Sunday, 30 November 2014

Eyes Wide Shut Part III


My eyelids felt heavy as I opened them.  Shining light glistened into my room, revealing the specks of dust in the atmosphere. I sighed. It had been a week since my last challenge but my body was still aching. I resisted the temptation to relax in bed and sat upright. Swiping to see my hologram, I was hoping that the glitch in the system would have been fixed and Lilly would have recovered but that hope soon faded and turned into sadness when there were no new notifications.  My eyes scanned across the bare room. This is such a lonely environment, I thought to myself feeling sad about the contrast between before this all happened and now.



After doing all the usual morning routines, I went out to the market to buy some food when an announcement rang out of the speakers. I know that all of you here are aware that there is a bug in this software which has caused many of the participants to be in a coma-like state. The only way to fix this is if a certain challenge is completed by one person. We have been told that many of you are not challenging yourself to do the activities involved but we hope that this will give you motivation. Also, just a reminder that if you do not challenge yourselves, you will regret it later on and you know why. Once one person has completed The “Mountain Trek” challenge, everyone will be restored healthily and the achiever will be given the choice to return to Earth. That is all.

Immediately, I swiped my map to see where the challenge was when I realised that The Mountain Trek was challenge number three and I still hadn’t completed challenge two.  I was tired and annoyed but I knew I had to complete this game, help everyone recover and then return to Earth. I double tapped on destination number two and was instantly teleported.  I gasped. Unlike most places in this world where everything looked like home, this place oozed danger. It felt like night time. Everything was dark with only some lamp posts. I looked around feeling trapped as if the brick walls around me were closing in on me. My head started to feel dizzy and I had a sense of déjà vu. This felt exactly like the time where I had first encountered this world. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my back. My heart pounded as I jerked forwards and turned around.

I let out a sigh of relief. “Zac, it’s just you. I got so scared. Are you doing challenge two too?”
“Yeah I am. Are you okay? You look very pale.”
“Yes, I-I’m fine. This place is just making me feel uncomfortable. Where’s the challenge area?”
“Annabelle…please tell me you didn’t just decide to come to do challenge two but you researched about it before hand?”
“Um no I didn’t research it. No one told me I had to…” I said.
Zac sighed. “Okay, listen to me. You see how there is nobody here apart from us two? Well, this challenge is a maze. Everyone taking part is separated into twos. We have to work our way towards the finish line but it is not as simple as it sounds. The beasts live here. They will be on many pathways and we will encounter them and have to defeat them. Along the way, there will be weapons on the ground which we have to collect in order to protect ourselves. If we aren’t able to defeat them, well you know what would happen. The beasts get harder to defeat the closer we are to the finish line. The reason there is no challenge area or a place where someone will tell us what to do is because the producers want you to think for yourself and take the initiative/risks as that is the whole point of this challenge.”

Thoughts were exploding into my mind as to how Zac knew all this information and why he knew he had to find out about the challenge even as it occurred to me how dangerous this challenge could be. If we were too weak, we could end up dead or turned into the beast’s slaves for eternity. A loud, booming gun sound interrupted my thoughts and I realised, the game had begun.

We walked slowly into the entrance which was hidden behind some vines in the wall. Zac seemed to have had everything planned out which made me feel embarrassed that all I had done was sleep and eat for the past week.  Slowly, we started walking whilst taking in our surroundings. My senses had become even sharper and my ears and eyes were trying to memorise all the things we were experiencing.  

We were surrounded by walls with many vines growing on it. Suddenly, the path split into two.


“Which way do we take?” I asked, hoping he knew the answer.
“I don’t know. We’ll have to guess.” He said.
I looked at him sharply to see whether it was his laid back attitude talking or if he was being serious. However, I was taken by surprise. I had never seen Zac look so focused ever before.
“Let’s take right.” I said.

