Fear.1 (short story)


Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

Simmons woke up alone. He was wearing his work clothes, a tattered suit, and scuffed shoes. He had no recollection of where he had come from, nor where he was supposed to go. The room was old and ugly, with creepy old peeling wallpaper. The bed in which he awoke had its springs exposed, and the lamp on the nightstand was a strange cupid statue. The cupid stared unblinkingly at Simmons. Simmons stared back. Simmons began to wonder who had designed this room. Simmons also wondered how he had got here. He opened a drawer and found a small file.

 RODNEY SIMMONS it said in bold lettering. Simmons recalled his real name. Rodney. He noticed a small black and white photograph of himself. It was him from a younger time, in which he had longer hair. Now he was balding and had a small, depressing beard. Inside the file was some basic info about himself. Simmons slowly remembered some basic details about himself. He was an accountant, he was single, and he lived in Atlantic City. Simmons wondered: “Am I at my house right now?” As he was pondering this, he began to wonder something truly horrifying: was he drugged and locked in here? His heart began to pound, his palms sweating and his mind racing. Suddenly he heard a thumping. A slow, rhythmic thumping, accompanied by an animalistic heavy breathing. Terrified, Simmons dropped the file and rushed to the door as fast as he could. He flung open the door and stumbled into the outside world. It appeared it was night, and the air was frigid and cold. He was standing in the middle of an enormous forest full of tall trees. Simmons turned around only to find that the house was gone.

Simmons searched the ground, searching for something. Anything. In a mud puddle, he saw an old parchment with the words BE AFRAID written in a scrawled handwriting. Simmons searched nervously for the source of the parchment, only to hear the heavy breathing again. His mind racing, Simmons tried to rack his memory: why was he here? His quick beating heart overpowered his brain, and Simmons started to run. Something was definitely following him. Something that wasn’t human. Simmons fear grew, and as he ran quicker and quicker, the monster footsteps steadily grew faster. Acting on impulse, our amnesiac hero dove into a brambly ravine, tumbling through the ivy and thorns, scarring himself in the process. The pain grew larger, but now he wasn’t so scared. It appeared as though the monster had lost track of him. Simmons weighed the options. He could risk his life attempting to find shelter and supplies, or he could stay here and leave himself to die. Simmons decided to go with the first. He slowly rose from his splayed position, tumbling out of the ravine across the uneven dirt. He stumbled precariously up the slope, his bones aching and his body bleeding with every step up. Once he reached the top, he caught sight of a glimmer from a tree. Miraculously, he found a small roll of bandages hidden in its crux. Perfect! He thought. He took the roll and treated his leg, which had retained the most damage from his ravine tumble.

Simmons couldn’t believe his luck. But who could have placed it there? Or was it simply divine intervention? He stared at the sky, which was gloomy and black. What did all this mean? How did he get here? How come he couldn’t remember anything? It was all puzzling.

Suddenly he heard a loud call from afar. It was a shout. Another Human! Simmons rushed towards the sound, ignoring the pain in his feet. Rushing through the forest made Simmons noticed some odd things. For one, the environment repeated itself endlessly. The same cluster of trees showed up numerous times, even though he wasn’t running in circles. It was an odd feeling, indeed. The scream got louder, and finally, Simmons found the source: A woman. She was tall and wore a purple jumpsuit and a brown trench coat. Short brown hair and strange green eyes looked back at Simmons. He stared in awe but didn’t say a word. He had so many questions swarming in his head, and just as he was about to ask all of them at once, the woman interrupted him. “Hello, Simmons,” she said quietly. As she spoke, her body began to go static, almost as if she was glitching out.  “My name is Jade”. She spoke slowly, methodically. “Do you have any idea how I got here?” Simmons asked. “I…do. Simmons, all of this is a si-” before she could finish her sentence, the heavy breathing returned. “Oh no,” she said quietly. “It’s here.”

Suddenly a horrible beast jumped out of the bushes. He could barely see it, as it was moving too fast, but from what he glimpsed of it had long, black teeth and dark beady eyes. Simmons screamed as the beast mauled Jade. But oddly, no blood splattered. In fact, after the beast touched Jade, she disappeared in a blast of purple light. An echoey, monotone voice spoke afterward, saying “Glitch Terminated” Simmons was so confused, but then realized he had a bigger problem on his hands. The beast was headed towards him next. Frozen in place, he saw the creature’s appearance more closely. Beige skin. Scarred, rough texture. Devilish horns sprouting from the flesh. And a tall lanky body with a hunched back. Simmons was frozen in place. He was petrified in fear.

As he became more and more scared, the monster grew larger and larger. Soon the beast was 12 feet tall and it’s black talons caressed Simmons frigidly. That is until suddenly a loud static sound pierced the air and Simmons disappeared.

When he awoke, he found himself in a completely dark room, a far cry from the chilly forest that he had just been in moments before. Then he saw Jade. “Simmons. You have to understand. None of this is real life.” she said. His head was spinning. What did she mean? “This is all a simulation. A test. You were picked out of a group to participate in a grueling set of trials. Your memory was wiped.” she said forlornly. “So….none of this is real?” Simmons asked shakily. “I’m afraid so. You see, I’m a glitch. I was the only test subject who bypassed the source code and hacked the simulation. Now I can move freely between tests. I came here to save you” Jade responded. “It’s for the best.” Simmons dropped to his knees. “Wh-Wh-” he stuttered. “ I can help you, Rodney. We can be glitches. Live amongst the tests and save the subjects.” she said harshly. Simmons cringed. “But what if I just want to go back to the real world?” he cried. “You’re missing the point!” Jade screamed. “Make up your mind! Time is running out!” Simmons’ heart began to race. The stress was getting to him, and just as he was about to make a choice, the black room glitched and suddenly the beast was right behind him. Jade looked on as the beast tore into Simmons.

But Jade didn’t care. As the GAME OVER symbol flashed, she knew that Simmons would be beamed into yet another simulation. Maybe this time the setting would be an asylum. Simmons would have his memory wiped yet again, and possibly would go under a new name. There would be some kind of new monster that fed on fear, just like the old one. And Jade would have to try and save him. It didn’t matter. She had done it a hundred times before.