Little Worlds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In December 2012 researchers announced they had successfully created a computerized artificial universe. The implications of this were phenomenal. It was predicted that in the future there would be more artificial universes than reality. They estimated the chances of our universe being a computerized replica to be just under 1%. They were wrong.

Submitted: December 26, 2012

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Submitted: December 26, 2012

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A finger prodded the boy in the ribs. Luke turned around to face an irritated young mother mouthing at him, signalling to the train with one hand while holding on to her pram with the other. He took out his ear phones so that the Christmas music blasted into open air.
"Sorry?" He smiled at her politely.
The mother rolled her eyes impatiently. "Are you boarding or not?"
Luke looked at the train. He had not noticed the doors had finally opened after nearly twenty minutes of standing pointlessly in the cold.
"Oh yes! Sorry." He nodded at the pram. "Let me help you."
The two levered the pram on to the train before Luke apologised again and went to find his seat.
"36A." He muttered again and again, checking each seat he passed. "Ah, here we are."
He looked down to see a large man with a red face.
"Excuse me." Luke said politely, squeezing past him to get to the window seat. He settled down as the man next to him shifted uncomfortably at the disturbance. The young boy smiled, contently out the window letting his thoughts take him away from reality.
He resisted the temptation to hum along to "Driving home for Christmas."
The train departed on time but Luke barely heard the instructor inform them the time they would be arriving in his home town. He had it all memorised anyway, not one for being disorganised, as his mother had taught him.
How would she react to the news, he wondered?
As the train zoomed through a tunnel his reflection smiled back at him, short blonde hair, light hazel eyes with a strong jaw and high cheekbones. He began to flick through the images on his phone. Pictures of his friends from face-book; drunk as hell and not giving a shit. Pictures of his family celebrating past Christmases and his puppy, Oscar growing in to a big dog. He laughed slightly at the sight of him attempting to reach the sofa. Finally, her. He had hundreds of pictures of her. Peculiar, he thought. If it was anyone else people would have probably thought he was obsessed but since it was her he could have as many pictures as he liked. She was after all his fiancée. Rachel Brookes. Not perfect but it was imperfections that made her beautiful. That is what we fall in love with. We dream of perfection, fantasise about it but we love the beautifully flawed. Luke flicked through pictures of her and one of his hand holding hers with the brand new diamond engagement ring on her finger. His mind quizzed him again. Was 24 too young to marry someone? Was a year long enough to know somebody? How would the parents react?
He laughed at the questions.
"Love has no rules." He spoke out loud.
"Huh?" The man next to him muttered.
"Nothing." Luke replied, still smiling.
Nosily, the man lolled his head to the side to look at what the boy was infatuated.
He snorted. "You lucky sod, don't let that one go."
Luke smiled. "I don't intend to sir. I don't intend to."
There had never been a clearer truth. When he said forever to her he meant it. How rare it is to find someone in the midst of 8 billion people who you love and who loves you back. Luke knew the beauty of it more than most. Until the day he died, he would never let her go.
Luke heard the screams before he felt the carriage jolt and squirm as though attempting to break free from the rails. He heard the blare of an alarm before the force of the explosion obliterated and the fire engulfed him completely. It did not happen in slow motion. He could not think about his life, or his loved ones or even her. He never even had time to scream as the train exploded in horrific mess of shattered bones and metal, leaking fuel and blood.

