Simon pulled himself out of his pod and stretched his limbs, letting out a groan. “Ugh, that was awesome but… my body feels so weak.” He finally understood what the angel meant with the discomfort between a players virtual and real body. He began to repeat the same exercises he did as Q until the strange feeling of dissonance finally went away.
“Okay then, the time is… woah! Three o’clock only? I could have sworn I was in the game for way longer than that. Guess time is different in game then it is in real life. Or maybe my tutorial was just in a different ‘timezone’? Oh well.” Shrugging his shoulders, Simon decided to stop thinking about it and began to grab his things for the ‘weekly checkup’.
Since he had extra time, he decided to turn on the T.V and began to flip through the channels. Though most channels ran their regular programs, he began to notice more and more how many were talking about Myriad Myths. Just as Simon was about to turn it off, he suddenly noticed that there was a talk show featuring the president of the Dimen company, Adam Eviss. “Huh, it’s rare for him to show up in these kinds of things. I wonder why?” Simon sat down and turned up the volume.
“Mr.Eviss, it’s our honor to have you come here in person.” The host nodded respectfully.
“Haha, no need to be so modest.” A large man with sharp facial features was shown on screen. His smile looked both warm and comforting, which was a perfect compliment to his steady and honest gaze. “Since my daughter turned down the interview the least I could do is to answer any questions you might have had about the virtual pods, or game.”
“So that’s why…” Simon frowned contemplatively.
“If that’s the case I won’t stand on ceremony. We have prepared a number of questions, the first of which is: How did the virtual pods come about? Or to be more specific, which group of individuals was responsible for this wonder of technology?”
“Ahh… It’s true that we have been keeping a tight lip on that,” Adam chuckled, “but now that the game is released, we are able to talk about them. To be honest with you there were easily over one hundred people all working simultaneously to make the virtual pods a reality, so I can’t list them all here nor am I able to reveal the people who left before the project was finished due to legal reasons. I can however talk about some noteworthy individuals such as John Svarinsky, Cam Gehrdes, Shizuku Misawa, and of course my own daughter, Sophie Eviss.”
“My, it must have been quite a feat to gather all those people, not to mention having them work together.”
“Yes, it was quite a hassle. Thanks to a certain person they were able to cooperate with one another, though it pains me to say I cannot reveal said person’s name.”
“That is unfortunate.” The host looked remorseful for a moment, then put on a smile. “Onto our next question, What is the purpose of this game?”
“Mmm… that’s quite a difficult question.” Adam rubbed his chin contemplatively, then answered. “This is more to do with the technology we’ve developed. As you know it uses a unique system to send signals directly to a person’s brain, giving them the sensation of ‘doing things’ without actually doing them. Such a thing is potentially dangerous, and we had even considered selling this technology to the military, if not outright destroying it. It was at this time when someone had an idea: What if we used it to let people have fun?”
“…While that sounds very outlanish, it seems to have lead to an incredible boon for your company.”
“Hahaha! Indeed it has.”
“…” Simon started to frown as the conversation headed towards the creation of the game, but thankfully it didn’t last long.
“… and that is a very interesting origin to the game. So am I correct in believing that it was created primarily for entertainment?”
“Amongst a few other reasons.” Adam nodded.
“Alright then. Our next question concerns the systems in the game which players are seeking answers to, such as…”
Simon turned off the T.V and went silent. He stood still for a moment, then shook his head as if clearing away his thoughts. “Whatever. It doesn’t have anything to do with me, it’s just a game to enjoy.” With a faint smile he turned around and left his house.
Slowly meandering his way to the sidewalk, he noticed that there were less people outside now. The park which was usually full of kids and parents was empty, and the streets which many people roamed were left barren with only a few walking around. “Guess everyone’s busy playing the game.” Simon smirked then secured his bag, put away his glasses, and put in his earbuds. He crouched down low, then took off in a sprint along the empty roads.
As Simon ran and felt the wind caress his cheeks, he was suddenly reminded of when he was being chased by the wolves and his face broke into a grin. It was hard to believe that merely a few hours ago he was running around in a giant forest, fighting spell flinging wolves and that really big hunk of rock. Now that he was thinking about it, he started to imagine those enemies being in front of him and began to take evasive maneuvers. He dodged to the left, then made a big leap to his front, followed up with a spin to the right. He was so caught up in his act that he didn’t notice the person walking just in front of him.
“Whoa look out!” Left with barely any time to react Simon realized that he wouldn’t be able to slow down in time, so he ended up throwing himself to the side, just barely avoiding the person in front. In exchange he ended up stumbling and scraping his palms as he fell on the ground. “Tsss- owowow.” Simon picked himself off the ground and began to blow on his palms. “Sorry about that, I wasn’t paying attention. Are you okay?” He turned around to see the person who he almost bumped into.
