This is not a completed work I will add stuff as it comes. So enjoy. Happy trails.
A while ago, my teacher gave me an assignment to describe myself using only one word. At the time I think I used the word smart or brave. But now I can definitely decide on one word, screwed. My name is Kyle Simmons and this is my story.
I think of my past a lot. As a kid everything is more magical and special.
I was born on July 3, 2185. Exactly two centuries after the first Back to the Future movie came out. I much prefer the second Back to the Future though. As a kid I saw the movie and dreamed of hover boards and self lacing shoes. I Immediately asked my mom for a hoverboard. My mom promptly told me 2015 had long passed and hover boards didn't exist. How could we still not have hover boards 200 years after the movie was made the idea boggled my mind. Now I know why.
Humans hate change, change is scary, change is a politician’s worst nightmare. The rich wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night thinking of change. Hover boards are too much change. In the 2000s everyone thought we would switch to electric cars. We didn’t it was too much change. Humans thought we would have peace but we don't. War is America’s favorite pastime.
I live in Washington DC. At least, I think so. I don’t go outside anymore. Outside is dangerous and cold. Concrete and smog is all I can see for miles. Occasionally I can hear gunshots from a gang fight or a group of activists protesting the government.
My house is about a six hundred square feet. It’s all melded into one room with wood flooring and beige walls. The walls were plastered with posters from century old bands and pop stars that me and my mom dream of seeing. On the far side of the room was a small kitchen that consisted of a fridge stuffed with caffeine supplements and a counter top with a small hot plate resting on it. Two simple bar stools sat at the counter that was were we ate our meals each day.
The hot plate was barely used because me and my mom ordered chinese food at least 90 percent of the time.
Then there were the PODs. They were large boxes roughly the size of humans. But not in a shady sort of way. Each one pristine white and stamped with the purple POD logo with the letters P.O.D and a subtitle Personalized Operational Device. Each POD had a label for it’s basic function: Crystal’s work, Crystal’s sleep, Kyle’s Sleep, Kyle’s School, Kyle’s Play .I stepped into the POD labeled Kyle’s Play.
PODs were are everything they were everyone’s everything as far as I knew. The pods interior walls were all screens. Your avatar mimicked the exact movements that you make in the real world. Each POD was made to simulate either working, school, or everything else. They were are purpose in life. They let us forget what happened outside our house’s doors.
I walked towards the POD labeled Kyle’s play I thought that that's was an unfitting name for the POD. The pod was designed to play the ‘game’, ESCAPE. It was exactly what it's name suggested it was an ESCAPE from our crappy way of life. It lets you be free just like people were over a century ago, free to travel, free to work, free to live. You could choose what year you would like to see from 1970 all the way to 2050. You could go to concerts of bands long disbanded and dead. You could join an army of a country that didn’t exist. You could be a gangster and terrorize a city long gone. ESCAPE was not a game. ESCAPE was my life.
I would classify myself as a free roamer. I flipped through time and space leveling up my armor and weapons participating in death matches and raids and maybe going to a rock concert.
I crossed my hands in an x over my chest than back out into a t-pose to signal the POD to open. A scanner whirred as it analyzed every pore and dimple on my face.
“Face confirmed, Welcome Kyle,” Celeste said. Her computerized female voice sounded deep and soothing.
Celeste was the AI that ran the functions of the POD and acted as my personal assistant and secretary while I used any of the pods. She enabled voice control of any of the pods features just by saying the phrase ‘Hey Celeste.’
The doors closed behind me and the 360 degree wall screens booted up. Big red words appeared on the screen reading ‘Put on your gloves’ I swiveled around and felt for the hidden compartment that contained them. I pulled out the drawer and slipped on the oversized gloves. I tapped a button on them and they instantly resized to fit my small clammy hands.
“Gloves registered” Celeste, the AI that assisted the users of the POD, responded. Her computerized female voice was deep and soothing. The menu screen for Escape started there were options for your characters clothing. Om screen it showed an image of my avatar. My avatar was my spitting image except with muscles and less acne. It had dark black hair and pale as chalk skin. I was an average height about 5 foot 7 and relatively chubby just enough to be conspicuous.
I moved my hand to scroll through my outfits and I selected my favorite one. A Pink Floyd concert T-shirt, with ripped denim jeans.
“Hey, Celeste play my Classic Rock playlist ” ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’ by Pink Floyd began to play. I started to nod my head to the instrumental beat.
