When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a game designer. I never had any idea how game design worked, though, and eventually gave up that idea for something more normal. When I went to college, however, that all changed.
DAY 1 (Monday):
I made a weird friend, an exchange student from Germany. I think he was coming on to me, since I was probably the only woman he knew who was interested in some of the same weird and nerdy things he obsessed over. I once mentioned in passing that I had fantasies about making video games, but all I ever did was come up with some far-fetched and wild ideas for what I thought would make a good game while I played. I said that I would never get to work on a real game, because I just wasn’t good enough with computers and programming, but then he said something that piqued my curiosity.
He said that he was working on a computer project that could allow him to make video games faster and cheaper than anyone else, but he just needed someone with imagination and a good sense of what makes a fun game fun. I didn’t want to brag, but said I would be willing to try my hand at the job. His response was rather odd, though: “Are you sure you want to work with me on this project? If you decide to work on it, it will take a full commitment, and there’s no turning back once we’ve started.” I thought this was weird, and was a little worried, but remembered how much I wanted to make a fun game when I was a child, and suddenly wanted to relive that feeling of childlike awe and endless possibilities. After a little hesitation, I said yes.
DAY 2 (Tuesday):
After agreeing to work with him on the game project, he told me where to meet him and when. As I arrived at my appointment the next day, I couldn’t help but ask myself “This can’t really be the place? Can it?” as I looked at the run-down looking building. It looked like a condemned edifice, a bit too small to be a factory, warehouse, or any other industrial business, but too big to be any form of house short of a mansion. It was at a part of town where the housing district began to dissolve almost seamlessly into the business district, so its location didn’t give any clues as to the architect’s intent either.
I went to knock on the door, and my knocks upon the disused door, ravaged by urban decay, produced a vast echo within the halls beyond. I was taken by surprise at the sound of a whisper below me. “SSSHHH! Don’t knock on that door!” I tracked the voice to Volker, the man I spoke to yesterday, peering out from a ground-level window, beckoning to me.
“Do you really want me to crawl through that dusty, dirty window into the basement? Are you insane? What is this place any…” I started to ask before I was cut off.
“Yah, yah, zis vay! Und keep your voice down!” He muttered. I could tell that he was getting nervous, by the way he slipped into his accent. This was the point where I realized that turning back would probably be the smart thing to do, but this was a realization I only made far too late. I crawled into the bottom of that dark, grungy, abandoned building’s eerie cellar.
Mr. Volker did not resemble his appearance as of the previous day. He had a dilapidated air of unfettered mania about him, his glasses making him look like a wide-eyed maniac, the brilliant blue irises behind them shone like circular arcs of electricity contrasting the pink of his bloodshot sclera. He looked as though he had spent the previous night working on something in this place, with no human contact.
“This may not be the best of working locales, but I had no other choice than to work out of here. Let me show you around before you can make your final assessment of this place’s quality. I personally think it has a kind of charm about it.” And with those words, he took me down another flight of stairs to a high ceilinged subbasement, lit by the kind of hanging lights used in mines. In the center of the room stood a device that looked like three computer desks fused together haphazardly. The walls used to be bare concrete, but Volker had changed that, as white boards and pieces of paper sloppily taped up had partially papered the walls. The walls were a dizzying collage of charts, diagrams, and equations. He pointed to the desk, and said “This will be where most of the design is done, and that desk will be where you work. Feel free to keep action figures on it.”
My eyes gravitated to a device coming out of that twisted amalgamation of electronic mania that Volker had not commented on. It looked like some form of futuristic gun, metallic and bulky, with a portable computing device where a scope would be, and its barrel was a bizarre apparatus shaped like a horseshoe magnet. “And what’s that weird gun-like thing?” I asked.
“That,” he said with barely contained elation, “is the centerpiece of my work, but we’ll get to that at the end of the tour. For now, I want to show you my other creations.” And with that, he lead me down a dark hall through the dilapidated basement. In the next room, advanced scientific devices lined the walls, their form unlike any machines I had seen before, and their function unknown. Despite all the arcs of electricity, incomprehensible electronic displays and messes of glassware frequented by shifting multicolored fluids, the machines blended into the background with the horrific sight that stole the spotlight in the center of the room.
