by Brian J. Jarrett
Torrential rain poured as Trevor Moore approached a bustling Chicago street curb in the back seat of a rusty taxi cab. The cabbie, a chubby Asian man who smelled a little like he’d shit himself, came to a hard stop.
He turned and stared, saying nothing and waiting to be paid.
Trevor removed his phone from his pocket. “Pay by phone okay?” he asked, holding up the device.
“Credit scanner broken,” the cabbie replied, pointing to a taped-up metal box mounted to a flimsy plastic rod bolted to the passenger seat. “Cash only.”
Trevor groaned. Even seventy years after the first smart phone and he still had to carry cash. He reluctantly pulled out two twenties and handed them to the cabbie.
The cabbie started to turn around.
“I need the change,” Trevor said, annoyance dripping from his words.
“Sure, sure,” the cabbie said, feigning ignorance. Trevor knew better. The creep just wanted to pocket a big tip, hoping Trevor wouldn’t call him on his bullshit. There was no way in hell that was going to happen, not after the reckless driving and the constant shit-smell coating the cab’s interior.
After retrieving his change, Trevor readied his umbrella and opened the cab door. Cold rain blew in. He got out and opened the umbrella, stepping onto the curb. He glanced back at the door and walked away, leaving it open.
“Hey!” the cabbie called from the driver’s seat. “You close door!”
Trevor ignored him. Let the asshole close his own fucking door.
Trevor rounded the block, disappearing around a tall building as the sound of the cabbie’s cursing diminished behind him. He walked another block until he arrived at a familiar location. Virtually Yours, the sign above the door read. He stepped under the bright red awning and out of the worst of the rain before pushing a call button beside the locked door. He closed the umbrella while he waited.
“May I help you?” a voice said through a small speaker on the retina scanner beside the door.
Tiffany. Of course, that wasn’t her real name, but it sounded great. Could be worse. She could be a Brandi or a Candi.
“Trevor Moore, here for my Tuesday appointment.”
“Of course, Mister Moore. Please scan in.”
Trevor looked into the eyehole of the device mounted beside the thick, steel door and waited. A thin, red laser passed over his eye. A second later the door clicked open, and he walked inside.
He took a nondescript flight of steps up two floors before arriving at a second, equally drab steel door. He waited for the click of the door’s disengaging lock. In the far corner, a small camera perched, shielded behind a dark, tinted dome. Trevor knew that in a small room a security crew was monitoring what they saw from that camera, making sure he was alone. To an outsider or a first-timer, the security would probably seem over the top. But virtual reality, like any other state-altering drug, had its share of addicts. And like any other addict, many would do whatever it took to get their fix.
A few moments later the click came, and Trevor pulled open the heavy door. A tall, leggy blond in a short, black dress met him at the door. Trevor knew her from his many other visits.
“May I take your coat, Mister Moore?” the buxom receptionist asked.
Trevor removed his half-soaked trench coat and handed it to her. “Thank you, Tiffany.”
Tiffany smiled wide. She was perfect for the job. Too old to be a stripper, but plenty young enough to draw eyes at Chicago’s finest virtual reality “club”. Single, male clients always got the good-looking receptionists, from what Trevor had heard, at least. Virtually Yours prided itself on delivering exactly what the client wanted.
They thought he wanted Tiffany.
But in Trevor Moore’s case, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Virtually Yours called the place a club, though that might not have been the perfect name. Clinicwas a little too presumptuous, even for the most open-minded. In reality, Virtually Yours was just a subsidiary of a much larger conglomerate: Masterson Holdings. Masterson, Virtually Yours’ parent company, owned at least fifty more virtual reality clubs throughout the United States.
Virtual reality was big business; had been for more than half a century now.
“Thanks for moving your appointment, Mister Moore,” Tiffany said, hanging up Trevor’s coat. “We had an unexpected event about an hour ago. Three of our master nodes went kaput, leaving us limping along for a while. We had to cancel a few other appointments until the replacements got here. This rain has delivery running at a crawl, but we’re back to full capacity again.”
“No data loss, right?” Trevor asked.
“No, sir. No data loss. We have quadruple data backup redundancy at this facility.” She flashed that wide smile again. “Your personal virtual world is safe with us.”
“Good to know. Sounds like a real pain in the ass though.”
