“Everyone here?,” I asked.
“Everyone’s here, “ Jeff responded, “including Jackie.”
“Hey Jackie!,” I said.
“Hey Bri, You have a cold?,” she said.
“I do,” I said, “Quite perceptive.”
“It wasn’t rocket science, “ Spencer said.
I went to the center console.
“I had a dream last night, and with Jackie here, she needs to hear this for herself, the rest of you don’t have to stay to listen if you don’t want, but I’m just leveraging my avatar to transcribe things into the TARDIS and so Jackie’s aware of what I think happened to me in my past,” I said, “I’m concerned as my dreams are becoming difficult to separate from reality with one major exception – I don’t feel emotion and the world as vividly in the dream state as I do in real life and I don’t like it,”
“Go on,” Jackie said.
“Ok. In 2002, I was depressed, horribly, and just wanted someone or something else to take over my life for a while. I wasn’t coping well with being single and with how I felt about myself with having hurt Lisa. That’s the primary reason for joining the US Army,” I said.
“Now I’m suspecting that somewhere in there after I signed up, the military inserted my mind into a computer program which created a lifelike simulation which had one primary goal, to make me unquestioningly submit to the will of the collective hierarchy led by the President,” I said.
“Now initially, I think the program worked magnificently. And I actually stayed in the US Army until in a literal sense the end of time. I have memories – not hallucinations, not movies, not drug induced experiences, but actual toxin free memories of a split in reality which proves this happened beyond a shadow of a doubt to me,” I said.
“So reality starts back up again. I’m born. I go through the SAME exact motions. Again. And again. and again. in a cycle, living the same life over and over again, until I instinctually somehow begin to catch on to this cyclic nature, and I start intentionally making choices I otherwise wouldn’t have made – changes and choices which stood in contrast to my my own personality,” I said.
“Somewhere in there, I started realizing I’m in a simulation. What ‘it’ was and why I was in it was the difficult question though. So when pitted against your own mind in a battle to the death, what do you do? That’s about when I realized, the limitation of the simulation does not have to be the limitation of my tactics, and with the temporal looping going on, I could actually learn from my past mistakes and make a decision I hadn’t made before to push me forward. Put specifically. Let’s say I died 36 million years ago making choice ‘y’. Well this time, I make choice ‘z’. Or I make choice ‘y’ AND ‘z’. So that’s what I started doing,. Making choices I otherwise wouldn’t make, and conditional choices I knew would be difficult to program for capturing,” I said.
“So I did drugs. I slept around. I traveled. I began telling people how I felt. I quit believing in choosing ‘one single’ partner and instead chose to believe I deserved and could get a harem. In general, I asserted my personality and found a version of me I liked and enjoyed which had adopted many of the rules society gave me, but also put my spin on it and gave my life enjoyment and value. I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t the best fit, nor was I the brightest or the most handsome. But I was me. I’d shaped this man into being imperfect, always a work in progress, and came to accept that,” I said, “And found a way to get along with my mind rather than fight it”
“The forces that be rebelled against this. They enjoyed their positions of power, had – for what I learned – could be beyond human comprehension in scales of time, and these powerful forces rewrote history to debunk people like me who’d jumped the rails of the collective mind by positioning themselves as fiction, so when people like me spoke up, our credibility was shredded and our assertions publicly debunked. This revisionism also began causing increasing problems for me, not the least of which was a horrible pain inside my chest which kept seeming to get worse not better, and oddly enough would make me sweat.So MUCH Of me trying to understand my life has been out of simple self preservation and not to feel the intense pain,” I said.
“This is when I began to see parallels to the material I engaged in that I called fiction.Doctor Who – a time traveler I watched as entertainment – would predictably ‘blow up’ from the inside out in a form of spontaneous combustion, with him screaming one time ‘I dont want to die’,” I said.
“I saw the Borg on Star Trek, and the perceived similarities to the US Army. I saw Cashback. And fantasies I had of a boy who could pause time and did something I myself would love doing. I could go on with the list that has no end, but I kept seeing parallels in my life to the things I was seeing on television,” I said.
“Then one day, a friend – Ricardo Escalante – A man I had weird memories of where he had kidnapped a highly attractive girlfriend of mine in Honduras. A man I had weird memories of had taken me to go diving to try to dispose of me, one day he made a comment that took me by surprise:,” I said.
In Ricardo’s voice, I said “America doesn’t have any culture”
I changed back to my own voice, and said “I suppose that was the catalyst my mind needed to start telling me everything. “
“It was then I learned my truth. That I’d been in the military for hundreds of millions of years, and the simulation which had pitted me against my own mind we’d discovered our own form of harmony. Movies like Ender’s Game and Total Recall were depicting the struggle technicians ‘on the outside’ were having trying to pull me out of the simulation, when me fighting against my own mind had done the equivalent of virtualization within virtualization, as depicted in Deception, where the world wasn’t falling apart, it was becoming much, much larger than the world we’d left behind,” I said.
