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Chapter 1: Welcome to Thriller Paradise


【Welcome. Thank you for choosing our company’s products. Scan has been initiated, please wait a moment.】

【Scan complete. Citizen ID confirmed: SH13***313. Name: Feng Bujue. Accessing Equipment: NL2055 Standard single-player gaming cabin. No abnormal hardware detected. Cardiopulmonary function normal. Mind link procedures are ready, please select your Access Mode】

【Access Mode has been set to Awake mode. Adjusting… Adjusting complete. Please confirm selection to enter the game or select return to see previous options.】

【Program launched, entering the game in 10 seconds…】

At the end of the countdown, Feng Bujue was immediately propelled into the gaming world. He found himself in a room that looked extremely similar to an elevator, however, there were no call buttons next to the door. On the right wall there was a 32-inch touchscreen, and the wall directly opposite the door was a full length mirror that could reflect fully a player from head to toe.

Feng Bujue looked at himself in the mirror. He saw a super a high-resolution 3D CG (computer-generated) copy of himself. He and his in-game character looked practically the same, right down to his slightly short of 1.8 meters tall height, disarrayed hair, and gracile features. The only difference was that his clothes changed into a black T-shirt and pants.

With the support of the 4th generation of photon computers, players who connect via mind link can genuinely experience the game through their five senses as if it were real. However, everything in-game still appeared CG. There was no way to make it seems as if players were participating in a live action game. (ED: There are more than five senses.)

【Welcome to the game’s login space. The following are all the games that Dream Corporation has to offer. Please select which to login to.】

The system notification rang in his ears again and on the touchscreen next to him, appeared an icon that he could select.

“There’s only one choice altogether, but they still made such a login space… this company is suggesting that they’ll be releasing more games in the future, right…” With that thought in mind, Feng Bujue tapped the only game on the screen ——Thriller Paradise.

【Players logging into this game must be sixteen years or older. The company does not recommend this game for users with heart or mental conditions, or history of any relevant medical conditions.】

These words appeared on the screen and the System voice reiterated it once through. Soon after, three icons appeared on the screen. One was “Confirm login”, the other one was “Cancel” and on the side, there was one more utterly eye-catching link, “Disclaimers”.

“Mental conditions huh…” Feng Bujue muttered to himself, “It would be better if I took a look.” He chose the third icon. Immediately, densely packed clauses popped up the screen, and looking at the scrollbar on the right, he knew that the disclaimer would be incomparably long, tedious, and verbose.

When normal people see things like terms and conditions or descriptions while playing games, 80% of them would directly close it or glance through and drag to the end of the page to click agree.

However, Feng Bujue was not a normal person….

He was 24 years old this year, a detective novelist, and his hobby was shamelessly calling himself an “artist” or a “great writer” whenever other people asked what his occupation was. But that’s not the point; let us first talk about his abnormality.

First of all, he originally intended to play this game to “treat an illness”. Of course, this definitely was not internet addiction, but a genuine disorder.

Roughly 2 months ago, Feng Bujue suddenly felt that something unusual happened to himself. It took him about 3 days before he was finally able to confirm that he lost the emotion of “fear”.

No matter how terrifying the sound or scene, none would provoke a reaction from him. He spent days and nights watching horror films and reading horror novels, and even he tried to use his imagination to try and scare himself, but in the end, it was all in vain. It was as if some door in his mind was shut. He was very clear on which elements were frightening, and he completely understood the scary points in horror films, but he just could not feel fear.

So, he went to a nearby hospital. It would have been fine if he didn’t go, but once he went there was, indeed, a huge problem discovered. The MRI showed that there was a vague shadowy section in his brain. It was near the amygdala and it was possible that it was a tumor.

Afterward, Feng Bujue went to three or four top nationally ranked hospitals that in the country. Unexpectedly, none of them could make a definite diagnosis and the treatment suggestions were all over the place. After countless tests and going through Nth numbers of famous doctors and Nth numbers of consultations, Feng Bujue was basically clear on one thing… his malady was probably going down in history. As the patient, he needed to consider two things. First, which doctor should he give the rights over naming the illness, and second, was he going to donate his brain for medical experimentations and contribute a bit to science after his death.

Two months passed and no changes occurred with the shadow in Feng Bujue’s brain: it did not worsen, nor did it shrink or disappear. His body was otherwise entirely normal, even very healthy. After some consideration, he just straightforwardly refused treatments and was discharged from the hospital.

Since the loss of fear was the only symptom, and no one could determine whether he would die or not, nor how much longer he had to live, he might as well just leave it up to fate.

One day, Feng Bujue saw an advertisement for Thriller Paradise’s closed beta by chance. At that time, the advertisement stated: “A breakthrough from traditional gaming methods. Put yourself in the midst of terror followed by relentless despair and shock. Encounter an unprecedented gaming experience.” Following that, he immediately examined the game’s setup explanation, and even watched an excellently produced piece of propaganda video that had claimed to have scared children into wetting themselves when they watched it. He even noted the link “Purchase the latest model gaming cabin, get Closed Beta account as a gift”.

So, although it seemed outrageous, Feng Bujue joined the game not only to “play”, but more importantly to get “scared.” His attitude was also desperate times called for desperate measures[1], and perhaps this immersive type of terror would trigger his sense of fear.