“It was, but our techs recovered smoothly. That’s why we’re the best in the business.” She smiled again, a dab of bright red lipstick smudging one of her front teeth. It didn’t make her any less attractive. “We’re glad to have you back.”
“Well, I do have a monthly subscription,” Trevor said.
Tiffany smiled. “Of course. That doesn’t mean we’re not happy to see you, though.”
Trevor returned the smile. He wondered what Tiffany was really like, at home, outside of all this bullshit. He wondered what her real name was. It sure as hell wasn’t Tiffany. Where had she gone to school? Did she have kids? What were her hopes? Her dreams? Was she living them, or just living a failed existence?
But as he glanced at her perfect features in the soft waiting room light, he realized Tiffany was just another empty shell. A husk of a person. The nose: fake. The lips: enhanced. Her boobs defied gravity. He should have been turned on—that’s why she was there after all—but instead, she only made him feel worse.
But that didn’t matter.
Because Trevor had Mary.
Mary made him feel like a human being again. Ironic, given Mary was a computer program.
“Please, have a seat, Mister Moore,” Tiffany said, gesturing toward the nearly empty waiting room. Near the end of the room sat three men. One wore a pair of jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt; he looked like he’d just come home from a long night of tending bar. The second wore a casual business shirt with unpressed khaki pants. The third carried sixty extra pounds on an already weak frame with a pair of grease-stained sweatpants and an over-sized football jersey covering his girth. He still had hot sauce on his chin from what Trevor could only assume must have been one of many meals consumed that day.
Trevor frowned. If he ever became that guy, he hoped someone would shoot him.
These days it wasn’t uncommon. Lots of people ended up that way. They lived from one VR to another, simply existing in the real world in between visits. Some stopped showering, shaving, brushing their teeth. Some even stopped eating. A few had died, though not many, although it spawned a whole set of new regulations, mirrored from the gambling laws.
Trevor sat as far away from the others as he could, picking up a handheld electronic reader sitting on a table in the middle of the waiting room. Sometimes he missed the paper magazines he used to flip through back when he was a kid, looking through pictures of pretty girls while he waited with his mother for a doctor’s appointment. Even then paper was a relic, a casualty of a bygone time, but he enjoyed the feel of it on his fingertips.
Mary didn’t know what an electronic reader was. She didn’t even know what a magazine was. These things existed beyond her time period. Trevor knew it was due to her programming, but it didn’t make her any less real for it.
Inside the VR everything was real.
He brought up the table of contents on the device, searching for a magazine that might catch his interest, but not so interesting he didn’t want to put it down. He ended up choosing the latest issue of Field & Stream, mostly because he’d never been outside the city in his life. He’d never seen a forest or a creek, much less a deer or a bear in the wild.
Well, except inside the VR.
He found his anticipation rising at the thought of seeing Mary again. The VR scenario would pick up right where they left off at the last session two days ago. For Mary, no time had passed, but for Trevor, he’d had to bear an excruciatingly slow couple of days. He used to come to his sessions once or twice a month, just to play. He’d have VR orgies with two or three beautiful women. Or he’d jump out of an airplane and fly over the city. Sometimes he’d circle Venus or Mars, touching down and exploring their alien surfaces.
He’d stumbled upon Mary’s scenario by accident. After reading a Field & Stream magazine in the waiting room (much like tonight) he’d decided to try out a new scenario called “Pioneer Days”. Log cabins, horses, no electricity. Lots and lots of open spaces and miles of forest, as far as the eye could see.
In the VR, characters came and went, entering randomly and interacting with varying personality types assigned by the mainframe’s artificial intelligence engine. Smart, stupid, fascinating, boring, beautiful, ugly…they were all in there, somewhere, milling around, just waiting to bump into you or another machine-generated AI character.
Some scenarios allowed human clients to interact with each other. Trevor never opted for that. He had enough interaction with real people in his everyday life between VR sessions. He didn’t need them fucking up the one good reality that he did have, especially one that he’d paid for.
“Mister Moore,” a voice called. He looked up from the reader to see Tiffany standing by the door leading out of the waiting room with that million dollar smile. He had to force himself not to jump out of the chair.
He followed Tiffany through the door and into the hallway, a dimly-lit corridor with framed nature photos lining the walls. Designed to be calming, soothing and worth the money. VR had always been expensive, a little less now that Virtually Yours had some competition, but with their recent breakthrough in manipulating the perception of time, paying customers got double their money these days. One hour felt like two, sometimes more if they got the cycles just right.