Staring back at him was a woman with unkempt dirty blonde hair and such large bags under her eyes that Simon wondered if she had ever slept before. Her disheveled clothing and unsteady posture made it seem as if she was about to collapse into unconsciousness at any second. A drowsy voice brought him back to his senses. “Who are… *yawn* -Who are you and why did you fall down in front of me?”
“Oh… uh, I was running and wasn’t paying attention, then suddenly noticed you were standing there so I tried to dodge at the last second.”
“Huh…” The woman took a few seconds before responding. “It’s rare anyone is running outside now. I thought everyone was playing that game. Haaaaa…” Her long sigh made it seem as if her entire soul was escaping with her breath.
“You’re not interested in the game?” Simon wasn’t surprised, as quite a few people had made their hate for virtual reality clear.
“Not really. I’d much rather get some sleep than play video games…” She looked down and grumbled, “If those pods could at least help me rest then I…”
“Uh, they sort of do?”
“Let you rest, I mean.” Simon began to explain, “Since they work by connecting directly to your brain the rest of the body shuts down and kind of enters ‘rest mode’. Even though your brain is active it can rest if you go to sleep in game. At least, it did for me. Sorta felt like taking a nap to be honest. Though I wonder if twenty-four hour gaming is possible with tha-”
“Is that true!?” The woman suddenly gripped his shoulders and her eyes -which Simon now noticed were a striking yellow green- gleamed intensely.
“Y-yeah. I went to sleep for a day in the game and woke up feeling perfectly fine. Then after logging out my body felt a little sluggish but that’s about it.”
“Who’d have thought…” The woman shook her head, then smiled. “Thanks kid. I have something to look forward to now. Here, take this as thanks.” She placed something in Simon’s hand and walked away without another word.
Though Simon was bewildered by this encounter he soon shrugged it off and inspected the thing in his hand. It turned out to be a bottle of sleeping pills, though this one looked slightly different from the ones sold at drug stores. Slightly intrigued he began inspecting the labels, then was shocked when he read the dosage. “Holy crap! That woman must really have a sleeping problem if she needs stuff this strong… but why would she give it to me?” Puzzled, Simon put the sleeping pills away in his bag as he continued running through the streets.
“Woooah! That looks so cool! I bet it’s even better in person! 4K quality? No, real-life quality! Ahhh! Is that even particle effects or is it just actual fire?”
“What the heck are you doing Helen?” Simon walked into a small white room and his eyes caught sight of a girl sitting on a bed, excitedly watching videos on her laptop.
“Oh, it’s you,” the girl frowned upon seeing Simon. “You’re late.” Her long and messy brown hair fell down and slightly covered her deep amber eyes, which were currently expressing her extreme dissatisfaction. Despite her fierce look, Simon couldn’t help but laugh as he found the girl quite adorable.
“Pfft. You jelly?” Simon smirked as he helped fix her hair back into place.
“Not at all. I have zero interest in what you have to say.” She turned her head to the side but couldn’t hide the pout which had formed on her face.
“I see… so you don’t want a first hand recount of the game… I guess I’ll jus-”
“Tell me everything!” As if her earlier displeasure was a lie she wore an eager grin on her face, and her stare seemed to say that she wouldn’t let him leave without disclosing every single piece of information he had received.
“Hahaha! Okay, so it started out like this…” While Simon was fixing Helen’s hair, he began to narrate all that he had experienced from the moment he lay in the pod to when he got out. Throughout all of it Helen’s face kept changing between a myriad of emotions. From overwhelming delight at hearing about the character creation, to sadness from hearing about Sanor’s life, to her excitement at Simon’s description of his fights (which he perfectly pantomimed).
“Wow… I wanna play! But…” Helen’s gaze wandered down to her immobile legs.
Seeing her like this, Simon let out a sigh and ruffled her hair. He didn’t say a word, nor was there anything to say as the two of them simply remained silent. The two siblings made quite a picturesque scene, as Helen’s forlorn expression matched well with Simon’s sympathetic gaze. Perhaps they would have stayed like this for a long time, if not for a timely interruption.
“Helen! Helen! Great news! We- oh, hello Simon.” A slightly disheveled nurse burst into the room. Upon seeing the pair look at her with hollow eyes, she cleared her throat and elaborated. “No mincing words here, Helen, you can play Myriad Myths!”
For a moment, there was a stunned silence. No one said anything, or rather, no one could say anything. Simon was shocked, the nurse was waiting for Helen’s response, and Helen…
Delivered one heck of a scream.