My hand twitches a command as pixelated fire balls hurl past the screens arc of vision. The language centers of my brain ask what the actual angle is but spacial processes shuffle the query aside as unimportant. A minotaur melts into a pile of goo as the glow of the rocket fades and I turn my attention to the pinky that's almost on top of me. My index finger slams on the “s” key as my pointer hunts for a weapon without splash damage. The plasma rifles overkill but I'm afraid of back pedaling into the lava pit or taking too many projectiles so I fire away. The keyboard keeps trying to escape and I wonder for the umpteenth time if I could find any duct tape on Phobos, or Mars for that matter. I snicker at that one.
And that's the problem with the late 21st century. We have so much available to us we forget about the basics. Duct tape, multitools, towels. No, no nostalgia. I already lost once had to start over. I have about an hour left and then I will be the first person to beat DOOM on Phobos. Nightmare difficulty of course. The micro gravity resort on Phobos is less than one year(Earth year) old. It's a simple concept, people love short stints into the weightless void. Heck, it might even turn a profit but for the thousand other space resorts closer to the biggest population center. Martian colonists are the kind of people who either never vacation or prefer to spend their free time in the hyper-reality of cyberspace. It fell to the few, the proud, the hardcore space tourists to support this rock. Oh, and me. A troglodyte from the dawn of the information age on a sacred pilgrimage to be the first person to beat back hell on location. I'm recording this as a demo as well. The only video is of my face which is probably pretty boring with my eyes obscured by the goggles. I had worried that some would complain that it was not authentic DOOM because I didn't use a monitor but it cost enough to fab the keyboard and mouse. Would have cost less to bring them from Earth. Should have expected that from a resort in space.
I make a mental note that I now have too few energy packs to fire the BFG9000 and collect the skull key. A wall falls away and I'm firing at demons before they even see me. The exit is next. The end tune invites me to relax and I pull the goggles off and rub my sore eyes. No resolution entirely corrects for the fish eye lensing and occasional double image that results from trying to display a square screen on two concave surfaces made to take advantage of the whole visual field instead of presenting text in two-hundred fifty-six exciting colors. Or maybe I'm just old and I tire easily...
No, definitely the goggles fault. I'm about to put them back on when a voice makes me jump, which would have made me hit the ceiling if not for the sleep webbing. I try to turn around and yank my ear buds out. It takes a moment for me to register that it's the P.A. system.
“-to or remain in your in your rooms. You will be alerted when conditions are safe. The resort is experiencing unsafe conditions. For your own safety please go to or remain in your room. You will be alerted when conditions are safe. The resort is experiencing unsafe conditions. For your own safety please go to or remain in your room. You will be alerted when conditions are safe. The resort is experiencing unsafe conditions. For your own safety please go to or remain in your room. You will be alerted when conditions are safe..."
The message continues to cycle. It strikes me as a little weird how vague the message is on the nature of the danger. Martians are generally the rare type that you actually want to inform about the emergency. But this was a guest room. The staff were probably getting a different message. Still feels weird. I reluctantly turn my attention back to DOOM. I know on some level that whatever is going on is more important than my game but I can't imagine that I could do anything to help. I put the goggles back on and tap the space bar. The screen melts into the next stage as I replace the right ear bud. I want to keep one ear in the real world. Half way through the level I hear it. Someone is screaming at the top of their lungs. I flick the esc key. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississi - goggles off, ear bud out, out of the webbing – five Mississippi – they're still screaming - six Mississippi – I push down on the door latch and it slides sideways.
The hallway is empty except for a woman and what I can best describe as a seven foot centipede chasing her. Seven foot centipede... does not compute. It takes it catching her to snap me out of it. I watch the thing clamp it's mandibles around her arm. It's wrapping itself around her torso when I close the door. I drift backward in the microgravity as my mind tries unsuccessfully to respond to what I just saw.
I'm on a resort in orbit around Mars. We've been watching the sky on every spectrum for the last 40 years so assuming special relativity still holds if these were aliens we would have seen them coming. Or they could be some psycho's idea of a joke. A deadly artificial life form snuck on to the moon. It's about the most absurd thing I can imagine but it's still better than aliens. My leg brushes cold metal. I look down and see a pump action shot gun and bandoleer loaded with shells. That was not there before. The room is a bare rectangle six feet by ten feet with a seven foot ceiling. I suddenly realize the most obvious answer is that this is a simulation and I'm in cyberspace. I would know that though; unless I wipe my short term memory. I would never do that. Someone else could've put me in a simulation after drugging me? I don't know anybody that would be that brazen but I could have been chosen at random, as a prank or experiment. It's still a long shot. I decide to test it.
“Room voice commands on." The room beeps its assent. "Room lighting to max.”
The room floods with light and I force myself to stare directly at it. Good output, I estimate its a little less bright than the mid-day sun on Earth. I look away. After image, iris contracting, floaters. Simulations don't have floaters. Or at least none that I've ever heard of. It's the one part of the human visual system nobody wants to recreate. But a gun just appeared in my room. I don't think this is a dream and I know that it takes more than pinching myself to wake up. I consider shooting off a few toes just to be sure; but, no I will need to keep as much blood as possible for this. I fire a test shot at the floor hoping in the stopping power of space quality composites and am reminded that gunshots are louder in real life than they are in games. This is doable. I absentmindedly put on the bandoleer. Her screaming has stopped. This is either the only way out of the simulation or else I have what I suspect is the only lethal weapon on the whole moon. Somehow. Either way I know what I gotta do. I want ear protection. The ear buds will have to do. I pick up the goggles and save my game and exit. Ear buds in, I choose a couple of hard rock songs to play at very low volume then shove the goggles they're attached to down my shirt to keep them out of the way.
“Open door!” it beeps an “are you sure?" tone.
The thing is waiting outside my door. It shoots across the floor and a shot sounds out. I bounce against the ceiling and fire a second shot; this time conscious of the decision and miss the spasmodically undulating form. Pushing off the wall I move through the door and land in the hall. Now that I have the distance I can see that it either took some buck shot to a major nerve cluster or started having a grand mal mid attack. Too close for comfort and thank God for FPS twitch reflexes. Also, I should take Newton's third into account when shooting. The woman from before is very dead and I avoid looking at her as I grab a hand loop on the conveyor towards the center of the resort. The next two things give me the time to aim. They're as much snake as centipedes, possessing scales rather than chitin except for the heads which definitely belong to an arthropod. The legs are digitless, jointed but scaled. Other than my gun shots and the looping message the resort is quiet and I'm glad for my music. These things sure aren't ambush predators. They just lunge towards the first sign of movement.
Ten meters from the lounge I hear the sound of automatic weapons fire. I pull forward and fly into the wide open space. Near the top of it I see another guest aiming at a snakipede. He lets off another burst and the thing's head whips back as he moves to avoid the rest of the body slamming into the portion of wall he was braced against. I pull a ear bud out and yell “Hey!” to him. His gaze drops to meet me. No, not me, something above me. I feel the rush of air before it closes around my shoulder, lifts me off my feet, and slams whatever it has into my back hard enough that I'm surprised I don't black out. As I pinwheel toward the ceiling I think I see a gorilla looking thing push off the floor at ridiculous speed. I hear a continuous stream of automatic fire and feel something close around my chest and neck.
Maybe it's the fact that I still suspect this is cyberspace and I might still wake up or maybe I'm really that angry that my back is probably broken and it sounds like the guy is still firing even though the thing was right on top of me but the last thing I think before I pass out is “If I wake up there will be hell to pay.”