22 Dec While Recovering From a Broken Leg, I Ordered the Most Immersive VR Headset – Creepypasta
After an accident at work that resulted in a broken leg, I was forced to stay home while it healed. The first few days went by well enough; I played video games, read a book, started a new TV series, chatted online with friends, all the stuck-indoors hits. But when the week ended, and the next one started, and I had finished another book, the TV series, and played through several games, I developed an extreme case of cabin fever. That, coupled with the less-than-healthy effects of delivered food, made me feel not only bored, but unwell.
I needed a break from the break—something to free my mind, even while my body remained temporarily immobile.
I Google’d around for VR headsets, read reviews, and most seemed to be too expensive for the rudimentary level of audio-visual immersion they offered. I hadn’t expected tactile feedback and complete sensorial captivation, but everything seemed just a bit too gimmicky; the fledging, experimental technology before much greater equipment years down the line.
I had almost given up my search, when I came across a website advertising experimental but highly advanced VR equipment—available to test for free, provided you e-sign a lengthy waiver. This was on the fourth or fifth page of search results, after an extremely specific use of search terminology; the results before and after it were tangential, at best. I had mostly been scrolling to scroll, by that point. But I clicked on the link, read through the single-paged article, entered the required information, and completed my free sign-up. They promised “fast shipping”, giving no approximation of how long it would take. I didn’t expect to receive the product anytime soon—suspected I might not receive it at all—but exactly two days later, a package arrived at my front door.
Inside the package was a pretty standard-looking black VR headset, with all the attachments and wires you’d expect to find with one. In addition to the headset, there was a single piece of paper, and a small plastic bottle that contained a single white capsule. There were instructions for the operation of the headset on the paper, and an explanation of the capsule’s purpose. I’m not a medical expert, and the instructions weren’t detailed in a way that explained the how’s of the pill’s effects clearly, but it essentially was meant to stabilize my body, while I underwent the VR immersion. The sensations of the virtual experience were described as being extreme, and so real that my body would need to be “tricked” into disregarding the sensorial and tactile feedback fed to my brain by the device.
The goggles and headset formed a sort of half-helmet, and weighed a bit more than the display headsets I had tried at electronic stores a few months back. The design was simple but sturdy; surprisingly well-built, considering the lack of payment required to receive it. It came pre-loaded with a demo; the only supplementary equipment necessary was a USB power-source. I plugged it into my computer, sat at my desk, took the pill with a glass of water as instructed, and put on the headset.
Upon turning it on, I was met with a calibration menu, which allowed me to orient the visual display to my preferences, and adjust the sounds to my liking. To my surprise, all of this was done through audio input: I only had to speak the dimensions, levels, and degrees I desired, and the onboard computer adjusted the virtual space and stimuli accordingly. The preliminary adjustments were made within a boundless black area, overlayed by a three-dimensional grid for spatial awareness, with various objects and humanoid dummies to allow for reference and collision detection. Even this rudimentary space was highly immersive.
Once my preferences had been established and saved, I was transported to the actual play area—and my breath was instantly taken away. The simplistic orientation area was replaced by a highly complex, hyper-realistically detailed environment. I stood on great green hill, bathed in pleasantly warm sunlight, that overlooked a gently flowing river. Immediately across the river was a small grove, through which a cooling wind swept, tossing the trees. In the far distance, a misty-peaked mountain range stretched across the horizon. Behind me, leading down the opposite end of the hill, was a small town. Its general aesthetic of construction appeared to be a strange yet beautiful mixture of modern and medieval architectural design.
Despite having no peripheral attached to my nose, I actually smelled the scents of cooking food emanate from within the town. Other smells, those of livestock and agriculture, were also present, to lesser degrees. Before I thought to step in one direction or the other, a visual prompt appeared before me, and instructed me to walk down the hill towards the town. I did so, and actually felt the soft grass beneath my bare feet. There was no sense of disorientation or loss of equilibrium; it felt as natural to move within that world as it did in the real one.
Once I arrived at the town, I was instructed to perform several actions, and realized that I was doing the tutorial. There were several NPCs within the town, though none of them displayed any unique behaviors or had any dialogue. Above their heads was displayed the message, “character interactions not yet finalized.” Nonetheless, they were equally life-like; their models strikingly realistic, despite the somewhat odd, paradoxically anachronistic assortment of clothing they wore. Their idle animations were fluid, and varied enough to not be noticeably scripted.
I finished the tutorial in what felt like ten or fifteen minutes, and learned the various actions, movements, and abilities available to me within the demo. I could move with a speed and agility well beyond anything I could hope to achieve in the real world, and had a proficiency with several weapon types that I had never held before. The floating visual prompts said that there would be other abilities available in the full release, and also other weapons I hadn’t yet wielded. The variety of armaments already present was staggering; I was genuinely excited for anything else they would introduce.
