“Test subject number nine-six-thirty-ten!” A man at the end of the hallway called, a clipboard in his hands.
I stood up in the corner of my cell, head down. I wobbled to the gate bars, holding on to them tightly. I wasn't used to using my legs.
“Over ‘ere, sir." A guard informed, noticing my step forward. There were steps and soon fancy shoes stepped in front of my cell. A hand shot out between the bars and grasped my chin. He pulled my face up, knocking the hair out of my eyes. A bright light shined into my pupils and I blinked, trying to pull back. I breathed heavily, nostrils flailing, and opened my eyes wide. I searched for a face, but the light was too bright. When I was blinded and distraught, he finally let me go. I fell back, my knees giving out.
The door flung open and a guard picked me up. The hair on the top of my scalp was pulled back. I hissed in reaction. My eyes opened widely as I looked at a man in sharp clothing. Behind his was the man with the clipboard. He had wide blue eyes and glasses. The man in front of me smirked and turned around.
“She's perfect.” He told the man with the clipboard. He glanced back at me and then at the guards. “Proceed.” He said, waving his hand. I protested with what strength I had left before something hit the side of my head and I fell on the ground, everything going black.
- ‘ -
Something wet landed on my face and I sniffed, moving my nose around. Another drop hit my nose and my eyes flew open. I looked around into the darkness, seeing nothing. I tried to sit up, but found myself strapped onto a chair of some sort. I whipped my head around, flexing my whole body. I tried to budge, but I was strapped in tight.
A bright light turned on, the sound echoing across the room. I blinked and faced away. More lights turned on around the room, all centered on me. I looked up to see that I was in a testing room. Up above me there was a glass window. In the room behind it were at least a dozen men dressed up in white coats.
They were moving around the room, checking controls and other things, not even looking at me.
“Hey.” I said, trying to gain their attention. My voice was coarse and hurt. I hadn’t talked in a while. They continued moving, not noticing me. After a long time I closed my eyes and became irritated.
“Hey!” I yelled loudly. As the sound echoed around the room, the faces slowly turned towards me and the movement stopped. A man came from the back of the room, his hair disheveled and his movements wild. He seemed to grab onto a microphone, but it only looked like a black stub from so far away.
“You’re awake.” He said. I jumped, looking around wildly. The voice hadn’t come from any speakers of any sort, but rather it came from inside my head. In my head. I spat and my eyes opened wide.
“Who are you?” I asked, wide eyed up at the glass. He paused for a moment and put his hand over the mike as he turned around to talk to someone. The sound of his fingers fumbling caused me to be restless. I couldn’t stand it. He turned around once again and put his mouth to the mike.
“Can you feel all of your limbs?” He asked me. I flexed around a bit.
“Yes.” I mumbled and fidgeted a lot. “Where am I?” He turned around, not hearing my question, or ignoring it.
“Subject is prepared for submission. Proceed with hook up.” I heard the muffled noise in the back of my head.
“What hook up?” I asked out loud. He turned around and looked at me and seemed to press something. There was a boom, which was apparently the sound being turned off. A low rumble came from around me. I barely had time to scream as two shell like clamps came up from the ground and around me, putting me once again in darkness.
The sound of a running machine scared me just a bit. Something came down on my head and I screamed loudly, trying to jerk it off of my head.
“Please, will you be still? We wouldn’t want you to break a cord.” I heard the man’s voice in my head once again.
“Oh, and why not?” I asked. My mouth didn’t move, but I could hear it plain enough. Pain shot through the back of my skull and both side of my neck. Something wrapped around my wrist and small pins poked into my skin.
“Because, eighty thousand bolts of electricity would fry you in an instant.” I heard. My heart beat shot up. “Please be calm, subject nine-six-three-ten, we can not connect you to the hardware until you’re heart is at a level speed.”
Pain shot into the wrist of my other arm and I felt something pump into my blood stream. My heart beat slowed down and I became calmer suddenly. They had drugged me.
“That’s better, now isn’t it?” The man asked. My breathing slowed and a numbing sensation came over me. I began to panic.
“Calm down, subject nine-six-th-“
“The name’s Ace.” I thought.
“..Subject Ace.” He said. “Your nerves should be going through the system. Feeling will return to you in just a short moment.” And they did, slowly. First my toes, then my fingers and arms. It slowly all came back. I flexed, and found myself no longer strapped. I was actually on the ground. I slowly pulled myself up, completely stable.
