By - Shanna Luis

“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 —

The world as I know it, disappears

Vanishes actually, or do I?

There’s nothing here.


I try to walk but fall

Thoughts are not thoughts

but void ideas

There is nothing but blackness

No down no up

A platform of nothingness


A perfectly sharpened pencil rolls forward

I bend down to grab it


I see a figure in the distance

It’s moving fast

It’s coming

Faster and faster


I feel its bad intentions

I freeze


It’s getting closer


The pencil


I draw a door into the nothingness

It opens up

Lets me inside

Into more blackness

There’s nothing else but me this time

There’s nothing else but me


Thank you, Pencil


A minute feels infinite

I cry out for Andrew

Try and tell him that there’s been a mistake

That time in the game isn’t what he thinks it is

No answer


Parts of me get lost

The darkness swallows them up

I forget about Andrew

and his game


Boredom settles in

The artist comes out

and starts to draw


He draws the skyline of the city he used to live in

In that other life

How long ago?


He sonders onwards

Draws everything

Until the nothingness looks like home


A faceless village

He draws from memory

The expressions of the souls that once lived

The pencil shortens


It meets its end

Until there’s only an eraser left

Boredom settles in

The destroyer comes out

and erases the features from all of the faces

So that he can suffer alone, unwatched

forgetting in silence


The darkness melts away

A face appears.

“Welcome back Zav!,” A man says. I try to speak but my words are throaty grunts, “ Aw man! Did you have a bad trip?” The man asks. “Are you alright? How are you feeling?” He asks again.

Someone clears his throat. I turn to see that there’s another man in sight, looking through a chart. He gives the man asking questions a disappointed look, they nod in silent agreement.

“Zav? You okay there buddy?” He tries to put his hand on my shoulder, I try to dodge it, realize I’ve been strapped in and start to panic. I grunt, saliva spilling over.

A tear rolls down the man’s face.

“Take him to the rehabilitation room,” He says, wiping it from his cheek with his thumb. The man puts the chart down, takes out a needle, and sticks it into my arm.

It stings,

and then the blackness comes again.

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