It was rare that the two of us would lounge around in the bed together, at least for as long as we had. But, I wasn’t going to complain about spending time with my husband. We talked about nothing for two hours: house stuff, work stuff, random games. When he finally made the decision to get up and get food, I stared at the TV for a moment. It was off, had been for I couldn’t remember how long, but the new VR system was placed next to it, and my attention wandered there.
The VR Sensory was the latest of its kind and boasted of being the best virtual reality experience you would ever experience in gaming. They were right. It was very risky but the device connected to your brain, tricking it into thinking that what you saw and felt was real. It manipulated all of your senses really, and it was well worth the amount we spent on it.
The best games to experience so far were the MMORPGs of course and that made it to where hardly any gamer left their home for social reasons. Why, when all you had to do was put on the headgear and join your online friends in a world you could only dream about? You and your guild or alliance or whatever the game called your group could venture into deadly dungeons or run a farm-like ecosystem together, with virtually no drama.
The most popular game was simply called Your Fantasy, which combined a lot of the other popular MMORPGs into a large clump. It actually reminded me of Final Fantasy except you had a choice if you wanted to either slay monsters day in and day out or be an innkeeper. Majority of players did the quests and leveled up and all that because, what honestly was the fun in literally keeping shop?
I looked at the time and realized that I didn’t have to do a damn thing today. It was the husband’s day off so there was no need for me to do the laundry: it could actually wait until the next day. There were plenty of leftovers if I got too wrapped up in the game and played all day, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner. I got up and made myself a bowl of cereal before committing to the game for half a day, at least.
When I finally strapped the headgear on, I felt ready to take on the world. Last time I logged in, I was on a quest to obtain my fifth Guardian Monster, seeing as though I chose the Summoner class. Aside from the Mages, we were the only ones who could also wield magic, which including summoning monsters to aid us in fights. Unfortunately, we were also the ones with not so much HP so we stayed in the back rows during fights. My online buddy, “Giza” had made it his special quest to show me ways of working around that, particularly so because he was one of the beta testers for the game.
Clicking the headgear on immediately warped you into a space that looked like a basic mainframe of a system. The angelic tones of the system booting up always made me feel at ease and I waited for the message to log in, which would be brief for me because I had clicked auto login when I first set it up. All of the games you had downloaded would appear in a horizontal sliding menu and above it was menu information like the time, how many of your friends were online and inbox messages. I saw the purple number on the icon that looked like an envelope and while I usually ignored them, purple meant important so my hand pressed on the icon.
The screen changed to my inbox and I saw that it was a message from Giza.
Hey, J! There’s a new update for YF. Get yer ass here, ASAP!
It must have been an important one but then again, I thought we would’ve gotten the message from the developers. I shrugged as I went back to pick Your Fantasy and was whisked away into its world.
Something was weird, if not wrong with the situation. Usually, you found yourself at your last save point which should’ve put me at the beginning of the Forest of Dreams. But, as I looked around, I was, along with what seemed to be the other players online, in the town square of Hanook. Every RPG had a beginning or main town and Hanook was YF’s. There were way too many players for me to just look at their health bars to find anyone in my alliance so I opened up my mini menu to see if I could find their dots. I actually liked the dot system: members of your alliance showed up green, regular friends were blue, important NPCs were orange, enemies were red and everyone else was white. There were two green dots very close to me and I decided to go to them.
I didn’t have to move far before I saw the familiar tank of a man looking around the sea of players. His skin was blue and he had a jagged scar across his left eye. His armor made him look more massive than he really was but it served its purpose well.
“Giza!” it was pointless for me to wave so I just ran up to him and he smiled.
“J!” he was honestly the only alliance member who called me by my real name. Well, my real initial. My login name was J_Dub but in the games, YF particularly, you could assign yourself a different name. Presently, I was Tabitha.
“Why is everyone here? Is it a glitch?”
“I don’t know…” he made himself busy going into his own mini menu. Standing in front of someone, you couldn’t see what they were doing on their own menu but with the way his fingers moved, I knew that he was researching online. “Hmm, no one’s reported anything yet. Wouldn’t hurt to put in a ticket, though. One minute, I was in Cobalt City and then I was warped here. Must be something with the new update.”
