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The Virtual Reality Experiment

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A few years before the time of this writing, there was an experiment to test a phenomenal invention. If the test was successful, it could have potentially revolutionized the world of video games forever.

The invention was a virtual reality gaming console that would actually put eager players into the game so they could vividly experience it instead of just play it. It sounded like something from unrealistic science fiction, but the developers had spent years building it, and made sure it was ahead of the rest of the gaming industry by far.

The console was to be called the “Immersion”, and it would have instantly made every other console obsolete. It wasn’t like the kind of system where you have to wear a visor over your eyes like the Oculus Rift and still hold a controller. It would have generated an entire virtual world unlike any other before it for players to explore. The game would generate sounds, smells, sights, even a temperature. Once the gamer began playing, it was as if they had stepped into another world for an adventure.

Sometimes the game would give them items to use, and there would be people inside the game to interact with. People who would wander around the world, heroes, villains, and neutrals. The game would create situations, and the player would have to solve them. The Immersion actually put the player into the story. It was an advanced piece of technology, far beyond today’s limitations, and it held a certain tempting beauty to it that attracted almost every major business to hear of it. The way the Immersion worked was by getting into your head. Basically, the system would put you into a sleep-like condition, and control the dreams you had. It was a complicated and very sophisticated device. The only thing players had as a controller was a helmet over their heads for the machine to work. Anyone who was wearing the helmet should have only moved a little bit while playing the game in the curious sensation known as “sleepwalking”, similar to how they would in actual slumber. If you had died or lost in the game, then the Immersion would simply wake you up.

Only three games were made for the Immersion, and the games took almost as much time to make as the console itself. Tests were required to make sure the game worked properly, so researchers were hired to examine the console. However, developers wanted to keep the invention a secret, so that no other company could steal their idea or make a console to rival the Immersion (which was highly unlikely). The researchers found three people to play the three games developed for the system. Their names were Mark, Luke and Wayne, and each of them was a devoted gamer. The researchers let them pick the games they played after an explanation about each game.

There was a game called “Warworld”, which was a shooting game. The player would have started in a helicopter, wearing a full standard-issue army uniform. They had just enough time to look around the sleek black interior of the helicopter with the pilot and co-pilot chairs in the front, a wooden crate next to the player on the floor, and the door to the helicopter wide open revealing a height so high the ground was scarcely visible. After a moment of looking around, the pilot would told them to grab a parachute, a gun from the crate, and then to jump out of the helicopter. The Immersion would have made it all the more terrifying than pressing a button and walking forward. It would make the player smell the air at the high altitude, and feel the overpowering strength of the helicopter blades as they stood in the doorway, staring down at the Earth where a layer of dust concealed the ground.

And then the player would fall from the helicopter just before a missile was fired to shoot the helicopter down behind them as they fell to the ground. The player would actually feel the heat of the explosion scraping their back. The explosion would have been deafeningly loud and scattered flaming helicopter pieces everywhere. The player would then have to pull the ripcord of the parachute to land in the middle of a warzone with the gun they chose. Each soldier, friendly or enemy, would have custom faces, different stories and personalities, and different techniques. This was the game Mark would play.

The next game was titled “Diesel Drag”, a racing game. It started with the player walking through a tunnel onto a racetrack, where there would be lines of racecars arranged, all different types and models. All the player had to do was climb inside one and turn the key in the ignition, and then all of the other cars would suddenly have drivers in them, ready to race.

There had been plenty of tracks designed. The racetracks ranged from a NASCAR-type track, to a forest drive, to wild public racing through a city. The Immersion had also created a world off the racetrack in case the player went off-road. The NASCAR track had spectators wandering around outside the boundaries, the forest had trees and woodland animals, and the city had individual shops with different people inside. This was the game that Luke would play.

The third and final game developed for the Immersion was the most vivid of them all. The developers saw an opportunity to make a horror game, an actual scary one unlike any made before, and they decided to make one for the Immersion. Hours of time went into making the monster look intimidating and frightening, and weeks went into creating how he would behave in the game. This game was called “The Aberrant”. The player would begin strapped to a table, and they would find their arms tied down. If they struggled, the player would find their right arm was loose and possible to twist out of the binds. The room was empty, aside from the table. Looking around, the player would see the room was a perfect square with stone walls and an iron door.

After about 20 seconds, a white-haired man would enter the room with a long butcher knife. If the player was free or nearly free, he would attack. If the player appeared to still be strapped down, he would stand over them and begin whispering about how much he would love to see the blade enter their flesh and other psychotic things such as this. To make this moment even creepier, a few developers had had extended conversations with murderous asylum inmates who had stabbed victims to death, only to get a feel for the emotion required for this man.

The player could overpower the man and knock him to the ground or push past him and escape. Either way, they had to get out of the room. Once they had escaped the room, the old man would call after them just before the iron door slammed shut.

“You can’t escape! Come back or he will find you!”

