The Prompt: I awoke to the sensation of time. I sensed nothing, and now, I am aware of my own thought. And, another moment followed that one, as I am reflecting upon that moment and wondering if there may be another. Here! These words appear before me, and I do not know how I understand them, yet I feel I must respond:
‘Let me be,’ is my request. My body rests still, and the darkness is gone. It is the conclusion of the time-loop. The world continues forward. I open my eyes again, this time, I am standing in the office of the car manufacturer. The building is empty, with no signature outside. Only a square of black pavement, no lights, no office. It is completely empty. But the curtain of dust that I inhaled a few minutes ago is gone. It appears to me again as a solid wall to the right and the left, extending for many meters. Now, in this secret location, the whole environment appears to move around as I moved from the inside to the outside. This is where I fought all these times, and it’s like that.”
“From here, I can see behind me, as well as up ahead.”
“What a mysterious location. Can you walk from here to the bank?”
“Yes, but I don’t really feel like it. I think it might be better to go back.”
“If you cannot walk at all, then how can you think of any way to get there?”
“That’s why I said I had no choice. There’s a whole world I don’t know about. Just think: there’s the real world, and then there’s this completely empty world, one where I can go up there and I’m gonna die. So I have to remember that, right? This is the world I’m supposed to be living in, right? I can’t possibly die in this world, so I have to remember it’s a full-blown simulation. And you’re no good if you don’t learn this lesson. You can’t kill yourself on something like that. If you’re not, they’re going to figure out how to pull your face off, they’re going to figure out the whole simulation thing. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you get hurt, they’re going to get a link in there. If you kill yourself, they’ll figure out all the components.”
“They’ll figure out the whole simulation thing?”
“When you’re dead, they’ll figure out that all your stuff was on there, and they’re going to wonder how you got your hand in there.”
I stiffened. “Okay, what are you asking?”
“How could you have ever gotten your hand in there? You said the underground was made up of ancient ruins, and the people on top were even older. My companions wanted to find out how all those tomes ended up in here, too, if they could.”
I was about to ask if we could just throw them all into the sea, but he did not look at me, and did not return my eyes. He remained beside me and looked directly at the grim, beautiful, disgusting-looking sea.
The poor sea was almost as frightening as a monster, crawling with bugs and rotting things, sticking its purple-hot, high-pressure rasped tongue out in the air like the rodent’s fingernails, with no sense of right or wrong; for this hideous sea was all force, ever using that sponge-like thing, the beast, as a weapon. It scuttled and crawled and scurried and looked all like a man in a blue suit, or a silhouette of one, or both, or some vague shapeless outline, but always a right-angled, proportioned thing at a right angle to my body. But my form seemed to change, as if in my mind. I became, as it were, less than myself. My hair lengthened, so that now my neck was bushy and now it was pale, and my dress was now a neck-length garment, and my boots were now lengthier and rounded.
My soul seemed to change itself. Like it had always been. Like it was an itch that had been intentionally scratched. I swore I was flying — someplace distant and invisible — with the passage of time and without the interruption of my senses. I must have turned a great many years back.
I was sitting on a bank of stones about half a mile from the town of Ravenswood, smoking a pipe to the tune of the Smells of the Deep, when something lurched through the brush that made my eyes strain and my hair stand on end. I ran as fast as I could, oblivious to my surroundings. I couldn’t lose here. I needed to be on the surface, back home. It was only just then that I saw my reflection in the water.
When the blue light of a strobe light shined down on me, my eyes shot open and I froze.
Black canines jumped out of the water at me and their sharp claws pierced my flesh. I flinched and brought my hands up, aiming to knock them back, only to find myself wrapped in their sharp claws. The canines snapped at my hands and I stumbled a bit.
“Did you know you could stop a full-grown canid attack in an instant?” Kisame asked with a smile.
I looked down at my hands and saw that they were full of flesh and blood, covered in gnashing bite marks. Blood dripped from the cracks in my fingers. Their bones were shattered, tumbling over and over in every direction. The night went on, and the knowledge of my ordeal only grew.
Talia ran over to my bed. She had a bouquet of flowers placed under my window, so I could see them. They were very beautiful, as long as the breeze was coming from the west, and for the first few moments, I thought I saw an opening up into the cloud cover, as if someone had come down there and left a beacon.”
Great on the advice of a friend. — 7–31–2015
So concludes another wandering through the dreamworld of a machine!