NaNo: Chapter 29

Chapter 29: …and Wyndos, Too

The first thing Wyndos saw was the ceiling, dark and spackled, the room dimly-lit.  

I must have fallen and hit my head.

Somewhere deep inside their head, a tapering vibration, like the aftershocks of a gong, rattled and ached.  

Yes, a head injury, that must be it.  

Wyndos started to sit up, rubbing their temples.

“You live!” an unfamiliar voice said.

Wyndos blinked several times, and saw a figure taking shape nearby. It was not familiar.  

“For how long-”

The sound of their own voice stopped Wyndos cold.

That’s not my voice!

“Take it easy, Biere, give it a few minutes to wear off.”

Biere?  That’s not my name. Wait, maybe it is my name.  Where the hell am I?

“What happened?” said Biere, or Wyndos, meekly.  

“You just came out of a sim.  It’s okay, only a couple of hours have passed.”

My greatest fears have come to pass.  Or, at least, Wyndos’ greatest fears.

“I still remember…everything.”

“Yes,” said the speaker.  “That will last for a few more minutes, then it will start to fade.  Would you like to debrief?”

“Would I like?  Aren’t they mandatory?”

Laughter.  “No, not for years.  But if this was an interesting experience, perhaps you would like to collect some thoughts for later?  I can turn on the recorder if you like.”

Biere nodded.

I will miss Wyndos.  It was a good life.

“Whenever you’re ready, Biere.  I’m Juko, in case you don’t remember yet, but you will.  You go ahead and talk, and I’ll ask you some questions to help focus your memory.”

“Where to begin?” said Biere, still starting at the sound of their own voice.  “I was born into a world with a highly efficient, highly-developed society. The people worked fewer and fewer days; the amount of labor practically dropped in half during my lifetime.  People spent much of their lives in simulations, where they lived countless lives.”

“Do you remember any of those countless lives you lived?” said Juko.

“No.  I never…I never went through a sim.  Something always…troubled me about them.  Instead, I studied them. I thought about them.  I got involved in shaping them, for many years. I never retired.”

“Was that uncommon?”

“Yes, very.  I had to hide the details of my life from everyone, lest they think I was some sort of sociopath.  There was no work ethic, not really. The only people who stayed working were those in power, because corruption abhors retirement.”

Juko tried to stifle a laugh, unsuccessfully.

“I worked hard, but I managed to find work I enjoyed.  I shaped parts of our world more than anyone knew, but I always did so from the side, never taking the spotlight.  It was an effective way to maintain a low profile.”

“What did you do for fun?” Juko said.

Biere shut their eyes to think, but recall was elusive.

“I liked working with young people, later in my life.  When I was young myself I…well, I don’t recall. I guess that means I never will.  A shame.”

“Do you remember your name?”

“I was called Wyndos.”

“A good name.  Do you know why it was your name?”

Biere thought a moment.  “No, I don’t.”

“Tell me about them, then.  About Wyndos. What do you remember?”

“If you don’t mind, I would rather talk about my studies.  The nature of the simulations fascinated me. I realized, late in life, just in the weeks before my death, in fact, that I was probably on a plane.  Only I didn’t realize if I was an NPC or a visitor from another plane. I also-”

Biere stopped.  

I also realized that this world, too, was nothing more than a plane.  

“Do we know much about the nature of planes?” Biere said.

Juko smiled kindly.  “Yes, Biere, we do. In fact, you do, as you will soon recall.  I am not surprised in the least that you would even spend your time off fantasizing about the nature of sims.  It’s perfectly, preposterously you.”

“I look forward to learning more about Biere, but for now, I still find myself overwhelmed by a sense of being Wyndos.”

“That’s normal,” Juko said.  “And it will pass. In the meantime, I recommend you tell me everything you do remember about Wyndos, and anyone you wish to remember from your time in the sim.”

Biere shut their eyes, a rush of names and faces washing over them.  Truu, Quarla, Reesh. The antics of Carem and Chein. Vair, the hot-headed youngster, for whom Wyndos had such high hopes.  

None of it was real.  

“Biere, are you crying?” said Juko.

“Just remembering,” said Biere.  

“Well, remember out loud, please, because in a few more minutes, you won’t remember any of this, and you will be kicking yourself for not recording it at all.”

Biere recognized the wisdom of this.  

“I do not know what killed me.  I can assume a heart attack, or an aneurism, or something else fast and clean.  There was no final illness, no long goodbye. I was at a celebration…we had some problem on the sim, something involving Carem…but the details elude me.  I remember that we were celebrating. And laughing, there was so much laughing. Why was I reserved? What kept me from just cutting loose?”

“Regrets serve as lousy markers of memory,” said Juko.    

“Yes, that makes sense,” said Biere.  “Okay, let me see, the positives…I lived in almost complete creature comfort.  I had good food, reliable shelter, and was self-assigned to projects I found rewarding.  I truly believe I made a difference in the world, and that my efforts improved our plane, overall.”

“Was there a specific memory of happiness that you can share?”

Biere laughed.  “There is one, and it wasn’t a happy memory at the time, but looking back, yes, yes it was.  My final trainee, someone named Vair, decided against all my advice to become a sim tech. They were training, and it was going slowly, but Vair was dedicated and was bound to be successful.  In any case, shortly after they started the training, I learned that they were involved in some sim experiments that I found troubling. Tests involving multiple planes, or multiple levels, I don’t know the proper jargon here, but we called it meta-planes where I was.  I was upset, and forbade Vair to continue in that field.

“Naturally, Vair didn’t listen.  They went right on ahead, plugging away and making mistakes, and yet making great strides.  Vair was fearless. I was so damn proud of them. I’m sure they will have a great career after my passing.”

“That’s good, that’s very good to hear!” Juko said.  

“There was another time with Vair, when we were looking into career options, and for the umpteenth time they started asking me questions about myself.  I never liked those questions, always managed to deflect and just smile mysteriously. You would be amazed how effective that is at creating an image of inscrutability!  Anyway, Vair was looking…huh, what were we looking at? It was…no, I’m sorry. No. It’s gone. Damn.”

“That’s okay,” said Juko.  “Tell me about the world. What was something you found especially pleasant about life on the plane?”

“Well, of course, we didn’t know it was a plane.  Actually, that’s not true, at the end, I did know it, and one of my colleagues- it would be a stretch to say one of my friends- named Reesh said something very profound.  They said that even if this world is an illusion, that is no reason to stop our endeavors, because those endeavors have meaning no matter what, and for all we know, there is a greater truth that restores the meaning that onion theory disturbes.”

“Onion theory?”

“Oh, yes, it was…hmm…something to do with the planes.  No, I’m sorry. I think it’s fading for me. Reesh. I remember the name, but can’t recall the face.  Oh, this is bad. It’s leaving me. Wyndos is leaving me.”

“Hush, it’s okay,” said Juko.  “As I told you before, this is completely normal.  I would be concerned if your memories weren’t starting to fray.  It has been almost ten minutes, that’s around when it happens. Let’s stick to something easy, while you can still-”

“I’m not sure that I can go on with this,” said Biere.

“You can.  Or, at least, you can try.  Just one more question, okay?  Tell me something about Wyndos.  About you, who you were. Something fundamental, something that made you, you.”

Biere closed their eyes and shook their head.  

“I was someone important.  At least, I think I was important.  To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember it at all.”

(1459 words)

This marks the end of NaNoWriMo 2018 for me.  Five year’s running, huzzah!  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it.

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Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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