In a cage, there sat a warped and twisted organism that could never have possibly had a place in nature. Its form was distorted beyond any recognition of what it may have been, dotted with tumors and unidentifiable growths. It bled from its face, as its rasping noises indicated some labored attempt at breathing in spite of its aberrant and unhealthy form. “It used to be a stray cat.” Volker explained.
“I thought we were going to make video games.” I asked. “How could this possibly help, and what have you done to that poor cat?”
“You will see later how my forays into the field of genetics and biology will help our game design. As for the cat, I will euthanize it later today, as I have already gleaned all the information I need from this specimen.” With that, he was getting ready to lead me to another room, but I stepped closer to examine the “cat.” I was only a few feet away, when it turned to suddenly face me and exhaled a mist of formerly pressurized blood in my direction. “Ve Kareful!” Volker exclaimed, as he grabbed me and pulled me away from the gory projection at the last second. “If a single drop of zat substance entered your system, you vould… turn… vithin mere seconds!” I wanted to ask what he meant by “turn”, but decided that I would rather not know.
The last room he lead me to through the narrow and winding hallways was far less harrowing. Though not as outwardly eerie as the room before, its contents carried disturbing implications. It contained cages, some containing presumably stray animals, with others empty. The most frightening part of the room, however, was a container not occupied, for in the middle of the room sat a creepy dentist’s chair, with leather straps on its wrist and ankle portions, and metal structures that could clamp a human into place. Among the cages, there were some large enough to contain a human, and others that I chose not to ask about that could contain something even larger. “The storage room,” said Volker in a disinterested tone. “Not something we can do without, but not much to say about it either.” He grabbed a small box from storage, and lead me back to the computer room.
Once we had returned, he pointed to the weapon like device that piqued my curiosity. “Zis!” he gushed with excitement that forced him to relapse into his accent, “is ze centerpiece to our production, und mein greatest invention yet! I call it ze digitizer! Allow me to demonstrate!” He typed a few things on the computer, and the digitizer suddenly surged to life, with screen illuminated and magnet-like barrel slowly rotating.
He opened the box from storage, and produced from it, a small model of the building we were beneath. He upended the box, placed the model on top of it, and took aim upon the fabricated construction with the digitizer. As he pulled the trigger, twin streams of unnatural blue energy shot from the two prongs at the fore of the device, striking the miniature, and making it explode. It did not explode like an IED, or a Hollywood gasoline fireball, but instead, it broke up into four segments, which then decayed into fourths like the structure they composed, and the almost microscopic subsets of the whole then disintegrated. They moved along the spiraling trails of blue power, dissolving into ones and zeroes as they entered the “barrel” of Volker’s otherworldly artifice.
Though the sight of the digitizer took me by surprise, I couldn’t help but notice something strange happening on the computer monitor as well. The model had appeared against a gray void of a background. It was a computer generated 3D image, but it looked exactly like the object that was destroyed. “Using an ion particle accelerator, ze digitizer fires a deconstructing beam of hyper-energized advanced molecule structures, zat particalize solid mater into its component parts, while the excess electrons are transmitted through a multimodal datafication matrix. Upon entering the digitizer, the data is converted through an actualization protocol with an exponential processing cycle that reconfigures the raw data into a synthetic computerized copy of the original object.” Not knowing what most of those words meant, I just had to take his word for it.
“So,” I asked “this is how we’re going to create the game? By physically building its elements, and then transferring them into the simulation? I am impressed by what the digitizer can do, but wouldn’t it be easier to just make the 3D model from scratch?”
“You will see the benefits of digitizing real objects,” Volker explained “when we move on to things more intricate than buildings. For now, I will show you how to manipulate this building’s data in the work environment.” True to his word, he started showing me around his development program, but then I asked how to make the building’s doors open and close. He said that we would need a programmer for that, and when I asked who would do the programming, he said that we would get to that next meeting. Upon those words, called the meeting adjourned and sent me on my way.
