Stuck inside a computer game.
Optional Style: Third Person
Dan opened his eyes. He saw before him a hostile, desert of sand and rock. He rubbed his eyes frowning. He looked at his clothes, a sewn leather robe with a sash filled with pouches. He touched his helmet and felt the deer antlers sticking out from it.
“What the hell?” he whispered to no one. He looked around taking in the wastes around him. He was on a rough path that in front of him led towards mountains with ominous dark clouds flashing with red lightning. Behind him the path wound into a canyon with steep cliffs surrounding it. In the distance, above the canyon, the gigantic face of a fierce lion roaring was carved into the rock face.
A flash of recognition, then confusion again played on Dan’s face. “What the hell?” he spoke more loudly and began walking towards the lion monument.
As Dan walked the winding path through the canyon, other path’s diverged and joined his. When the face of the lion reappeared almost above him from around a bend, he found a bustling encampment in a wide part of the canyon floor. A few permanent wooden buildings were being erected along the cliff walls and dusty warriors dressed in leathers and furs jogged to and fro. Some of the people stood in circles jumping, squatting, or dancing. Occasionally, a text balloon would appear above someone’s head for a moment before fading away.
“What. The. Hell.” Dan spoke dazedly.
A well-muscled, imposing man wearing only a fur loin cloth, fur boots and a huge sword on his back, standing a full head taller than Dan, approached. A bubble appeared above the man’s head with the text “moon, wut did u 4get” displayed in it.
Dan’s, face contorted into a mixture of horror. “What?”
Another balloon popped into existent above the man, “thot u were going 2 cursed mtns?”
Dan arched an eyebrow, “KillMasta?”
Nothing happened for a moment. The two men stood staring at eachother. Then another bubble appeared above the larger man reading “uh yeah? u hvaing dc issues because of your irl storm? u look weird. no name above ur head. u look like a npc”.
Dan’s eyes went wide and he choked on his own saliva, coughing. “This… this can’t be,” Dan sputtered hoarsely.
Another bubble showed above KillMasta’s head, “u wiggin. im goin to the oasis. later.” He turned and started jogging away.
Dan shook himself out his fugue, “No, no, no, KM, wait!”
The hulking man stopped abruptly and turned to face Dan.
“KM, wait, I… I’m in trouble here. I need you’re help.”
“wuts up?” came the ballooned reply.
“Ok…. ok. Look this is going to sound crazy. I don’t even really believe it, but… I think I’m in the game. For real. Like, I’m my character.”
For a long moment, nothing happened. KillMasta stood staring at Dan, slowly twisting his torso, swinging his bulked out arms back and forth. Then another balloon appeared, “u mean like ur in 1st person? just hit F3 to get back to normal”
Dan deflated. “No, KM. I mean, I don’t have a computer in front of me. I just have… well, you in front of me.” Dan gestured wildly as he talked.
“wut” cam the text above KillMasta.
“Can you turn on voice chat? I’m freaking out here!”
“*sigh* fine” and another long moment passed before there was a click and a tinny, pubescent voice emanated from KillMasta without his mouth moving, “Alright, can you hear me?”
“Yes! Yes, thank you. I don’t know that I’ve actually heard your voice before, KM. How old are you?”
A long sigh came from KillMasta, “Are you some sort of pedo or somethin’?”
“No. God, no. No, man. Look, I don’t know what to do here. I think I’m stuck inside the game.”
“Dude, I dunno, just logout or something.”
“Ok, KM, How do I do that?”
“Just, you know, hit escape and click on quit”
“I don’t HAVE an escape key. I have hands! And uh I have robes! I can’t ‘click’ anything. I’m starting to freak out, man. You gotta help me.”
“K, k, just chill out, dude. Want me to contact an admin?”
“Yeah, yeah, please, do that,” Dan began nervously pacing back and forth while the barbarian stared off into space.
“Ok, dude, I sent the message. So, what happened?”
“I, uh, well, I was playing normally. We just conquered Lion’s Den here and, uh, I was going to the Cursed Mountains to pick some Dander Lilly. And then the lights at home flickered, then I woke up in the game,” Dan splayed his arms with his palms facing up.
KillMasta suddenly jumped about six feet straight up into the air and then gracefully touched back down. “Oops wrong button. Well, I gotta say, dude, your new gestures are pretty cool. I haven’t seen anyone else with a ‘I dunno’ gesture.”
Dan angrily pointed at KillMasta, “These aren’t ‘gestures’. This is me. I’m just moving.”
“Yeah, well, it looks sick.”
It was at this moment a person with a bald head and wearing bright red robes flashed into existence next to KillMasta and Dan. “Ok…. KillMasta69, what’s going on?” said the voice from the new person. He sounded bored.