We kept on walking and walking and guessing and guessing as went about collecting items. My feet were aching and all I could hear was the thudding of my feet against the gravel ground. I was starting to lose concentration and focus when suddenly a human appeared in front of us.  She was on the ground crying and narrated us about how she had lost her partner. She seemed so distraught that I went to give her a hug when Zac stopped me.

“Zac, what are you doing? Can’t you see how upset she is?”
 Zac kept quiet and took a stone from the ground and threw it at the girl.

“ZAC!” I shouted.
He had lost it, I had thought to myself. All of a sudden the girl shrieked and something I had never seen occurred in front of me. One by one, her body parts transformed into something bigger, hairier and scarier. She was a beast. It had furry big legs almost like a gorilla with arms like an octopus and it had no face, just a round circle at the top of its body.

“I knew it.” Zac muttered to himself.
“Well, well, well” the beast said in a roaring, husky voice. “You are lucky, young girl, that you have such a partner with you. Otherwise, you would’ve been in my arms.” It laughed wickedly.
My legs were shaking at the mere sight of the beast and its voice made all the nature in the maze droop and wilt. I was feeling petrified. I took a step back but tripped over my own shoelaces. My head hit the floor with a thud and my eyes were struggling to stay open. What was happening to me? This sensation was happening all day. I think I’m being shut down. Why now? What will happen to Zac?
I felt my eyes closing but the last image I saw was a vague figure wearing a chocolate-brown hooded cape…



­­­­­ My eyes slowly opened. A brick wall was in front of me, centimeters from my nose. Suddenly, I jumped to my feet remembering Zac. Where was he?
I turned around but bumped into a hard chest. I looked up praying it was Zac when I saw James. I was confused when suddenly all my thoughts from before came rushing into my brain. Oh yeah, he was the last person I saw.
“Where’s Zac? What happened to the game?”
“We carried you through the game. It has been completed.”
“Okay…Where’s Zac?”
I saw him hesitate a little.
“He got caught.”
Before I even felt the shaking of my hands and legs or the goose bumps that traveled through my body, he quickly said “But don’t worry. I told him how to get out just in case beforehand and it’s fairly easy. He should be out of there soon.”
The guilt I felt was unreal. James must have sensed this as he said soothingly, “It’s not your fault. It was bound to happen and he knows what to do now. Why don’t you go home and take some rest before the next challenge.”


_________To Be Continued__________




Monday, 25 August 2014

Eyes Wide Shut Part II- The Slippery Slope


Suddenly, we were teleported to a room. I looked around letting my expectations of this room vanish as disappointment washed over me. Everything about this place felt haunted; The floorboards creaked with each step, the bed sheet had rips everywhere and the windows moved on its own accord. We sat down on the bed and I felt the soft edge of cobwebs touch my bare skin. My mind was flooding with negative thoughts when suddenly I was interrupted by a voice. 





“So guys, since we’re in this together, might as well get to know each other. I’m Amy!” she said, trying to lighten up the dull aura leaking across the room.

After a while of talking to each other, we realised that we actually got along.  My group consisted of Amy- an outgoing, attractive girl with long brunette hair and hazel eyes, Jack- an annoyingly optimistic guy with blond hair and blue eyes, Zac- an arrogant boy with dark brown hair and brown eyes and finally Lilly- a shy, quiet girl with chocolate brown skin and dark brown hair.

I opened my hologram to see it was only fifteen minutes until it was game time.

“We need a plan.” I said in a serious tone.

“Chill, Annabelle. Just follow my lead and we’ll be fine.” said Zac with a smirk.

I glared at him and was about to say something rude about his laidback attitude when Lilly hesitantly interrupted as if sensing the outburst that was about to take place.

“Zac, Annabelle’s right. We do need a plan…”

In the end, we discussed a formation where the average skier, Zac, would take lead, then the not so capable skiers (Lilly and Amy) in the middle and then Jack and I at the back so we could catch them if needed. Not bragging or anything but skiing was my forte.

 Finally the alarm bell rang and we put our ski gear on and teleported to the highest point of the mountains.

