A Blended Nightmare

Virtual and blended reality are new and seemingly massive tools in terms of human gaming, working, and exploration. We should be careful about using those technologies as with everything new there can always be a downside.

Image from http://miriadna.com

Image from http://miriadna.com

[Hello again, Thanks again for reading and as always you can reach me at twitter @amccaul1976 and by email @[email protected] and I hope you enjoy a blended nightmare.]

Mike sliced open the box from Amazon. Pulling out the second box from the Amazon box Mike sniffed the new box.

"Mmm new electronics," Mike said to no one. 

Mike loved the smell of new electronics. Mike opened the new box sorting out the Styrofoam from the electronics in the box.

"My new Blended reality system," Mike again said to no one.

Mike put on the suit and headset and was surprised by the lightness of the equipment.  Mike felt like he wasn't wearing anything.  The gloves and suit were so light and thin he could tell they were on because they were cool when he first put them on.  Mike was rapidly losing the feeling of being in the suit and gloves because his body heat was making them match his own temperature.   The helmet was so light and firm that again his body heat was making it so Mike rapidly was losing the feeling of the helmets coolness against his head.

"Time to light the fire on this baby," Mike said to himself.

Mike had been a jock when he was young and had become a nerd in high school. Because Mike made the transition in high school he became obscure and not well known.  One of those people that kind of just fell through the cracks.  Which was better than his nerd friends who always seemed to get picked on.  But, not as good as his jock friends who were popular and well known.  Since high school Mike had been looking forward to blended reality systems.  Mike had been a gamer since pong had come out so long ago.  Mike grew into Atari and then Nintendo and all the gaming systems since then.  Mike had also watched Star Trek the Next Generation growing up and knew that men had been working towards something of a holodeck.  Mike had been looking forward to a gaming system he could experience in a virtual reality setting. Mike had thought about playing Assassin's Creed for real or Tomb Raider.  Mike had been dreaming about it for years. That day had finally arrived and Mike was about to experience his dream.

The system came on and a voice spoke to Mike in his ear. "VR systems online and connecting to wireless fiber connection, please hold." a voice said.

Mike was seeing the system load in the glass shield in front of his face. The bar quickly filled and the percent flashed from 99% onto the Operating system.

"VR systems online initial setup commencing.  We have a lock on you current location using GPS and we are setting up your clock and other settings.  Please hold on," Again a generic computer voice said.

Mike was shifting back and forth feeling the rug soft under his feet.   Even though Mike was in his house and comfortable he couldn't wait for the VR experience to begin.

The second bar and percentage hit 99% and then the Operating system was loaded.  Mike was amazed by what he was seeing. The entire room faded out and was filled with options for locations.   Mike picked something simple and open so it seemed he was in a room that looked like a Japanese dojo. White paper windows covered the walls and the sliding doors. The wooden floor had a lived-in look.  Not new but polished and warn as if it was well lived-in. Two buttons appeared in front of Mike "accept" and "change".  Mike touched the 'accept' button. The voice chimed in again saying "new options".  People appeared on the screen by the millions.   

"Choose your VR option for the assistant," the voice said again. 

Mike thought about it for a long while and learned he could eliminate genders and different skin tones and finally he could pick and shape the assistant's body.  After a while Mike finalized his choices and the VR Assistant walked in from the side of the dojo.  Her shadow a silhouette on the paper squares of the walls.  The front door to the dojo slid open and she walked in.   She was the most attractive woman Mike had seen. The woman spoke Saying "Hello" and the neutral robotic voice sounded like tin. "No that voice doesn't fit you," Mike said. Mike then selected several voices to make a unique voice for the VR assistant.  He took a major blend of Kathleen Turner as Jessica Rabbit and added Angelina Jolie.  Then Mike took more voices mostly from singers and crafted a nice unique sultry voice for her. 

"Hello," the woman said again. 

"Hello," Mike responded.

"What is your name?" The woman asked.

"Mike."

"It's nice to meet you mike," the woman said.

"What is your name?" Mike asked.

At the question the woman paused and looked like she was a bit puzzled by the question then she looked like she was thinking and the she smiled and said "Veronica, but you can call me 'V' for short."

"Nice to meet you Veronica," Mike said and reached his hand out to shake Veronica's hand.  Veronica looked to be in though for only a moment and shook Mike's hand.  Mike was shocked by what he felt.

"I can feel your hand," Mike said.

"Yes its the suit it simulates your environment textures so you can feel what you are seeing," Veronica said.

"That's amazing," Mike said.

"Will there be anything else?" Veronica asked.

"Yes I want to test out this thing can I run a game?" Mike said.

"What game would you like?" Veronica asked.

"Kingdom of castles," Mike said.

Suddenly the dojo faded into black empty space and was replaced by a flat playing area that looked like a model on a table.   This was a game Mike had been playing on his tablet for years.  Mike started manipulating the building around building them up leveling them rearranging them and training soldiers to go out and fight other kingdoms.  Everything looked very real the stone on the buildings and the people walking around crafting and building things.  They people had conversations too Mike could listen in while the talked about battles his kingdom had fought and daily life of the people who lived there.  It was a very surreal experience.

