As we lay there, Yiet and myself, I looked on my body in the mirror above though I saw through to the self that was independent of this form. It was with a strange horror that I allowed the truth of all that had come to pass hit me. Not only the events but the intensity of which I felt every movement, twitch, and stimulation. A half gloved hand fumbled against my chest, a physique that looked permanently caught between fat and muscled. His pale complexion looked as daylight thrown on scorched earth as it caressed me. I was swarthy and mustached and a far cry from whatever it was I had earlier imagined myself being. Of course, this was not the construction of Yiet’s mind but the me that it had drawn out. Just as I could have drawn Yiet into whatever form it was when in any other mood then pleasured. I tried to pry the hand off my chest, yet his grip and an immensity of sweat kept it there. Unable to move, my body quivering with undesired delight an all too foreign sensation, I figured I would talk to the fiend, see if it would let me go.
“Do you think this is what life is like beyond the simulacrum? If it was ever like this or ever could have been?” I asked into the pink twilight.
Yiet nuzzled closer to me, “Jynk, I don’t know too much about the way things were. Until your consciousness bled into mine, I was beginning to forget the whole thing. Knowing we are part of the simulacrum doesn’t bring me much comfort, I’d rather ignore it.”
“How much do you remember of it all? Can you recall the transcendence or what it was like in the early days?” as the words came free of my mouth, I realized just how few I was able to ask this question to.
With a sigh, far different than those he had made only moments earlier, Yiet responded, “I don’t know, what I’ve gathered from others is the most I have to go on. There were no early days to the simulacrum, I know. Everything always was here, the cities, the Fringe, the inhibitors, and all. You remember the last days of the real earth, I saw it in your mind. So, as far as I’m concerned, you know more about it than me.”
I lay there and let silence take us, my mind playing back those scenes I wanted to keep long-buried. Yet, to pose the question I had to, to know if this was man’s final defeat, I would have to face those memories. Humanity was on the brink in those days, internal strife in most countries, wars, and genocide were becoming commonplace, the world was collapsing into itself and then came the scientists. Somehow, someway I could never know, they had merged artificial intelligence and human consciousness. Technology would be sentient with human life, organic, like humans, but all that made one human was washed away.
The body was gone, that was the most obvious thing to us on the outside before transcendence. Yet, were the changes to only stop there, humanity would not be saved from annihilation. They would have only moved their troubles to the new world. This simulacrum of reality would apply precise controls to keep the entities within stable. What was done would have been considered crimes against humanity, were it done to humans, but we no longer were human within. In-built sensors and receptors inside of these new bodies would monitor and moderate emotions and limit their output. War would be averted by easing up the anger world leaders felt. Revolution quelled as sorrow could be limited, and collapse prevented by controlling human terror. However, to every plus, there was a minus the scientists had not seen or willfully neglected.
Without these base emotions able to run rampant and overtake good sense, man was no longer the elegant beast it had become over the centuries. Art was now something of stencils and basic objective aesthetics. Music was reduced to bland and uninspired plucking of chords and hammering of notes until it was meaningless. Verbose prose and poems were no longer the pretty language of gods but the dull drolling of textbooks. Worse still, and more glaring, the desires were lacking unless one drew so heavily on these urges that the limiter broke and an entity became a Pleasurefiend. With the simulacrum in place and all those less than peaceful emotions suppressed, humanity had been successfully neutered in every possible way.
It was becoming increasingly apparent to me, as we lay there, why Yiet was the way he was, and why everyone else was in their own ways. To chase this question to either a proverbial end or find myself wanting until the urge had left me was a hapless thing. In the cities, entities mimicked old lives that could never be genuinely experienced again. They melded with the simulation until they were one with it, almost unaware of the grander scheme at work just as Yiet had been. But, whereas the Pleasurefiend was true to some semblance of self in seeking only mindless pleasure, the simulated entities denied themselves truth. Yiet would wallow in filth and desire and lust, but it was a more realistic manner of existence than anything a simulated person felt. In all honesty, I had not considered that, crawling through the formless abyss of the Fringe, that some only sought what they could call real. The animosity I had felt, the disgust, and bitterness in me vanished with this realization. Without Yiet, I may never have awoken this knowledge and seen through the eyes of a Pleasurefiend. But his life could not be mine, his mindless search for another partner was a fleeting chase against my lust for enlightenment.
Cautiously, I began to extract myself from the tightly woven bound Yiet had formed with me. To do so without alerting the Pleasurefiend would be next to impossible. It was far easier to remove myself from the simulated reality that was laid before me, but fleeing from the fabricated room would be meaningless. So I continued to lay there, testing boundaries and limits that existed beyond sight and tried to find the most malleable portions of Yiet’s power. Pressing even gently at weaker structures that held it all in place caused the pale boy to twitch slightly, his breath changing as I pushed too hard. After what felt like days, likely only minutes, had passed by I realized, there was no point inside this simulation that was exactly fragile. Any point was as good as another, and the amount of force I’d have to put into any attempt would be more than enough to wake Yiet. So, choosing the focus of my attack, I slammed all my energy against the shell of influence placed over me.
“Jynk, what are you doing?” Yiet muttered quietly into my chest, not disturbed by the impact against his power but aware of it.
Shifting only an ounce of my attention to the man, I whispered back, “I want out. I can’t think in here. I can hardly remember when you found me or what I was doing when you did. So I want out.”
“I don’t want you out, it’s been a good long time since I found someone I enjoyed so much. There’s not much left out there, in the Fringe, for anyone. And if you don’t want to join everyone else in one of their cities, why not stay with me?” his dulcet tones were forcing the limiters on my emotions to betray me.
I fought against the desire Yiet sparked in me, pulling on the darker half of self, I spat back, “I want out. I know what waits beyond isn’t better, most would call it worse, but that doesn’t matter. No one else, no one in the simulacrum will ask it, no one on the Fringe, not even the Dreadminds will think it. Someone has to ask this question, learn the answer, and tell all who will listen the truth of it all. We need to know.”
“And what will change in all that knowing? You won’t be able to take us out of the simulation, the limiters will be in place, and, especially in the cities, most entities will think you mad. So why bother? Just lay back, enjoy this, while we can,” his remarks were not untrue, but I wasn’t having it.
Hissing back, I siphoned from a surplus of fury, “How do you know what you even enjoy? What made us feel pleasure, anger, joy, its all been taken from us, watered down, and returned to us with the belief everything would be better and safer. There aren’t wars anymore, muggers won’t stick you up, and the wife isn’t getting smacked around by her drunk husband, but we’ve lost everything on the other side of that coin as well. Anyone who wants an experience that isn’t controlled has to go out on the Fringe, and still, then what we feel is neutered emotions. Think, if you could feel all of this again, ten times the strength, a hundredfold the intensity, wouldn’t you fight for a way back to that ability?”
“Well... when you put it like that... But I still don’t see what it is you think is going to change even if you find your answer,” finally there was a break in Yiet’s manner. He was quiet a time, allowing his grip to wane, almost tempting me to go, yet I remained. I didn’t know why I stayed for a little longer, but it had its purpose as Yiet told rather than asked, “I’m going with you. The Fringe, beyond where you thinkers like to meander, is very dangerous. A dual entity would do better against those outer things than a thinker would alone.”
“Suit yourself, but I’m not having you if all you’re after is your lust. What I’m after won’t have time to slow for such extravagances," I murmured in reply.