As the sun slipped below the horizon, a veil of darkness descended upon New Paso City. But as the night fell, the soft amber glow of streetlights casted a warm, inviting glow upon the city streets, while the distant flicker of stars shone brightly in the vast expanse of Texan sky.


New Paso City boasted an incredible nightlife. Even a leisurely stroll through the numerous buildings and houses made you feel alive in the moment. As the night grew darker, vendors set up along a wide street, creating a bustling yet peaceful atmosphere. There were no cars or vehicles to disrupt the scene. Instead, happy groups of friends, couples, and companions enjoyed each other's company while savoring the sweet scent of freedom and the delicious food on offer.


Despite all this richness and high living standards, just a few blocks away across the border, a different reality came into focus. There, a stark contrast awaited - one of destitution, impoverishment and widespread disparity. The dilapidated buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and squalid living conditions were a poignant reminder of the inequalities that plague a community of people living on the other side.


In close proximity to the border lay a detention facility that reeked of injustice and unfairness. It operated not only as a holding center, but also as a heavily fortified prison. The titanium walls were impenetrable, with countless sensors and cameras monitoring every inch of the premises. A team of security patrols rigorously guarded the gates and passages of this inhumane institution.


It was the year 2040 and while numerous families grappled with financial constraints, the majority of the populace was leading an idyllic life, shielded from the scars of war and the agony faced by marginalized communities.


Despite the idyllic lives that many imagined for themselves in the North American Empire, Edward Larkson was not one of them. He was truly unlucky. 


The president of the empire had decreed that all civilians in service to the government must undergo a thorough background check. Edward, who was a volunteer working on environmental projects and other public services as part of a federal volunteer program, was among those affected. 


As the clock struck five in the evening, Edward and the others were escorted into the confines of the prison facility. They were deemed to be a risk to the loyalty of the government due to their past votes for left-wing policies and leaders in recent elections.


Despite its façade, the structure was indeed a prison - an imposing example of brutalist architecture crafted to convey the principles of power and oversight. Once inside, the uncomfortable living conditions were apparent: the steel amenities offered little respite, and any semblance of life had been stripped away. Even the windows had been obscured with frosted glass, hindering both the penetration of natural light and the outside view. While it maintained its original outward appearance, the internal reality was far removed from the humane intentions of its initial design.


The introduction of true artificial intelligence and technological advancements had brought about a revolution in the prison system, but unfortunately, it was not for the better. Virtual reality was no longer limited to gaming. An ingenious college student had invented a mechanism that increased the realism of the virtual world to nearly 100%. As a result, the largest private prison had patented its own version of this innovative technology making virtual death equivalent to actual death. And Edward Larkson was among the first 1000 “beta-testers” selected.


Zephyrdom was the name of this game console. What was once a medium of entertainment, had been retrofitted as a means of confinement.


"Connection established," intoned a voice that was startlingly human in its realism. The flawless quality of the voice was unsurprising given the remarkable advances in voice cloning technology. 


"The designated pod bears the codename #FS-404 and belongs to Edward Larkson, a healthy 30-year-old male. All bodily functions are within normal parameters and no adverse reactions have been detected..."


"Connection successful," announced the voice, signaling the commencement of the loading process. 


With a faint hum, the pod's glass window began to disappear. The virtual world shimmered into view, and he felt a sense of dread wash over him. 


This was it. The ultimate prison. A death game promised to kill the user if their health points dropped to zero. With a sinking feeling in his gut, he braced himself for the journey ahead, knowing that the only way out was to survive until the end.


About the author



Log in to comment
Log In