands. He looked at his watch and he said it was time for him to go. He gave his card and said if I want to compete, call him.
Saturday morning was slow, I lay on my bed trying to figure out what had just happened yesterday.
Maybe a bath would help me.
“AIA turn on the bath and set the water to warm.”
“Yes Mr. Lucas setting the bath to warm, would you like bubbles?”
“No thanks AIA.”
I stripped off my clothes and dipped my body in. I sat there for an hour thinking about all of the possibilities of what would happen if I went on the trip. Like if I won it could help me and my mom with rent and I would be able to have the best gear for gaming. I get out of the bathtub, put on my headset, and continue the game that I was playing. I finish the level and lay back down on my bed.
“Yes, Mr. Lucas.”
“Call Mr. Oscar, and tell him I’m going.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Lucas? Your mom will not approve of this.”
“I am sure, AIA.”
I am still packing my bag trying to figure out what to wear.
“AIA, order new Nike clothes and have them shipped in now!”
“Yes, Mr. Lucas.”
I go over to the PTD (Portable Transporter Device) that I got for Christmas and grab the clothes that I ordered. I finished packing and put on the headset. I had to get ahead of the other people that I am competing against. I put the mode on EC (Extreme Challenge) and started to game. I played all the way until I could no longer stand. I had bruises all over my body and one cut that was dripping with dark red blood.
“AIA, give me the first aid kit.”
I grab the sewing needle inside and sew it back together.
Three days till I fly out. Mr. Oscar says that he will check in with me tomorrow to go over who I will be competing against and who will be on my team.
The next day, Mr. Oscar came over to pick me up. I grabbed my bag and hopped
in the car. I said bye to my mom as the car pulled away.
“So can you show me the people on my team?”
“Sure, here are some photos.”
I analyzed the photos, two other boys one had a military haircut and had a devilish look on his face. The other one had brown curly hair and freckles all over his face. We stopped at a big building with the words V.R. Corps in big bold letters.
“Put this on,” Oscar said.
He gave me a silver suit that said AVR team (American Virtual Reality), then we went into the elevator and went up into a big room.
“Stay in here, I will be right back.”
He left the room and came back with the two boys that were on my team.
“These are your teammates, Lucas.”
The boy with the military haircut said that he was Romelo. The boy with the freckles was Lee.
“You have all been chosen to compete and you must work together in order to win, so get to know each other. When you guys are ready, you may start to practice in the hub.
He points to a room behind us.
“Well, I will leave you boys to it. If you need me, just call me using your suit. I have put a personal AIA in each of your suits.” And after, he left the room.
“Listen up, dweebs, I am going to make this nice and easy. Mess with me and I will make sure that you don’t make it to the competition,” Romelo says with a nasty tone.
“Now get to practice!”
We enter the hub and put on the RSVR headsets.
We complete each level with ease. We finished all of the puzzle challenges with the help of Lee. We finished all of the shooting and physical levels with the help of Romelo. But I was not much help at all. I could tell that they were starting to get annoyed with me because I am not as experienced in VR like them.
“Do you understand how to complete maze levels?” Lee would ask me.
“Do you know how to aim for the head?” Romelo would ask me.
I could not take this anymore so I left the hub and take a break. I grabbed a cup of coffee, a bag of chips, and turned the TV on.
“AIA, how much time do I have until we fly to Montana for the competition?”
“You have 22 hours and 28 minutes left.”
I put my headset back on and practiced more and more. We are all so tired. Well, with the exception of Lee, who is never hungry or tired. We go to bed and fall into a deep sleep.
“Hey, loser.” I get out of bed to see Romelo waving me over.
“What is it?” I ask.
“Dude, look at Lee. What a weirdo, he is still in the hub playing and I have been watching him for 9 hours.”
“What the, is he like some sort of robot or what?”
“Whatever dweeb, I’m going to sleep now. We fly out first thing in the morning.”
On the airplane, Mr. Oscar tells us all about our competition and who to watch out for. He tells us that we will not be able to leave the game so use the restroom before the game starts. We all look at him with a bored face because this is the ninth time he has told us.
I play some music and fall asleep. I get awoken to the sound of yelling. I see Mr. Oscar yelling at Lee and then clicking his neck with something. I had no idea what it was, but it must have been a comms device cause he started to talk about random stuff.
“Hey Lee, what was Mr. Oscar yelling to you about?”
“None of your business!”
I looked outside the window to see what Montana looked like because I had heard stories that it was mountains and big lakes and all sorts of wildlife. But it was just buildings, workhouses. We landed and went directly into a limo!
“Damn this is my kind of ride,” Romelo said with an amazed tone.
The limo took us to this warehouse. It was all white inside and the AC (Air Conditioning) was on high, so it was so cold inside. Mr. Oscar took us to a room where he said he would get the other groups. Five minutes later, he came back with two other groups.
“These are the people you will be competing against. I want to see nice and good sportsmanship, ok. No fighting. I will be back in three hours, I have to get the course set up.”
“You guys are going down, we going to win this and none of you losers will get in my way.”
“Romelo take it easy, this is just a friendly competition, ok?”
We get to our own hub and put on our headset. A voice comes up.
“Game starting in 3, 2, 1…”
The pixels start to form into a jungle. We start the game. We blow through the first 250 levels with ease. As we went through the levels, Romelo and I couldn’t walk anymore. Our legs were full of bruises and cuts and we needed to rest for a little while.
“Lee, stop moving please, we need a break.”