“Hey, Celeste open fast travel map.”I looked at the destination map on screen it showed what the world map used to look like back in 1986 it was dotted with red icons indicating that I could fast travel to those points.
“Hey, Celeste set year at 2020 The map changed a little with different fast travel points and more countries in Europe. I waved my hand right to scroll towards the United States then zoomed in on a particular location.
Pencroft, Kansas: High Level Weapon Arsenal
Loot may include
Varied legendary and godlike firearms
Up to Lvl 59 Melee weapons
Up to Lvl 81 Armor vests.
I started salivating my Lvl 38 armor seemed like a paper bag in comparison. And I might as well be fighting close combat with a plastic fork
Charlie Green (raid in progress)
“Hey, Celeste Message Charlie,“Can I join your raid?” I said
“ Messaging Charlie,” Celeste responded.
A few seconds later a got a pop up on my screen reading ‘sure’
“Yes!” I exclaimed to myself. “ Hey Celeste, join Charlie’s raid on Pencroft, Kansas”
“Joining raid in 5,4,3,2,1. Welcome to Kansas” I was crouching next to Charlie behind stacked up sandbags topped with barbed wire. I peeked over to take a look at the arsenal. It was a large gray building not unlike most military bunkers of the day, but it was flanked by a Samsung SGR-A1 on each side. The SGR-A1 didn't have to have any gunner. It's high tech surveillance told it who to shoot. It was it’s own judge, jury and executioner. But those kind of turrets were usually only found in the Korean DMZ. Whatever was inside must be good if they had such high defenses. The air was filled from smoke from gunfire being exchanged by the raiders and the arsenals guards and turrets. The air smelt like wheat and smoke. I looked over to Charlie who was searching his inventory. Charlie turned around to face me.
“There’s a machine gun turret about 100 yards out. Run across that field,” He said pointing out a clearing. Get some cover and throw a grenade near it.”
“Frags won’t work on it it’s armored like a tank. We’ll have to use flashes and smoke to distract it.” I told him.
Just as I said that a squad of four people ran from behind a bunker charging towards the turret they had high level vests and one had a SWAT shield. One threw a flash and the other threw two smoke right near the turret. We couldn't see what was happening. We only heard the drumming sound of the machine gun and magazine after magazine falling to the ground with a rythmic clink. After about a minute the smoke cleared and all four were dead. None were even close to the arsenal
“Well that won’t work.It must have thermal sensors,” I said, my hands starting to sweat through my gloves. My hands were shaking like a leaf.
“We could scout the other side,” I told him. My voice cracked midsentence ruining the calm mood I was going for.
“Chill out man, if we don't get in, we don't get in. We could always go back to London and participate in a public event and trying to level up the stuff we have.”
I sighed. Charlie was right as usual. But I hated how calm he was in the face of danger. I didn't understand how someone couldn't feel nervous staring right at a machine gun ready to mow you down the second you made any move.”
“So you don't want to try another way?” I asked him.
“I’ve already sent a drone around the corner and the defenses the got down there makes this look like a cake walk. This is the only way through to the arsenal.”
“Okay.” I said trying to act like I was sure. I looked at the bodies of the squad that ran through.
“You wanna go through with this?” Charlie asked. I nodded even though I didn't want to. But It would take years to get stuff as good as inside the arsenal.
“I’m gonna count us down we run at 5,4,3…”
My heart was racing. Each second felt like an hour.
I stood up. I clenched my eyes shut And broke into a mad run for the arsenal each step felt like a lifetime.
The turret started shooting. Magazines started clinking I ran even harder. I heard a loud BOOM. Than the shooting stopped. Why did it stop? What was that? Why do I care? Just keep running.
I reached the arsenal and crouched behind some sandbags and caught my breath.
“YESSS” I screamed triumphantly using the last of my breath. Shortly after Charlie joined my behind the sandbags. He pumped his fist victoriously.
“Why did that stop shooting?” I asked charlie while still gasping for air. I peaked over the sandbags. The SGR laid in a smoking heap of wrought metal. I studied it than looked back at Charlie. “ It looked like it was hit close range by an RPG” I told him, stunned by our great fortune.
“Well hallelujah thank the lord,” Charlie exclaimed, “bless the man who shot it down.”
I had regained my strength and now we needed to refocus and get our loot and get the hell out of Pencroft.
“That can't be it. There is got to be more guards inside. Guns up Charlie” I said with a new life and confidence after getting through the first round of defenses.
We walked through the door where guards should have been standing as a checkpoint but the guards were most likely guarding the stache of weapons.
