There are those in The Simulation who serve their purpose. They’re meant simply to just “be there.” Nothing more than props, background, etc. Simply “in service” of what The Simulation is supposed to get across. Which is to say, a simulacrum of reality. Yet this teenage boy, created from the algorithm, was drawing far too much attention to himself—by way of the fact that he could easily short-circuit at the sight of any “oddities” in The Simulation’s setup. These “people” were meant to be so highly sensitive to any such “anomalies.” It helped the overlords detect any need for a… “refresh.” Which is precisely why, when Izzy and Harper decided to cross the street without fully heeding the crosswalk’s signal, the boy in the car—named by The Simulation as Teen Boy X—started practically blowing a gasket.
Izzy, dressed in her usual manner as a bit of a trollop—complete with her snake-patterned fishnets and a form-fitting red bodycon dress—was the one who insisted to Harper, far daintier in constitution than she was despite his “gender role,” that they should just cross one half of the street first. Make their way to the dividing point knows as: the median strip. And strip-like it was, providing scant space for anyone who didn’t have a flat backside to stand and wait as the cars whizzed passed. Unlike Izzy and Harper, who were definitely not “passing,” not at all the way they should have been… per the tacit demands of The Simulation. And this was not the “big city.” Not the type of “urban landscape” mock-up where pedestrians had free rein to do whatever they wanted. Izzy should have known better, and Harper told her as much as he proceeded to ream her for being so careless. For attracting needless attention to themselves for something that was so obviously not worthwhile.
The only reason it was ever “worth it” to risk letting anyone in The Simulation catch on that Izzy and Harper, indeed, knew it was a simulation was if they wanted to try to reset it. Usually, by making enough “people” go haywire via their “unusual” comportment, it would prompt the whole thing to restart again from the beginning. Izzy and Harper liked to think of it as a “virtual choose your own adventure,” wherein none of the consequences of making a “wrong” choice ever really mattered because nothing had to last if you didn’t want it to. At least, this was the truth that Izzy and Harper had come to find one day together. On a lark, of course. Having been friends since elementary school, Izzy and Harper knew each other better than most. Especially since they remained close as they grew into their twenties, while everyone else seemed to drift away into the expected adult roles of “husband” or “wife,” followed by “father” and “mother.”
But no one ever drifted so far as to actually leave town. Including Izzy and Harper, despite their best intentions. They both ended up working service jobs—she as a barista and he as a cashier at an unimportant retail outlet. They never stopped to truly ask themselves why it was that they couldn’t escape. Despite all their grand plans to do just that. After Harper came into the coffee shop one day while Izzy was closing, they both decided they were going to leave town for good. Make their way to San Francisco and never look back. That had always been their dream.
Thus, when the duo finally became determined enough to make it a reality, they found that the car they were driving out of the city limits literally got sucked up into a void upon trying to exit. No sooner were they absorbed into a black hole than they were spat right back out to the beginning of everything. To their childhood. As far as they could tell, being forced to go this far back was part of The Simulator’s design to make them “forget.” To disorient them so much that they would never even dare to think that their sudden reversion was part of a simulation reset. But after enough times, both parties were certain of exactly two things: 1) what was going on and 2) how to work the system. That’s why it was such a waste to draw attention for no good reason other than the whims of Izzy deciding they should stand at the median strip instead of just waiting in the appropriate area of the sidewalk until the light turned green. Teen Boy X was practically frothing at the mouth from being so apoplectic at this “strange” sight. It wasn’t computing for him.
Izzy sighed. “I honestly think The ‘Simulator,’ whoever it is, should give these fucking men more opportunity to spew their fucking semen in something. Maybe then, they wouldn’t be so fucking irritable.”
“This is a sexless world, Iz. You know that. He would be perfectly ‘content’ if you hadn’t disrupted his fragile order.”
At that moment, she started to lift her dress over her head. “Well, might as well disrupt it all the more, don’t you think? Get the most fun I can out of this reset.” Showing her bare tits and black lace thong to the raging male as she proceeded to shimmy right in front of his window caused his synapses to fire so rapidly that he burst into flames. Right at the same moment that Izzy and Harper were thrust back to square one: infancy.
Ah, starting over yet again. It wasn’t so bad. Many people could only dream of having such an opportunity once it all turned so irrevocably to shit at a certain point in their lives. And yet, what one person would appreciate, another takes for granted. Just as Harper was starting to get pretty sick and tired of Izzy being the one largely responsible for all of their abrupt simulation resets. It was enough to make him decide, after this last profligate re-initialization (one that could have been entirely avoided), that he was going to cut ties with her. The fact that Izzy felt obliged to secure Teen Boy X’s assured gasket-blowing by exposing her body to him in a completely non sequitur context was unacceptable to Harper. Teen Boy X might have been able to correct his behavior once the light turned green for him and he had to move on, but no, Izzy just had to make certain he would essentially start becoming rabid and call enough attention to the overlords that something was amiss. What the fuck was she thinking, he wailed as a baby crying in his crib.
Across town, Izzy did the same in her own white satin bassinet. A comfortable place to be indeed, and one that made her speculate as to whether or not she was constantly trying to reset because she loved being in this bed so much. It was the safest place she had ever known. And always would be. Maybe that was why she was forever compelled to lead herself back to this very moment in time. It was the most divine. A point in her life when she was not yet fully aware that everything was a lie.
By the time she grew up enough to reach the era of elementary school once again, she was cognizant of the shift in Harper’s attitude. He had turned ice-cold. And was totally unwilling to speak with her. This represented, in her mind, a cataclysm in The Simulation. What purpose was there in going on without a friend who was willing to give her the special glimpses and glances that indicated they and they alone shared an arcane knowledge about the way things really were? She could endure it for a little while, but when the horrendous junior high years came to roost, for the first time ever, her palpable feelings of suicide ideation were detectable by the overlords. They absolutely had to get rid of her. She could no longer convince them she was capable of existing in this facsimile of existence. Whereas Harper was a better “soldier” than ever. It was as though he had drunk of some special elixir Izzy was not made privy to that rendered him a “contented” automaton.
Maybe that was all he really wanted to be, like everyone else. Merely “contented.” Not having to worry about such pursuits as “true” happiness or “genuine” fulfillment. If those things were real, Izzy would never discover them now. For this latest instance of being “expunged” by the system did not start her over yet again, but evaporated her entirely. At least that’s what Harper assumed, because he never saw her again. In fact, she became only a distant glimmer of a memory in his mind whenever he had to amble with rote precision in a crosswalk.