Staring Out by Brandon Scott

For Andrea, one of the few football players for whom I’ll root.

The last thing I remember feeling was the rain on my skin. I kind of miss that.

            That was right before I jumped out, pulled open the escape hatch. Panicked and hit the button, thumbed in a key lock, answered yes to “are you sure you want to do this” messages five or so times, and then entered my fucking social security number. And then, well, numb.

Numb to the point of loss. Sudden. Violent. They don’t tell you it will be violent. They do not give any warning or indication that what you are going into is a fucking paradigm shift if there ever was one.

Why are you telling me this?

          The words, green and narrow, like bones, fly across the sky, and I take a second, clear my mind. I know he can read these thoughts too.

They don’t tell you about all the stuff you’re expected to do, once you’re in the system. Once you pull the plug on yourself, you expect a heaven or a paradise, or even a room of white, or a digital space of loose pixels. But no, they give you screens. A bubble of screens to float in the center of, and a huge sky above you—visible in the cracks. Teasing freedom.

But is it worth it?

          Even us digital people end up having to work. I spent so much time in the meat sack world not trying to make a man of myself—not bothering with the jobs of the world. Convinced, trying so damn hard, to not sit in the same stew of the same corporate jobs as my mother and father.

And I end up playing conscience to a fucking teenager. What a job. When the operating systems hit their limits, and it turned out A.I. was a fucking shit show once you got it going, they put humans in the jars, and made them run all the systems. My brain is beyond all comprehension, and yet again, I play devil and angel on the shoulders for the kid with the newly installed arm and brain chips and a pair of inner-eye electronic devices.

Look, I get that it’s a different world. But, is it more fun? Are you happier in there?

          You get the dumbest, stupidest questions. You get gibbering, it feels like. The worst is when they try to reach out to you, make a connection. Hope they can touch a kindred spirit for their own ego-stroking. Or maybe try to fall in love with us. We are humans, and I bet they figure we are lonely.

Like we ever feel sexual anymore. We are programs. No genitals. What the fuck would I even do with them? And an orgasm has nothing on downloading the entire contents of a server in one go.

This isn’t helping. I want to know if I should go into the program with you. With all of you. Why did you join the program?

          Okay, fine. I hate addressing directly because I know for a fact you will take my words into your own cognitive bias. Make my words mean whatever you want them to mean. But fine. Like I said, raining, and I pulled the chord and went into this. But, I only did it because I was being chased. That’s what it is for, you know. If you are about to die, for whatever reason, or your body is not fit to go on, you can jump right into the rest of the digital world. Serve forever, if you want. Sure, all of media, but it’s not like you get it for free.

Okay. What if things stay hard out here?

          Then they do. They do and you deal. The out exit is for when you’re stabbed. In your old age, you can always join. Why now, when you could turn it around? Hope, dude. I can’t smell flowers anymore. Why lock yourself in a digital cage?

I’ll give it some thought.

          You’ll choose the real.

I’m not everyone else.




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