Dan interjected, “Hey, you’re the admin, right? KillMasta called you for me.”
“Ooookay, so what’s your problem?” the admin sounded doubly bored.
“I’m stuck in the game,” Dan got right to the point.
“Ok, sometimes the menu system errors out and you have to kill the game. I need you to hit control-alt–“
“No, sorry, what I mean is, I’m physically in the game,” Dan bent down and picked up a loose stone. “Like, I can feel this rock and taste,” Dan licked the rock, and he immediately began spitting. “Really? Salt?”
KillMasta squelched, “Heh, gross, dude.”
There was a moment of silence before the admin replied cautiously, “Ok, I get it. You, good wizard, are not stuck in this world. Thou canst sleep-eth and dream of a different world. If thou wouldst visualize a button that says ‘ctrl’–“
“I’m not role playing!” Dan shouted, “I’m begging you to help me.”
The admin sighed, “Ok, what’s your username? It’s not showing up for me.”
“Ok, Moon, let me just,” the clatter of keys sounded from the man in the red robes. “Huh. Are you sure that’s your username? Says you’re logged out.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Maybe you can just force log me out or something?”
“Ok, so when you’re logged out, I can’t log you out more. Look, I’ve for 15 more tickets to get to. For now, try turning your computer off and back on. If the problem persists, submit a bug report and a dev will look at the problem in the morning.”
“How do I–” Dan began to say, but stopped when the admin disappeared.
“Customer service here sucks, dude,” KillMasta offered.
Dan put his head in his hands and stared at the ground. He noticed the shadows grow deeper and the surrounded sand gained a reddish hue. He looked up and saw the people in the encampment disperse, jogging in different directions in response to the changing color.
“Oh shit, dude, heat wave is coming. I don’t have my heat gear with me.”
“I don’t either. I didn’t bring anything in case I died,” Dan rummaged through his pouches finding only a few handfuls of jerky and an empty water skin. “If we hurry, we can make it to Silleen. They have adobe huts that should protect us.”
The two began running down the path that led into the encampment. After about 500 yards, Dan was wheezing and lagging behind KillMasta’s practiced jog.
KillMasta stopped, “Dude, are you already out of stamina?”
“I just need to catch my breath.”
“Can’t you cast Breath of the Wind?”
Dan glared at KillMasta, “And how shall I cast that spell? Can you cast any spells in real life? No!”
The pair walked painfully slowly through the rest of the canyon and began to jog again once they were in the open desert. By this time the temperature had spiked past the uncomfortable range and now into painful. Dan needed another rest after a couple more minutes of light jogging.
KillMasta started to complain, “Dude, the heat wave starts doing damage in another minute. If I Barbarian Sprint, I might not actually die,” then KillMasta began shouting to someone else with his microphone still engaged. “Not, yet, mom! No, I can do it in the morning! Ugh! Fine! Hey, Moon, I gotta go afk for a bit. I’m going auto-run to town. I’ll come back for you.”
“KM, wait–” was all Dan got out before the barbarian ran at a full sprint away from him. Dan threw up his arms. “Great. I’m going to die.”
The air began shimmering and waving around Dan. His skin felt like it was in an oven. He trudged down the path a short distance and spotted an abandoned cart upturned just off the path. The sound of cicadas buzzed in the air, even though Dan was sure no cicadas actually lived in such a place.
He reached the cart, which was broken and left to rot some decades passed by the way it looked. Pulling himself underneath, out of the sun didn’t seem to help at all. The air itself seemed to contain of the heat that was burning him. He lay there, feeling like he was going shrivel away for a moment.
That’s when a thought occurred to Dan. He grabbed a loose board and began digging into the gravelly soil. After a minute, he had a shallow trench excavated. He felt the temperature there. It was cool. Oddly cool, in fact. He pulled his hand out of the trench and there was a clear temperature boundary just at the normal height of the ground.
A light went on in Dan’s head. The heat effect in the desert was programmed to affect a large area, like a 3D box. This would allow other areas of the world, like the frozen north, not to be affected by localized weather events. And this 3D box didn’t extend below the ground.
Dan dug furiously. The skin on his hands started to blister from the heat. He stopped digging and dove into his deepened trench. It was instant relief from the heat. There wasn’t much room to move. He rolled over to face upward and his arm and shoulder were scorched briefly as they passed above the surface level.
These weather events could last between 10 and 30 minutes. Dan got as comfortable as he could in a gravel hole and waited. 25 minutes later he tested the heat and it was hot, but bearable again. He reemerged from the cart and headed in the direction of Silleen.