Phantasmagoria

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My Very Own Matrix

''Hello, Mr Williams,'' a young Indian girl greets me inside the game. Her long, black hair is pulled back by a pink Alice band, and she's wearing what looks like a school girl uniform. She's wearing a white t-shirt under a navy blue pleated dress which reaches down to her knees, and she has white socks pulled up to her ankles paired with black shiny shoes. OK, I knew there were going to be young girls, but this girl looks like a 6 year-old. She's probably just over 100cm.

''Uh, hello,'' I say as I take in my surroundings. I believe I'm in some grid-like place. It's dark, but it looks as if I'm in the outer parts of the levels. I feel like I'm in Tron.

''That's right, you are,'' the young Indian girl said to me. Is she reading my mind? She can't be.

''I know by the look on your face that you were probably wondering if you were in the outside area of the main levels,'' she explains. Oh, that's good. For a moment there I thought she was reading my mind. I wonder who she is.

''My name is Dimple Pradesh, I am called the gate keeper. I make sure the participants of the game make it safely to each of the levels,'' she says as she introduces herself.

Now that's weird.

''You are also probably wondering who I am?'' she says straight after I think it.

''You're quite intuitive for a young lady,'' I say to her. She smiles at me as she comes forward.

''And you're quite an inquisitive man,'' she responds. She doesn't even sound like a child. Do all the other girls sound like this?

''So...where are the other participants?'' I ask her.

''They're here as well,'' she replies. I look around me everywhere, but I don't see anything for miles. Everything is covered in black and red squares around us, and every direction I look towards seems to be endless.

''Did they enter into another place?'' I ask her.

''No, all participants come here. I just happen to be speaking to you all simultaneously. You can't see or hear each other, but you are all present,'' Dimple explains. OK then. They're all here, but they're invisible.

''They will become visible as soon as you get into the levels, but it is entirely up to one of the level keepers if they wish to reveal the whereabouts of the other participants,'' she says further. I like how she is able to answer questions I haven't given voice to yet.

''So when do we go in?'' I ask her another question.

''Hang on a moment, I need to see if the first level keeper is ready,'' she replies. I expect her to do something, but she just stands and stares right at me. She's deadly silent as I begin to wonder whether she's actually a robot.

''OK, she is ready now, you can go,'' Dimple says with a grin. I look around me once more to see where on earth I can go (or more like where in this game I can go) before I resort to asking her.

''How exactly do I get to the next level?'' I ask her. She looks at me intently, and then begins to walk backwards.

''Use your mind,'' she answers as she pulls on a toilet flush cord I had not seen before. Was it there the whole ti-

WHAAAAAAAAAATTTT THEEEEEE HEEEEEEEECKKK!

I'M FALLINGGGGGGGGGGG!

That crafty child must have opened up a trap door when she pulled that cord! I'm looking everywhere around me and all I see is...memories of...my life. Hannah, my son, my best friend and my brother are flashing up all around me as if I'm watching multiple cinema screens of them smiling at me.

OK, focus, Nash.

Use your mind, use your mind.

Find a way out of this.

Find your way...

What on earth?

''Hello, Mr Williams! You have a beautiful family!'' Dimple Pradesh shouts as she appears next to me, free falling like I am. I remember that my memories of my family are floating around us, so she must be looking at them too. I wonder if the other participants are going through the same thing.

''I thought you said that you would make sure I would get to the next level safely!'' I scream at her as we are still falling.

''I will, but we have just begun the journey! It is up to you to show me how you can get there!'' Dimple shouts back at me. She looks like she's having fun. She's pretending to swim in the air and is laughing merrily. Alright, so I have to find a way to stop free falling and to get to the next level. How should stop myself?

Oh, that's easy.

I just...

Stop.

''Oh, and I was having so much fun too,'' Dimple says as we both come to a halt. We are hovering silently in mid-air and I marvel at what I can do with my imaginative power.

''When it comes to being in the outside of the levels, you become the controller. You have absolute freedom in what you want to do,'' she says further.

I control it?

As I realise what my new job is, I fulfil my role by creating a white-covered floor come up to where Dimple and I are levitating, and then we put our bodies feet first on the solid floor that I have just erected. The cinema memories of my family has stopped playing, and I am just looking at pure white blankness as if I have become lost in a blinding tundra.

''North, south, east or west, it doesn't matter where we go now. You can choose how we can get there, though,'' Dimple tells me. As I look at her, something about her makes me become...inspired.

''Use your mind, right?'' I say to her. She looks at me slightly puzzled, not sure on my meaning. I walk a few paces forward while I erect bicycles all around us.

''Ah, I see. Very clever, Mr Williams,'' Dimple says as she comes up to a smaller bicycle that I made for her beside my bigger one.

''Inspiration fuels imagination,'' I say more to myself than to her.

''That should be the new tag line for the game,'' Dimple remarks. She giggles as she puts her arms behind her back and swings her body from side to side.

''Well? What are you waiting for? Get going,'' she says, hurrying me along. I get on my bicycle and wait for her to get on hers, but she doesn't.

''You're not coming?'' I ask her.

''No; I cannot enter into the level with you. You must go on ahead,'' she responds.

''But how are you supposed to make sure I get to the level safely? My journey has just begun, remember?'' I tell her. She smiles, and looks as if she is contemplating whether to come or not.

''I will look after you from here. Don't worry, it's not too far from here now,'' she answers. I wonder whether I'm going to see her again.

''You'll see me again; remember, there are 5 levels,'' she says with a big grin.

''OK, I'll make sure I won't forget,'' I say to her reassuringly. ''Take care of yourself, Dimple,'' I say as I salute goodbye to her.

''You too, Mr Williams, make sure you get through this level,'' she says as she waves at me. I then head off on my bicycle, going forward. I look back, and Dimple's figure gets smaller and smaller as I ride away from her. I look back to my front and wonder where the entrance to the next level is. Man, this white expanse is giving me a headache. It looks as if its getting whiter.

Whiter.

WHITER.

BRIGHT WHITE!

I can't see anything! I look down at my hands on the handle bars, but they have been consumed by the white darkness. The bicycle is also becoming devoured by the blanket of whiteness. I try to pedal faster, but I can't feel myself pedalling any more.

Ah, my legs!

Soon my whole body will be lost to this. It feels like that moment in The Matrix when Neo gets consumed by that liquid silver stuff after he touches the repaired mirror. Only, it's actually happening to me. This is my own Matrix.

As I begin to panic, I close my eyes and wish for the whiteness to go away. I close them so tight, I can feel my eyelids begin to strain. Please let it be gone. OK. Count to to three, then open your eyes, Nash.

One.

Two.

Three.

Open!


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