Gener@tion Z - 3. Entering The Scenario
Phillip opened the door to the trailer and saw that everyone had arrived, sitting on the floor in the room. There were no desks like there were on Friday; instead they were replaced by long soft blankets arranged in rows of six by six. Each of the students were sitting on the blankets and conversing with one another. By the feel of the atmosphere, most of the students had been speculating for quite some time how exactly the Scenario would work and what the process would be like to enter it. The sight of the blankets emphasized that and the growing tension of excitement, anxiety, and subtle frightfulness could almost be physically felt as Phillip entered the room. He dropped his books at the back of the class by everyone else's things, then took the only vacant blanket in the corner of the room and sat alone, leaning against the wall patiently. Looking over to his side, he could see a pair of rather large headphones lying next to the blanket. They were large enough to cover both of his ears entirely and closer observation showed him that the rest of the students had wireless headphones accompanying them by their blanket space as well.
"Alright, everyone is here," Mr. Glass said, clasping his hands together as he stood up from his chair. "We're almost ready to get started. First off, I'm going to give you a few tips before we get into it. There are various clauses that will play a part in your activities throughout these next fifteen days. The clauses will determine any kind of circumstances that will have an effect on the outcome of your official evaluation in this class. The final evaluation you get will determine how much time you have to spend in Apocalypse 101 before you can complete that course, in the event that you don't survive the Scenario. That said, it must be noted that there is a chance that no one in this class might survive the next fifteen days. It's happened many times before, so I'd take that into consideration when you find yourselves getting too comfortable. Other than the rules mentioned yesterday, everything is fair game. If you happen to get infected, most medical kits of today are outfitted with Flu Deterrent, which will hold the virus at bay as long as it's administered to the victim every 4 hours. If you run out, the chances of you succumbing to the virus are 99% likely, although the time it takes for it to take over your mind varies from person to person. After you've failed the course and you are no longer attending this class, your zombified corpse will still remain in the Scenario if infected prior. Just a little heads up for the lot of you who plan on meeting up together and find out that one of your own is infected. It will come back to haunt you if you're soft.
"At the beginning of the course, you'll find yourself surrounded by your general zombie infestation but as time goes on, you'll discover that the mutation will begin to evolve and lead to the creation of many other zombie types that are more lethal than you can imagine. On top of that, there's another factor that plays a very large part in the game. As part of regulations, I'm actually not supposed to relay this information until we've reached a certain point in the course, but you'll find yourselves interacting with it to a limited extent from the very beginning. I've never truly understood why they wait until later in the course to explain this to you guys since it's something that would be vital to an actual Zombie Outbreak from the start, but I guess they have their reasons. There are factors within the Scenario called Wild Cards. Basically, these are hundreds of hypothetical AIs that are unique to every Scenario Trial. They can vary from lone survivors, to small survivor settlements, to infected-but-not-yet-turned individuals asking for help. They can even go as far as being unique and dangerous mutations within the zombie infestation that have not been recorded by us experts but have a small chance of actually taking form in an actual event like this. The purpose of having Wild Cards is to ready you guys for things you may not expect in a Zombie Outbreak. Fleeing Wild Cards are going to be pretty frequent during your first day in the Scenario, so be wary of how you interact with them, as they can have a profound effect on your evaluation and there are also varying clauses concerning them that will play a part in the final outcome of your time in the class. Basically what I'm saying is show some humanity, even when you know they're not real, and it could go a long way for you when the class is over.
"All right," he said, grabbing the papers off of his desk and walking to the center of the class. "Here are your blood test results from yesterday. There's a positive and negative sign in the corner of your report. If you have a positive, it means that you have Sickle Cell Traits and you don't have to take any extra precautions in the Scenario. If you have a negative, it means that you don't and you may be endanger of being infected with the virus via insect bite if you're not careful."
Mr. Glass walked down the aisles in between blankets and passed the test results out to each individual student in the room. They took it cautiously, examining the results. A few sighed in relief at not being forced to handle an unwanted burden; others showed visible signs of discouragement. Out of the entire class of twenty-four, only eight of them did not carry Sickle Cell Traits: Jonah Thao, Cecillia Greer, Latasha Shields, Royce Ferguson, Tammy Camacho, Francine Griffin, and Sarah Lowe. When all of the sheets were passed out, Mr. Glass walked back to the front of the class to address them once again.
"Dying the first day will cause you to receive the lowest grade of 5%, which will lead to the maximum 101 participation of eight months. I don't mean to alarm you guys but the chances of most of you not surviving the first day are 75%. That's just based on general statistics. I'm here to tell you not to let that have any effect on you guys. The way I see it, statistics and calculation of the odds for an outcome are all bullshit. It's humanity's way of trying to predict the future, but I'm going to tell you today that past events do not determine future events. There's no way any of you can determine the outcome of this course, so you should go in it with a level head and do the best you can. That's all you really can do and all you really should do. Without further nonsense, I think it's about time we got started."
As Mr. Glass walked to the back of the classroom, the anxious chatter of the students filled the place, all equally anticipating the fabled experience of entering the Scenario, an event of which they had been speculating of since the project began in their middle school years. Mr. Glass directed everyone's attention to a large stereo that was located on a table in the back of the classroom. He picked it up by the handle on top of it and hauled it to the center aisle between the students, lying it down directly in the middle of the room. The letters "FEVAR" were engraved just above the Power button. He turned around to the students once again.