Of course, with such a bizarre abnormal mentality you can’t do anything but call Feng Bujue a sick person. Describing him as not “an average person” wasn’t only because of the tumor in his brain. Before his malady, he already stood out from others. Using a certain place’s dialect to say it——a freak[2].

There were many things odd about Feng Bujue, and although it was not to the extent of OCD, most of what he did puzzled people. The first such thing: his reading addiction….

His thirst for reading was incomprehensible to normal people. For example, he would read the words on the shampoo bottle, and he’d read the instruction manual for household electronic appliances. He’d actually read every last word from top to bottom; even more shocking was… he didn’t even let tags cut from new clothes slip him by.

As long some item or person peaked Feng Bujue’s interest, he would instinctively collect all relevant information about them. Furthermore, he did not just randomly and mindlessly read through them once: he even had astonishing reading and memory capabilities. Although he was not at the level of the Zhang Song of the past who remembered everything he’d seen by heart and could even recite it backwards, Feng Bujue could remember at least 60% of the things that had seen, regardless of how much time had passed.

“Hm… it’s about the same as the agreements from other games.” Feng Bujue spent only two minutes to finish reading the clauses that were several thousand words long. “The only thing special are those lines in section 6.…” He lowered his head slightly, used his left hand to support his right elbow, and placed his right hand’s index and middle finger on his forehead following which he lightly traced them down along the bridge of his nose. This was his habit when thinking “That is to say…. if players die from flared up heart conditions or triggered mental conditions and what not, then it has nothing to do with their company.” He spoke as if to summarize.

Feng Bujue felt that he also couldn’t rule out the possibility that clause was an intentional joke by Dream Corp. He’d seen the game settings earlier on the official website. The biggest selling point of the game was the concept of a “Terror Value”. Through the photon computer and the abilities of the gaming cabin, it was possible to monitor the player’s heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, cranial nerve’ responses to measure and calculate the degree of terror in real time. If the player’s Terror Value in-game passed a critical point, then they would be forcibly disconnected from the mind link and immediately go offline. At the first sign of any serious abnormal health condition with the player after going offline such as their heart-stopping suffocation, and so on, the gaming cabin would call for an ambulance immediately. Besides, the network connection of all models that use mind link are connected to the police and emergency responders. According to this design, the odds of dying from fear shouldn’t be very high.

After tapping continue, Feng Bujue heard the sound of another system notification: 【This is the first time that you’ve logged in to the game. Please enter your in-game username.】

An input box appeared on the screen. Written on the side, there were several restrictions, such as the name had to be 4 bytes or more[3], and profanities or sensitive wordings were not permitted. In the era of photon computing, these restrictions were even more thorough because the intelligence and calculation capabilities of the system were so high as to be creepy. “It” only needed a word bank of censored words or even just a general categorization to be able to automatically express its reasoning abilities, restricting any activity that skirted the line as well. For example, the name Sudden Big Stalk Deep[4], or a name FUC, any random symbol, and ending in a K, those censor dodging methods were useless to the 4th generation photon computers. Dozens of years ago, some people worried that these types of computer AIs would rebel and enslave humanity, but up until now, there was no reliable data to support this kind of speculation.

In brief, photon computers were extremely intelligent. As to what degree specifically, this will be expounded upon by later official docûments….

【Detection complete. Username “Feng Bujue” is available. Please confirm.】

Feng Bujue this name was already very obscure and he should’ve been able to use it, but he swapped “Feng” with “Feng”. One, because he did not want to use his real name and two, because there was a bit of self-mockery in it.[5]

After clicking confirm, the system’s voice spoke: 【Next is the beginner’s tutorial and can only be completed once. The Scenario will be randomly generated; after completion, you will receive an appropriate basic reward. Please note that the results of the tutorial will not affect your character’s starting stats and only the reward will be different. If you choose to leave the game and disconnect from the gaming cabin because your Terror Value has climbed too high, you will be unable to continue the original Scenario the next time you enter the game. The system will instead create a new tutorial for you.】

After he finished listening to the notification, Feng Bujue reached to click confirm. Unexpectedly, the moment his finger touched the icon on the screen, the elevator suddenly went pitch-black.

In the next second, a voice rang out. It completely different from the system’s robotic voice earlier. The voice speaking presently was one of an old witch’s. “Welcome to Thriller Paradise…”

Just as the voice faded, the elevator suddenly jolted without any warning. Soon after, the pitch dark confine began to move, slowly sinking down.


Footnotes:

[1]Raw was 死马当活马医的心态 which literally means to feed a dead horse medicine, but figuratively to try everything when in dire straits.

[2]Taiwan dialect.

[3]I don’t know how Chinese systems count the number of bytes in a name, but this doesn’t mean letters or characters as Feng Bujue’s Username is just three characters, as will be seen later

[4]Punny Dirty Name. Original raw is 勃大茎深 which is a pun off of this 博大精深. Same pinyin but one is Sudden Big Stalk Deep and the other means “extensive knowledge and profound scholarship”

[5]Feng Bujue’s name is 封不觉 and his username is 疯不觉. There’s only one character difference; his surname is swapped for a different Feng. His original name essentially means “Sealed Unconsciousness” and his username “Insane Unconsciously” which is veryyyy funny you’ll find later on….


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