I was still worried as to the possible ethics and morality of the future actions this game creation would entail, but then I remembered the sheer quality of the game I had planned to create, and with a little mental gymnastics, convinced myself that the end would justify the means. Since I still couldn’t get rid of my suspicions completely, I started writing this journal, so if anything truly strange happens, I will have an account of the events leading up to it, and if anything happens to me, this could aid the investigation.
DAY 4 (Thursday):
After a whole day without contact with Volker, he called me the day after that and told me to report to his lab immediately. I had an assignment to do, but dropped it in pursuit of my true calling.
On arriving in the lab, I noticed that Volker was nowhere in my immediate field of vision, and decided to search the place for him rather than calling out for him, as we had to try to be as quiet as possible in our work. I passed through the three rooms, and finally found him in the storage room, with someone bound and gagged in the chair. I screamed: “YOU KIDNAPPED SOMEONE!” There went my attempt at being quiet.
“HUSH!” Said Volker in a voice exceeding the volume of my exclamation, ironically. “We won’t be keeping him here for long, and we won’t be torturing him or anything like zat. You can just think of him as an unwilling employee. You do remember that we had to stop our session early last time because we were short aign programmer, no?” And after that, we wheeled his chair into the computer room.
Volker removed the blindfold from the captive, and eventually the gag, after he was convinced that he would suffer no physical pain, and promised not to scream. “Whadda ya want from me?” he pleaded.
“Programming, that is all.” Volker replied. “You will be given adequate sustenance, and allowed to roam the facility freely outside of work, as long as you stay out of the computer and genetics labs. Once we no longer need you to do the programming, you will be freed.”
“But what’s the catch?” asked the programmer. “Surely, you’re gonna to do somethin’ to make sure I don’t leave the lab when you’re out, or call the cops, or sabotage yer plans, right?”
“Zat, my friend, is where ZIS comes in!” Said Volker excitedly as he picked up the digitizer.
“WHAT! Yer gnna to shoot me!?” The programmer interjected, breaking his promise.
“NEIN!” Volker replied, while quickly reapplying the gag. “This is no gun, it’s my greatest invention yet: Ze digitizer! It normally disintegrates matter and transfers it into the game we are creating in data form, but I will not do this to you.” He pointed to a mechanism on the bottom of the digitizer, located between the trigger and the barrel that looked different. What used to look like a hard drive now looked like an empty blood bag. “I have replaced ze clip. It usually stores the electric energy of digitized data before it can be uploaded to the computer, but I have replaced ze electric clip vith one that stores genetic energy. I vill use this on you to take some of zat genetic energy, reverting you into a less evolved state of humanity, und ze only vay to regain your human form vill be to have me put it back vith zis device, so you vill have to do as I say in the mean time.”
Volker readied the machine, aiming it at the bounded man as he squirmed and thrashed against the restraints that confined him in his place. “Do not vorry!” Said Volker: “It vill not hurt, and you vill keep all the computer knowledge you have acquired until now. Ze devolution process will reduce your reasoning ability, but all the facts you have memorized that allow you to code will remain, vich is all ve really need.”
Volker pulled the trigger, and the digitizer released forth two coiling purple streams of energy particles. Upon striking the target, the streams rotated along with the barrel, as lines from one beam to the other moved up from his body and into the device. With each particle of DNA extracted from the programmer’s body, he twitched like he was receiving an electric shock, and went through a miniscule change. The changes added up over time, as he became swarthy and squat, a tail growing out of his lower back, as simian fangs formed around his gag. The digitizer’s clip was slowly filling up as the programmer’s visage had morphed into that of a monkey. “Now, you can be our… Code monkey!” Said Volker, laughing at his own joke.