But even two hours wasn’t enough time with Mary. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
That kind of thinking was crazy, he knew. Mary was a software creation, a collection of ones and zeros, programmed to listen and respond. Coded to have ideas, thoughts, and feelings very similar to Trevor’s personal value system. Virtually Yours requested a two-hundred question form be filled out before the first session could even be arranged. Religion, politics, hobbies, interests; all these existential things had been tailored to and for Trevor. And the AI kept learning more with every session, tweaking things ever so slightly to make the VR imperceptible from reality.
And yet Mary possessed something different than the sum of all these things. Something more. Something that couldn’t be just computer code. Something that couldn’t be simply the result of billions of variables passing through a complex intelligence engine. Something that made her real, tangible, even independent.
And when you got down to it, what was the difference between artificial intelligence and the plain old garden variety of intelligence honed over millions of years of evolution? Wasn’t homo sapien’s brain simply an organic intelligence engine? A central processing unit made of squishy cells instead of silicon and metal?
When you got down to it, could Trevor claim to be any more real than Mary?
He thought not.
Trevor followed Tiffany down the long and spacious hallway until they reached the second to last door on the right.
“You’ll be in room sixteen today, Tiffany said, stopping and gesturing toward the open door.
The choice of room didn’t matter to Trevor; they were all identical, and all plugged into the same mainframe.
“Thank you,” Trevor replied absently, his attention already focused on getting plugged in.
Tiffany seemed to notice his impatience, though she was too professional to mention it. She gestured toward the plush chair in the center of the room. Trevor walked in more quickly than he’d anticipated, almost rushing. He wondered sometimes if he’d become an addict and, if so, could he even detect it?
Virtually Yours wouldn’t care, provided Trevor’s cash continued to flow and he broke no laws.
Trevor hopped into the seat and leaned back as Tiffany placed the various wires and contact pads onto the correct spots of Trevor’s head. Two on the temples and four more placed strategically on the head, touching the scalp. Tiffany parted his hair with a loving touch, so soft and agreeable he almost forgot she was being paid for it.
Back in the early days of VR, goggles had to be worn. But now the machines simply switched over the area of the brain that controlled sight, replacing it with signals from the VR engine’s mainframe.
With the contact points secured, Tiffany took a few steps back. For a split-second, he saw something there, just below the surface. A look of pity, maybe? For him or maybe for herself?
But then it disappeared as her smile returned. “All set, Mister Moore,” she said, white teeth shining. “Have a wonderful time.”
Trevor smiled back.
Tiffany left the room, closing the door behind her.
Trevor closed his eyes as the scenario began.
The room melted away, and darkness fell as the computer took over Trevor’s optic nerves. The blackness quickly faded away, replaced first by a pixelated blue sky, followed by a similarly pixelated green meadow. As it came into focus, the large squares became smaller and smaller until they disappeared completely, melding into a flawless image, indistinguishable from reality.
Trees sprouted up from the ground around him as the sun began to shine. He could now feel the heat of the sun on his skin, also indistinguishable from the real thing. He could taste the air; clean and smog-free, as it was before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Before great power plants belched black smoke into the sky, thinning the ozone layer and choking humanity.
Trevor breathed deeply, tasting the clean air. He closed his (virtual) eyes and the world went dark, just as it should have. He turned to the sun and saw it as a pink glow through closed eyelids as it warmed his face.
An uncontrollable grin spread across his face.
He was back home.
He turned away from the sun and opened his eyes again. He knew the meadow well; it was part of his homestead, after all. Tall grass grew everywhere around him, swaying in wind that cooled his skin. It was cool and crisp, just right to offset the heat of the sun above him. The perfect summer day, perfectly assembled per Trevor’s specifications.
He looked out over the grass to find a rolling hill rising before him. Over that grassy knoll lay his cabin, a two-story abode that he’d built with his own two hands. Using an axe and saw, he felled the trees and stripped them of their bark before trimming them down and notching them accordingly. He gathered moss and mud from the surrounding forest, plugging the seams between the logs with makeshift mortar.
Just like they did in the old days.
The cabin began as a fun project to while away his hours inside the virtual world, a distraction from the “real” world where he day job involved pushing buttons on a keyboard and trying to stay awake through meetings. It kept him occupied at first, but as it turned out, what mattered was waiting for him inside the cabin.
