Saturday 15 December 2018

Dark Fiction: D.N.A

Dark Fiction: D.N.A

Written by Casey Douglass


Riz pulled over and switched off the engine. The heat shimmered from the rusty orange hood, managing to make it look hotter than the haze floating over the desert highway ahead. It all almost looked real.

Chimes and alerts went off, graphics hovering in front of Riz's face, arrows and tips as to what to do next. He dismissed them with a flick of his eyes and muted the alarms. 

He opened the door and heaved himself up from the seat. His neck and shoulders creaked as he arched them, the hot, moisture-less air setting his lips stinging. He looked up and down the road but nothing else was around, for now at least.

What was this game again? He couldn't remember. Some post apocalyptic Mad Max style wet dream no doubt. Most were, especially after humanity had partly brought this idea into reality. Now they were just VR fodder, a reminder of what could have been.

He walked around the beat-up car, the chrome scuffed, the paint pebble dashed. An explosion boomed over the horizon, the roaring of engines and cheers blowing to him on the breeze. Shit it was hot. He knew he could turn down the sensations the sim fed him, but that wasn't the point.

He climbed onto the scorching hood, the hot metal searing his skin. He grimaced and laid back, his neck sticking to the windscreen. The sun pounded against his face, his eyes clicked as he blinked, all moisture rapidly fleeing. The rumble of engines grew nearer, the vibration massaging his backside as the heat stuck his balls to his thighs. Part of him was glad that he was wearing the grubby overalls he found himself in.

More chimes and alerts sounded. This game was more insistent than most. He read a couple out of curiosity. “Go here...”, “Do that...”, “Kill this...”. He shut them off. How original they all were.

He opened a recording hub and smiled into the glowing blue lens that appeared above him.

‘I’m Rizz, a member of the Do Nothing Alliance. I'm in-,’ he searched briefly, ‘Desert Kings 5, the latest slice of virulent reality entertainment, another system to tell us what to do, where to go, who to be. Well, I’m me, I’m by this road, and I’m going to sunbathe while the dip-shits over the hill masturbate over their desert porn. As I do this, thousands of my associates are doing the same in this and other games, taking no part in their world’s events or economy.’

He paused and spat to the side, his throat starting to tingle.

‘We humans have become used to false pleasure, fake pain, false goals and fraudulent realities. This has left us maladjusted to life in the real world, which is why so many hide in these games. We are using the approach of non-violent protest, in the hope that others will join our cause, or at the least, give their situation more serious thought. We are in these games, we are doing nothing. We are the ghosts of what humans used to be, ploughers of their own furrows, wanderers of unknown paths, and we are tired of society force feeding us tamed realities.’

He looked over his shoulder as roaring metal glinted on the horizon. He looked back at the camera.

‘We have found a way to turn our safeguards off.’

He smiled.

‘Game death is real death. And the neural feedback caused by thousands of deaths just might knock these things offline for awhile, but that’s only a bonus. There aren’t enough of us out in the world, so we will let it crumble, just like you are doing by living your lives in these games. If we died out there, no-one would notice. So here we are. Lemmings on the cliff.’

With an effort of will, he sent the recording lens up out of harm’s way.

A rumbling sound grew nearer. Rizz closed his eyes and took a deep breath. None of it was real, except what his brain made of it all. He’d feel every pixel, taste every line of pain and scream every byte of agony. He knew what was coming, it was the nature of the game to kill without thought or reason. He looked up at the sun.

A hulking lorry rammed into the car, its spiked wheels churning, its flaming exhausts burning and its horn honking as it ripped through the length of the chassis, rending metal and flesh into bloody streamers of gore. The effect was much like a piƱata being blown up with C4, except instead of fluttering pieces of paper, there were needle-sharp pieces of metal and glass. These fell to the hot tarmac, skidding and bouncing as they lost their kinetic energy. As the last of them fell still, the truck that had continued down the road juddered.

It glitched up the road a little further.

It stopped.

The clouds in the sky froze.

Two realities held their breath.