We then spent the rest of the day showing the programmer around the place, and getting him ready to program the game. After that, it was time for Volker and I to go home, leaving the ape in his temporary domicile. Walking home, I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling that I would soon be deceived into perpetrating unconscionable acts for the project, but I reasoned with myself that the programmer would get a cut of the game’s profits once the game’s completed, and he would ultimately thank us when my design makes the game into a multimillion dollar franchise. OH SHIT! The design! I’ve been forgetting to actually come up with any designs in all this time I’ve spent familiarizing myself with the technical side! I also put off finishing my assignment to attend this meeting, so much for getting any sleep tonight.
DAY 5 (Friday):
I was heavily sleep deprived when I showed up for the fifth day of working on the game. Volker introduced me to a human character model that was ready to be programmed and designed into a character. He looked like an average man in his street clothes. Though he didn’t speak, his idle animations unnerved me. He looked like he didn’t want to be in the screen. No, that can’t be the case, it must be my mind playing tricks on me.
I asked to have him made playable, and the programmer entered the commands to bind his movement to the WASD keys, with space to jump etc. In the designs I drafted up the previous night, I knew that there would have to be playable character who can run fast and jump high, so I also got the programmer to give the character those abilities.
I tried moving this player character around the blank and featureless testing map, but he seemed to groan in pain every time he landed from a high jump. In third person, I positioned the camera so I could get a good look at his face, and behind his eyes I saw a man trapped under another’s control, desperate to escape, bereft of helplessness, and begging for fear! I assumed that was just my sleep deprivation playing tricks on me again and pressed on.
After creating the character’s movement, I decided to see how he would move through uneven terrain. I told the programmer to program some uneven terrain I could use to test this character. I ambled him up to the edge of a minor precipice, about twenty feet tall, and had him jump off to see what would happen.
Nothing I had seen before in my entire life could have prepared me for the traumatizing sight I beheld when I pressed the W key. The hero took a brisk step forward into oblivion, fell the vertical length of the drop, and hit the ground in a way that was like nothing from any other video game. As he hit the flat gray testing room floor, he didn’t take fall damage like a video game character, and the screen didn’t flash red. Instead, I heard a loud snap, as he crumpled to the ground in a position no human should assume! His femurs had snapped in two hideous compound fractures, spilling gouts of scarlet blood onto the gray floor at regular intervals with each beat of the character’s fictional, digital heart. A scream escaped his lips, not a gamey scream of a digital avatar losing a few hit points and getting closer to having to respawn, but the bitter scream of a real human being who’s bodily integrity was shattered with an injury that could leave him in a state of crippled anguish until the end of his days, assuming he even lives to see them. I reasoned that the horrors to which I bore witness could only mean one thing: The sleep deprivation was really getting to me.
“Vat is zis!?” Volker bellowed. “Didn’t you program him to never sveak?” he said to the programmer. The programmer looked at Volker and shrugged. “Vell! Do someszing about zat noise, it’s annoyik!” With that command, the programmer ushered me away from the controls, and right clicked on the crumpled and mangled human form, bringing up a menu of options. He clicked one of them, and the sobbing was silenced. “Hmm, mutink ze character is a temporary solution, but we will need a way to gain control over his speech patterns before we can allow him to speak again. Make sure incidents like this don’t happen again!” After that incident, they decided that they needed to work on the audio, and I could go home. I wasn’t disappointed to be sent home early, as it meant I finally got to have some sleep.
DAY 6 (Satruday):
This day was a weekend day, so without classes for Volker and I to attend, we could spend much more time working on the game.
When I arrived, there was a new character added to the game. He was another normal looking man, but big and bulky where the man from yesterday was lithe and agile.
We began introducing weapons to the game. We programmed a shotgun, effective at close range, but with a damage drop off over long ranges, limiting its use outside of close combat. We also introduced some of the boring-but-practical weapons required of every shooter, like the weak semiautomatic pistol with a high fire rate and capacity, and the small caliber SMG, and a high damage / low fire rate six-shooter.
We also introduced a few other guns with more interesting and unique mechanics, like the minigun, which has both a high fire rate and high damage, but it has to be spun up first.
We made the two characters shoot one another with these armaments to test them out, but I was disturbed by how realistically the characters reacted to each shot as it perforated their living virtual flesh. The characters remained muted, like yesterday, but as one lay dying from multiple minigun wounds to the chest, I thought I saw him turn to the camera and mouth the word “why?”