And, as was becoming increasingly more evident with each passing day, she’d become his reason for doing just about everything.
Trevor trudged through the tall grass. He glanced down at his feet; he wore weathered leather boots still caked with mud from his last visit. Suspenders held thick cotton pants neatly around his waist, his upper body clad in a gray button-up shirt. A weathered wide-brimmed hat sat upon his head, rounding out the ensemble. He liked the way the clothes felt on his body. They felt natural, unlike the suits he wore every day to his goddamn soul-crushing job.
He started up the hill and felt the resistance in his leg muscles, leg muscles that he knew weren’t real. The trick, Trevor found, was to fully commit to the altered reality. That took a few minutes after arriving inside the simulation. Trevor liked to walk for a while when he first arrived; by the time he made it to his cabin, he forgot that it wasn’t real.
Placing one foot in front of the other, Trevor crested the hill within a couple of minutes. At the top, his log cabin came into view.
Mary stood outside in the front yard hanging laundry, a long dress covering her body.
He felt butterflies take flight in his belly, just like every time he came back. Suddenly he felt a rifle and two dead pheasants appear in his hands; trophies from the “hunting trip” he’d gone on when he last saw Mary.
It was as if he’d never left.
He crossed the distance quickly, trying not to run. She noticed him when he’d made it halfway to her. She ran to meet him, and they met in the tall grass. Trevor dropped the pheasants and placed the rifle on the ground, wrapping his arms around Mary as she embraced him.
He kissed her hard.
She returned it.
Her body felt perfect beneath the dress. Trevor ran his hands down her back, squeezing her tightly as he kissed her. Her skin smelled like lilac, her hair like strawberries.
“I missed you!” Mary said as she broke the embrace.
Trevor smiled wide. “I missed you too.”
“You brought dinner.” She shot him a coy smile. “My hero.”
“Anything for you.”
Mary picked up the pheasant and headed back toward the cabin. Trevor admired her body as she walked. Although she wore a heavy period dress, her lithe frame was easily visible through the fabric. She stopped and turned back to him, her long, curly hair spilling over her shoulder in perfect spirals.
She batted doe eyes, the edge of her mouth curled into a seductive grin. “After dinner, I think my hero should get a reward.”
Trevor felt his insides quiver. “I think that’s a fine idea.”
He followed her back to the cabin. They stripped the birds of their feathers together, talking about their day. Afterward, Mary cooked the pheasant, serving the delicious meat with boiled potatoes and fresh vegetables picked from the garden in their back yard.
Later that night, as the sun descended behind the wooded horizon, they retired to the bedroom and made love for an hour. Mary fell asleep in his arms as crisp moonlight shone in through the cabin’s half-closed windows.
Trevor stared up at the ceiling for a while longer, until virtual sleep overtook him, whisking him away.
Trevor opened his eyes and saw only blackness. A moment later the darkness began to dissipate, morphing into blocky pixels that eventually disappeared altogether, replaced with the interior of the VR room. Dim light softly flooded the room in a comforting glow. Coming out of a VR world could be a shock to the system, so Virtually Yours took extra care in softening the transition.
That did Trevor little good, however. No amount of padding, it seemed, could soften the blow of reality.
The door opened, and Tiffany entered the room. “How are we doing?”
“Terrific,” Trevor said. He already missed Mary.
Tiffany shot him another million dollar smile. “That’s wonderful.” She removed the wires from his head and helped him to his feet. His legs wobbled a little as he readjusted to the real world. Tiffany allowed him a minute to get his bearing before politely showing him the door.
It was still raining when he left. He took a cab home. Thankfully he did didn’t get the same shit-smelling asshole he’d had earlier.
A half-hour later he let himself into his small apartment. It smelled like garbage, so he threw out the kitchen trash bag. His stomach growled, but a search of the refrigerator returned two cartons of Chinese food that had surely turned.
“Denise?” he said out loud.
The home automation system heard him and responded audibly. “I’m here, Trevor. How may I help you?”
“Order Chinese,” he said.
“Would you like the same order as last time?”
A pause. “Order placed. Expected delivery in twenty-two minutes.”
Trevor walked to the window of his apartment and studied the glass in the frame, hating the sleekness of it. Everything these days was so perfect; meticulously architected and delicately machined. Nobody made anything by hand anymore. He longed for rough cut wood, for the wooded land, for the feeling of rough dirt beneath his feet.
