I sit up. I rub my eyes. That was fast. I think to myself. It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes. But I don’t feel any pain. I’ve already had to deal with being incinerated. I didn’t even remember that one. Subject ten-eight-fifteen-fourteen didn’t even think I would remember. I brush it off as coincidence. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to remember trial five. I take my hands away from my eyes. I almost start crying. I’m in a forest. I’m not back from trial five. I’m still being subjected to this hell. I’m not done. It’s not over. I start to cry. Then I hear it.
The crying child. My head shoots up and I immediately think that I’m not alone. I laugh a little. I get up and start running in the direction of the crying baby. I run as fast as I can. Faster than I did on Iberu. I run faster than I have in my life or any simulation I’ve been in. I just want to be with another person. I’m so lonely.
You will be completing this study with no more family or friends. You will have no more human contact.
I stop, almost tripping. I remember what subject’s ten-eight-fifteen-fourteen letter said to me after trial two. I shouldn’t have any more human contact for the rest of the study he wrote. Maybe he lied… maybe that was to prepare me for the next few trials… maybe that was to psych me out for this one…
waaaaaaaaaa… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… waaaaAAAAAAAAAA… WAAAAAAAAAAA… WAAAAAAAAAAA… WAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEE… RAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE… RRRRAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear God… please… no…
I start running in the opposite direction. As fast as I did on the way there. Not this. Please. Earth had other people. Onina had fire. Iberu had fear. Yolg’izlik had loneliness. Why does this place have to have that? I hear a tree crash behind me and another angry scream. I keep running. My lungs are on fire. My legs feel numb. My arms feel like they’ll fall off. But I can’t stop. I keep running. I take a turn and try to find a hiding spot. I see a log. It’s big. I can hide in there. Wait for it to pass. Then I can think straight. I run and slide into it. I crouch, make myself as small as possible, and wait. All I need to do is wait for it to pass. That’s all I need to do.
I hear a rumbling. It’s coming. I don’t even have a name for it, I programmed it and I can’t even name it. The rumbling stops. I hear breathing. It’s kind of wheezy, almost panting. There’s a slight squeal to it; I think it noticed me. Maybe it can smell me… I hope not. I look up.
I’m back in the room with the table. There’s no doorway thought. Only the table, the screen, and a letter. There is no circuitry on the walls. I’m in the second room… did I wake up mid-simulation? But I’m not on the table. I’m in the corner of the room. I walk over to the letter. It’s kind of tough, the room is entirely black, including the cords on the floor and the table; I almost fall on the way to the letter. I pick it up. It looks fresh. As if someone just wrote it. I read it.
“If you are reading this, you are in great peril. You are not dead John. You’re being experimented on. You need to get out of there. You’ve only been through four simulations. The first one was real life. You weren’t killed by the car. You were taken from the hospital and declared dead by whoever is doing this to us. I am dead by now, I’m sure. I sent this letter without sanction. We’re both expendable. You need to go to the computer and try to open the door. The exit. You need to leave. John, you are NOT alone.
“Get out and sincerely,
I drop the letter. I clutch my head. I start to scream. Not like the first time. I’m terrified. I’m ecstatic. I’m on the cusp of death, but I’m not dead yet. Not yet. I crumple to the ground. I start to shake, still screaming.
I stop and look up. I’m back in the log. No… that can’t be right. I wasn’t even on the table. The simulation shouldn’t have triggered. I hear scurrying and a slam. The log begins to move. I scramble out, just in time to see it. Large head, massive eyes, split jaw, long body… I bend over and start to retch. Whatever was in my stomach a few moments ago is all over the dirt now. It whips its head around. Looks at me and cocks its head. The jaw splits revealing its teeth. It screams at me, slams the log into the ground and bull rushes me. I collapse, crying, too terrified to do anything else.