I told Volker about this and how it might turn players off to our game, and he said that he was considering changing the visuals to a more stylized look. After that, we were done for the day, but as I walked home, I started to wonder: “If the game’s going to have a stylized look instead of a realistic one, then why even bother digitizing real objects instead of just programming them?” But I dismissed the thought, as Volker seemed to know what he was doing on the technical side, and I really shouldn’t question any of his decisions as long as he’s letting me bring my game ideas to life.
DAY 7 (Sunday):
We continued work on the game. We have actually hit a bit of a holding pattern, and I have almost been able to ignore the singular deviance of my situation. I still think there’s something suspicious about Volker, though, and I still can’t shake the creepy feeling I get from the character models.
This complacency in the face of horrors and suffering, this apathy in the face of deviance, is this the banality of evil? Are mental gymnastics like the ones I convince to keep myself working on the game the trick that allowed the institutionalized horrors like wars and genocides to occur unchallenged?
Maybe I’m just reading too much into this. It’ll all be worth it when my design makes the game a hit.
DAY 8 (Monday):
Today was technically not a day I spent working on the game, but I’ll record what happened here anyway, because I did see something rather strange. I called Volker in the morning to see if we were going to work on the project, but he said that Monday is the busiest day of the week for him, and that I can take Mondays off from the project.
I checked the news after classes to see reports of something rather unnerving. In another city somewhere in the US, there was a sudden outbreak of an unknown pathogen. The toxin seemed to be contagious, and caused hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia in the victims. This didn’t worry me as much as what the news announced after that. People infected with it became violent, hemorrhaged blood from their orifices, and would vomit blood onto uninfected people, as if deliberately trying to propagate their affliction.
It reminded me of that one time when that creature in Volker’s genetics lab exhumed blood at me, and he said that I would have “turned” if any of the blood got into my system.
Could Volker’s work be related to the “ravenous outbreak” that happened elsewhere? Either way, I’m just glad it could be contained that day, and didn’t sweep the continent by storm like a plague.
DAY 9 (Tuesday):
I didn’t function at maximum efficiency that day. Volker could pick up that there was something bothering me, but I told him I didn’t want to discuss it until the day was over, since it would be harder to work together after the impending awkward conversation. We got some work done, but stayed after work because I needed to ask him about something.
I told him about the ravenous that attacked that city, and he got a bit anxious even before I asked him if they were related to the mutant cat in his lab. He said that he had disposed of the cat’s body by incineration, and that he wouldn’t make any more of them, but he knew that that wasn’t what I was worried about.
“You know why I’m worried, so don’t pretend you can distract me with that cat thing. What kind of science are you doing here, is it related to the origin of the ravenous, and is it legal?” I pressingly inquired.
“Ze science I do here is cuttink edge. It’s not legal, strictly sveakink, but once the world sees the marvels I create, they will have no choice but to embrace mein creations. As for the ravenous, that is just a cross ve vill have to bear.” He said with a nervous chuckle. “Ze tsreat of ain ravenous outbreak is alvays a clear und present danger vith every scientific invention, but ve have to take ze risk if any progress is to be made.”
“But why?” I questioned “Why must every discovery be overshadowed by the looming threat that lurks within the fear of the unknown?”
“It’s His vey of gettink revenge.” Dr. Volker said in a matter-of-fact tone. “He has been tryink to punish humanity every time zey try to understand ze tsings only He vas meant to know, since ze tover of Babel, in fact. It may sound bad, but think of ze discoveries zat have been made since zen? Und none of zem have driven humanity extinct, in fact, society has improved vith progress. Ve just need to be careful, und everything vill be fine.”
I could tell he wasn’t lying, as the thickness of his German accent showed a huge amount of passion and sincerity behind his words. I just hoped he could make good on that promise, though.
I walked home from the game design club a little less worried that day, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that there’s something Volker is hiding from me.