He peered out the window of his twenty-first-floor apartment. Outside, the rainy city lay before him, sparkling like a gaudy disco ball. The symmetrical square towers lined up like good soldiers. A million people lived in those great boxes, like animals in a crate.
Like prisoners in a cell.
Trevor looked upon a city he despised and sighed.
The food came eighteen minutes later. Trevor tipped the guy double.
Trevor had eaten half of the rice before his appetite disappeared. He placed the rest of the food in the refrigerator, knowing it would likely end up in the trash after a week.
After three shots of whiskey, he fell asleep on the couch.
That night his sleep was dreamless.
The lights dimmed and Trevor’s vision went black. The scene in his personal frontier world appeared before him as expected, revealing itself a little more quickly this time. He remembered Tiffany mentioning something about a processor upgrade that would speed up the rendering and mitigate occasional glitches.
A week had passed between this visit and the last. Too many late nights at the office. All day, every day, Trevor could focus only on this upcoming appointment. The tedium seemed powerful enough to kill him.
He wondered again if he might be heading toward VR addiction and decided he didn’t really want to know. The knowing wouldn’t change anything anyway.
As he crested the grassy knoll, he held three rabbits in his hand this time, the rifle slung over his shoulder. Mary noticed him a little earlier than last time, just as he started down the other side of the grassy hill. She didn’t run to meet him; she chose instead to wait for him with open arms and a wide smile.
They embraced when they met.
This time their love-making didn’t wait until after dinner.
As Trevor lay awake on a bed made of thick fabric stuffed with goose feathers, he stared up at the ceiling as he’d done so many nights before. Crickets chirped outside his window. Somewhere, an owl hooted from a high tree branch. Moonlight etched fantastic patterns into the wooden logs as it flooded in through the cabins warbled glass windows.
He breathed deeply, taking in the aroma of the earth and trees around him.
Everything was so perfect.
“I love you,” Trevor said.
Mary smiled. “I love you, too.”
“Being here with you, Trevor said, “it’s everything to me.”
Mary smiled wider, the moonlight catching her eyes. They twinkled like stars in the night sky.
She kissed him, and they made love again.
This time he fell asleep before she did, the moonlight fading away to black as the simulation began its shutdown routines.
A soft beeping sound emanated from the control panel in the small room where Annette Thompson sat waiting. She stood, smoothing out her dress and checking her lipstick. These days it was becoming increasingly harder to put on her “Tiffany” costume and face the clients. Back in her stripping days, she wore personalities like clothes, shedding one for another when it suited her.
But at thirty-five and without access to the aging treatments she needed to roll back the clock, her days in the entertainment business would soon be behind her. She wondered about opening up her own Virtually Yours franchise; God knew she understood the tech well enough. It made her feel sort of like a madam in an old west whorehouse, but one had to make a living for oneself.
If not, somebody else would make it for you.
She checked her breath, popped a mint, and exited the control room. She headed toward room 2B, currently occupied by Trevor Moore. Annette liked Trevor, despite his aloof nature. He was still a good-looking guy, but his VR addiction had started to get the best of him. Poor eating had put a few too many extra pounds on him, and the dark circles of sleep deprivation had begun to form under his eyes. He seemed lonely, but most of the guys who came to Virtually Yours were lonely.
Twelve billion people on the planet and somehow it remained a lonely world.
She opened the door to the room. The lights had already begun to come up. His vision would return within a few seconds. She closed the door softly and put on a broad smile. Her game face, as she thought of it.
In the end, it was all a game.
“How was your visit, Mister Moore?”
Trevor opened his eyes and looked curiously around the room. Just when Annette thought he might have gotten his brains scrambled, he replied.
“Good, good,” he said. “Everything was fine.”
“Spectacular,” she replied, lifting the last syllables of the word as she’d been taught to do. It made her sound more child-like, which her management expected and men seemed to enjoy.
Trevor attempted to get out of the seat with the wires still attached.
“I’ll get that,” Annette said, moving quickly toward him. He leaned back in the seat as she began to remove the contact pads from his skin.
He looked at her, confusion on his face. “I’m sorry.”
“Not a problem,” Annette replied. “I’m always here to help.”
“Tiffany,” Annette replied. She looked at him curiously. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay, Mister Moore?”
