Flash Fiction: I Am Your Father

“Oh hello. Good to see you again. Let me guess: Star Wars?”

“Yeah. Suppose.”

“Loads of people are talking about that one you like, the Cloud City scene. Like, you really feel you’re there, up in the clouds with the sun and everything. Are you going for the big duel, the one where Darth Vader says he’s your father?”

“I suppose.”

“You really love that one, don’t you? You’ve done it, like, eight times now?”

“Something like that.”

“They improve it every time, make it more real. Have you noticed?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I tell you a secret? The first time I fell down the chute, you know, the big jump, I actually barfed. For real. It felt like I was literally going to die.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you find it really hurt when he cut off your hand the first time? I think they changed that a bit, made it less intense.”

“Yeah.”

“What they can do now, eh?”

“What they can do now, yeah … Except…”

“Yes?”

“I don’t know. It’s true of everything in life, isn’t it? Nothing’s ever like the first time, is it? I know they keep improving and improving, but there’s something about that first time. Nothing after ever seems to …”

“Match up?”

“Maybe.”

“They say life’s like that.”

“Seems a bit unfair.”

“I know. Yeah.”

“But I suppose I’ll do it again.”

“There is one new thing though.”

“Yeah?”

“Well, I don’t know that it’s fully developed yet. I’m maybe not even supposed to talk about it, but you’re such a good customer and stuff…”

“What is it?”

“Well, long story short: they change the way the device interacts with your brain. It goes to different parts. Up to now, when you’re inside a simulation, you think it’s all happening in the moment. It does its thing and then you turn it off: back to reality. But now: it actually gives you new memories. You don’t forget anything, like back account details or anything important, but you get memories of things that happened before the simulation. They say it helps to make the experience even more real.”

“Really?”

“Well, so they tell me. I’ve never tried it myself. I’m actually more into the Jane Austen simulations.”

“That’s incredible.”

“Yeah.”

“What they can do: we’ll reach the point where we don’t know if anything is real.”

“Some say we’re there already.”

“Yeah.”

“So… What do you think?”

“I’ll try it.”

“Really?”

“I’ll spend all day thinking about it if I don’t.”

“Ok. If you just strap yourself into the chair. The way the helmet fits on is slightly different. Like I said, it goes to different parts. If you just sort of … Yeah. That’s it. Ready to rock and roll.”

“Ok.”

“Engaging … Now.”

“Oh my God. Are you ok? What’s wrong?”

“How … How long?”

“About seven seconds. Should I … Did it go wrong? Will I call for help?”

“No … No. It worked perfectly, just …”

“What?”

“He … He really loved us, you know. He really really did. He just had … Such trouble showing it.”

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