DAY 10 (Wednesday):
Today, Volker would be busy with some work in the genetics lab, so I said that I would spend the day contacting established game companies and seeing if any of them would be willing to function as a front for our group. He thought that it took the entire session for me to accomplish this. Being a business communication major, I actually formed a deal with an established developer (I’m not going to say which one) in under two hours.
I spent the rest of the session working with the programmer to formulate a plan to keep Volker in check. Luckily, he was forgetful enough to leave blueprints and instructions for the digitizer on this computer. The programmer helped me find these files, and I procured a copy to take home in my personal flash drive.
The programmer generated an automated system that could be set to send all the game’s files to the publisher automatically on a timer, in case anything went wrong. He granted me this favor in exchange for a promise that I would give him back his human evolution if Volker couldn’t or wouldn’t for any reason.
Working behind Volker’s back like this may sound wrong on many levels, but I still don’t trust him, and I think he’s keeping some secret from me. I sure hope I didn’t jeopardize the project with my surreptitious collusion.
DAY 11 (Thursday):
The day went normally, as normally as it could given my circumstances. One wonders how we adapt so easily to strange and unusual circumstances that were previously thought impossible, and treat them as accepted fact. After that, ironically, rejecting the conditions is seen as deviance bordering on heresy. Am I on to something, or am I just reading too much into this?
DAY 12 (Friday):
After twelve days of working on this project, I’ve become acclimated to something with which I never thought I could be complacent. The character models realistically responding to pain no longer bothers me.
We just added our first female character model. Her character has fire based attacks, and is supposed to be immune to her own fire, but as the character was surrounded in fires she had started, her face reflected real suffering, as though she were a victim of the Salem Witch Trials, an innocent woman thrown into fire for no reason beyond mankind’s need for senseless violence! I would have been worried by the sight, but I was used to these things by now.
Volker said that he found a way to make these character models less frightening. He put this female character in a suit that covered all of her skin from head to toe, obscuring her face behind a mask. I guess what the audience doesn’t know won’t hurt them, but there’s still something I can’t help but find suspicious about how little control the programmer and scientist have over the character models.
DAY 13 (Saturday):
Today, I tried to satisfy my curiosity about Volker’s plans, and made a horrible discovery. When I entered the lab, visibly drained and shaken, I claimed that it was because I forgot that I was still supposed to work on the game on weekends. I actually woke up in the morning, watched from some nearby bushes as Volker entered the lab, and then started peering into his workplace from the ground windows.
What I saw in that basement will forever haunt me with unforgivable guilt…
In the computing room, where we did the programming and design, there was another person tied to a chair. It reminded me of how we acquired our programmer, right down to Volker was aiming the digitizer at him. This time, the device had an electric clip installed, and was hooked up to the computer terminal, which was executing the program we were using to develop the game, as it simulated a featureless test room.
Volker fired his heinous contraption, breaking the man down into electronic impulses as his physical form screamed its last, only to be supplanted with a digital model materializing in the test room in perfect synchronization with the man’s physical demise. Once the man was fully inside the program he immediately began banging on the screen from the other side, desperate to break the fourth wall, and fruitlessly clashing upon the immaterial walls of his cybernetic prison.
So this was the game’s secret all along? This is Volker’s method of creating human models? Eschewing AI in favor of real human suffering, stealing away real people to die innumerable times in a sociopathic blood sport, all while the outside world thinks it’s nothing more than an electronic fantasy? It all makes sense now, and I was mentally deriding myself for not figuring this out earlier.
There was no time to mope, however, because now that I know the true nature of this project, I knew that it couldn’t be kept secret forever, no matter how cautious Volker is.
That day, I didn’t skip work, but I tried to circumvent talking unless necessary. I think he did believe that I was lethargic for lack of sleep, but I don’t think I can keep up the ruse for long.
DAY 14 (Sunday):
The day was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, at least by these bizarre new standards of normality I have adopted over the course of this project. Volker has introduced an all new character to the game.