 
A gust of wind and snow hit me as shivers zoomed through my body simultaneously. The view was beautiful. The top of the mountain gave us a breath-taking image of the sun shining down the other mountains. The horn then sounded telling us the first game had begun.  





After 30 minutes since the game had started, we had to restart about 7 times due to someone (usually Lilly) falling. At that point, I felt frustrated and annoyed. How can someone even be that bad at skiing? One fault of mine was that I was very short-tempered and impatient. I wanted to shout at her. My toes and fingers had gone numb due to the harsh weather and we weren’t progressing at all.

“I’m sorry guys. I’m letting everyone down…”Lilly said, her eyes brimming with tears.

My anger quickly subsided as I realised everyone was probably irritated yet kept trying their best. Anyways, how could I stay mad at such a sweet girl?

“Don’t worry! We’re all in this together. We’ll overcome this, Lilly.” Jack said, smiling.
 So we kept trying then failing until it became a regular cycle. The jumps were just too hard for Lilly and Amy and the route was very bumpy. I ended up falling over   trying to keep the others from falling. The plan just wasn’t working.



 
“I can’t do this! I’m actually going to die if I carry on!” Amy exclaimed as we got teleported back to start which we had seen for what felt like the 100th time.

“I-I’m t-too tired.” Lilly panted before sitting on the snow and clutching her head.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Zac asked her, his usual smirk wiped with a flash of concern.

Before Lilly could reply, her body immediately shattered into crystals which floated in the air before vanishing.

“LILLY!” we all shouted instantaneously.

What just happened?! Did she get shut down because she was too exhausted? But I thought that if you get shut down you just sleep in the position and place you are. That’s what happened to me, right?
                                              
Thoughts and questions were exploding into my head too quick for me to even finish my questions let alone think of reasonable answers. As if sensing the confusion and worry in the air, a voice boomed out of the speakers.

“Everyone calm down. I know many of you have witnessed your team mate vanish and right now the producers of this game are going to fix the glitch that has occurred in the system. I would like to assure all of you that this will definitely be altered and your team mate will come back into game fit and healthy. Right now, they are in a coma state in the hospital in this virtual reality world having the best treatment until the system gets adjusted. I would like you all to remember that you are all testers to this game which means errors can happen and we want all of them to be fixed before this can be sold out in the real world. Thank you, and keep working to finish the challenge you are on then proceed to complete the game. Best of luck.”

Okay, so my friend’s in a coma and there asking us to continue the game and calm down? I thought to myself. Well, that’s messed up.

Amy let out a sigh. “I guess worrying isn’t going to change anything and I honestly really want to finish this challenge before I can’t feel any more of my body. Then we can also go visit Lilly in the hospital sooner.”

“Yeah same.” I said, “Wait I have an idea! Why don’t you leave your skis, ski boots and pole at the top of the mountain.”

“Umm are you feeling okay? How am I supposed to ski then?” Amy asked, looking confused.


“Jack or Zac can carry you on his back and ski down. I think Jack’s the better skier, no offence Zac, you wouldn’t mind right Jack?” I said.

Before Jack could reply, Amy exclaimed, “No! No way! I’m too heavy and if Jack falls and I fall on him, he could break something.”

“Nah, don’t worry you're light and we’ll never know until we try.” Jack said.

After trying to persuade Amy and pestering her, she finally gave in.

“Fine, but don’t blame me if you guys get hurt.”

And that’s how we managed the clear the first challenge-by taking a risk. I could lie and say it was a breeze and my idea was successfully carried out but that would be lying. It took us many tries to finish the path as it felt harder the further you went and even on our last try, there were many near falls but we persevered and accomplished.

“Thank God that’s over!” Zac said.

“I thought all we had to do was follow your lead, Zac. Why are you relieved?” I said playfully.

“Well I didn’t want the rest of the team to feel too tired because they couldn’t keep up at my pace, you see. I wouldn’t want to show off.” He replied.

I shook my head and smiled.