Once I confirmed that I had a comfortable understanding of the gameplay, the area again melted away and a new one took its place. I seemed to be in the same region, although placed in a different location. I saw the mountains to my right, curling around in the distance. Hills rolled on interminably to my left, and various stretches of plains showed wind-blown grass far ahead. I stood within a human establishment of some kind, this one different from the town in which the tutorial had been held. The layout gave the impression of a fortress; walls blocked off the wilder environs, stone pathways were laid between several wooden huts, and a gate sat at the end of a sheer flight of stone steps. Fortifications and medieval emplacements sat around the area’s perimeter.
I examined myself, and found that I was adorned in armor, although it wasn’t anything I could immediately recognize. It was like a mix of Samurai armor, and the combat armor of modern infantry; with other alterations, strappings, and paddings of unrecognized purpose.
A weapon was sheathed at my side. I drew it, and held what appeared to be a very rare sword of vaguely Eastern design. A thin but sharp-edged blade extended from a thick, ornately decorated hilt. The pommel was the head of a chimera, with two flame-hearted crimson jewels set within the eyes. When I focused on the sword, information about its damage and design appeared in a hovering prompt. There was a supplementary box for the lore, although it said that this information would be provided in the full release. The damage was listed as “moderate”, and the weapon’s description said that successive attacks were capable of inflicting “Deep Lacerations”; a sub-type of damage that caused the inflicted enemy to lose focus overtime.
I re-sheathed the blade, and looked around. I saw no one else immediately near me, and heard no sounds of activity. I wanted to explore, but some deep and powerful compulsion kept me rooted in place. I felt that if I moved, I’d be abandoning a pre-ordained duty. I assumed that this portion of the demo would be instructional as well, and waited in place. Nothing happened for a while, although I didn’t mind the inactivity. I was more than happy to stand and marvel at the well-crafted world, beautifully illumed by the bountiful sunlight.
A man approached the gate at the bottom of the path. He stood there for a moment, then knelt down and began what seemed to be a lock-picking activity. Even though I stood at the top of the path, and had a clear view of his actions, I could not move—could not raise the alarm, even though I knew that this man was an intruder. I watched as he eventually unlocked the gate, opened it, and stepped into the fortress. No one came to stop him. Despite his obvious intrusion, he freely explored the grounds; going in and out of huts, apparently scavenging for supplies.
The demo hadn’t made any mention of online capabilities, so I at first assumed this to be the scripted behavior of an NPC. But something about the man’s movements and interactions with the environment gave the impression of a sentient player, instead of an AI program. After he had gone through all the lower-placed buildings, he ascended the stone path and stood before me. He wore a simple grey tunic and brown trousers; an outfit befitting a peasant. He had no weapons, save for what appeared to be armored gloves, or cestus. His face was, in a word, ordinary, and seemed almost lifeless, despite my aforementioned observations about his behavior.
Despite his innocuous appearance, an impetus of violence overcame me, and I felt that slaying this man was my duty. I drew my sword, and in a stroke that would’ve split even a boulder in half, I attacked the man before me.
The slash rebounded off his fist, deflecting the attack and destabilizing my posture—I had been parried.
In the split second of my imbalance, he pulled a small curved knife from behind his belt, and plunged it into my side. I felt the blade pass through the weak spot of my armor; felt the steel part my soft flesh. The pain was terrible, unlike anything I had ever experienced. Even the breaking of my leg hadn’t felt nearly as awful as that stab. I fell to my knees, and before I could even think to shield myself from another strike, the blade was dislodged and re-inserted in my neck. Darkness came over me a moment later, and I was dead before my body hit the ground.
When vision returned to me, I was back at the top of the path, staring down at the gate. I had, apparently, respawned.
I started to take off the headset, too shocked for the moment to continue playing; a but warning prompt appeared, saying that if I removed the VR apparatus without the proper exiting procedure, I would experience extreme disorientation and nausea that could last for up to several hours. Despite the tactile authenticity of the violence, I didn’t want to experience any truly real physical issues, so I kept the headset on. Since I was just playing a highly advanced video game, I decided to learn from the past experience, and adapt accordingly. Instead of a slash, I decided to do a stabbing attack, if the intruder should re-appear.
Sure enough, he again unlocked the gate, explored the area, and approached me. Apparently, I was the sole sentry of the fortress, for a reason not immediately explained to me. I figured that defeating this person would provide answers, so I endeavored to achieve victory. When he was in striking distance, I unsheathed and thrusted the sword forward, a stab I was sure would be unblockable.
The man, without hesitation, side-stepped the attack, and slashed me across the stomach with his short blade. I fell to my knees, dropped my sword, and clutched my stomach as the blood flowed through the threads and plates of my armor. A moment later, a sudden, piercing pressure was applied to the back of my neck, and my vision went dark.
I again returned to my original position, undamaged, overlooking the front gate of the fortress.
