“So what exactly is this special scenario you’ve got queued up?” I asked as I pulled on the gloves of the suit.
“It’s an experiment.” Chris replied. “You’ll find out soon enough.
Chris had been my friend forever. He was a great guy and a brilliant programmer but, well, he was weird. He was always collecting all this outdated media. CD’s, DVD’s, even VHS. VHS! Where in the world can you get VHS? He’d written award wining scenarios for all the big VR outlets, but he never took part in any of them himself. He spent every free moment with his collection, always watching. To tell the truth I couldn’t see the point. It’s got to be damn boring, just watching a flickering screen.
“You ready?” Chris asked.
“As I’ll ever be.” So saying I put on the headset that would connect the final circuits and start the program.
My vision blurred and swirled. No matter how many times I dive in, I never get used to it.
“Jake? Hey, Jake, can you hear me?” He was coming in over the ear piece. It was standard equipment. Communication was essential in case something went wrong. No VR tech wanted to consider what could go wrong though.
“Yeah, I hear you.” I replied. My eyes were still shut tight. I opened them as slowly as I could. Being immersed can wreck havoc with your senses. “This, this is…wow.”
I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe Viet Nam, or the Crusades, but not this. Thick fog was everywhere, and there wasn’t even a hint of color. Black, white and grey as far as the eye could see.
And the buildings! They were all angular and bent. The entire block seemed bereft of straight lines. I caught sight of myself in a shop window. Now that really threw me for a loop.
I had no armor or weapons, no uniform or trench coat. No, just an extremely retro looking suit. Waistcoat, slacks, white gloves, it was all there. There was even a pocket watch. My hat was a Derby. I made sure not to try to take it off. The headset was linked to whatever kind of hat you wore in the scenario. It was easier to reach up and pull it off if you had something to grab hold of, figuratively speaking.
“You know, I’m getting some seriously bad vibes from the scenery.”
I thought I heard Chris chuckle. “That’s the whole idea. Good to know I’m doing me job.”
“You might want to get off the street now.” He warned me.
I hopped up onto the sidewalk as a huge procession came around the corner. They were all men, dressed in identical, drab uniforms. They carried lunch pales, and there was not a smile to be found on any face.
“Factory workers?” I asked.
“How do they make you feel, Jake?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“It’s a valid question.”
I sighed. “Soul crushingly depressed.” I admitted
“That’s appropriate. After all, they work a ten hour shift.”
“There must be hundreds.”
“Thousands actually. In the 1920s they did it with mirrors, now it’s just a duplication command.”
“What is all this?” I demanded. “Why do you keep asking how I feel?”
“Because that’s the whole point Jake. This is German expressionism. The visuals convey the emotion. The city skewed like a crazy person, the downcast workers, it’s all to pull on your heartstrings.”
“Well this is very well put together, but all this psychological stuff is just not my thing.”
“As you wish. Just one more thing though.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Watch out for the somnambulist.”
Without warning a tall man in black with dead eyes lumbered out of the shadows and went for my throat. I screamed and pulled off my hat.
Back in the real world Chris greeted me. “The movies are dead.” He said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.”