“Well your pace is quite slow considering it took us 3 hours to make it to the finish line!” Amy said. “Now I’m hungry so let’s go eat and then visit Lilly.”

We all agreed and that’s how the rest of the day went.

I decided to take on the next challenge in a couple of days when I’ve fully rested and give it my all.

~TO BE CONTINUED~

Sunday, 27 July 2014

EYES WIDE SHUT


A narrow, winding pathway appeared in front of me, surrounded by charcoal matte black gates with spiky barbed wire above, their lethal sharp edges glinting dangerously. I looked up; all I could see was a blanket of dense darkness hovering in a silvery-grey sky. Curly swirls of mist and fog intertwined with the dismal, polluted air.
https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3288/4551701713_07bec4fa68_z.jpg

I began to stumble across the path, cautiously glaring at the sharp, stinging nettles as if they were about to pounce at me any minute. I glanced down and in a split second suddenly glared up, as I realised I needed to focus on the sight ahead. I wondered how I had managed to reach here, yet there was no explanation. A gleaming ray of light shined at the end of the path.  I had to get there. I needed determination. It felt like the only way to hit reality again.
A pungent, revolting odour hit my nose; it was the foul stench of dead, rotted meat. A tray of thin, scrawny bones was at the isolated, distant corner of the path. Whatever callous, nefarious being lived here in this haunted, tense atmosphere had a massive appetite. I kept my distance from the vile smell wafting around by walking through the opposite side on the intimidating path. Suddenly, I stopped to scrape the ebony, piercing gate which surrounded me to see if I could break my way out but it just revealed the first chrome coating. I kept along the middle of the disconnected path, silently creeping and trying to make my appearance unknown.
Without any warning I felt an overwhelming impulse to collapse, my heavy head started to feel dizzy and the tears prickled into my eyes, stinging. I reluctantly staggered to the stony ground. A vague figure abruptly appeared before me, the silhouette wore a chocolate-brown hooded cape to conceal his identity. Seconds later I swooned and felt my legs weaken as I slipped into a coma of desolation and distress. I was out.
http://taniakuhl.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/28.jpgI rubbed my eyes to awaken in a cold cave where wet walls surrounded me and a raging fire settled in front of me. Pots and pans were scattered around the place, a comfortable mattress laid behind me and far in front was a shadowy figure with his back towards me. 
I stayed down on the mattress for a minute trying to soak everything in, then got up and walked slowly towards the unidentifiable being.

