Entry Fourteen.

"- So, what are the rules ?

- They are very simple", that the man with the nametag. As a matter of fact, I was no longer sure it read "Doe", as there seemed to be a little stain like dried blood on it.

"- You see, you just have to project your mind - your soul if you will - into the game, through the use of this small helmet here (it was lying on the side of the wheel, connected to it by a set of wires). Then, well, I dare say that you'll find out by yourself. You just have to find a way through the game, from the entry to the exit (a maze in side a maze inside a maze, thought I...), and if you accumulate enough points you may even have a few more rewards... Just be careful not to "tilt" it !!

- Yeah, sure. Now gimme a seat and get lost.

- Right here, Sir. Please be seated.

The ghosts of the players seemed more tensed, and a shrill wail emanated from their inconsistent silhouettes.

- Have a nice game, he said while I put the helmet on.

- Go to hell, asshole.

He laughed, and lowered a lever.

- No, Sir : YOU go there !!"

In an instant, I was gone, and my mind escaped my body.

When I came to, with a strange sensation of déjà-vu, I was in a shining metal corridor. I thought of these old X-Men and Spiderman comics I'd read where they were fighting a vilain called Arcade. Stupid stories, really, with this millionaire killer who had nothing to do but to put superheroes in a deadly replica of a pinball. But that's what the set-up made me think of right at this moment.

I chose a direction and began to walk. After a while, I came to a round room, apparently carved in stone, on the center of which lied 3 pedestals. On one lied a helmet, one another a sword, and on the last one a shield. On the ground before them were carved in latin the words meaning "chose carefully". Or maybe my latin was rusted and it really meant "You're screwed now", but what would I care ?

I spent a long time there, thinking. I f this was some stupid game, with enigmas and all, I would have to solve this with the means in my possession. Three objects. Three we were. Maybe the game was intended for the three of us, and each should have picked what he would have needed the most. Sharon was great with a blade, but Simon had impressed me even more with his. So, girlie could fend people off with a shield ; on the other hand, I thought she needed to be free to act with her body, only protecting her head, and that until now I'd been more on the defensive side of things. But even that could be argued against... Oh, well ! Not knowing what to chose, I took the three objects, waiting for some divine punishment to teach me all about greed and hybris and that kind of shit, but none came. So on I went, armed and definitely dangerous. And feeling more than a little ridiculous. Had I come all this way to star in a live roleplaying game ? (I was pretty sure I had never played one in my previous life ; too old for it, probably, and my knowledge on the subject was far too thin for an experienced roleplayer.)

The room had three doors, one on each side and one in front. I randomly chose the one on the left - the side on which had rested the helmet. Throwing caution to the wind, I opened it wide. It led to a square room of about five meters in section, all covered in black velvet. It was dimly lit, which reminded me in a way of Level 366, and made me think for an instant of where I was and wonder, once more, why I was there... But this was no time for reverie.

I entered the room, cautiously. The floor seemed covered with an old, thick, grayish carpet. With every step, I scanned carefully the room in all directions, shielding myself and ready to fend off any coming danger...

Except, of course, if it came from under my feet.

As I reached the center of the "room", my feet began to sink in the ground, as if I was in a quicksand, and I saw several gray things coming out from the said "ground". They were about the size of a clenched fist, and looked like enormous rats with the heads of giant spiders, and their stomachs inside out. They were slimy, scary things, all legs and teeth and ugliness, with the veins showing on the bulbs pulsating on their backs and torsos. I learned fast enough that these outgrowths produced a weird substance, the local equivalent of spiderwebs, which they wove with their legs and mouths : at first, it burned like acid, then it became solid and turned into the "carpet" or tapestry (looking darker only because of the shadows) that surrounded me.

I was just thinking to myself that I was knee-deep in shit, but that it could be worse if these buggers were bigger, when their "mother" appeared from the depths of the right corner of the room.

"- Great, now we're all in for the banquet".

to be followed...


NEXT...                                                                                                                                       NO EXIT.