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VIII. Welcome To The Jungle

A wave of vertigo overtook him as the scene quickly shifted from a roughly pixelated game library screen, to a lush jungle sprawling out before him. He could taste the dank moisture in the air and marveled at the realism of the software to somehow trick his olfactory senses into really believing he was in a jungle.

He carefully approached the waning precipice that was just a few steps ahead of him and looked out to see a small village seeming to almost float like a piece of fire lit debris in the overwhelming sea of dark green all around it.

It appeared to be relatively small but from his vantage he could see half a dozen cook fires and twice that many in small torches that ringed the small clearing the village was in.

Not having any prompts from the game or any other helpful tutorial messages, he slowly began to make his way down from the rocky outcropping he had spawned on and made his way to the village. He soon found himself wiggling his way through the dense underbrush, and each time he was bitten, stung or cut he marveled once again at the life-like fidelity offered by this old headset.

He had never gotten to wear one of the full haptic feedback suits, but he had heard this is what it felt like, indiscernible from real life in every way.

He reckoned it was dead-on two hours of suffering when he began to see the fire twinkle through the thick foliage, and as he got closer, a loose drumming rhythm began to fill his ears. They… whoever they were… seemed to be having a party, and he should arrive at just the right time to enjoy it!

He was so glad he had found that stupid chinchilla, that lead him to this wonderful headset. While wandering through the jungle was a new type of suffering, it was a different flavor than he was used to and the excitement of it all was an extremely welcome one.

Another half hour of trekking brought him up to the outskirts of the little village. One moment he was stepping through the jungle and the next he simply wasn't.

The village had cleared a large swath of the land back to give themselves a little room from the green monster at their door. He imagined this served several purposes. If they were an agricultural society some of their farming could be done around the borders. Also, the cleared land gave them a bit of a defensive advantage as well. Anyone attacking would have to cross the no man's land to get to the relative safety of the buildings beyond.

As he crossed the no man's land himself, someone shouted from the other side and a flaming arrow landed beside his feet.

“Who goes there?” The voice in the dark challenged

“It’s.. (unintelligible)..? I am not from around here. A lost traveler.” He responded almost instinctively.

There was a bit of a pregnant silence where he waited to see if he would be shot from the huts, or if a horde of angry locals would run out and chase him like they did in the ancient treasure hunting film his father had loved so much. Indy… something.

His revelry was stopped when a more authoritative voice boomed.

“Come closer. Slowly.” It commanded. He did as he was told, this wasn't his first rodeo in a video game, or in real life for that matter.

As he approached the low mud huts with their thatched roofs, he could make out the bright pigments that adorned their walls. He couldn't quite make out any of the actual depictions on them, just splashes of bright color. As he approached the edge of the light he was spoken to once again.

“lay down on the ground and put…”

“yeah yeah...” he answered back a bit venomously “with my hands on my head.”

He lay down and assumed the position.

As he lay on the ground smelling the richness of the black soil, his head was pushed down violently in the dirt. As he slowly raised his eyes he could see two large, non-human, clawed feet standing beside him.

“ Mother Fu-”

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