You wake up in a strange world. It is, naturally, a land of great adventure, with jungles and lost cities, ruined temples and deep caverns. When you touch your face, it feels strange. You are made of lumpy pixels, just like your surroundings, the ground, the walls, the trees. The sky seems smooth, though, without clouds or birds or planes.
You have been transported into a world that feels like the inside of an arcade game from the late 1980’s. A neverending, two-dimensional maze of platforms, swinging ropes, traps and pits and falling rocks.
You are an archeologist, a daredevil, an adventurer. Your movement feels awkward, twisted and uncomfortable. You run, crouch or jump. The rules are simple: head to the exit, grab the items. Open the chests and collect the ancient treasure. You are always alone in the caverns, in the temples, in the lost cities – apart from the monsters and the occasional pretty blond girl on a high cliff.
You have no idea how they got there.
Sometimes you try to talk to these damsels in distress but all they say is HELP! HELP! in huge word balloons. You want to make love to them or hurt them or do anything that will ease your loneliness. But when you touch them, they just jump and run away. You think you should feel sadness then, but you can’t feel anything. Your heart is a simple red symbol now.
You dream about the last level, all the challenges you’ll have to face there, the immensity of the final puzzles. The wrath of the end level boss. But your dreams are mostly about dying here, again.
You have died many times and in many ways. Crushed, burned, impaled or eaten, it doesn’t make a difference now.
You find extra lives in the chests or the hidden compartments. You steal them from the monsters. And when you die, you come back instantly, mostly appearing at the entrance again, confused and disoriented. But it hurts. It always hurts.
You are lonely and in pain and you don’t want to take those extra lives, not anymore.
But eventually you always do.
About the author
Viktor Juhász is a Hungarian writer of numerous short stories and two novels. He’s also the translator of Neil Gaiman, China Miéville and many other prominent authors. He is currently writing for video games in English.
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