Chapter 1: Determination
*This book of the 'Ectype Franchise' series follows the story of Zoe, who seeks intellectual help regarding the terrible ups and downs in life, and winds up meddling with fate in a jaunted spiral.
Her questions remain unanswered, while mysteries bloom furiously.*
Car rides with old friends aren’t ever supposed to be so utterly cramped with serenity.
Yet I’d be a terrible liar if I said the long silence wasn’t much appreciated.
Had I never thought of surrendering to my simulated figurine today, the inevitable storm they call Fate would’ve—most certainly—wiped me off of sanity.
It sounded as if I’d given up on trying to gain back the slightest loss to my sanity; we live in a future where reality was too harsh for a being, and simulations were the perfect & most realistic escape.
I never saw myself admitting it: even if it’s for a short while, I could get things together if not distracted.
My motivation was the same as that of an irresponsible teen: when things may fall apart—too far to catch and reconcile—the only scope left to get it back together is a short break to settle things out of the messy bunch of knots.
“How long is your trial again?” Julia breaks the silence for once; no matter how much I assured her, there wasn’t the slightest bit of truth in her expression when she said “I’m not worried.”
“It’s a three month’s extension; I’ll be out on January 16th.” I answer, accepting that it’s been too long and too late to think over second thoughts.
“Weekends are gonna be weird now.” Naomi says with a tease, but it’s not much of a tease after a second of no other comment.
“Won’t you be...lonely? Three months, isn’t it kinda too long?” Luna asks trying her best to overcome concern with encouragement.
“I want to be left alone for a bit.”
There isn’t much left to talk about after that, and I don’t quiet regret it.
“Is there an emergency exit in the simulation?” Julia whispered as if utterly reluctant to speak anymore of our destination.
“I’m not sure, but I’m sure I registered the trial as I wanted.”
“Good luck dude.”
“Yeah. Pick me up on 16th, I want no excuse.”
I laugh. The joke being: The corporation around me, providing the counterfeit of reality, was a copy of the origin itself.
It shared the nostalgia of old airports. You could be waiting in the queue for your turn of confirming registration, having a small chat with relatives, and you can’t help but observe the heartwarming reunions and emotionless departures.
My turn was yet to come: to wave a heartfelt goodnight to the only people around my life now.
I doubt there would be anyone else barging into my corner after these 3.
We bore a friendship too strong to break, betray and belittle; a bond that exists from the past 7 years made it tough. It was next to impossible—for me—to slip out emotions from their eyes.
And you can say the same for them.
I avoid any sort of conversation; the more I slip a piece of my heart, the more unsure I’d get of my decision to be isolated for a while.
There’s clear desperation on Julia’s face, anonymous certainty in Naomi’s unbother-ed stance and blue concern in Luna’s smile as she held my hand, while I threw back my head tasting the real air.
Ectype Corp. has been around for a good couple of months now, and it’s the type of therapy that throws patients into a shallow void of second thoughts; You either go in confident and free of worries, or suffer anxiety for negative back stabs.
The corporation itself has helped many; it’s profit, progress and social benefits skyrocketed out of the blue, and soon there wasn’t much left to question it’s best service.
“804736?” A drone appears above me.
I nod after a quick glance at my tag plate.
“Please follow my trails.” It says with an inaudible sense of joy.
My fellows follow my dull footsteps as I drag my bag along.
It takes me to the short waiting row, gestures me to wait. Luna and Naomi watch from behind when Julia approaches slow and steady; as though very reluctant.
“You aren’t taking your phone?” She whispers, moving along side me in the queue.
“I took an album in it’s place, it should be enough.”
There’s silence as I impatiently wait for the final patient to get into the scanning capsule; for tiny spam of time, though.
“Do you really need this, Zoe?”
“There’s still time, you can rethink it all.”
“Name and age?” The sweet lady behind the glass asks with a warming smile.
“Zoe, 18.” I answer with a faulty smile; fault from turning deaf to my closest of friends.
The short typing session ends when she slides a players card underneath the glass barrier. It has my picture on it—or my simulacrum’s—with my registered name and age, the classy water masked logo of the foundation at the back.
Julia’s sympathetic stare continues to read my urge to avoid, and I thank the lady before turning around with a hug and goodbye.
The others rush for the same, and then there’s no one left beside me but my bag and my destined drone.
I look back one last time with a smile; I can’t regret anything now.
I wave one last time before disappearing into the scanning machine.
My 3 months’ simulated isolation begins.
[ Scanning Data, Please Stand By. ]
Player Code: 804736
Age: 18 [Legal]
Date Of Birth: 13th April, 20XX
Trial Extension: 3 months
Registered Date: 15th Nov, 20XX
Entry Date: 20th Nov, 20XX
Exit Date [Incoming]: 16th Jan, 20XX
Sum Of Days For Therapy: 57
Course Payment: $3990
Therapy Meter: Lvl. 4
[ Data processed successfully ]
“This way, Zoe!” My destined drone—with an inaudible sense of monotonous joy—leads me out the shiny curtains and into the tall & enormous room of capsules and patients.
The Corp. uniform was too comfortable to ever take off. It felt so flimsy, and it’s tender material brushed through my skin like feathers cradling a baby.
They gave me a baggy, white and soft jumpsuit with no pattern but the Ectype water-mask logo.
Its mildly chaotic, with drones buzzing and capsules closing; nurses talking and patients walking their last walk.
“Zoe,” My drone calls as it leads me to my capsule; all neat and fresh with my code on it.
“Before you proceed, you will have to give me a name!” It says with his pixel green eyes turning into wedges.
“I’ll be your friend when materialistic emotions will meddle with your therapy.”
“You’re a part of my meditation? As in, helping me with words?” I ask, much intrigued.
“You can say that! I’ll keep guard of both your physical and mental state of health! You can say I’m one of the informing operators.”
“Well...you have a merry voice. I’ll name you Milo.”
“Name registered. AQ-Model 09-400 is named Milo by player 804786, Zoe.” It finishes with a smile, bringing a pretty friendly ambience for me.
It flies off to set my capsule, and I patiently wait while looking around.
The dome was chilled, and looking up were circular layers of patients already in their simulacra. Without a doubt, there were more than 60 layers above, and it could still fit more 40 of them.
Fun fact, it was just the first ward.
“Zoe,” I hear the monotonously cherry voice call.
“All’s set, and so are the others to go with you. Shall we?” Milo asks with round eyes this time.
I nod, after a quick glance around and everyone’s already getting in their designated caps.
It feels unreal, as I lay down unaware of my temporary rebirth in my own little city.
The nearest nurse stamps me with patches around my forehead, ankles and wrists as well my chest and knees and neck.
Soon, I looked like a puppet poorly stringed in the transparent cover’s reflection.
Milo smiles a robotic one, and I smile back knowing well he won’t understand even a bit of my wobbling emotions inside.
Lights go dim, and there’s the screen for the most exciting role of Ectype Corp.
[ Searching Available Lobbies...]
[ Do you accept Lobby #43? ]
[ Do you agree to be named ‘Zoe’ in your Simulacra? ]
[ Turn off Worldly Emotions in your Simulacrum? ]
[ Turn off Life Processes for Living Beings in your Simulacrum? ]
[ Keep Humane emotions in your Simulacrum? ]
[ Processing Simulation... ]
[ Welcome To Ectype Corporation, Zoe ]
[ Begin customizing your own city? ]