"Alright V enough of this time to really test this baby out." Mike said.

"What would you like to do now?" V asked.

"I want to play something like tomb raider.  Can you load that up for me V?" Mike asked.

"Sure thing Mike," V said and snapped her fingers and Mike was in a jungle with pistols strapped to his hips. 

"Will you accept the purchase charges for downloading this game?" V asked.

"Yes," Mike said.

"Then enjoy your game I'll see you later.  All you need to do is ask for me and I'll show up to answer any question you might have at that time." V said.

"There is one more option," V said.  "Right now you can see the glass of the visor.  To have the total immersion experience experience the VR firmware can blend the glass out of the experience as if it weren't there anymore.  It is a more intense experience.   So much so you will swear that you will be able to smell things and taste them too.  Would you like and agree to such an enhanced experience?" V asked.

"Yes I accept." Mike said.

Something changed and Mike could feel and see it.  It felt as if his body shifted to somewhere else.  Like he was no longer standing in his own living room.

"Hey V, is it safe to run around in here?  I mean I am not going to run into my bed or a couch or table or anything else in my house," Mike asked.

"Try running straight forward," V said.

Mike did and started running forward through the jungle. he ran much longer than he thought the length of the house was and didn't hit any furniture or walls or anything for that matter. It seemed like Mike was really there.

"How does this work?" Mike asked.

"The device you are wearing is tricking you into running through and in circles in your own house.  You are always going to be moving in a safe direction within your own house.  So go all out and don't hold anything back nothing in your own house will hurt you," V said and then asked, "will there be anything else?" V asked.

"No, nothing at this time." Mike said.

V faded back into the thick of the jungle. The sounds of the jungle filled Mike's ears and Mike thought bugs were landing on him. Things were very well done here in VR, Mike thought. Mike could feel the jungle plants brush against his hands and arms as he walked by them.

"Well no time like the present," Mike said to no one.

Mike followed the path for a while and it led into a clearing.  That was when Mike heard two tigers prowling around.  As soon as the tigers saw Mike they attacked him. Mike pulled out the pistols at his hips and blasted the tigers. Mike his one right away dropping that tiger.  The second tiger bit Mike's arm before Mike could finish it off.  Pain raced up Mike's arm right wear Mike seemed to have been bitten.  Mike was able to blast two rounds into the side of the tiger making it release him.  Once free Mike was able to put that tiger down.

"V, are you there?" Mike asked.

V came back out of the jungle. "How can I help?"

"I've just been bitten by one of those tigers. Why am I feeling pain?" Mike asked.

"You chose the total immerse package. That allows you to feel everything as if you were truly in the game. Are there any further questions?" V asked.

"Yes, can you stop running this program and power down the system I am ready to get out." Mike said.

"You can't get out until you have beaten the game." V said.

Mikes blood ran cold and he said "What are you talking about?"

"You chose the total immersion package. This is designed to give you the most realistic experience possible. You are living it as real to the end as if you were really here on this quest." V said and then asked again "Are there any further questions?"

"Yes what assistance can you give me?" Mike asked.

"Go up the hill here and find the shack at the top of the hill. There is a medical kit inside which you can use to heal yourself." V said.

Mike walked up and into the shack as V faded from view.  Mike just touched the medical kit and it disappeared and so did the pain of the tiger bite.  Mike was as good as new.  Mike was scared and thought about just staying put as he knew how many times that he had died playing the original game.  Mike Tried just removing the helmet and suit but couldn't feel them or locate anything to take off.  Mike tried several different things to exit the game.  Mike even tried to load a different game and see if he could get out that way.  V informed him that he must finish this game before playing though the next experience.  Mike finally accepted his fate.  

"Well I better get going I'll never get out of here if I don't start moving." Mike said to himself. Then Mike ran ahead to the waiting temple.

Six months later police went into Mike's house and found him dead.

A tech for the company came out and gave a statement to the police saying out of the millions of devices they have sold only three people have died using the Blended reality suit.  The people who died did so by their own bad habits.  The autopsies performed by the local coroner's showed people died from heart attacks.  So the companies line to the public was that Mike had died from a heart attack.

Internally, the company knew that the people who died actually entered the real places they loaded into their own helmets.  The company had been working on a way to prevent this but it still happened.  Eventually the company issued a statement warning people about what could happen if you entered into the suit and helmet.  After the announcement they had a surge in sales as people of low income and poverty stricken areas of the globe sought a way out.   Most people found it.   

Adam McCaulley
Adam McCaulley

A writer who likes to write primarily sci-fi and fantasy. Sometimes I'll do a horror like a zombie apocalypse. The rest of the time I work in the IT helpdesk field. I live and work in Colorado with my wife and mother.

Now Reading
A Blended Nightmare
Read Next
Outrun Stories #19