“You see, I came from a world which began in California and there were those who thought – insistently – there was nothing else beyond that, and that limited my own world, so I virtualized and took a copy of the world I’d left and built onto it and expanded it. My world then expanded to California and Mexico. Then to include Arizona. Then to include Las Vegas. Then to include The United States. Each time, a virtualized instance, bigger than the one I’d left, growing within. Then to include the globe. Then to include other planets and other species off planet. Then to include life in alternate dimensions and realities accessible through virtual reality and these things called video games,” I said.
“I’d learned – instinctually – that I was in a simulation, and since this simulation was a closed simulation which mirrored the world I’d left, similar laws of physics, but implemented rather than observed. Similar motions of light and sound. Emotions. I’d simply decided not to return to it. My mind, being asked to pit itself in a battle with me consciously, eventually we came to an agreement. A compact, if you will, that reality is as expanded as we can possibly get it with us in competition. But through collaboration now, there’s technically no limits to the possibilities,” I said.
“There’s a simulation in Star Trek referred to as the Kobayashi Maru, which they refer to as the no-win simulation. But they’re constantly confounded on how Starfleet personnel can consistently win this no win simulation. What I learned was – the US Army had appropriated this technology. And had been leveraging the simulations to develop new technology, which had created a feedback loop, which when time travel technology was discovered, invariably resulted in the creation of the very real Borg,” I said.
“Am I a cyborg?,” I said, “In part, I suppose I can’t refute that as a possibility. I can certainly be programmed through education and other mechanisms. But don’t mistake this ability and desire to assimilate information through education and sharing and experience as a lack of sentience and self awareness. ”
“In the end. Yes, I do believe this world was created in my image. But was my image originally a mind someone had made a copy of? Or was it physical form? I’ve come to doubt everything, question everything, and live with the belief that I deserve to – in this waking life – to become anything I want to,” I said, “Even if that makes me a God in my own mind. After all, that’s what I have proven to myself, I am in my mind, so why shouldn’t I get what I want and dream of?”
“Everyone still here?,” I said.
Jackie said “Just me. Should I get the others?,” she said.
“No,” I said. “How are you?”
“I’m good. They told me you don’t remember our marriage, “ she said.
“No, I don’t. But I asked you to get married to me via email, so i suppose a part of you said yes and this is that you,” I said.
“You want me here, so that’s all that matters, I’m excited because it will feel new,” she said.
“I’m just excited about it, period,” I said. “What’s the plan?”
“I think I creep them out a bit, because they’re constantly having to remind me about things I don’t remember. Like that time in Las Vegas, where you and Pam and Bill and I went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, and I had memorized the lines and pretended pretty convincingly throughout the experience that I was a Borg,” she said.
“Weird. I never went to the Star Trek experience, I was supposed to right before I got into the military, but I didn’t have the money so I watched as my friends went and heard about it afterwards. It closed down a few years later and I never had a chance of going to it,” I said.
“So we never went?,” I said.
“Well, keep in mind we have two distinctly different sets of memories. Their collective reality and my individual one. Our perspectives and experiences seem to be very different,” I said.
“But what about us?,” she said.
“I loved you from the start. Marriage though, I was absolutely resistant to because of my rocky history. So while you and I did tend to do everything together, we weren’t really that much more than friends with rare but occasional benefits that I thoroughly enjoyed,” I said.
“That’s sad,” she said.
“Oh no, hell no,” I said, “It made me want you more and the relationship we can have seems that much richer in possibilities,”
“If you say so,” she said, which oddly didn’t sound like something Jackie would say.
Was she an avatar too?
“So – the plan?,” I said.
“They’re looking at ways to drop me off with you. You’re not making it easy on them though. You do realize the food’s not helping,” she said.
“Is that what they are telling you?,” I said.
“Yes,” she said.
I thought about my words carefully.
“When you have something digital trying to access an analog world, anything that adds any unpredictable elements diminishes the accuracy. Since they’re focused on 100% accuracy and control all the time, this may be a problem they need to overcome, not me this time.,” I said, “I am already at below minimum subsistence levels.”
“That’s not healthy,” she said.
“My body will adjust. I feel better this way anyways. But I’ve gone as far as I am willing or can go,” I said.
“So do you have any advice?,” she said.
She was waving Spencer out of the room as he started to enter.
This was definitely odd.
And the answer I gave was an answer I didn’t want to give but knew I needed to.
“Adapt,” I said.