Non Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality. by Katelynn Andrews

“You are a broke college student who is in desperate need of money, you respond to an advertisement to test a new virtual reality technology at a local tech startup; they are paying well. The VR technician tells you that this new experience will be indistinguishable from reality. He seats you in a chair and injects you with a syringe in the base of your neck. Before you pass out, he tells you that the simulation will detect and subject you to your greatest fears.”

 Entry 1 7/21/18: 

Dear Diary, I fret losing the people I care about, or being lost in general. Whether I see them everyday, or not; I rely on the consolation that I’ll be able to see them again, at some point. Maintaining a visible memory of their voices, and the hand gestures they use to express what they can’t say through words. There is something about having certain people in my life that if they weren’t there, in the same global atmosphere, I would feel lost. Change is inevitable, but some things are better off left the same. My second fear is, well, being lost. Not knowing where I am on a road trip, seeing scenery haven’t seen before, I enjoy that. Gazing out of the window; as you watch the sun fade orange, and the sky fade dark, it’s nice.  But, if I’m in the middle of a forest, I’d have a few minor- okay, maybe major problems. Thirdly; even when I am enjoying a road trip, I still fear for safety. I was in an accident, that I’ve yet to recover from. Not physically, mentally, flinching every time we hit a pothole in the road. It’s demeaning, it makes me seem weak. Fourth, everytime I lose consciousness, I lose control of my mind, don’t we all? But I fear that waking up, isn’t waking up. Maybe I’m asleep, and dreaming that I woke up, and the life I’m living is only, truly, a dream. It’s a perpetual situation. But the twist to that is, sometimes I do dream that I’ve woken up, and that dream turns into a nightmare. That’s where my greatest irrational fears sprint into play. Hemophobia; blood, changing color as it leaves your body, representing pain, and damage. Claustrophobia, feeling enclosed, feeling trapped. Agoraphobia, or Anthropophobia, fearing social situations, fearing society. It’s one of the worst, people are everywhere and only they know the things they’ve done. You need to watch your back from every angle, but only have two eyes. And they may not even have to get their hands dirty. Wearing your heart on your sleeve, giving people the ability to destroy you. That’s something you wouldn’t see coming with two eyes, or four. I’m anxious, and unprepared. I want to back out, but I need the money for my grandmother’s medical treatments. I’m better prepared to be a VR lab rat, than I am to lose her.

Entry 2, 7/23/18:

“Dear diary, on 7/22/18, I drove to the address, it was an abandoned ToysRus parking lot. Somebody in a black van stepped out. He was wearing a suit, with a walkie talkie clipped where you’d formally see a flower. He had a hat, and sunglasses on. Not like the Men In Black sunglasses, like the John Lennon sunglasses. He was serious, but not too serious. He opened the door behind the driver’s seat, and held his arm out vertically for me to enter. I closed the door to my baby blue, 98’ Honda Civic, as the rusted hinges scraped against each other, putting a metal dust on to the ground. It could’ve been like glitter, if it hadn’t already lived a life of being worn out. Now it’s just– dust.”

