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To Leap or Not to Leap
Short story writing prompt from Ironage Media
To Leap or Not to Leap
I woke up slowly, but as my head rose, the sunlight from my window hit my face, and it jolted me up. I’m supposed to be on the road to work if the sun is already up. I looked down to my alarm, and it showed the time, so the power didn’t go off. This is my trusty alarm, and I’ve never had it glitch like this before.
I shot out of my bed and rushed to get dressed. On my way out, I clipped my toe against my door. Luckily, I didn’t feel it. I grabbed my work bag, put on my shoes, and got into the car. The car started fine even though in winter days my old car would usually take a few tries before turning over. Not a single car on the road. Everyone else must have gotten to their job already.
When I pulled up to the office, there wasn’t a single other car around. I looked inside, and the building was empty as well. Was it a holiday today or something? No. It definitely wasn’t. It couldn’t be. Was it the weekend? I wasn’t even sure exactly what day of the week it was.
I reached into my pocket to grab my cell phone, but my pocket was empty. How could I forget my phone? I knew I was in a rush, but seriously what was I supposed to do at work without some entertainment? Well, either way it looked like work was closed. I went to grab breakfast since I was no longer in a rush.
I drove to a nearby gas station. Figured a breakfast sandwich and an energy drink would work. Nobody was behind the counter, but the lights were on, and the sign was flipped open. The worker must be in the bathroom or something. The little cage where they kept some preheated sandwiches warm was empty. Instead of drinking an energy drink on an empty stomach, I grabbed some crackers. I took everything to the register, and the cashier still hadn’t showed up. “Hello?” I said over the counter and to the back. “Hello?!” I shouted.
Alright, I was not waiting. Looked like I got some free food today. After walking out the door, I cracked the can open and titled the drink back and let the liquid slide down my throat. Nothing. I tasted absolutely nothing. It didn’t even feel cold. I took a bite of my sandwich, and again I tasted nothing. What was going on? I took a deep breath in, and the air felt like nothing. There was no smell in the air. It wasn’t even stale. Was I alone? Should I yell out? This was crazy. If I yelled out, someone was going think I’m crazy.
“Help! Is anyone there!” I screamed out. My voice carried far, and I received no response. In fact, I couldn’t hear anything around. No cars in the distance, no birds, and no wind blowing against the trees.
I jumped back into my car and drove straight home. Of course, there were no cars or people on my way home. Was I dead or something? Doubtful. This somehow seemed like the opposite of being dead. Was I in a coma? Possibly. I searched my house for anything that might look like a clue as to what was happening to me. Nothing seemed strange about my bedroom, but, as I walked out, I noticed another room across from mine. I hesitantly opened the door, and it seemed like a normal bedroom. Probably a guy’s room that was into his heavy metal.
Why don’t I remember this room? I thought back and remembered all of a sudden. Right, I had a roommate. What was his name? What did he look like? I couldn’t remember, but I definitely remembered having a roommate.
Wait, was something happening to my memory. Okay, start with something simple. Who was my father and mother? How? How could I not remember them? I must be in a coma. However, my thoughts were very clear. My memory was gone, but I didn’t feel sluggish. I remembered where I worked this morning though. What did I do for work though?
I drove back over to my office. Dread was sinking in, but my body wasn’t reacting to the stress. No sweat, and I couldn’t feel my heartbeat. On top of my work building was a sign that read “ScreenTech”.
Upon entering the building, I didn’t find any immediate signs as to what we did here, but I knew where to go to get to my desk. I walked through a large row of cubicles and found mine. I went to turn on my computer, but it wouldn’t light up. I shuffled through my draws and found a big pair of virtual reality googles. These aren’t anything I was working on. They are used for research.
So, am I stuck in virtual reality then? I took my hands, put them on my face, and attempted to take off any goggle that might be on me. Nothing happened. If this was virtual reality, then why was there so much detail around everywhere.