“Now, Subject ni-… Ace, we’re going to test a few things.” He said. I looked up at the blackness surrounding me. It was so eerie. I wonder if this is how Tess felt when they took her away. “Tell the system to turn on.” I arched a brow and opened my arms.
“How am I supposed to do that exactly?” I asked. There was a loud sigh.
“Say, ‘system on’.” He told me. I shook my head and heaved my shoulders back.
“System on.” I said. The faint sound of a motor started, almost like a background noise. The rumble turned into the deep bass of a cello. It slowly faded away. In front of me a three-d image of the company’s logo glowed blue and lit the ground. I waved my hand over it as if hovered up and down.
“Weird.” I whispered, cocking my head to the side.
“Now, Subject Ace,” the man said, “I want you to click the logo.” I looked straight up with a confused look.
“Click,” I said. “What the heck does that mean?” I poked at the sign. When my finger touched it, the surface bounced back like jell-o and the logo flew back a few feet. It jumped up and turned a bright white. A high pitched ding sounded and the logo exploded into a thousand white sparks. I jumped back.
“Good, good.” The man said. “Now, step onto the white platform.” He told me. I stared at the glowing ground, the only color around except for me. I reluctantly took a step foreword, my legs shaking. When my toes touched the white surface, I was sucked into the center suddenly. I wobbled, my legs frozen in place. I tried to move and began to breath heavily.
“Calm down.” He said. “The system is merely downloading your image.”
“What?” I asked, confused. The light from below began to fade, and I was sucked into darkness again.
“System loading…” A woman’s voice said, the sound coming from every direction. There was a constant thrum that faded in and out. “Is the player ready?” She asked.
“Say yes, subject Ace.” The man said. I frowned.
“You know, I don’t like you telling me what to do.” I hissed, clenching my fists. When there was no reply, I sighed.
“Ready.” I said. There was a ding in response. Suddenly I sunk through the ground, falling into a blue sky filled with clouds. I was going so fast, I couldn’t breathe. The ground came up to me so suddenly I put my arms in front of my face, ready for impact. When the air stopped and I felt myself floating, I looked down and found grass sticking up into my face. I sneezed and fell onto the ground.
I stood up, wiping the dirt off of myself and stopped when I noticed what I was wearing. I was wearing jeans, and a plain white shirt. Clean cloths.
“Loading scenery…” the woman’s voice resonated from a distance. I looked up and gasped. The grass I was on was only a patch around me. Land appeared around my little patch and flew out. Soon there were hills of grass and mountains in the distance. The horizon lifted, and the land rolled on so much that it began to go up from the level ground. I could see distant hills up halfway through the sky that usually would be wrapped hallway around the world. Is slowly faded so much that the sky took it on. “Obtaining images from player’s memory.” The woman’s voice said.
Clouds began to appear, layers upon layers of clouds. Three moons slowly appeared. Two were so close they took up a portion of the sky. The one that was closest was naturally blue. Flowers popped up over the field. Purple with nine leafs. They looked like the ones in my father’s paintings. Actually, everything looked like a realistic version of my father’s paintings.
“Hey, guy that talked to me earlier, what’s your name?” I asked.
“Me?” He asked. I rolled my eyes. “Phillip.” He said. I nodded.
“Well, Phillip, am I dead?” I asked, turning around on my heals and taking it all in. There was a snicker like laugh.
“No, you are not.” He said. I nodded, but didn’t believe it. I turned around and found a lady standing ten feet from me.
“Welcome, player.” She said, her voice high and squeaky. “Loading new game.” She said, her eyes blank. I took a step back.
“Phillip?” I asked.
“She is the gaming server. Players meet her in the menu.” He said. “This is the 2.0 module.” I nodded. Suddenly the girl blinked and looked at me. She wore a short skirt, white, and tights that cut off mid thigh. Her hair was long and… pink. Her outfit actually looked like an air flight attendant, except there was no logo. Her eyes were big and a bright neon blue. She was so real, but the animated characteristics made her seem fake. I blinked a few times, trying to take her in.
“Welcome, new player, to Your Game.” She said to me, gesturing with her hands while she spoke. “Please enter name.” She said.
“Enter?” I asked. There was a sigh from Phillip. “Well, since I’m testing out your game, I want you to know that you need to change most of the commentary.”
“I know,” Phillip said, sounding exhausted, “tell her the name you wish to have.” He said. I opened my mouth, and then closed it.
“So I can have any name I want?” I asked. When he didn’t answer, I took that as a yes.
