Prompt: woman brainwashed via a VR helmet.

Katherine reached out for the second power gem. If she could get all five before April did she would win this round of the playtest.

Both students had leapt at the chance to work with an actual game company to test a new game and give their feedback. The game development course at the local technical college they attended, rarely offered hands on opportunities like this. Games were made in California or maybe Denver but not in small towns like theirs.

Grabbing the power gem sent a wave of spirals across her field of vision as the Virtual Reality display lit up in a swarm of colors and patterns. Like with the first gem it took a moment for her to reorientate herself to the virtual landscape afterwards. She blinked her eyes and felt a dizzy feeling that passed quickly.

The music on the headphones played quietly. Dimming after it had swelled to a crescendo when she grabbed the gem. Not for the first time Katherine swore she could hear a voice in the music.

She maneuvered herself deeper into the maze of throbbing colors and images to find the next gem. The controls were imprecise and at first she had found them frustrating compared with the games she was used to but by now she had learned it was better to relax and not worry about it. The worst thing that could happen was that she landed in one of the “time out” zones where all she could do was just stop and wait for a counter to count down.

The time out zones had been annoying at first but now were actually kind of nice. Unable to move through the world Katherine just sat there and watched the colors and listened to the music.

It took awhile but soon she was reaching out her hand for the last gem. Watching the virtual approximation of her limb grab the fifth gem she felt a smile cross her face.

“Congratulations you have found the Gem of Obedience,” a voice intoned in the headphones she wore.

She smiled wider.

The virtual world lifted away and the man running the test looked at Katherine as she smiled happily. Beside her April was slouched over as if asleep. Clearly she had lost and fallen into the Pit of Mindlessness.

“You got the gem. Good. Now Katherine who do you obey?” the man asked.

“I obey whomever holds the gem,” she said, her voice relaxed. It felt good to say.

He held up a plastic gem that looked vaguely like the one in the game.

“Stand and undress,” he said and naturally Katherine complied. Anything to win the game.