Read an excerpt from the Chapter Two of the Convergence text.
Elizabeth seemed to be growing concerned. It was 2:30 a.m. She was muttering a lot to herself. “Can’t be. Can’t have learned that. Probability is nil. Approaching nil…”
After another half-hour of us knocking our heads up against the Wall of WenBook, I saw that Rudra was resting his eyes, his head down on his hands, on the desk. Then I heard him snoring. Aharon had moved to a densely padded chair in the corner, had turned out the lights, and was sleeping with his head back. I wanted to be home—home, home, not here—in bed. But I was wide awake enough to hear Elizabeth’s first snort. It was a more-important-than-usual snort. She was crunched up into the window-sill now, sitting uncomfortably, typing about a hundred words a minute on some old laptop.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Rudra awoke. Aharon was less certain he was awake.
Elizabeth looked at the screen intently, looked away, and then looked back. “Ummmmmm…people?” She cleared her throat loudly now. Aharon popped up with a startle. “There’s something I have to tell you. Wake up.” The room seemed to come alive at the same time, and Elizabeth kept looking back at the screen saying, “Uh-oh. Uh-oh, uh-oh, UH-OHHHHHHH…”
“What?” we practically shouted.
“Hell on Earth,” Elizabeth said. “It’s here in twelve minutes”
We looked at each other. I thought I was dreaming, that maybe all of us were.
Hell on Earth was a nightmare, an urban legend, a Boogie Man. It was the much-rumored-about unicorn of a gaming program that no one had ever seen. It was said to be able to alter the brains of whomever attempted to play it in rapid, violent, and permanent fashion. Addictive ultra-violence. It was what old people talked about when they were scared of change and trying to frighten people into never moving forward. But it was fake. Fake News. It just didn’t exist. There was even a ban on attempting to copyright the name, or any variation of it, ever since Year Zero.
“Nine minutes,” Elizabeth said, looking visibly agitated. “I think it might be real. Stop looking at my WenBook and turn on yours. See what you see.”
We did. The same screen she’d been looking at was on all of our WenBooks. The screen suddenly zapped into some horizontal visual noise. A message appeared: “You have temporarily lost HIVE connectivity.” I was shocked. I had never seen that in my life. There were some solid moments of static and visual confusion. It was upsetting and disorienting. Then a brief Wen Enterprises logo screen appeared, complete with lotus flower. Then that went black. More static. Then a black welcome screen appeared, with fonts that were stark, though not large.
“Hell on Earth arrives in six minutes.” Somehow, even seeing these words on a WenBook looked obscene. We’d gotten so used to only seeing educational content on them that this, alone, was shocking.
I watched as the words changed to: “Don’t Even Try to Prepare for Hell on Earth. You Can’t.”
“Shouldn’t we HIVE-Snap Cote?” Rudra asked as we all looked up. “Orlinsky?”
“Too late,” Elizabeth said, looking ashen. “HIVE-Snap them if you want, but there’s nothing they can do.”
“I’m on it,” Rudra said.
“Was this from your hack?” I asked, angrily. “Did you open this gate?”
She was silent. “I don’t know what this is.”
“Why should we follow this, then? This isn’t our mission,” I said.
“Because it might – as a byproduct of the hack – have breadcrumbs in it that lead to the fix,” Elizabeth said. “If we can subdue it.”
“Welcome to Hell on Earth,” said the screen. There was a big rectangular box in the middle of the screen to click, and the words: “BRING IT.”