I get up and touch his shoulder. He grabs my arm and throws me to the ground.
“The weak will die.”
Just as he says that, he pulls out a gun and shoots Romelo in the head. His particles go away and that was it. Romelo was out of the competition.
“What the hell, you are such an idiot!!!”
Lee pointed his gun at me but the game paused and the locks on our headsets released. I took it off and went looking for Romelo.
“Romelo, where are you?!”
I saw Mr. Oscar and asked him where Romelo was.
“Romelo said that he did not want to compete anymore so we had Lee kill him in the game and we sent him back home.”
There is no way that Romelo wanted to go home. There has to be more than the eye could see. At night, I will follow Mr. Oscar through the vent to see what is up.
1:30, time to shine. I got out of bed and unscrewed the vent. I hopped in and saw
Mr. Oscar walking towards a room. The vent was so dusty and smelled of decay. I followed the sound of Mr. Oscar’s voice to a room where there were scientists everywhere with clipboards and typing on computers. What is this place?
“Sir, Group 47 is not doing so well, they are all still on level 100 to 110. Only one group has reached the average. And why did you give them an extra day of rest, now the data won’t be fair! Ohh and just to mention, you killed a test subject!”
“I don’t care! You asked me for test subjects, I give you test subjects. One sees the lab or anything else, they get eliminated. Plus they’re all gonna die either way and we have more test subjects so take a chill pill.”
What? How is this happening? There’s no way. This can’t be true. How could they kill innocent kids just for some dumb stupid experiment? I have to get out of here.
“Lee (Logitec Experiment Executioner), please come over here. I think that Lucas is onto us. On the next level, kill him and then eliminate the rest. We will bring in the next batch of kids after this is done.”
“Yes, Mr. Oscar.”
“Now go and charge yourself. I can’t have you run out of batteries during the competition.”
“Yes, Mr. Oscar.”
I started to make my way back to my bed. I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. I always knew that something was up, but they were killing kids! I jumped back onto the bed.
All of a sudden, I heard footsteps in the front of the door. I quickly pretended to be sleeping.
“I told you he’s fine, he was just sleeping the whole time.”
I peek out from under my pillow to see Mr. Oscar and a scientist at the door.
“Alright, let’s get the game ready for tomorrow. Oh and make the levels for Lucas extra hard. We need to make his death look like an accident.”
I get out of bed and get ready for the game. I am met by Mr. Oscar and Lee.
“How did you sleep, Lucas?”
“Ok well just want to wish you good luck, you only have 3 levels left.”
“Thanks, I really wish that Romelo was here.”
“I know it’s a shame that he wanted to leave.”
“Yeah, it’s like he was killed.”
“Haha, your sense of humor always seems to get me, Lucas.”
We walk into the hub and put on the headsets. Again, the voice comes up.
“Game starting in 3, 2, 1.”
The pixels load and we are on top of a huge building. We go on to complete the level. We have to get a key that is hanging from a pole that is high up in the sky.
“You climb the pole, I will hold it so you don’t fall,” Lee says with a smirk on his face.
“No it’s fine I think you should climb.”
“Ok be sure to hold the pole tight.”
He gets onto the pole and grabs the key. I sigh because he wasn’t going to kill me.
We unlock the door to the next level.
This level is about aim, again someone had to climb up high and hold a board where the teammate has to shoot. I grab the gun and he gets the board. Success! We continue to the next level.
Last level, we spawn on top of a bridge. We need to get down from the bridge without falling. In order to get down we either climb down a rope that is slippery, or we walk down the rail of the bridge with the wind blowing at us.
“I think that we should go down the rail,” I shout.
The wind is so loud that we can not hear each other. I turn to look at the rail when I see Lee running at me and kick me in the stomach. I stumble back and lose my footing. I grab onto the rail just in time and get back up. He comes running at me again and I dodge him. He almost falls off the bridge but stays on.
“That’s it. I have had enough of this nonsense.”
He pulls out a gun and points it at me.
“Please, Lee, don’t do this, you don’t have to.”
“I am programmed this way.”
I grab the rope and wrap it around my waist and a metal pole. He shoots but I dodge it. I run at him and we both go plummeting down the bridge. The rope catches me Lee is holding on from my hand.
“I don’t want to let you go.”
“You don’t have to.”
He lets go and his pixels go away. I get off the bridge and leave the game. My locks release and I run out of the hub. Mr. Oscar is waiting for me outside.
“Congrats, kid. You win.”
“Where are the other competitors?”
“All went home after you won.”
“How could you kill them? You are such a monster.”
“What are you talking about?”
“BS, don’t lie to me. Tell me, why did you kill them!”
“That’s classified, and now that you know, it’s your time as well.”
He pulls out a gun and shoots me in the chest. Blood drips from my chest and mouth.
“I’m sorry, Lucas but this is the only way,” he says with tears and walks away.
I sit there waiting to die, staring at the blank white ceiling, thinking about all the people who died. Then I fall to the ground.
One day later in an airplane
“Hello, sir this is Oscar, postpone the mission.”
“For what reason?”
“All test subjects have failed the test. None of them were able to complete the levels.”
“Don’t lie to me, Oscar. I have the data, it’s already been sent to me.”
“Yes, sir… what are you going to do with this data?”
“I can’t tell you that, Oscar.”
“Five years of studying human instincts and killing people and you won’t tell me what you are using it for?”
“This concludes our call. We will talk when we meet when you get home.”