I had a notebook on the desk, so I picked it up and flipped through it. My notes were terrible. I only had a few things written down.
What will my compensation be?
What things can I expect while I’m in?
If it uses my memories, will other people see my memories?
Should I expect any side effects?
This brought back a few memories, although weak. I felt like I was in virtual reality. After reading this note, I could feel it in my gut that it was true. I think I was a test for new virtual reality tech. “Okay, guys! Wake me up now!” I screamed out, hoping that somehow a developer or someone would hear me. If I was in VR, could they even bring me out? I was probably one of the first guinea pigs to try this. You stupid idiot, why would you volunteer for something like this?
I slammed my desk out of frustration, but I didn’t feel a thing. I punched the desk again and again still felt nothing. Then, I punched it harder than I ever punched anything before. My hand looked completely mangled. Still, not even a single sting of pain. No blood, no open wounds. It was going to be a little difficult to use my hand now. I wondered if it would go back to normal. I grabbed the scissors off my desk and started to cut into my hand. Again, no blood. There were markings where I cut, and certainly the cuts were deep enough for blood.
What was I supposed to do? Maybe if I go back to sleep, I’ll wake up. Either way, I was sure the developers are trying to figure out a way to get me out. I hopped back in my car and went back home. I was not tired, but I didn’t have anything else to do. There was no TV for me to watch.
I looked at my clock, and twelve hours went by. I hadn’t felt tired the entire time. Twenty-four hours later and still I hadn’t slept. I didn’t know how much more I could handle this world. After staring at the ceiling for hours on end, I started to notice there was something off about the dry wall. It was like noticing CGI in a film that you’ve seen twenty times and just realized the car was replaced with a special effect halfway through the movie. I could try and kill myself. There’s a chance it could wake me up, or it could kill me in the real world too.
I had to do something about this boredom. The only sense that worked for me was hearing and seeing. Well, I suppose I could go for some site seeing. I hopped in my car once again and went to turn the ignition. It was a little difficult with my hand smooshed. There was still no sign of my hand healing or changing at all.
I drove to the edge of town, and the trees around started to fade or blur. I ignored the anomaly and kept driving. Everything around me continued to blur to the point that I really struggled to see in front of my self. Then in an instant, everything became white. I was definitely in a virtual world, and I just reached the end of the map. Hopefully, if I kept going, I’d de-spawn or something. I checked behind myself and could see the town I drove from getting smaller. After about two minutes, I checked behind myself again, and the town appeared half the size it did before. After about ten minutes, I checked back again, and the town hadn’t changed in size at all. I must have hit a wall a while ago. I stepped out of the car and walked forward. I felt like I was walking forward normally, but I stayed right next to the car as if I wasn’t moving at all.
I’d have to keep waiting. I drove back to my house again. I tried to think of what I could do to pass the time, but nothing seemed worth it. Hours passed by. I tried to sleep. I tried playing some basketball. I was bored, alone, and numb. I looked to the mountain in the middle of the town. I couldn’t take this anymore. I needed to feel something. I’ll take the risk. I’ll end my life. I don’t care what the outcome is. Dying would be better than this. Time for all I know in this world could be moving slower or faster. I could have only been in here for two second or I might have been in here for two years. My perception was the only thing that matters. I’d go insane from dwelling on the thought alone.
I climbed to the top of the mountain, stared off the edge, and took in the view of the ocean. I just needed to make a leap, and I’d be out of here one way or another. I’d wake up back in the real world and hopefully remember my life again, or I wouldn’t wake up at all. I stepped back from the cliff to get a running start. I looked down at my mangled hand before starting. If I held it out just right, it looked completely fine, but I didn’t understand why it was bent like that in the first place. I sprinted to the edge and jumped with as much effort as I could muster. The view of the town from the mountain was nice, but, in the air here, nothing could beat this view other than probably the real thing. I began to descend down towards the ground, and I thought about my hand again. What if I don’t wake up? What if I don’t die? What happens if there is a worse third option I didn’t think about?