Mind controlled husks of humans surround me. Consumed with the imaginary world, reality exists differently for each individual. People communicate through intangible means. Everyone is stuck in their own mind; they don’t notice those around them. Even now, when I cry, no one sees my tears because they’re not looking. Neither am I.

I’m led to an open world, devoid of mankind. Foliage flourishes. Bugs swarm. Predators hunt prey. Natural evolution serves as the only truth I want to accept. I lie down on tough grass. Its edged blades irritate me momentarily until I crush their form. The sky moves with the rotations of wind. White wisps of heaven travel together in one direction, away from me. If I stay here, in this spot, how long would it take for me to die? Three days, four most. It’d probably be excruciating.

“Users have 10 minutes left,” a voice in the sky announces. A countdown starts, covering the sun. I close my eyes, feeling my teeth grind unwillingly. People ruin virtual reality with their rules. This world that I’m in, is created by my own imagination. Sometimes, things appear that aren’t consciously drawn up. Just like you.

Every time I’m reminded to leave my peaceful isolation, I see you again. First, it’s a voice working its way against the wind. You’re singing an improvised melody, “Take my hand in yours, I’ll be there forever…” The sound of you fades in and out until you’re on top of me. A wide smile spreads your lips thin. You’re so close, I see the pores on your face, the scar on your chin, the moles on your neck, the wrinkles by your eyes.

Of course, technology has its limitations and creators have their restrictions. I’m allowed to hold you and feel the weight of your body on mine. I can smell your skin and touch your hair. But it isn’t the same. In this version of you, you smell too sweet, your body is too light, your skin is too soft, your hair is too smooth. No matter how many times I recreate you, you’re not the same.

“90 seconds until termination,” the robotic voice echoes.

I look back at you, you’re already standing. I position myself on my elbows to see better. You offer me one last smile before walking away singing. “I’m with you in every lifetime. Find me, I’ll be waiting…”

I get up to run after you. Just one more minute, one more touch. That’s all I need. I run and run, yet I can’t catch up. Your voice fades like it arrived. The image of your body breaks away, disintegrating into the sky.

My vision goes black. A hissing of hydraulics opens the door to my chamber. I sit up in a dark room with dozens of others contained in their own world. I step out of the simulator. My bare feet touch the cold floor. I jolt awake.  

Posted by:Flora Ashe

Editor in Chief

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