The Fae Worlds


The first thing Keeley did was check her way back. Being the first to test the newly created worlds was always worrying, because they could never be quite certain there was a way out, and that time there wasn’t. For a moment she wanted to laugh. It was either that, or cry, and she wasn’t going to cry. Knowing how dangerous it was meant they were always ready for the worst to happen – and being stuck wasn’t the very worst that could happen.
Due to the way they created the games she knew there was a way out. All she had to do was play through the story line, which should be simple enough. She knew the story line. She’d studied it for days, to make certain she could play her way home, as there was far too many occasions where the testers had had to do just that. Sighing, she looked around, certain there would be a pick-up close by.
When Keeley saw it she didn’t make her way straight over to it. Instead she made certain there were no enemies, because that, annoyingly, was always a possibility. A couple of the testers… no, she wasn’t going to think about them. She couldn’t think about them. It was far simpler for her not to, otherwise she was going to let herself over think what her next step should be, which was something she couldn’t let happen. What she needed to do was focus on doing what she knew she was supposed to do.
Slowly, making certain to put her foot down carefully ever time, she headed towards the pick-up, doing her best not to let her imagination get the better of her. That would be a mistake. AA big mistake. Of course imagining the very worst that could happen would, she hoped, make things a little easier for her when, inevitably, something went wrong. That was the ways things happened when you were testing out computer game worlds mixed with magic. Reaching the pick-up was a relief.
Unlike the other games Keeley had played the one she found herself in had food and water pick-ups, because there was no way of knowing how long someone might be trapped in the world they’d created, and they wanted to give the testers the best chance they had of surviving. Once she had the bag in her hand she was a little more certain of herself, even though she was on another world, as she knew what she was supposed to expect next. Waiting for the guide to appear wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. She stood there, for as long as she could stand to, before taking a couple of steps forward, in the hope that would call him. He was meant to turn up the moment someone picked up the first bag, so where was he?
Keeley took a notebook out of her pocket. The first bug was the guide not arriving when he was supposed to. Great. As she thought for a moment what she was supposed to do next, her memory of the storyline nowhere near as good as she wanted it to be, something skittered over her foot. When she looked down there was nothing there. She was certain she didn’t remember anyone adding actual bugs to the terrain, but one of the things they had learnt was that the magic always affected the worlds far more quickly than they expected it to. Most of the fae were against the games, which was understandable. She wasn’t entirely certain they were the best idea, but bug testing one of them would make her a lot of money… if she survived.
The contract she signed had been very blunt about the possibility of her dying while she was testing the game, as well as the other things that could happen to her. All the games she had tested up to that point had been okay. Eventually she had to get one that wasn’t. Standing around wasn’t going to get her anywhere, so Keeley put her notebook back in her pocket, slung the bag over her shoulder, and started walking to the edge of the platform. The start point for the game was around the midpoint of a cliff, that protected a nearby village, and she was meant to make her way from one platform to the other safely in order to get up it. If she managed that there should be another pick-up when she reached the top, before she had to begin dealing with the enemies they’d placed.
In the pick-up she had there were no weapons. Keeley was meant to have been given a weapon by the guide. Like in all games she would have been able to choose what she wanted, and what she wanted would have had an effect on how the rest of the game would be for her. Now she had no idea what would happen. Being weaponless at the beginning of the game wasn’t an option in the pack she’d received.
“What are you doing here?” The voice belonged to someone who was male, and Keeley turned to look at him. “I thought there was only meant to be one tester per play.”
“There is.” Keeley sighed. “This could be a bug, or it could be something else entirely.” Their eyes met for a moment. “Is this your first time?”
He nodded. “I thought it would be interesting, and the money was good.”
“Yeah, the money is good, but you know this is dangerous, right?”
“I know. I signed the contract like everyone else.” Smiling, he crossed the platform to his pick-up, and there was still no sign of the guide. Two players, with no weapons. That wasn’t good. “You’ve logged that, right?”
“Considering the fact it happened for both of us I think you should log it too.” She looked up. “We appear to have arrived here far later than we were supposed to, because it’s not going to be long until the sun goes down, so the best thing we can do is make our way up to the top. Then we can decide what we’re going to do next.”
“Sticking together definitely does seem like the best option.” He moved over to where she was. “That platform doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy to get to.”
“The game wasn’t meant to be easy. It’s one of the higher level ones, so it does need to be perfect, and difficult. Right now we should have a weapon and a guide showing us how to get up them.” Remembering how he’d done it wasn’t going to help, because he had things they didn’t. “I’m Keeley, by the way.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Keeley, although I wish it had been somewhere else. I’m Jack.”
“Do me a favour and check the button that should be your way out?”
“Okay.” Jack took it out of his pocket and pressed it. “Nothing. That what you expected?”
“Pretty much. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but right now we’re in a better position than some people have been in when they found themselves trapped in one of these games.” Always look on the bright side. Keeley stared at the next platform, trying to work out if there really was a bright side. “We have two options. Either we go up, and probably kill ourselves in the process, or we go down, which may or may not work out the way I want it to.”
Jack was silent for a long time, but Keeley wasn’t going to push him for a reply. The choices they made would have an effect on whether or not they survived until the end of the game. “Unless we have some rope neither option is going to be easy. At least if we’re going down we won’t get half way up and then fall to the very bottom.” He looked at her. “Let’s go down. I think it’s the safer option, if not the best one.”
“That, I think, is going to be the way things are from now on.”
“You’re probably right.” They made their way over to the other side of the platform, to look at the one that was below them. “I believe I can drop you down onto that platform, and then jump down myself.”
As Keeley looked down at it she nibbled her lip. “Okay.” It wasn’t what she wanted to do, but she knew she didn’t have any other option, because going up wouldn’t be possible, even with the two of them there. “Let’s try this. If I fall, I fall.”
“Do you wish you’d never signed up for this?”
“No, not yet. It’s still possible for us to find our way out of this, even if we can’t do it the way we’re supposed to, and all I can do is believe it’s possible.”
Jack smiled. “Then I’m going to join you.” Their eyes met. “Let’s get started on this unexpected adventure.”