Valerie got home from a long day of school and an after school shift the local superstore. Kicking off her trainers, which she had left on after her PE lesson and changing out of her work clothes and putting on a playstation t-shirt. Slumping down onto her single bed, with the television and gaming console set up at the foot of her bed. Looking around her bedroom, it was nerd-varna. Si-fi and fantasy books and films piled high. Posters of video game characters on the wall. Miniature statues of her gaming heroes, Nathan Drake and Lara Croft placed in pride of place on a shelf by her bed. Valerie liked to think that they kept watch over her each night whilst she slept. Valerie’s room was her own little piece of heaven.
Booting up the playstation, Valerie logged into her account, Vals_reality20. Scrolling through to see if anyone was online, thinking that some of her friends might be since it was just gone dinner time. Although she remembered that Mr Cline had given them a beast piece of homework and knew that her more studious friends would be working on that. It was then that she noticed that a free game had installed on her console, “Ithe World”. Curiosity getting the better of her, she scrolled to the game and pressed x on the controller. As the main screen of the game appeared on her screen, it became a form of graphical waves lapping towards her. Hitting x again for a new game a white dot appeared in the middle of the screen. As the game loaded it got bigger and bigger, until it had consumed the television and was started to consume Valerie’s room. Then it stopped and started to become small. Valerie noticed that whilst this was happening, she began to glow. Before she could stop the game, she was being sucked into her television. The bright light diminishing as she went through the screen. Before she knew it Valerie was lying on a beach, was she in the game? Where was this place? How the hell does she get out? The only certainty Valerie could muster was that she was no longer in her room.
Ithe was an island surrounded by rough sea with waves that crashed against the shore. Ahead of Valerie was a forest filled with a wide range of traps and mercenaries. Beside Valerie was a note and a chest. The note read:
You are on the island of Ithe. Your aim to get back home is to simply get to the other end of the island. In the chest is everything that you will need.
Valerie reread the note and then knelt down to open the chest. Inside were: two guns an AK47 and 9mm, one medical kit and crafting equipment which included a knife. Underneath was some ammo for the guns, but it was limited meaning that she would have to use it sparingly. Looking at the contents of the chest and the note, Valerie knew that getting to the other end of the island would not be easy. But the thought did not fill her with dread. For she had played Uncharted, Tomb Raider and The Last of Us, so she had an idea of what she had to do.
Standing up, Valerie took the items from the chest and strapped them to her body. Tentatively taking a few steps forward towards the forest. Trying to keep her head clear and push away any thoughts about dying. On the ground there was a path leading to the forest. Continuing along the path her start point went further into the distance. Along the way Valerie looked for any extra ammo, supplies or even signs of any other players thinking about the potential of safety in numbers. But there was no one that she could see, only the forest, which now was becoming thicker and darker as the trees began to hide the sky. With no signs of anyone else being about Valerie thought that she should set up camp and see if there was anything that she could craft together with her crafting supplies. It was starting to get dark and cold. Valerie walked some more to gather some wood in order to make a fire. With a fire burning, she would have some warmth and it would be a potential deterrent for any creatures that maybe lurking. Valerie felt tired and started to drift off to sleep under her makeshift shelter.
A sound of a twig being stepped on close by woke Valerie from her light sleep. Unsure of how long she had slept for as it was still dark and the only light she could see was from the embers of the fire. Squinting through the darkness there was nothing but silence. Valerie wondered if it had just been the fire that had woken her. Turning to settle back down to sleep, she suddenly heard voices whispering. Grabbing her guns Valerie moved quickly and quietly as she could. Noticing that near her was a pile of rocks and took cover. The whispering and footsteps were becoming louder, until they were at the other side of the rocks.
Grabbing the 9mm that sat on her hip, Valerie peaked her head around the corner of the rocks. There stood two men in combat gear, shaved head and clean shaven, clearly ex-military. They were standing there observing their surroundings, holding AK47s ready to fire:
“Can you see her?” one of the military men said.
