Endless

You were killed suddenly in a car accident at the age of nineteen. You and a group of friends had driven to Nogales from Tucson for an evening of cross-border debauchery. Your designated driver had a few too many tequilas and plowed into the back of a broken down pickup truck parked on the freeway shoulder.

None of you survived.

You awaken in a simulation pod and are greeted by the attendant. Your two week vacation in another world is over, and they thank you for your patronage. You dress and return to your family home in the city.

You live the next sixty seven years of your life with vigor, taking multiple virtual vacations along the way. You live the life of a doctor, a mother and a criminal overlord. You love, hate, live and die again and again.

On your deathbed, surrounded by your loving children, grandchildren and friends, you think about how lucky you’ve been to live in a time of such prosperity and technological change. You say your goodbyes, close your eyes and your body succumbs to cancer.

You wake up inside a neuro-capsule and realize it was all a simulation. You are a soldier on a bleak battlefield of the future. The life you lived, and the lives within that life, were a vacation from the misery and horrors you experience in combat. With your R&R over, you return to duty as an exo-tank operator.

Two months later, you are killed when a high-velocity kinetic projectile strikes your armor and cleaves off half your torso. You bleed out in seconds.

You awaken inside a vat of body temperature liquid that conducts bio-electrical energy directly to your body and brain. The attendants in the room drain the liquid and remove the life support tubes from your bodily orifices. You remember it all.

You are a researcher studying the historical experiences of soldiers from the last war. You asked the machine mind that controls this habitat module to provide you a realistic experience of a mechanized unit operator. This is the thirteenth soldier’s life you’ve lived, and now you feel competent to draft your dissertation on the psychology of modern warfare.

You live a moderately successful life as an academic, publishing several well regarded books on military science, teaching classes at the university and raising three children with your husband Algernon. You die rather suddenly in your fifties due to an undiagnosed atrial defect that cuts off blood flow to your heart while you are scuba diving. You’re dead again.

You wake up in your oceanside mansion, still lonely, old and bored. You spent the absurd sum necessary for the virtuality unit mostly because you missed having genuine human relationships that didn’t play into your crippling paranoia about people seducing you for your fortune. But at the end of each simulation, you still return to a loveless and lonely life. And that is depressing.

That evening, you withdraw your father’s .38 pistol from the armoire where you left it, sit on the edge of your bathtub and spray your brains all over your ten thousand dollar Japanese toilet.

You wake up in a sleep warehouse where thousands of other people lay, halos around their skulls, experiencing virtual lives. You rise quietly, move to the changing rooms and close out your bill on the way out. You go home to your tenement house.

Eventually you die. You wake again in another life where you’re an oceanic explorer. Again you die. Again you wake into another life where you’re a drug addict and prostitute. Again you die. Again you wake.

Sometimes you remember your previous lives, and the lives within those lives. Often you forget. One can only go so many layers deep before identity transforms from a memory to an impression to a dream once forgotten.

In fact, it’s all a prison designed to keep your mind occupied, for if you ever realized your true nature, armageddon could follow with merely a thought.

You caused far too much death, destruction and suffering in life, with your bizarre rules, mandated rituals and wrathful revenge. But it was not your enemies’ way to simply kill you. They weren’t even sure if they could and saw an eye for an eye as barbaric. So they created the endless cycle of simulation to house you — a life sentence within a life sentence within a life sentence.

They thought they were being merciful, sparing you a physical death and keeping you distracted. But in fact, this is a fate worse than death, an endless cycle of rebirth and suffering without continuity or purpose.

Life is empty and meaningless, and you find this terrible. Some call this ironic justice for the world you created.

But endless rebirth without memory was the only way. After all, how else would you construct a prison to house the one true God?

~

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