Luke gasped for air as he saw white above his head. He choked and coughed, his mind expecting to suffocate from the fumes of the fire. But there was no smoke, no sign of the explosion. Luke was being pulled up into a sitting position.
"It's alright." A voice said soothingly. "Let your body readjust."
 Luke's lung began to plead for air so he opened his mouth, but his brain needed answers.
"Where am I?" He asked, half gasping for air. "Is this heaven?"
The voice giggled a little. "Not quite." It was female.
Luke looked up to see a woman standing over him. She was slim with an emotionless expression and her long light hair tied back in a pony-tail. Though wearing a lab coat Luke noticed a bulge on the right side of her thigh.
"Welcome back to subject room 211212. Did you have fun?" She asked.
Luke looked around, his body now showing the first signs of panic. His hands were shaking while his stomach was attempting double back flips.
"What are you talking about?" He stammered. "I'm dead."
The young woman smiled again. "Not yet."
Luke looked around. He was sitting on a bed in a massive white hall. It was like nothing he had seen before. There were computers across the walls with different sets of data. His eyes were still adjusting and he could not make out the images.
"You were in a virtual reality." The woman explained, still smiling thinly. "The life you have been living does not exist. It is an illusion."
Luke shook his head in fear. "No. No, I remember memories of my childhood, of growing up."
The woman took his hand and helped him stand. From a door to his right two men were helping an elderly man walk down towards them. Luke watched as the man was helped into the bed he had been in and a device enclosed over his body.
"Of course you do because you lived it. From your birth to your death you lived every day. That is the beauty of our universes; there are thousands of them around the globe now where people can have a second chance at life."
"Why me?" Luke shouted angrily.
"You chose it. You wanted to escape. From the data, it looks as though you attempted to keep your memories from this life but it fails. It always does. It's one of the glitches I'm afraid. Reality is forgotten in the development through childhood."
"There are problems with it of course. Some forget reality but have an inkling of something being not quite right. They never understand fully but it stops them from accepting the reality we created for them. They become isolated and withdrawn from the world around them sinking into their own smaller worlds and of course that is not what these machines were designed for. We want people to be happy."
In the back of his mind Luke new the lady was speaking a horrific truth but still he could not fight the far less hideous denial that was creeping over his mind.
"No. This isn't real. I want to see them."
The woman watched him in confusion. "Who?"
"You know damn well who. My friends, my family, Rachel. Take me to them now!" He screamed at her. Fear makes us reckless. Fear gives us strength to fight back.
Before Luke realised what he was doing he had reached under the woman's lab coat and taken her gun, and pushed the girl in front of him with it raised to her head.
"Take me to them…now."
The woman watched him curiously but nodded. She led him through several rows of other beds with the same devices over the bodies. Only the hands could be seen dangled from within the machines. Every so often Luke saw a finger twitch or a hand shake. It was as though they were locked in sleep. The woman led him to a massive screen that stretched across a wall.
"Are you sure you want to do this. There are a thousand people connected to this world and eight billion places for them to fill. The chances of you knowing any of them are…slim."
Show me." He said coldly, leading her with the gun.
"Michelle and Nicholas Evans." The woman said to the screen.
The blackness broke apart revealing an image. Pictures of his parents. Luke breathed a sigh of relief.
But beneath each photograph there was one sentence:

Position not filled

"I'm sorry." The woman said quietly, though she did not sound at all sincere to the broken boy. Luke began to list names. Each time their picture appeared but each time the same sentence came back:

Position not filled

Luke was almost reduced to tears. His whole body was shaking. He wanted to wake up from the nightmare. God, just let me wake up, he prayed. He only had one name left. One chance. If she was real then maybe he could cope. Maybe he could adjust. But if she didn't…
Each syllable trembled as they fell from his lips. "Rachel…Brookes." He said quietly.
Her photograph appeared on the screen as Luke waited for the familiar loss of hope.

Position filled

Luke gasped and almost fell to his knees. Hope. He had found hope.
"Where is she?" He shouted at the woman.
"This way." She replied quietly and led him through the rows of beds once more. She pointed at one. "She's there."
Luke ran over to the bed in relief. He was about to lift the ugly grotesque machine of the sleeping beauty, when he noticed the hand, dangled from underneath. It was frail and the skin hung to it loosely as though the glue holding it had worn away. There was a liver-spot on the back and dark veins. Luke stepped back in horror.
"This isn't her." He muttered, holding the shaking gun at the woman. "This isn't Rachel."
"No. That is Grace Wills. A terminal participant who took the part of Rachel Brookes. The real Rachel Brookes died thousands of years ago. This is just a replica of the universe she and Luke Evans lived in.
"What are you talking about?" The man asked in confusion. "I am Luke Evans."
"Are you? Listen to your voice."
"What are you…" The man stopped. The words were not his own. Even the accent was wrong and the tone deeper.
He looked down at his hands that were holding the gun. They were at least ten years too old already showing signs of wrinkles and they were stained red.
Blood.
"The guards you shot when you broke in here."
It was finally too much. The man, whoever he was, fell to his knees, his mind damaged beyond compare. Involuntarily he threw up on the white floor. Still clutching the gun he was on his hands and knees. The woman began to walk over to him but in a new burst of energy he stood up holding the gun facing her.
"This is not bliss. This is hell and they should be set free." He turned the gun away from her pointing it at the large computer screen and fired. But nothing happened.  The man squeezed the trigger again. Nothing.
Two sets of hands grabbed his arms. He tried to shake them off but their strength was brutal. The woman walked over to him.
"Did you ever wonder why the machine was empty with such a demand? Of course you didn't. It was being repaired. People do not use them to die they use them to live you fool."

He was frogmarched out the hall through a corridor and into a much smaller room where he was strapped roughly to a bed. By the time they were finished all he could move were his eyes. The woman leaned over him. In her hand she was holding a needle.
"Ignorance is bliss my darling but that is a right reserved for the good and the rich."
She held the needle up to his eyes. "For everything you have done." The woman smiled.
"But I don't remember what I've done."
"Of course you don't silly." She laughed coldly. "You chose to forget but ignorance will not save you. Besides if you did have an argument it would be if you lived a better life in that machine than you did here. Did you..?"
The man's silence said everything. "Ah, you see we can change ourselves but not who we are. Circumstances change nothing.
She injected the substance into his arm as he felt the drug seep through his system.
"Don't worry. This time you won't wake up. There is no second life." 


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