Though I didn’t say anything about it, I’m worried about the future of this project. We’re going to have to kidnap a lot more people before we can finish this game, and the media has already begun to catch on to the disappearances. I guess I can rest easy tonight, as I won’t have to work on the project tomorrow at least. I never thought I’d look forward to a Monday like this; the oddities never end.
DAY 16 (Tuesday):
The project schedule just became even weirder, presumably because Volker found out that the news is reporting on his kidnappings. He had us work on the game starting after sundown and ending after midnight, as if my sleep schedule wasn’t screwed up enough. He’s also made the first changes to the building since he gave me the tour: He’s boarded up all the windows, with tiny locked wooden door on the one window we use to enter and leave.
Volker’s definitely more of a scientist than a carpenter, as the door is rather shoddy, constantly threatens to give me splinters and poke me with its’ protruding nails, and takes some effort to move. The punch line to all this is that the door still looks like it would be easy to kick in, and makes the basement look even more suspicious. It’s a good thing this building is out in a rundown and forsaken place in a neglected part of town where the business and residential districts seamlessly blend into one another. Sorry, got carried away; I do that when I’m exhausted.
In spite of the media’s focus on the kidnappings, Volker still introduced a new character to the game. I doubt that doing his work at night will help him keep it secret, since people expect kidnappings to happen at night. If anything, the kidnappings are going to just get sloppier, as Volker does them at odder and odder hours.
I tried to talk him out of kidnapping so many peoplekidnapping, since I didn’t want him to know that I knew, but I somehow managed it in spite.
become datable. Since he will probably never find a girlfriend in his life, I don’t think there’s any harm in just letting him fantasize. Well, I’ve got
DAY 19 (Friday):
Things are almost starting to settle down into a safe holding pattern. Volker put curtains in the basement windows of the building, making it look less suspicious, and hasn’t added a new character to the game. The atmosphere has been getting relaxed between him and I, so much so that I forgot to update this journal for the past two days.
I shouldn’t get complacent, though, because where activities become routine and are done without thought is where people start forgetting the most important things. I know, because I’ve read a creepypasta called “Autopilot,” that was about that exact thing.
Though Volker is starting to settle down, I am getting worried about the programmer. Though his simian form renders him speechless, he still communicates through us via typed communiqués in TextPad. He recently told me “I’m gettin’ too prehistoric for this shit!” I laughed, but I can not say that I was not at least a little suspicious.
DAY 21 (Sunday):
Saturday went smoothly, and we currently have a pretty good beta of the game I was trying to design from the elements Volker could procure. But the next day, on Sunday, I got a panicked call from Volker at around 1:00am.
He told me to meet him in the lab, and when I asked for an explanation, he just told me to hurry and said it was an emergency.
When I arrived, Volker looked panicked. He was as unkempt as I, having been woken after midnight, and he was pacing around the room while muttering to himself in his native German. After a few seconds of the programmer and I just watching him, I asked him why we were here.
“Mein room mate! He found mein lab coat when I hung it in ze open instead of putting it in ze closet! Now he must know zat I am ain scientist, und vonce he calls ze police, it von’t take long for zem to make the connection betveen me und ze kidnappings!”
I knew then that our creation would never reach its grim apotheosis, at least not in its current state. Once the police knew that there was a covert scientist in the area, they would immediately begin searching all the likely locations until they exposed our lab. I tried to come up with a plan, which was hard with the sound of Volker talking to himself, and the programmer almost literally going ape shit. Volker left the room, possibly to be alone so he could gather his thoughts, but I followed him.
He walked into the genetics lab, too rapt in his own machinations to notice me, or the fact that I had picked up his digitizer. When he entered that room, it was nothing like the way it was before, and none of the changes were improvements.
Where electrical artifacts of unknown purpose had once lined the walls, the walls of the room were now lined with cages suspended from the ceiling upon chains. The contents of these cages varied wildly, but all had a few uniform characteristics…
Ugly: These bizarre entities of twisted and altered flesh were of an appearance that not even their own mothers could love, not that any of them looked like something birthed of a healthy and wholesome mother.
Violent: While their bodies looked unfit for any activity more strenuous than basic bodily functions, they thrashed against the metal bars of their containment.
