Author: Ilya Tolchinsky
Oleg was playing his mod of the classic Asteroids game.
Instead of triggering the usual pain that put Oleg on disability for the last two years, the gameplay soothed his damaged wrist. It was as if the FeelGlove controller was expertly massaging his forearm. After an hour, his hand felt like it was being pricked with hundreds of tiny needles. This sensation spread up his arm, then faded as a feeling of deep relaxation soaked his entire body. A stream of euphoria coursed from the soles of the feet all the way to his palms.
Oleg had missed video games. Decades of playing plus working as a coder had nearly destroyed the tendons in his forearm. When the FeelGlove appeared on the market boasting unprecedented sensitivity, Oleg saw he could use his knowledge of Kung Fu to write a game that healed the players. A game he could play. His algorithm used the glove to monitor blood flow patterns and created game events that rebalanced circulation. It worked better than Oleg ever imagined.
His breathing slow and heavy, Oleg observed himself — gloved hand twitching as it reacted to the insane number of enemies now on-screen. He dodged between them, just managing to stay alive. The speed with which he scanned the battlefield accelerated. The spaceships, asteroids, and bullet trails appeared to slow down, dreamlike.
Outside of his familiar senses, Oleg became aware of other life. First the orchid on his desk; she seemed contented. He felt his neighbors going about their day, the forest over the road. His awareness rushed outwards. A few more breaths and his mind filled the Earth’s magnetic field. Here the expansion stopped. He began to struggle against the energy flowing into the auroras like a sea fighting incoming river water.
Earth consciousness noticed the disturbance and turned to face Oleg.
Autumn’s golden evening light washed over Father’s face. He sat at the dinner table with Mother by his side in partial shadow.
“Son, you have a choice to make,” Father said. “You are now ready to leave our home and start your own adventure. Or you can stay here and help out your brothers and your sisters.”
Mother gently placed her hand on Oleg’s wrist. He felt one with the Earth, no longer fighting with her currents.
“Odds are,” Father continued, “You are the only one who will ever reach this state of being. Your martial arts tradition is the last one that still knows the path, but it is almost gone and soon will follow all the others. None of your Kung Fu siblings share your potential. Even the glove and your game will not bring them here.” He sighed. “The lost wisdom will not be found again until the world returns to darkness.”
Father placed his hand on Mother’s. The Sun’s energy flowed through the Earth and through Oleg. The vastness of the Universe splayed open before his startled gaze.
“My dear boy,” Father said, “Another ascension is unlikely. What will it be?”
Oleg took off the glove. No thanks, he thought. The pounding of his heart eventually quieted down. Not yet, anyway. He prepared his game for publication.