“Do you know what it is, or was?”
“I thought that it would be a new item added. The email was vague.”
“Not the one on here. The one you used to sign up with. It just said that there was a new update and would take effect the next time you log in,” Giza spoke as he typed and then closed his menu out. “Whelp, ticket submitted. Let’s find the others. Seeing as though we’re here, we can probably comb through the caves once more. Tweety just joined and their level is really low. That’ll help them out loads.”
“Yeah.” I nodded and looked at the map. For anyone level one through ten, the caves that were a bit to the west of the town were challenging. But because I had experience with RPGs, I knew to beat up on the monsters outside of town until I was high enough to make the caves look like a walk in the park. It was tedious and time-consuming but a level fifteen player could beat a level eight boss in their sleep.
I actually had help, seeing that it was how I met Giza, who was doing the exact same thing. We partied up and made that sand salamander our bitch! We were somewhat inseparable ever since.
A quick but loud beep interrupted my trip down memory lane, an audible reminder that there was a system message. Because it sounded like it was in stereo, I figured that everyone else got it around the same time as well. When I clicked on the message, I stood in confusion as I read it.
To the players of Your Fantasy:
I first want to thank you for purchasing the VR Sensory Headgear and Your Fantasy MMORPG game. Without you, my dream would have simply remained just that, a dream.
Unfortunately for those of you logged in at this moment, welcome to the beginning of your new life. You are now stuck in the world of Your Fantasy, there is no way for you to log out. The only way is to defeat the game which, unfortunate for you, adds final bosses at a regular interval. Meaning, there may not be a true ending to this game.
This gives a whole new meaning to “Game Over” in your new world. Death here means death in the real world. If you’re in a party, you better hope someone has a Phoenix Down to revive you before the battle ends.
Right now, others in the real world are being informed of the situation. Any attempt to remove the headgear will result in death for the player.
I stopped reading and looked over at Giza. “Hey… did you get this message?”
“I think so. This can’t be real. I’ll log out and… oh.” Giza’s brow furrowed at his menu.
“It just said unable to log me out.”
“Maybe this is part of the update.” An angelic voice said from behind me and I turned and was looking into the shimmering purple eyes of Tweety, our newest alliance member. She had chosen the Archer class and was dressed fittingly in a bra that barely covered her nipples, panties and a leather belt/strap around her waist whose main purpose was to hold her quiver of arrows. I knew that the proper pronoun was they/them but it seemed that Tweety went out of her way to dress her character in that manner and to me, that said obvious girl.
Or, it could’ve been a sex-craved guy but I had a feeling I was wrong about that. Most of them forget that actions done in the real world would register to this one, and it was really annoying to see a player jacking off.
“You might be right. We probably all just got suckered into a marathon play… which would suck. I was only supposed to stay on for an hour.” Giza sighed but continued trying to hack out of the system.
“But, that makes no sense. Why force people to do that? There’s plenty of willing folks to participate in a marathon play. There would’ve been emails warning you that this would happen.” I looked around and my heart started to race, seeing the start of panic settling over quite a few of the players’ faces. That alone told me the message was real. This was no joke: we were really stuck in the game.
My train of thought left me when, all of the sudden, everyone started to change. Everyone’s customized avatars disappeared and in their place were the real people behind them. I looked down at my own hands and they were no longer a tanned white. I was back to my milk chocolate self, even my wedding bands were present. Giza was no longer in front of me but there was a girl around my height staring in awe with his armor on.
“G-Giza? Wait… you’re a girl?” my eyes widened. Giza was pretty, with her brown eyes and jet-black hair in a pixie cut. She had to be no older than fifteen, old enough to be my daughter and that thought made me turn to Tweety, I expected another young girl but then I saw that my instincts were half right. Tweety was a guy but looked nothing like I imagined a sex-craved guy would look. He actually looked comfortable in the outfit he chose for his avatar and regardless of if he towered over us and was lithe. He had short golden locks that curled close to his eyes, which darted down in slight embarrassment as he tried to cover his crotch.
“This… this is really happening…” his real voice a stark contrast to what he chose for Tweety. I didn’t know what to say to my team members, all I could do was look around and watch as everyone else had the same looks.
What do we do, now?