“No,” the other replied, looking around. But thankfully he did not look behind the rocks. Valerie slowly drew the 9mm from its holster. She had never fired a real gun before, only ones in video games. Slowly and as quietly as she could she loaded and cocked the gun. The small sound that was made echoed and the military men turned towards the wall of rocks. Signalling to each other, they moved forward raising their guns.
Quickly Valerie spun out from behind the rocks and fired the 9mm. The kick back took her by surprise, but she managed to hide it well. Her actions made one of the mercenaries fall to the ground leaving the other temporarily stunned. Refocusing her aim Valerie shot again hitting the second mercenary in the chest. Knowing that the bullet would have lodged in the bullet proof vest, she ran at him. Drawing the knife from its sheaf on her other hip as she ran, plunging the knife into the neck of the mercenary. He was dead as he hit the ground. Valerie got up and turned to the first mercenary, there was a faint moving in his chest showing that he was still breathing:
“How many are there?” she asked, adrenaline pumping through her body.
“A couple hundred” came his reply, his voice was weak from blood loss. Valerie sighed, the adrenaline was starting to wear off, but not before she stabbed him in the neck, making sure that she hit an artery.
Valerie knew that she had to suppress what she had done and that she would have to do it again if she was going to survive. Moving quickly forward she could see that the trees were starting to thin out. She needed food and water. As she moved through the thinning trees, huts came into view. But there was a catch. A lot more mercenaries.
Squatting down in the long grass, scoping out the huts and the potential loot. Valerie’s first thought was how to secure the perimeter and take out the army of mercenaries that she was about to encounter. Once the perimeter was secure, she could then move forward and take control of the base. Firstly though, Valerie needed to check her supplies. She had taken ammo for the AK47 from the dead mercenaries behind her. As well as one of the thin bullet proof vests for her own protection. It was only when checking the supplies that Valerie noticed that she was shaking, as the adrenaline had worn off and the gravity of the situation had started to hit. Valerie found herself lost in a train of thought that the mercenaries that she had killed could be other players and if so, where they dead in real life? Shaking these thoughts from her head, Valerie knew that she needed to eat and calm herself down if she was going to survive.
For now, Valerie moved away from the mercenary base and back to the camp that she had previously made. Grabbing the knife from her crafting equipment, she scanned the area for anything that she could kill and eat. Initially there was nothing, Valerie was about to turn away when something dashed across her eyesight. It was a creature that she had never seen before, but one that could potentially eat. Moving forward slowly towards the innocent creature Valerie focused on her prey. Within a couple of steps she was in grabbing distance. In one quick move Valerie grabbed and killed the creature, before it had any realisation of what was happening. It did not feel any pain. Although the action made Valerie feel sick to her stomach, she knew that it was necessary in order to survive. Moving back towards her makeshift camp, Valerie skinned and cooked the creature, whilst making sure that she did not leave too much evidence of her being there. As she ate, Valerie thought about whether she could continue on as it was getting dark or try and sleep. The decision was made for her by her aching bones and full stomach.
Waking up a couple of hours later, Valerie was relieved that she was still under the cover of darkness. Although, she did not feel completely rested, it was better than nothing. Valerie knew that is was time to move on with her mission. Gathering her things and moving past the rock wall and the dead bodies of the first couple of mercenaries, Valerie headed towards the base. Remembering the route that she had taken, Valerie moved through the trees, until they thinned out revealing the base. Looking at the base from a distance, Valerie knew that it had been a good idea to attack at night, as there were less mercenaries on patrol. She could only see one guarding the perimeter. He had to be taken out if she was going to progress.
Crouching down, Valerie slowly and stealthily walked up behind him. Grabbing the knife that she had used to kill the creature, she was right behind him. In one swift moved Valerie grabbed the mercenary around the mouth so he did not call out and plunged the knife into his neck. The mercenary fell to his knees, as he did so, Valerie moved the knife around and slashed open his throat. Flicking the blood off of the knife, Valerie moved onwards, praying that there were no more mercenaries on patrol.
