The silence was deafening. It filled the air near his head and gathered around his ears to provide uncomfortable pressure. The threat of implosion seemed possible. It was daylight, and he was outside, yet there was no sound. “Why?” Zero wondered, as he stood frozen for what seemed to be an eternity.
As if someone hit a switch, sounds returned. He heard the wind and the sound of chickens clucking and in the distance, he heard wind chimes too. The sounds had a soothing effect on him. But something was wrong, Zero was not in control. He seemed to do what he wanted to do, and yet, what he wanted to do seemed to be the thoughts of another. This fear should have sent a shiver down his spine and left him feeling the ‘thump thump’ of his heart, but he felt nothing, not even the wind on his face. But there had to be wind, how else could he hear wind chimes?
Zero found himself being propelled down a small path leading to two small buildings that sandwiched a small path where three men stood. When he reached the men he found himself asking “Are you guys real?”. Laughter filled the space. “Why did I just ask that?” he thought. One of the men replied, “yes we’re real, you can tell by the white dots.” Of course! Zero had forgotten about the dots. The answer seemed clear.
The path continued on well beyond the two small buildings and it opened up a bit, but it looked too narrow to be intended for anything more than foot traffic. As he walked the path, he was aware of the surrounding fields of grass and scattered trees. To his left and about 100 feet from the path there was a small outcropping with strange beasts that he recognized as Drudglings. If it were one Drudge, he wouldn’t be so concerned but since there were three, and since he was clad in little more than raggedy cloth, he hugged the outer edge of the right side of the path until he was well beyond them.
His walk hit a steep incline but his gate and speed remained unchanged. As he neared the top of the hill he found himself standing near the outskirts of a small town with around seven buildings split between the upper section and the lower section. He stood on the lower section.
He could still hear the chimes and the chickens but he had yet to see either one. He did however see a cow not too far away and something new, a new sound. It was like unintelligible voices. He scanned the area and saw a few townsfolk, but there were no white dots. These were not real people.
All at once Randall felt a hand on his shoulder. He swiveled his chair to see his wife Carmen standing there and peering over him to look at the computer screen. “Isn’t that an old game you used to play a few years back?” “Yeah” answered Randall, returning his attention to the screen, “over a decade ago”. “It was one of the first MMO’s developed and I was so addicted to it at the time”. “I remember” said Carmen, “were you able to login with your old account?” “Nope” answered Randal explaining, “it’s lost, so I had to create a new character”. “Well I hope you don’t get addicted to it again, I enjoy our time together” said Carmen. “And dinner’s ready, if I can pull you away for a while.” “No need to worry, this game has been cancelled, it’s getting shut down in two weeks, I just wanted to login once more since I’ll never get the chance again”. He said as he logged out of the game.
The sound was gone again and Zero stood there in stasis while real people and not-so-real people failed to take notice of him. “Why can’t I move?” he wondered. The silence was deafening, and a disturbing thought lingered without mercy…