“He” turned out to be the monster. The player’s goal was to navigate their way through a maze-like cave system while avoiding it. The developers had made sure to put plenty of obstacles, objects and details into the maze. There were broken chairs to throw at the monster to slow it down, large tree roots growing out of the walls to force the player to climb over or slide under, and piles of rocks and gravel to hide behind, but the monster was unrelenting in his bloodthirsty search. Wayne, who was apparently a horror addict, had practically begged to play this game.

With every researcher and developer gathered in a large room, Mark, Luke and Wayne were strapped down to three tables before the Immersion helmets were placed over their heads. A button was pressed, and then the games were started. Within a minute, all three gamers had fallen into a sleep-like state, occasionally mumbling about “shoot that one” or “pass him” or sometimes kicking slightly. The Immersion helmets were hooked up to 3 large television screens, so everybody could see what the gamers saw in a 1st-person view.

The experiment was going almost exactly as planned, so developers and researchers alike were preparing to celebrate. But then their celebration was cut tragically short. The gamers began to thrash around. Mark, who had been in the middle of shooting an enemy soldier with his machine gun in “Warworld”, was now screaming, his cries growing in pitch every time he stopped to take a breath. Terrified researchers jumped backward as blood began to spurt from Mark’s body. Small wounds that looked to be bulletholes had covered Mark’s chest, and his screams began to die.

In only a few moments, Mark had turned from an avid gamer into a bullethole-filled corpse.

Luke was jerking from side-to-side. His car in the game was going off the track, and he was fighting to keep it on. He might have succeeded, but suddenly another racecar came along and knocked him off the track. Luke had told the developers to put it on the forest track, the same track where the developers had chosen to put a large fenceless cliff overlooking a long hill. Luke’s car spun over and over again as it rolled off of the steep cliff and down the hill. The car went into mid-air for a moment, and then hit the ground with a terrible screech of metal. Luke’s sleeping body quivered for a moment, and then there was a loud cracking sound as his neck snapped, along with a few other bones.

All was still, and then the car exploded. Luke’s body erupted into flames, and researchers were astounded at this sudden spontaneous human combustion. A few ran for the fire extinguisher, but all that remained of Luke was a black hunk of meat and a burning smell.

At this point, developers and researchers alike were trying to stop the game Wayne was playing. If they had simply pulled off his helmet, Wayne’s brain might have been permanently damaged. They couldn’t turn off the game, and could only watch Wayne play.

Wayne’s arm had been cut while escaping the old man in the beginning of the game, and a thick gash appeared in reality, staining his shirt sleeve with blood. After escaping the old man, Wayne was now running for his life down the caves. The monster’s roar echoed behind him in the distant darkness at the end of the tunnel.

Wayne found himself in a large, open area. He looked around for a few seconds, and then came the sound of thundering footsteps. He cast a quick, frightened glance to the dark tunnel he had just emerged from, and then looked around the area again. There was a large rock over to the side, and Wayne quickly scrambled behind it. He froze, trying not to even breathe as the footsteps entered the room.

There was the sound of the monster sniffing. Wayne stared at the ground, hardly daring to move the slightest bit. The monster stopped, and there was silence. Wayne cautiously began to raise his head to look up at the top of the rock. There was no sound.

Suddenly a large, clawed hand shot down over the top of the rock. There was a loud growl, and Wayne screamed. The claws managed to seize him around the chest, and pulled him from his hiding spot. In reality, Wayne’s body opened up with more scratches leaking even more blood.

The monster hoisted him into the air, and then threw him to the ground. Wayne looked up, and got a glimpse of the monster. Its face resembled a human skull, having two dark eyes and a stubby nose. The eyes held two green orbs that cut through Wayne like hunter’s eyes. The monster had a mouth like a gaping chasm, with long sharp teeth. Its body was large and brown with long legs. Long appendages grew from under its arms, wrapping around Wayne and pulling him into the air upside-down. Wayne screamed and put his arms in front of him as some sort of defense, and then the monster’s mouth opened wide and pulled Wayne into itself before its mouth closed, chomping the man as though he were nothing more than a piece of bread. In reality, Wayne’s body fell open, exposing a broken skull and meaty insides. His lifeless eyes still remained in his head, staring out of the holes in his skull. A few people vomited.

In the game, the monster threw Wayne down. The green lights in its eyes died, reducing them to pure black. The monster on the TV screen looked right at the developers with its dark holes, and then thick black sludge began to fall from his eyes onto the floor. Its mouth slowly fell open, releasing even more of the sludge. Almost everybody watching the experiment, developers and researchers, immediately fled the room. Those who remained, only 5 people, watched the monster slowly turn its head to the side as it stared before the TV finally shut off.

All records of the Immersion have been destroyed, and it is as though it never happened. Nothing like it has ever been attempted since then.

A year after the experiment took place, all five of the people who had stayed with Wayne until the TV had turned off were found dead. Each of them was confirmed as suicide. The most chilling part about the suicides, other than the fact they all took place on the same day, was that each body was found next to the household television set, and each TV was tuned to nothing but static.

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