It was a cold day like no other where ice had frozen across the asphalt fields and frost had settled down.
An infant woke up one day hastily wrapped in plastic and used paper towels. He was thrown in some ditch next to a dirty dumpster full of broken electronics and leftover slices of moldy pizza.
The smell killed his appetite—an almost surefire way to forget about his throbbing headache. But to his surprise, he suddenly realized that he was self-conscious. And he also realized that he should’ve already been dead.
With the temperature below freezing and a pile of snow blanketing a part of his body, he somehow knew that he wasn’t supposed to be alive. And yet, he was still there, breathing out the cold, wintry air.
His mind started to race. There were records of knowledge that flooded through his thoughts—language, algebra, even the intricacies of modern pop culture. But the records went further—images of nuclear wars that devastated countries in quick succession, biomedical inventions that trivialized deadly diseases and viruses, and advanced artificial intelligence that surpassed even the brightest of cognitive minds.
This was the age of the cybernetic megacorps. Where the ignorant and the intelligent were both forced into a collective race of dominance. It was a bloody battlefield of lost innocence. Bodies were stolen for research, the kidnapped were sold for corporate experimentations. Nobody was safe. Nothing was sacred. Because to those who strived to reach the top, morals were for the weak and empathy was for the starving…
Yet the infant simply rationalized all of this as common sense. Because to him, none of it actually mattered. He was cold. He could feel the tingling in his toes, the bitterness numbing his senses away. He should’ve been dying. His heart should’ve stopped beating, his liver and kidneys should’ve already failed… But he was somehow still alive.
Why? he thought. How could he still be alive? His young, self-aware mind had already started to experience a sense of confusion. If what he knew as common sense wasn’t actually making any sense, what kind of common sense was all this information in his mind?
He didn’t know.
Because what he didn’t know was that all this common sense was meaningless. Not in this world, no.
He didn’t know that all this knowledge had been preprogrammed into him. Like a set of instructions for some new-to-work tour guide. He didn’t know that this was the fate of all those who were born here. That he wasn’t real. That he was just another bundle of ones and zeros.
He was born in a simulation. One created by the corporate minds of Simular Incorporated—the current highest net worth company in both the legal and illegal marketplace. It was a company that defied the odds and succeeded where others had failed. A company that managed to further an abandoned idea to fruition while their competitors pursued the much more tangible fruits of cybernetics and biotechnology.
It was a creation of wonder, this simulation. Named Simular and advertised as an entertaining second chance at life, it rocketed to the top of the list for life’s most necessary technological inventions of the century. It was used for medicine, military, imprisonment, engineering, gaming, everything... Everything was done in Simular. Because in there, there were no consequences.
Even those who couldn’t afford to eat a proper meal would spend days worth of income to spend weeks within the simulation. Because in there, time moved faster. Just like a dream. In there, you could eat and taste all you could want. All of the world’s culinary delicacies recreated to near perfect replications.
All of reality was replicated.
Sadly, the infant knew none of this. He was still lost in his world, wondering if all this common sense was just nonsense that he somehow knew. He didn’t know how it got there in his head. He didn’t know if any of the information was true. He didn’t even know if he was really alive.
And eventually, he would simply close his eyes for the first time in his short life…
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