The main room was painted beige and had tile floors and was lighted by shaky fluorescent lights which made look like a blast from the past and had not been updated in years.
There was a map on the wall the building was compartmentalized and was divided into three general sections. Offices, Research, and Armory. The armory was the smallest section on the far side of the building and we had to pass through offices and the research department to get to it.
The hallways were full of cameras there was no way could pass undetected but they already knew we and others were here. Cameras were low priority. As we walked through the hallways it was eerie quiet. We were getting closer now passing by door with signs warning of RADIATION or BIO HAZARDS. DO NOT ENTER was plastered on almost any door or window in this hallway.
We reached the end of the hall met by a door reading Armory: Special clearance required. There was a glowing red card reader that presumably lead soldiers identification cards.
“They’re in there, I can feel it,” Charlie said confidently, At least half a dozen of them. Probably loaded with the best guns imaginable. I nodded “We can't just ran in there” He continued.
“Yah.” I agreed.
“First we're gonna need to bust open that door, any ideas?” He asked me.
“I dunno. maybe a couple grenades will work” I said skeptically.
I reached into my bag for the grenades I digged past my first aid kit and some small knives. Until I found 3 frag grenades. I was setting them near the door when we heard footsteps coming down the hall.
Charlie turned around and started instinctively firing at the man. The bullets bounced off his vest. The man dropped his weapon and put his hands in the air. “Hey, man it’s all cool” His voice deep and Jamaican like an old reggae singer. His skin was a dark brown he was wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt under a heavy vest. He had thick bullet proof waders on. His bag was stuffed and he had a rifle in his holster in his hands was an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade for you uneducated swine)
“Name’s Nigel and what your doing their is not a good idea. I got something with a little more kick.” He said while shaking his RPG indicating that it would work better.
“Back up dudes” He said preparing to shoot his gun.
“Wait ,wait, wait,” I said flustered, “You saved us”
“Yah man, I couldn’t let two dudes die if I could save them. We’re all human you know. Now please move dudes so we can beat em bad” He said gesturing for us to step back. We stepped back about 50 feet
He grabbed a grenade from a loop in this belt and loaded it in his gun.
“Fire” the man said as the projectile soared at the door I shielded my ears from the impending blast.
'BOOM' smoke billowed from the impact zone. The smoke cleared and the door was bent enough for a man to walk through. The men inside started yelling at the others to get ready. Ready or not here we come. Then the screen went black
“God damnit” I yelled I sweared every curse word I could think of. I was so close what happened.
Then I heard gunshots through the walls of my pod. I stopped swearing. I heard screaming outside. Then I heard a helicopter whirring.
“What was going on outside ?” I thought. Then a man spoke through a loudspeaker outside I couldn't hear his words but every time he stopped speaking people would curse at him and screamed.
Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-BOOM. No one was swearing or screaming anymore.
“What the heck is going on” I yelled. my hands sweating. Just as a said that a man appeared on the wall screens. He was Chinese with a short goatee and strong muscular build he was wearing a black uniform with a red stripe down his side. A logo of a flaming sword was on his right pocket
“Your government has fallen” The man said. his voice was deep and gruff, “They are weak. Together we will enter a brave new order free of insolence free of your parasitic mindset. And anyone who tries to stop us will end up like their former government. DEAD” his voice grew in intensity and his whole hand was used in a salute than extended outwards. “Hail to the Order”
"What the hell" I screamed a cacophony of swera words flowing from my mouth like hot butter. My feet kicked and flailed. "Celeste get me out of here." There was no response and the doors didn't open. "Goddammit"I murmured to myself. "Hey Celeste, May you please open up the PODs doors." I said mockingly to the AI.
There was still no answer I sat in pure darkness. 'Who was the Order?' 'What was a parasitic mindset?' 'Was this part of ESCAPE?' Thoughts and questions swirled in my head . My limbs were shaking like a rusty piece of machinery Then like rock a big question hit me like a rock. 'Where was my mom'
My breathing intensified I thought it might explode. 'This had to be part of the game,... Right.' My brain was an old record player skipping forwards only to go back and repeat the same part of the song over and over again. I sat in silence for god knows how long until the doors swung open with no warning. I carefully sat up and stepped out of the pod. The power was out and the backup power flickered casting an erie glow on the room.
"Mom." I whimpered the lights reminded me of any and every horror movie I'd ever seen. "MOM" My voice was louder but was cracked with anxiety. I continued calling for her each time my voice gettinglouder and fear growing stronger.