My bones felt heavier as it took every step and my heart was thumping as loud as a drum. I walked until I was next to the creature and looked at it to see who it was but the hooded cape disguised the identity.
“Who are you?” I asked, “And why have you brought me here?”
He gave me no reply.
“I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!” I exclaimed in a tangle of desperation and anger.
Suddenly, the creature jerked his head towards me to expose his face. It was a man; a man whose eyes drooped like a wilted leaf, whose frown oozed dejection and whose skin had lost its colour.
No wonder he hid his face, I joked to myself.
“You are here because I saved you. I do not appreciate your ungratefulness and tone of voice.” He said.
His voice was deep and croaky yet calm.
Confused, I asked “You saved me? Saved me from what? You were the last person I saw before I fell unconscious, how do I know you didn’t do something to me?”
“If I intended to do you harm, you would no longer exist. I saved you by carrying you into my home. You were shut down, Annabelle” He said.
“Shut down? What do you mean shut down?” I said, speechless. “Where am I and how do you know my name?”
The man shook his head, “You are in the middle of a game. Many people get trapped in here. Before you ask too many questions, I shall explain what has happened to you. You have been confined in a virtual reality game in which your mind has been transported and you will only go back to your real home once you have conquered and eradicated all of your bad habits. The reason you arrived at this destination was because you were one of the thousand people who have been selected to trial this game out. The only way back to Earth is to play all of the different activities here which help purify your mental state. You are in control of yourself. However, if you over exhaust yourself, you shut down which is what happened to you. Being shut down means you fall unconscious right where you are and don’t wake up until you have recharged your mind completely.”
I gasped feeling like everything was a hazy dream, reality had not sunk in- well, I wasn’t actually in reality anyway apparently. I was in denial until I finally realised from the conviction in his eyes that this man was speaking the truth.
“If you know about how to escape from here, then why haven’t you? Also you said there are a lot of people here but I didn’t see a single soul until you, why was that?”
“I haven’t properly tried to depart, I’m more concerned about other people such as you because I have been designated to share my knowledge about the existence of this place and the meaning behind it to new players who haven’t heard from other people. Also, this virtual destination is massive. You were teleported to a deserted, bloodcurdling place where there are many beasts who have been created to inject fear into the testers. If they don’t escape, they will turn into the beasts’ slaves. I base myself here to help protect those vulnerable newbies from the beasts. Oh and by the way, my name is James, thanks for asking.” James said.
“Oh right…” I said, not knowing what to reply.
I looked around the cave to try fill the silence that was lingering in the atmosphere. I glanced back at James and saw he had a hologram projection in front of him which had a map on it.
“How did you get that?!” I asked, surprised.
“Okay let me teach you about this game. You swipe up with your right hand to get this hologram projection up. Now, as you can see, a map will show on the screen. The different destinations represent different games you have to play in order to return back to Earth. If you successfully complete a game, you will obtain a card in which you put in your card slot on the side of the hologram. Follow the trail which has been designed for you.” James told.
I sighed, feeling very unlucky in that moment. Why did I have to be picked to trial this?
“Okay, how do I get to these places?” I asked, unenthusiastically.
“You double tap on these places and you immediately teleport there. Also, one more thing you need to know is that some games you play individually and others as a team. If I were you I would start completing this now. Good luck.” He said.
I was about to open my mouth and ask him many other questions when he vanished into thin air. I groaned not wanting to be anything to do with this. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I’ll have to give this a try and work my way out of this place. I opened the hologram up and double tapped on the first destination. Suddenly my virtual body quickly evaporated from the current place and before I knew it, I was in another town. My body tingled as my feet was firmly pressed onto the ground. I was buzzing from having just teleported.
http://perierga.gr/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/xmasmarket2.jpgI scanned round the area, my eyes flicking across every detail. In bold letters I saw the sign “Level 1~Game 1” on top of a door in the far corner of the town.
Everything else seemed normal. There were restaurants, arcades and shops just like home, not to mention the crowd of people there were. Some laughing and making the most out of this unexpected event, others isolated and glum-faced. I headed towards the game area after eating some appetising food with the best attitude I could muster.
As I walked into the gates, I felt my heart beating fast as though a warning of what lied ahead. All I saw was a room full of people when suddenly a booming, male voice projected across the room from a speaker.
“I would like to personally welcome all of you to the first challenge in this new experience. The first task I would like you to do is get into groups of exactly 5.” the male said.

I proceeded to do as I was told and joined a group.
“The mission that has been set for you varies according to each of your group as each of the groups will have different paths- some easier and some a lot harder. The task is based around skiing. Each of you will now be teleported to a room in a ski lodge where you will have an hour and half to bond with the team and think of strategies. To complete this game, all of the members of your group have to get from the highest point of the mountain back down to the ground without falling over once and there will be many obstacles in your way. If you do fall over, your whole group will immediately go straight back to the starting point. The aim of this game is to allow you to work as a team and have each other’s backs at all times whilst also learning to never give up. You have to try again, if you fail. Now, let the game begin.”
I skimmed across the members of the team I will now be a part of and realised that now I wasn’t just fighting for myself; I was fighting for all of us and I couldn’t let them down. That wouldn’t be fair even though I don’t know anything about them. I knew now that I would have to try my best and not be lazy. I was going to complete this game and I would do whatever it takes to get free again and go back to see my friends and family back on Earth. This game would probably be the headlines of the news at the moment and I was determined to make it back as soon as possible.
~To be continued.~