“Evalyse.” I said.
“Error.” She said. I cringed back at her intense eyes.
“Phillip, does this girl ever blink?” I asked.
“Wait one second.” He said.
“Please enter full name.” She said. I was taken by surprise.
“Um…” I thought, but couldn’t come up with anything. “Surprise me.” I said.
“Computer selection loading most appropriate names for player.” She said. Her eyes fluttered a million times and scared me. I looked around, wondering what was wrong. Her eyes went back to normal, blinking from time to time.
“Is that better sir?” She asked, eyes closed and shaking her head. “They still haven’t figure out everything yet.” She said, looking at me. I looked around. Did she just talk? She began to laugh. “We program know how to react.” She said. “Loading name.” She said. There was a bird call. We both looked up as a large white bird flew over us, dropping an envelope. I stared as the creature flew off over a hill and disappearing.
“Eva Felicia Estrella.” She said. I frowned.
“That’s….” I looked away.
“You’re mother’s maiden name.” She said innocently, “It has most meaning to you. Why else would you have picked her first name?” I looked away, slightly ashamed.
“Save player’s name?” She asked. After a long pause, I nodded. “Saving.”
“Loading player’s information.” She said. “Well,” She sighed, smiling warmly, “you are quite the interesting one.” She said, as if looking straight through me. “an only child.” My head snapped up, “Ace Jones, no middle name. Father sold you for-“
“Stop!” I yelled, hands over my ears and turned away. She stopped and held her hands together in front of her. “How do you know all of that?”
“I can see it.” She said, looking up into the sky as if reading a million words. “All your memories, every thought you’ve ever had, all the thing’s you’ve seen…” She looked at me, “even the ones you’d thought you’d forgotten.” Her eyes were so deep I had to look away.
“How interesting.” She whispered. I looked up at her but she was looking away from me. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this would be the perfect game for you.” She said. “Loading player’s appearance.” She said all of a sudden. I felt tickles run up my body and looked down. I put my hands in front of me and shuttered as I watched them transform. The dirt and scum disappeared. The dry skin disappeared. I felt my face and jumped. The curves were all different. I felt my right eyes, feeling relieved that the scar was still there.
Out the corner of my eye I could see my hair change color. It went from a bland blond to a harsh black, but was still soft as it was before. It looked natural. I felt it. So silky smooth. Also, my hair was now long, past my shoulders.
“Wha-“ I put my hands over my mouth in shock. My voice was so weird. It was smooth and deeper, instead of high and raspy. My eyes shifted, everything blurred more than it already was and then became crystal clear, more than usual. My vision was perfect again.
“Eva.” The server said. I turned towards her, arms out in aw. She stared at me with wide eyes. “Wow.” She whispered.
“What?” I asked, jumping at the sound of my own voice. I licked my tongue over my teeth, noticing that the one chip in my front tooth was gone.
“You’re-“ She whispered. I looked back up at her in confusion. Was it that bad? She shook her head and coughed.
“Loading game…” She whispered, closing her eyes. “Retrieving characters, time, scenery, music…” She looked at me again, her eyes expressionless. “Can you still feel everything?” She asked.
“Yah..” I breathed, “but it’s so weird.” It was like a dream. “I am dead, aren’t I?” I asked myself. She smiled, her eyes becoming soft.
“Are you ready to play the game?” She asked me. I took a deep breath, standing up tall.
“Sure?” I said. She laughed.
“I’ll give you a minute.” Then she disappeared. I sighed and fell onto the ground, lying across the ground. I’ve missed the grass so much.
“Subject Ace.” Phillip said.
“Hmm?” I asked, my eyes closed as I took everything in. I felt great, it wasn’t real.
“There’s one thing I need to tell you before you load completely into the game.” He said. I sat up straight.
“What, you’re not coming with me?” I asked.
“Well, technically, I’m not there anyways-“ I frowned, “But, no, I will not be helping you beyond this point.” He said. I nodded, falling back onto the ground. There was a moment of silence. “You need to know that none of this is real.” He said, “Just, know that this is only a game.” I opened my eyes.
“Yeah, of coarse.” I said. Wasn’t it obvious? There was a sigh.
“Just…” He said as the girl appeared again, “Be careful.”
“I’m ready.” I said, standing up. She smiled and nodded at me.
“Entering game.” The woman’s voice echoed. Things began to fade, and the girl in front of me stared with a knowing look before everything went black.
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