NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Twenty-Eight

“This is actually an extremely weird forest.”

“How do you mean?”

“Look at the size of these leaves! And some of the trunks of these trees, if they really are trees…”

“I mean, come on, we’re in some like third level simulation within a simulation or something, we can’t expect everything to be–“

“Is that where we are? You’ve figured it out?”

“Obviously we aren’t in the real, remember, you’re still missing the steel bar in your head.”

“How do we know that really happened? It’s one of the crazier memories that presents itself to me, to be honest.”

“You don’t get to just judge how plausible each memory is and–“

“We don’t? Isn’t that how it always works? Which memories are dreams, which are–“

“Are you saying I might not really be bravely fighting for life in a hospital bed, you might just have dreamed it?”

“He’s not saying that, Steve; well or if he is it’s because he’s loopy. Which, to be fair–“

“Oww, shit!”

“What, what’s wrong?”

Steve clutches at his head again, this time almost doubling over and then sitting down hard on the moist ground. They are a few yards from the decaying porch of the ancient house, a few yards into the strange and very green forest that surrounds it.

“Hurts,” Steve mutters, “or it did for a second, then — oh god!”

He puts his head down and moans. Kristen and Colin sit on either side of him, softly rubbing his back and shoulder, none of them noting how easily, naturally, and realistically they are able to touch each other, here in whatever sort of reality this is.

“Does it hurt in the same place as–“

“The fuck owww should I know? It’s like something tearing — aghh.”

“I think it is.”

He looks up at them with agonized eyes, and then slumps sideways to the ground.

“Steve, oh help.”

“Can you do anything, to the virtuality, make another portal or something?”

She shakes her head, stroking Steve’s back, trying to make him more comfortable, or at least trying to be doing something, as he lies there, unresponsive now, just quivering slightly.

“I don’t think so; I don’t feel the, you know, feel the affordances here. It’s like a completely read-only instance, passive, all we can do is…” And she picks up a handful of leaf scraps and seed-litter from the ground and lets it fall again. Steve grunts in what sounds like agony, and her eyes fill with frustrated tears.

“I don’t understand this,” says Colin, to her and himself and the universe, “this has got to be a virtuality in the relevant sense, and we can’t feel be made to feel pain, not significant pain, against our will. Right?”

“Maybe whoever made it didn’t follow the rules, or–“

“But aren’t those rules built into the–“

I don’t know, okay?” her voice is miserable with helplessness, “maybe it’s not a virtuality at all, maybe it’s a nightmare, or a delusion, or aliens are eating our brains, or–“

“He seems to be just asleep now,” Colin says, trying to put comfort into his voice, softly touching the back of Kristen’s neck now, aware of how real she seems, how glad he is that Steve’s sounds of pain have faded, how lost and also how fascinated he is by everything.

“What are we going to do?” She asks, looking into his eyes, shaped like a child’s eyes, but deep as a friend’s, concerned as a lover’s.

“Keep looking for those affordances. Wait. Take care of Steve. I don’t know.”

“What are we going to eat? Do we need to eat? Is someone feeding our bodies, back in the real?”

Colin takes a long breath, preparing to answer, making time to think of an answer.

There is a sudden sound, from a few dozen yards away. From among the trees and vaguely fungoid stems, three… things have appeared.

“Oh my God.”

Fling Twenty-Nine

2 Responses to “NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Twenty-Eight”

  1. Really cool and interesting new this wild tale.




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