Ravenous: The creatures were bleeding from their orifices, eyes bloodshot and skin pallid, I could instantly tell from a single glance what their condition was.
I needed no explanation to know what lined the walls of Dr. Volker’s genetics lab, failed experiments. Were they human experiments? Their looks gave no inclination either way.
Despite the distracting sights of the caged ravenous, Volker stood in front of a device that I assumed to be a supercomputer that supplanted the machines that once lined the walls. The machine was a chrome plated cylinder stretching all the way down from the ceiling, surrounded by a narrow catwalk connected to the room’s door. Below the catwalk was a dark pit where the floor once was, extending down into a dark oblivion illuminated solely by the undulating lights of whatever technology Volker had employed.
He opened up a compartment of his contraption, and withdrew the container of genetic material. He began to manipulate the machine, starting a monologue about how he was going to unleash the ravenous on this unsuspecting world as punishment for misunderstanding his brilliance, but he didn’t get far. I blasted him with the stream of electronic entrapment, imprisoning him within the confines of his own invention. I wanted to reflect on the irony, but there was no time for that.
I immediately returned to the computer terminal, and uploaded Volker’s data to the game. After that, I put the genetic clip into the digitizer, and went into the storage room. I found the programmer, and restored his human condition. I walked him back to the computer lab, explaining the situation on the way. Once I got back, I digitized the programmer and put him in the game, just like I did with Volker.
With the brief time I had left, I explained my plans to them. As soon as I finished, however, I heard police sirens in the area, and knew that I had not much time to complete my course of action.
I activated the programmer’s program to send the entire game to the publisher on a timer. I composed an email to the publisher that briefly explained my situation, and then, I hooked the digitizer up to the computer. I removed the electric clip, and attached some wires to the inside of the digitizer that fed directly into the computer. The police had gotten out of their cars outside. “I sure hope this works” I thought, as I turned the digitizer on myself.
I felt my body being broken down and converted into synchronized sequences of electronic impulses as they traversed the wires from the digitizer’s datafication systems straight into the game’s files. Luckily, my plan worked. Since I had digitized myself while operating the game development environment with administrator privileges, I could continue to edit and design the game, the only limiting factor being the introduction of new assets via the digitizer. Just before police could enter the building, the timer reached zero, and the game, the digitizer blueprint, and my explanation were all uploaded to the game studio that would be the face of our operation.
I may not be able to claim compensation for the design and conceptualization work I did, but at least my game idea would become a reality, and I would be able to expand and evolve this game forever more.
In the time between our arrival at the corporation and the game’s release, I got a chance to make some more changes to the game’s content while the company made promotional material.
The last three people I digitized: Volker, the programmer, and myself, had to be altered before they could become full-fledged video game characters. I started by modifying the programmer. I took his ability to hack the game’s code away, as I did not want to share power. To compensate, I did give him some interesting engineering themed powers that offer him great utility and control of the battlefield.
After I was satisfied with the engineer, I got to work modifying myself to fulfill an important role within the game’s world. I adapted myself to the role of mission control, telling players what to do as they mindlessly obey, sending the people they control to death after death in a foolish pursuit of meaningless objectives.
Finally, I had to modify Volker. In the state in which he arrived, he was too horrible even for the world of a video game. I gave him powers based on science. While I wanted to punish him for his actions, even I couldn’t take from him his one most prized and cherished cornerstone of his very identity. I gave him silly mannerisms and a goofy voice, well, even goofier than the German accent he already had.
Since I wanted to insult him, I gave him support powers in combat. He stays out of combat now, and gets all his kills through assists. On a side note, I also made the game refer to Mr. Volker by his first name, since I know how much that bothers him. Even these restrictions on his role in the game weren’t enough of a punishment for the animosities he had committed, so I also made him a boss. Now, teams of players kill Alad Volker on a regular basis for his loot.
Now that I’ve told my story, I need to make an announcement to some players;
“A Fomorian Core is being transported from the factory for installation. You are here to make sure that core never reaches a Fomorian class ship.”