I sit up. I look around the room. Orange. I guess I saw that coming. It’s been awhile. I feel my face, checking for lacerations or burning. All I feel is a slight beard. I guess it was longer than it felt. Oh well I guess. Nothing I can do about that. I stare at the circuitry for a while. Red. Same as before. I glance at the floor. Wires. Blue, yellow, red again. No difference there. I lean forward, placing my forearms on my knees as I bring my legs closer to my body. I wonder if I’ll ever finish this “study”. Probably not. Oh well I guess. Nothing I can do about that. I’m alone. I can’t do this by myself. I’m lonely. I’m by myself. Secluded from whoever may be near me. If there is someone out there. They don’t want to deal with me. Oh well I guess. Nothing I can do about that. I wouldn’t want to deal with me. In that initial trial, I had a family, friends, coworkers, and a mistress. Of all things. I had a mistress. I was infidelitous. I was disgusting. My wife probably knew too. Oh well I guess. Nothing I can do about that. I lie down again and go to sleep.
I’m running. I can’t stop. It won’t let me. If I stop, it’ll beat me. It’ll insult me. I can’t take that right now. I’m running. I’m running towards friends and family. They look at me with mixed faces. Some sad, some angry, the worst are the ones that are disappointed. My wife and daughters especially. They just stare at me. Not sadly. Not angrily. Just as if they knew what I had been doing for so long. As if they were sick of it and realized they didn’t need me. I slow down. I jog. They don’t need me. I slow down. I walk. They don’t want me. I slow down. I stop. I shouldn’t be here. They’re right in front of me. My wife holds out a closed hand. She’s holding a gun. I take it. I put the barrel in my mouth. I feel tears stream down my face. I pull the trigger.
I wake up, cringing. I’m crying. I’m crying so much. I think about the letter. I don’t even care. I just want this to be over. I just want to die for real. I’m being punished for my life. I’m sorry darling. I’m sorry Adrian. I’m sorry Adelle. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry…
I get up. I should read that letter. I walk to the next room. Look around. Find the letter. Pick it up. I read.
“If you are reading this, then you are, for all intensive purposes and for all you or your conscious mind know, dead. If everything went correctly, you took your own life in an urban area. You were surrounded by large buildings, alone. You had nothing to do besides dwell in your thoughts. Eventually you slipped so far into a depressive state that you jumped off a building. As a matter of fact, I am sure you are still in your stupor. Stop. It won’t help you. Look at the video. Watch the recording. Then do the next trial. I won’t tell you what this last one tested, it’s fairly obvious. You spent a lot of time in that last simulation. You went in as thirty two years, five months, and twenty eight days old. Hours, minutes, and seconds are not relevant to the study. You are now thirty five years, five months, and twenty eight days. Hours minutes, and seconds are not relevant to the study. That world was called Yolg'izlik. It no longer exists. Now. Go watch the video. You may not like what you find, but you must put some of your fears to rest. You have forty four years, five months, and nineteen days left to complete the study. You are alone. Good luck.
“P.s.: The cords on the ground are not sufficient to hang or choke yourself with, don’t try it.”
I place the letter back and walk over to watch the recording. I pull the camera off the wall and press play after I turn it over. I watch.
I watch myself lay down on the table and fall asleep. It must have taken a bit to start, I turned it on before that. I hear a voice nearby, most likely the computer. “SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN ASLEEP. INITIATING SIMULATION TRIAL NUMBER FOUR. YOLG’IZLIK. THE PLANET OF LONELINESS. SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN WILL UNDERGO SYMPTOMS OF EXTREME DEPRESSION AND WILL EXPERIENCE SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. BY THE END OF SIMULATION TRIAL NUMBER FOUR SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN WILL COMMIT SUICIDE BY LEAPING OFF A BUILDING AND REACHING TERMINAL VELOCITY BEFORE IMPACTING WITH THE GROUND. SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN WILL THEN RETURN FROM SIMULATION TRIAL NUMBER FOUR.” I keep watching. When the voice is done speaking the table I am on lifts, the floor opens to a track where the table is placed onto and transported to the other room. The walls shimmer and change to orange. A new table where the one I was just on raises with a piece of paper with writing on it. The voice returns. “SUBJECT NUBMER TEN-EIGHT-FIFTEEN-FOURTEEN HAS SENT HIS NEXT LETTER. HE CONTINUES TO SPELL HIS NAME THE SAME WAY AS SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN. THIS DOES NOT MATTER AND WILL NOT AFFECT THE STUDY. LET THE RECORD SHOW THAT SUBJECT NUMBER TEN- FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN IS STILL ALONE, AND WILL REMAIN AS SUCH UNTIL IT IS DEEMED OBSOLETE. COMPUTER PERSONALITY NUMBER FIVE WILL NOW ENTER SLEEP MODE UNTIL SUBJECT NUMBER TEN-FIFTEEN-EIGHT-FOURTEEN ACCESSES SIMULATION TRIAL NUMBER FIVE.” I keep watching. I see the far wall open at one point in the shape of a door and see nothing but darkness. It then closes and looks like a wall again. The rest of the tape is just a recording of the empty room. When the recording is finished a voice comes from the camera. “THIS DEVICE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN APPROXIMATELY TEN SECONDS.” Then it emits a loud “SCREEEEEEEEEEE”. I throw it against the wall and curl up. It explodes and I get pelted with camera bits.
I think about who subject ten-fifteen-eight-fourteen could be. I’m not alone. I can’t be if there are other subjects. Maybe if I finish the study I’ll be let free. I quickly press the appropriate buttons to reveal the screen. I type in the code and eagerly await the table. It raises out of the ground. Black. I climb on and don’t look at the monitor, I don’t want to see my reflection anymore. I slip under.