The pain had been wiped away, and yet—the real me—shivered at the memory of its agony. Not wanting to be defeated by what I was certain was a common enemy, I decided to think of a new plan. Slashing and thrusting had proved insufficient, so I instead decided to wait for him to attack, and then retaliate when an opportunity presented itself. I had no other weapons, only my blade. If I could not change weapons, I would need to change tactics.
This time, he was different. He no longer wore the simple tunic and trousers. In fact, his appearance was eerily similar to my own. He was dressed in the same armor, which had aspects of both ancient and modern design. Instead of his armored gloves, he wielded a cudgel. His face, unobscured by any helmet, showed only an impassive resolve; an expression of acquiescence to a tedious task.
I stood my ground, sword drawn, awaiting his approach. He stood immobile for several moments, presumably waiting for me to strike first. Understanding that I was not going to make the first move, he raised his cudgel in a posture to strike. I tightened my grip on my blade, ready to block or parry his attack and strike swiftly. But rather than bring the cudgel down, he reached into a pouch on his belt with his free hand, and quickly threw some kind of powder at me. The black dust clouded my vision and stung my eyes. I swiped blindly, expecting his subsequent advance, but my blows never connected with anything.
A moment later, I felt a blade slice across my throat, and then stab quickly into my side. I died, blind and in unimaginable, visceral pain.
The world reset, the pain ebbed, the memory of death lingered, terror mounted.
Even in the game world, my hands trembled at the inevitability of my digital death. No matter what I tried, the intruder slayed me. Knowing that I had only a few moments before his arrival, I surveyed my surroundings, hoping to find something which could lend assistance or give the upper hand in my eventual confrontation. Only the useless objects of environmental decoration were present; nothing of value within my reach, nothing I could use as a combative tool. Grounded in place, immovably stationed, I could only await the blade-begotten doom.
He appeared again, clad in the same armor, but somehow more intimidating; as if he possessed some inner power, or had grown in an imperceptible but potent way. Instead of a cudgel, he carried a massive war hammer held with both hands. I knew I would have no hope of blocking such a weapon with my blade. With fear poisoning my heart, I did the one thing I hadn’t yet tried: speaking to him. I called out, hoping that there would be some sort of peaceful dialogue option with which to de-escalate the violence. But he didn’t heed my words—didn’t acknowledge them at all.
Before I could assume a posture of defense, the hammer collided with my skull, and though the pain was beyond agony, it was short-lived. I again resumed that virtual life, prior to his arrival.
I died six more times. With each time, he was different, changed in a slight way. By the third time I realized the truth: that I was being farmed; killed for experience. He would level up almost each time, and had purchased or scavenged more lethal weapons and tools with each round.
On the sixth time, I was bombarded by some sort of magical and caustic element, spewed forth by a bone-forged scepter of some kind. The substance or energy burned through my armor and melted my flesh, killing me in a slow, excruciating death. The intensity of the pain was too much. Ignoring the warnings, I removed the headset and returned to the normal world.
Ejecting myself from the VR immersion was just as shocking as the game warned. I instantly vomited, emptying my stomach onto the carpet. Despite the stains, and the smell, I did not try to redirect the projections to a less absorbent surface. I could do nothing but retch and cry; like a child prematurely thrust from the womb into the outer world; overloaded by unfamiliar sense impressions.
When I eventually settled down and regained something of my composure, I gathered and placed all the VR equipment into the original packaging. I was done with the game. The experiences were dreadful, painful, and terrifying. My tireless adversary only grew stronger with each visit, whilst I remained pitifully outmatched; unfairly under-leveled.
Once I had packed it all up, I went to the bathroom to wash myself off. I removed my shirt, because droplets of vomit had landed on it. The shocking image reflected in the mirror made me lose my balance, and I barely managed to right my crutches before toppling over. Several scars were present across my body; scars that hadn’t been there before. The wounds that left them were savage, and even though I’m not a medical professional, I knew by their appearance alone that they would’ve been lethal—had they been inflicted in the real world. My heart and mind were dually overcome with a black terror as I realized that each scar corresponded to a wound sustained within the VR game. I remembered each vicious strike; each brutal blow.
I returned to the living room, where I had left the package. I turned it over to examine every surface, and even unpacked the contents, but found no information regarding returns—no return address. I went to the website I had ordered it from, but was met with only the initial sign-up screen. There wasn’t even an option to provide feedback for my experiences with their device. I didn’t dare put on the machine to search for such an option in-game. I wasn’t willing to risk re-experiencing the horror and trauma of being slain by that merciless foe.
I burned it all, even the packaging. If I could not return it, I would see it destroyed. I know I wanted an immersive experience to take me out of the dullness and tedium of my recuperation, but that game was far beyond anything I would’ve wanted; far too realistic to derive any sort of enjoyment from it. Some things should remain within the realm of fantasy.