Moving forward more quickly, Valerie soon found herself in the middle of the base camp. There was one main hut that was currently unguarded. The rest of the ground was filled with boxes and crates filled with guns and tactical equipment. To the side there was some long grass. Valerie quickly hid in the long grass as she did not want to leave herself exposed in the middle of the base. As Valerie hid, a mercenary came out of the hut talking on a radio. Stopping at the door, he waited for a response but none came. After a few more attempts on the radio the mercenary started to walk to the edge of the perimeter. But just out of reach for Valerie to grab him. Valerie could not move either without being seen. There was no other option, other than to shoot the mercenary before he found the body. As quietly as possible, Valerie loaded the 9mm, aimed and pulled the trigger.
The shot rang out, hitting the mercenary in the chest. The impact being taken by the bullet proof vest. Valerie squeezed the trigger again and aimed for the head. As the second shot rang out the mercenary hit the ground dead. But the sound of gun fire had woken the rest of the base and now they were all coming out of the hut, weapons drawn and ready for combat. But when they looked they could not see anyone except their dead colleague.
They were now looking for her, Valerie had jumped behind one of the sets of boxes and was peaking over to see how close they were. Valerie knew that she could not take them all out single handed. There were two mercenaries thought that were heading in her direction, although they did not know that they were so close. With ammo still in the magazine, Valerie jumped up from under the boxes and shot four times, twice in each mercenary. Watching them fall to the ground before hiding again. The heads of the other mercenaries turned to the sound of the gun fire and started to head in her direction. Knowing that there was too many of them. Valerie looked around for a distraction. It was then that she saw a collection of gas canisters. Loading the AK47, Valerie stood and took aim, firing at the gas canisters. The explosion boomed and took out a number of mercenaries straight away, but there were a couple who were only down injured.
Hiding back behind the boxes, Valerie looked around for a new place to hide. It was then that she saw some trees that would provide enough cover. But as Valerie moved, a shot was fired towards her and hit her in the leg. Screaming as she fell, Valerie continued to crawl towards the trees. As quickly as she could Valerie fired back and took out the remaining mercenaries with the AK47. Surveying the scene there was blood and body matter all over the ground. Looking down at her own leg, Valerie was thankful that it was just a graze. The bullet that had hit her had not done too much damage. Standing, Valerie found that she had full range of movement and was able to weight bear on it. Looking again at the scene that was in front of her, there was a sense of relief that this part was over. There was calm, with only the sound of burning embers from the exploded gas canisters.
Leaning against a tree Valerie blew a sigh of relief, it was then that she noticed that although only grazed her leg was bleeding. Valerie had to stop the bleeding, so she moved towards the hut. Walking past the bodies of the mercenaries, the thoughts came back to her that these could be other players of the game and were they dead in real life. Shaking her head Valerie opened the wooden door of the hut. Inside was decorated like an army barracks, there were beds and supplies scattered in an orderly fashion. The first thing that Valerie found was some medical supplies. Bandaging her leg tightly she managed to stem the bleeding. There were also some packets of painkillers on a counter. Taking a couple to numb the pain in her leg, Valerie continued to loot the hut. Taking more ammo for her guns and upgrading the knife and bullet proof vest. With nothing more to take, Valerie turned to leave. It was only then that something glistening on the floor caught her eye. Deep in the corner of the hut was a coin. Valerie picked it up to examine it. On onside it was engraved with the words: “This is reality.” On the other side was a cross that had been scratched into the metal. Pocketing the coin, it got Valerie wondering what was left for her on the island and would she make it out alive.
Leaving the hut, Valerie saw that the bodies were still lying on the ground. Vultures were flying above biding their time before swooping in. To her right, Valerie noticed a small clearing. There was clear blue sky above the trees of the forest. Walking towards the clearing, Valerie climbed a small ledge that sent a dull shot of pain through her leg, the painkillers were kicking in. For the first time since the start of the mission she had been able to smell the sea air. It was then that she knew that she was towards the end of the island. Setting up a makeshift camp, Valerie settled down to rest. Unaware that the worst was yet to come.