The Death Machine
Death is well known to be a fait accompli, something you only experience one time. You can’t come back from death, not under most circumstances. Because of our simultaneous detachment and obsession with death as a society, we often don’t think many of our actions through until it is far too late. The creation of the Anastasis machine was supposed to remedy that, to make us think our actions through. The machine was essentially a highly advanced virtual reality program capable of making the user see, hear, taste, smell, and most importantly, feel. The Anastasis was, in essence, a highly realistic death simulator. By giving the user a quasi-death, it gave them a new perspective on life.
After a series of controlled tests, the Anastasis was deemed a success, and soon implemented into the offices of therapists and doctors alike. For the depressed and suicidal, it changed their views on life, showing them just how much there was to live for. For the sick, the dying, and the elderly, it gave them a sense of closure. Suicide rates were at an all time low, and for a while society seemed to improve. The Anastasis, once seen as a chimerical idea by many, was now seen as an excellent invention. But like so many other companies, the company responsible for the Anastasis machine’s creation hit a rough patch economically, and they were forced to either sell out or end Anastasis’ services. They chose the former option, selling out to a company called Boothe Industries. The first thing B.I. did was make the technology used in the machine public domain. At first, things went well. More people benefitted from the experience than ever before. But the company was oblivious to what they had just unleashed upon countless innocent people.
A terrorist organization calling themselves Keres quickly replicated the Anastasis machine, using it as a new method of psychologically torturing their hostages. The subject would be drugged and would wake up in the simulator, not knowing it was just that; a simulation. They would then be subject to an endless loop of the worst ways to die until they were broken to Keres’ liking, and would remain inside the simulation, in constant fear of experiencing their own death yet again. This continued for months, lingering in the top 10 list of trending news stories for 16 months, before the bellweather of Keres was caught and executed. It was widely assumed that the group had dissolved with the death of their leader. But everyone’s assumptions that it was all over were wrong.
I had been a repairman for the machines since their inception, moving to B.I. when the old Anastasis merged with them. In the hierarchy that was Boothe Industries, I was one of the top dogs due to my seniority, as well as my skill. Because of how well-known I was as being a master repairman, I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I was attacked and knocked unconscious in an empty parking garage after a particularly long day at B.I.
I woke up in a dimly-lit room with the self-proclaimed new leader of Keres inspecting me closely. It was explained to me that their version of the Anastasis machine was effete, and they were unable to repair it. They wanted me to repair it, and then upgrade it for them. I was told if I repaired the machine and upgraded it without any complaints, I would be released unharmed. Here’s a life lesson for you; never trust a terrorist. After I fixed the machine, they tried to intimidate me into defecting to their side. Of course, I refused to proselyte to their disgusting beliefs and practices. Because of my refusal to cooperate, I was drugged and forced into my own machine.
Anyone else wouldn’t be aware that it was all a simulation, but because of my years of experience with the machine, I recognized the tell-tale signs immediately. Everything was almost too perfect. Too clean, too calm. That was the one fault in the simulation, and only someone who had been inside many times would realize the difference. But my understanding that it was all fake didn’t make it feel any less real. Emotion almost always overcomes logic, it seems.
I’m not sure what the scariest thing is; the fact that I’m trapped inside the Anastasis, or the fact that I haven’t died yet.