“I stepped into the van, the door shut behind me, and the locks locked, automatically. If someone were to look at me, they’d see a subtle discomfort. But anything that could smell fear knew I was in the area. I felt the vehicle come to a stop. I’d yet to see what was around me, the windows were more than tinted. The door opened, I saw, nearly nothing. The Craigslist ad stated that it would be at a local facility. I was in a gravel parking lot, surrounded by trees, on every side. In the middle of the lot was a chair. The man had held his arm out, again. This time in the direction of the chair. I hesitantly walked over. I felt a sharp pain in the left side of my neck, everything twisted. Imagine stirring cream into your coffee, that’s what happened to my surroundings. When my vision wasn’t like an illusion, I saw somebody standing near the van, they looked casual. I got up and asked if they knew where we were. She tilted her head, and moved her hand from her pocket. I saw something reflecting light, I looked at her and she smiled. I stumbled backwards, there was another person. Every angle I’d turn to, there was somebody. Some of them would glitch, showing a scene where they’d be tying a bag, or washing their hands, peeking over their shoulder to assure that nobody was near them.  I went to turn my head, and it was yanked the opposite way. But it went back to normal, everything looked the same. I went to turn around and I saw people. A crowd of people standing behind me, with their hands in their pockets, and behind their backs. I looked back forward, people were there, too. But they were walking towards me, I had to get away from them. I ran to the left, into the woods. And suddenly, nobody was behind me, nothing was around me. I walked back in the direction I’d originally come from, hoping to reach the parking lot I began in, and hopefully vacant of people. I only put myself further into the woods. The sun was setting, I took my baggy Pink Floyd hoodie off and draped it over myself as I laid in an area I cleared of leaves with my old chucks. I couldn’t close my eyes, I was terrified. I felt the spiders crawling near me, I heard footsteps. Suddenly, the sun vanished from the sky. It was dark; I was thirsty. I got up, in search of something, anything. Stumbling into trees, tripping over stumps. I saw a light. I, like a moth, rushed to it. It was a light bulb, in the middle of the woods. I went to look around, there were no more trees, there was no longer any space to freelance. I was in a room, four dirt walls with writing on them were around me. A lightbulb hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. I sat in a corner, I sat in a corner rocking back and forth, with my head buried in my knees. I just wanted to go home, and then something began to touch my feet. I looked up. The walls were enclosing, I felt the pressure of the wall behind me pushing me into the one in front of me, I resisted with my feet, but my hands weren’t as strong. My knees at my chest, my shoulders at my knees, and finally, the walls stopped moving. I sat there, trapped, with a shattered light bulb smashed against my arms. I sat there, squirming to escape, not making any progress, until I woke up in a chair. I was back where I started, where it all started. My grandma was there; I thought she’d tracked my phone. I jumped up to give her a hug and tell her she’s going to be okay; she fell to the ground, too weak to take another breath. I tried to pick her up, my hands were covered in blood from where her head hit the ground. I saw the man standing beside the van. I picked up the biggest stone I could find, one of which was covered in fingerprints, after my fingers made contact with it. I went to  hit him in the temple with it, until he fell, too. He fell to the ground and collected with it, like he’d melted. I woke up, again, still in the chair. I couldn’t tell the difference between reality, and the virtuality of it. I stood up, I was trembling, looking in every direction. He appeared again, this time his arm was vertical, holding a stack of money outwards. I took a step back, he took a few steps forward, setting the money, gently, on the ground. I picked it up, and I ran. I ran until I reached the road; I was only a few minutes from where I left my car. I got the key from where I hid it on the edge of my front, driver side hubcap. In a rush to never look back, I sped out of the parking lot. I didn’t look either direction to see if anything was coming. Pulling out, glancing at the last moment, a wine purple tractor trailer smashed into the side of me at 60mph. I felt one side of my body collapse into the other; I felt my head spin as my car kicked sideways. I lost my vision, it all went black when my head jolted into the steering wheel. I lost my breath when my door caved into my ribs. I had taken my last breath; I felt so much pain. I woke up, again, in the chair. Breathing, I felt no pain, I was numb. There was an absence of thought as everything halted, I felt like nothing was real. The man walked in a blur. I was so tired, but he threw his sunglasses off, as he clapped, and smiled like it was the greatest thing in the world. But I didn’t know which world it was so great in, I didn’t even know the day.”

Entry 3, 7/2318:

 In this reality, my grandma is doing better , the money helped her. As for me, I’m in a white room. I don’t know how this relates to any of my fears, other than feeling trapped when I’m forced to where some jacket. Other than that, I’m just waiting for the moment to come where the walls start to enclose, and I wake up again. But maybe when that happens, the crowds will be there. I wouldn’t be afraid of them, they’d comfort me. It’s been a good while since I’ve seen people who weren’t in wheelchairs, or in my face to give me pills. My guess is that the pills are an alternate to the syringe to inject the VR scenarios. They call them happy pills, an awkward name for a VR pill, but I mean, they don’t make me sad. I feel like there’s not a fear in the world. It’s blank, it’s all blank, like these walls. I feel less like glitter, and more like dust. Anyways, until the next time I wake up.

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