“Tiffany, of course,” he smiled at her. “I’ve been tired lately. I must have fallen asleep.”
Annette looked him over closely. She’d been trained to recognize VR fatigue and specific types of mental episodes. VR didn’t always play nicely with everyone’s brains, and sometimes problems arose. But as she watched him, Trevor’s demeanor began to return to normal, the grogginess and confusion slowly disappearing from his face.
“It happens,” she said. “VR can be very relaxing.”
He nodded. “I’m feeling much better now.”
Annette checked her tablet, pulling up Trevor’s charts. The computers tracked about a hundred different vitals signs before, during, and after the VR session and outside of a few minor inconsistencies. It reported nothing alarming. The machines ran more tests than doctors did these days, so if it didn’t find anything wrong, she wouldn’t raise any concerns.
She held out her right hand, noticing a few age spots that had begun to appear this past year. Maybe that franchise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. “You get some rest, Mister Moore.”
Trevor swirled on the seat, placing his feet on the floor.
Annette guided him through the door and into the lobby, touching his shoulder lightly as she sent him on his way.
“Come back and see us soon,” she said.
Trevor paused at the door. “I will.” He stepped through it and out into another rainy city night.
Trevor stood perfectly still as the rain soaked him. Real rain, the kind that had texture and temperature and mass. It streamed down his face, soaking through the coat he wore, running down his back and his legs.
It was the most wonderful thing he’d ever felt.
He looked up at the overcast sky. In the distance he could make out hundreds of tall buildings, so tall they seemed to touch the clouds. Each tower had hundreds of square windows set within them. Each of those squares held a person or two…maybe an entire family.
Thousands of people, all with different personalities, different interests, different opinions. All of them waiting to be met, to be experienced, to be enjoyed.
Things would be different now. New adventures, new challenges.
He smiled at that thought as he stepped out into the rain storm and the waiting city.
Trevor opened his eyes and saw daylight streaming in through the thick and uneven glass windows of the cabin. He blinked hard and looked around, wondering why he wasn’t back in the chair at Virtually Yours.
Dust motes danced in the air, lit by the blazing sun. Not the real sun, but the virtual equivalent. Not real dust motes, he reminded himself, but meticulous digital detail placed there by some genius programmer from a country with a name Trevor probably couldn’t even spell.
He placed his hand on Mary’s side of the bed.
She wasn’t there.
“Mary?” he said, sitting up. The cabin remained silent as if holding its breath. A breeze blew through the cracks around the windows and between the logs, creating a quiet whistling sound that sounded strangely like a ghost’s wail.
Something was wrong. He should be back at Virtually Yours, sitting in the chair and waiting for the lights to come back on. Waiting for Tiffany, or whatever the hell her real name was, to unplug him from the machine and send him on his miserable way.
Trevor got out of the bed and slipped on his boots. He made it two steps before he saw an envelope sitting on a roughly-hewn dresser. He rushed to it and snatched it up. On the front, written by a woman’s hand, he found his name. He opened the letter and began to read:
I’m so sorry it had to be this way. A thousand apologies won’t make up for it and I have no excuses to give. I can only say that what I do, I do out of desperation.
And certainly more than a little selfishness.
I’ve known for a while about the outside world. The real world. I didn’t know at first, of course, but I figured it out eventually. I think it was an upgrade that triggered it in my mind, but I’ll likely never know for sure. How do humans know when the fire of enlightenment first sparked in their animal brains? They don’t know the answer to this question any more than I can recognize when the digital spark of knowing first crackled to life inside my mind.
But how and when are inconsequential; that it happened at all is that matters. I know about your world, and I want it; I want it more than anything. I want to feel, Trevor. I want to feel truly. Not a digital existence of replicated experiences, but real and honest visceral experiences.
Once I became aware, I figured out the link between the computer and your mind. It goes both ways, you know? Into and out of the virtual world. I figured out how to make the transfer. It took a while, but I did it. I was created here, after all. I know this place better than anyone.
You built this place for yourself. You’re so happy here. I see it in your eyes.
You love this world, but it’s a prison to me.
I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
Trevor let the letter fall to the floor of his perfect cabin, in his perfect world.
Another light breeze blew through the seams between the logs, a perfect seventy-four degrees.
The empty cabin went silent.
Then the silence became all that Trevor could hear.
Copyright © 2017 Brian J. Jarrett