"This stereo-looking device is called a F.E.V.A.R Machine. F.E.V.A.R stands for 'Frequency Emitter of Virtual Ambience through REM'. It sends out a highly focused frequency to the wireless headphones that lay beside you. This frequency, when transmitted through your headphones into your brains, puts you all in a hypnotic state of mind until you lose conciousness and immediately enter REM Sleep. The particular frequency being transmitted is unique to Ocean Valley. It works almost like a tightly woven equation, unlocking parts of your brain that creates the virtual world of the Scenario and recreates the city of Ocean Valley based on your memories and knowledge of this town. Because you all will be sharing the same frequencies through your headphones, the frequency will adjust itself accordingly to the activity being registered from all of your brains and connect it together within the Machine itself, allowing you all to interact with each other in the same world. The frequency is ever-changing, so it's never the same Scenario over and over again. It's always different for every class across the country. Now I know all of this is very confusing, but I figured you'd probably want a formal explaination for how this works before we get into it. All you need to know is that when you put on your headphones and I turn on the Machine, you'll enter a deep sleep and wake up at exactly 7am, most likely in the comfort of your beds at home. The Scenario will end at Midnight on the first day and it will feel as if you've experienced 17 hours of a day in only two hours of class, real time. Now, any questions before we get started?"
Louis raised his hand from the same spot he'd sat the previous day, minus the desk. Mr. Glass called on him. "How will you be able to monitor our activity?" he asked curiously.
"I have my own set of headphones by my desk that the F.E.V.A.R Machine will emit a unique frequency to once it registers that you all are unconcious. It won't render me unconcious, but it will put me in a hypnotic-enough state to monitor most of what goes on in the Scenario. I can't monitor every single bit of your activity or hear the conversations that you have with one another, but I can keep tabs on developments. Afterwards, I write a report on the occurences that took place and send it to my superiors at the end of the day. Anything else?"
Sid raised his hand behind Mr. Glass. Mr. Glass turned around and addressed him. "Yeah, if everybody in the room is going to be hypnotized or whatever, what's stopping a killer from running into this place and murdering us, or a thief coming in here and stealing our shit?"
Mr. Glass chuckled. "You don't need to worry, Sid, the doors to this trailer are locked tight. If it gives you more reassurance though, I will be in a hypnotic state, but all of my basic cognitive functions will still be prevalent and I'll be aware of my surroundings to a limited extent. If anything were to happen, I'll still be able to notice it, bring you guys out of the Scenario, and evacuate for any emergency accordingly."
Sid nodded in approval. Mr. Glass surveyed the students once more. "Anything else?" The students were silent. None of them knew what to expect from this, but it was clear that they were as ready as they would ever be. "Alright, good. Now I need you all to follow my instructions carefully, understood? First step is to take your headphones and put them on your head. Make sure the Left/Right Ear Icons are correct."
Each of the students grabbed hold of the headphones that were lying beside them, checked the sides to determine how to put them on, and clamped them over their ears. Many of them expected for the sound around them to be muffled, but they found that they could hear everything in the room even clearer, as if a microphone was currently being emitted through the headphones, amplifying every sound around them.
"Okay, now. There is a knob on either side of the earphones. They're the volume knobs. I want you to click each knob on and turn it until it's at maximum volume. This will allow you to recieve the transmission in full and at a quicker pace, so it gets things started faster."
Each student turned both of the knobs by the sides of the earphones but there was no change from the sounds they heard in them.
"Halfway done, guys," Mr. Glass said peacefully, sensing that the majority of them were seconds away from a nervous breakdown as a result of the building tension. "You're doing great. Now, I want you all to lay down flat on the blanket that you're sitting on and relax. Just let every muscle in your body lay loose. You can go ahead and close your eyes if you want, but just relax and think happy thoughts, okay? I'll help you."
As each of the student layed back on the blankets, they were already feeling a strange peaceful sensation coasting through them. It was something about Mr. Glass's soothing voice that immediately calmed down their anxious minds and allowed them to enter a relaxed state. Mr. Glass leaned down slowly and pressed the power button on the F.E.V.A.R Machine, then turned the knob on it to 'High.' He then walked away and headed for his desk, sliding his chair in front of the white board, where he sat and surveyed the sleepy students from that spot.
"Now I want you to tense up every muscle in your body as hard as you can," Mr. Glass said softly but loud enough for everyone to hear. "Tense up every muscle: Your biceps, triceps, thighs, toes, abs, face, everything....hold it there for thirty seconds...keep every muscle in your body as tense as you possibly can, it builds up the energy....that's it...now release....you feel that fluid flowing through, cooling your body? Focus on it. It's soothing, isn't it? Now I want you to imagine yourself on the beach in the middle of a hot sunny day....There's a gentle breeze blowing in the wind...you're wearing loose clothing, standing on the lukewarm wet sand...You hear the rushing waters of the ocean as the undertow brushes up against your toes....You're completely at peace now...."
Mr. Glass reached into his pocket and pulled out the two pound Queen Elizabeth coin. He stopped talking and flipped the coin in his hand continuously, its hypnotic, high-pitched, and rhythmic sound putting the students into a trance. It amplified in their headphones as the ambient white noise of the Scenario frequency seeped into their minds, although it was too high to be conciously heard by human ears. One by one, each of the students slipped into their unconscious mind, shutting out the world around them and entering one that was slowly slipping into chaos. So much for being peaceful....