You turn from the buttons and examine the room. It is a large, empty space so there isn’t all that much to explore. The white walls are smooth, and taste a little like chalk. You run your hands around them to see if there are any hidden doors or switches, but all you end up with is a coating of white powder on your hands. It also tastes like chalk.
The floor is not much better. You jump up and down, hoping to detect any weaknesses or secret doors, but again, you come up without any kind of result. The room is a prison. A prison without doors, windows, or… hope?
Maybe the world is a dichotomy. Maybe you’re just going to have to push one of the buttons after all.
You walk back to the plinth and look at your options. Press. Do not press. Your path forward is clear. Press the blue button. But what if the blue button means something bad? What if the red button is the one you’re actually supposed to press? Oh god! What are you supposed to be doing? Why are you here? What is the thing of anything?
The room fades and then the darkness is pulled from in front of your eyes. You blink a few times and find yourself looking into the disappointed face of your instructor, Ms Nina Terra. She is an attractive woman in her mid-forties, always impeccably presented with her dark hair swept up into an old fashioned chignon. When she smiles, her blue eyes are so warm. She is not smiling now.
“Well,” she says, her ruby lips forming the words carefully. “That was an… interesting approach.”
She takes the headset you were using and returns it to its place on the virtual training simulator.
“Remember,” she says. “This series of tests aren’t about right or wrong. They’re about reaction time. An ability to make decisions quickly and decisively. You didn’t make it past the first level. I’m afraid that’s a fail.”
You bite your lower lip to keep from swearing out loud. You just can’t seem to get the hang of these advanced simulations. If you don’t get your grades up soon, you will fail out of the academy. And if you fail out of the academy, you’re going back to your little village in a colony at the edge of the star system.