“It’s really cool, you should try it,” Andrew said as he gawked over the motherboard. He looked strange in his lab coat, like a pothead dressed up for Halloween.
“Is it safe?”
“Ya man! I mean, it hasn’t been approved yet, but tons of things just like it have and it’s all the same thing dude. Shiii – am I right?” He said, semi-laughing, semi-bent on getting me to try the game no matter what.
I didn’t mind in the end so I said, “Haha, yeah man, it’s all the same. I guess I’ll try it, what do I got to lose, right?” I laughed out loud, hiding my nervousness. I leaned onto the counter for support.
Andrew looked overjoyed and winked in my direction. We were good buds in the end — I mean. I trusted him for the most part. He hadn’t done me wrong yet and besides, he’d tested out his game a thousand times. He’d been talking about it for years. He was going to change the world.
“Okay, so… take this, “ Andrew said, handing me a helmet that looked like an egg.“ This is your eyes and your ears. You adjust the lenses over your eyes and press this button. Adjust the sound with this.” He said, pointing to different controls.
I had to hand it to him, he sounded pretty professional. I could see how he’d convinced a board of people to sponsor his project and supply him with a lab to work in. I felt reassured. I raised the helmet over my head, took the hair out of my eyes, and paused.
“This isn’t going to electrocute me right? ‘Cus that ain’t cool,” I joked.
He laughed and fake-mocked himself, forcing the helmet over my head. When the helmet went on, everything felt normal, but the sound went away. I took it right off, made eye contact with Andrew, and saw that he was smirking.
“So, you can’t hear a thing while that helmet is on, ‘cus it blocks out all outer frequencies. Once I start the game up, you say your name out loud, touch the floor, raise your arms all the way up, and then hold them out and spin horizontally — got it?” For a second I felt scared again, but I fought it off. It was just a game.
“You look worried, Zav. DON’T worry. I’m just getting the measurements right so that you won’t feel cramped in there.”
“How does it work?” I choked out.
“Inside the helmet, there are neuropathic wires that will connect to your consciousness, making you feel as though you’ve been transported, even though your body is going to remain here in the lab.” Andrew explained.
“How long will I be in there?” I asked.
“It’s only been tested to go for ten minutes, but I’m going to start you off with one. Sound good?”
“One minute! No problem— Ha! But wait, what am I going to see?”
“That’s the tricky part, what someone sees is up to them.” He paused, thinking. “So think of art! You used to draw all the time, it’s a happy place for you isn’t it?” He was referring to when we were teenagers.
“Yeah, I mean I love to draw — I jus’.”
“Or think about babes dude! Ha! One day.. “ He closes his eyes and sighs, “I should have invested my time in sex robots but that guy in Beijing already sold his research to the States. Stupid, stupid,” he shakes his head in disappointment. “Anywho, just go somewhere nice man. I see fields when I go, lovely lovely fields.”
There’s a knock at the door. Andrew walks over, looks through the peep hole, swipes his access card, and lets a red-headed man into the room.
“This is Stevens. Stevens, this is Zav, we’ve been buddies a long time,” Andrew says, introducing us. We make eye contact, nod, and exchange pleasantries.
“Stevens is here to monitor the game. Pretend he isn’t here — I always do.” Andrew jokes to get a laugh out of us.
“Whenever you’re ready, Zav,” Stevens says.
I take a deep breath, shoot them two thumbs up, and put on the egg helmet. The world goes black as I adjust the lenses over my eyes. I follow Andrew’s instructions, except I don’t think about the babes. I think about —