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It All Seemed Right
Little blue neon bolts of lightning collide with ever expanding spirals of dancing squares. It all fades to a point somewhere beyond his perception, somewhere in infinity, like a terrible, beautiful view of a matrix, as seen by a mad artist.
Then the numbers start: barely there, yet screaming to be noticed. Lines and blobs of mismatched ones and zeros race, flash, punch through his unconscious senses. 1001111011010001111010100111101001100101101010110110101011111101110100000110101010… and so on and so forth for as long as he can remember.
They move too fast; his closed eyes are tormented by the speed, the rotation, the chaos. His pupils flick towards the back of his head, then, by the inexplicable attraction to the abstract terror, jump to the numbers. Back and forth, on and on, a hundred times per second they flicker. It wants its meaning to be known, but he isn’t capable of deciphering it. After all, he isn’t a computer. This is just a dream.
His eyes finally bent under the pressure, and before they could snap, they shot open.
His ears were ringing, his hands and heart were shaking, and his hair was pasted to his drenched forehead. He sat up in the bed, and looked around. He automatically felt his brow furrow with frustration. This didn’t seem right.
He was in his room… Supposedly…
“This doesn’t seem right.”
Honestly, he couldn’t remember what it was supposed to look like. In fact, how did he even know it was his room? In fact, his name was slipping his mind right then too.
”It’s my room.”
“Here’s the queen-sized cedar bed.”
“There’s the picture of me and my wife on our honeymoon.”
He grabbed the gilded-framed photograph and fondled it.
She was a beautiful woman: Stylishly cropped short auburn hair highlighted her soft and oh-so-white face. She was short and naturally slender. Her eyes were a vivid blue. Chelsea - that had always been his favorite name, and he’d always loved that he married a Chelsea… The Chelsea. She was his one and only Chelsea.
“And my name is Andrew Ingels, duh! Gosh, that dream took it out of me. I’m probably going to be stupid and useless all day. Man that freaked me out for a second.”
Well, it all looked right, but why had he needed convincing in the first place? That little splinter nagged him for a moment, but to keep the status quo, he ignored it and removed it from his mind with thoughts of a slightly less annoying Lady Gaga song.
He threw on a pair of shorts and sluggishly plopped down the stairs.
There was that scrunched brow again. He really needed to stop it; that’s how people get the ugly wrinkles, not laughter lines, the mean ones that scream, “This man never had a puppy, a game system, or a hug!”
Where was she?
“She goes to work at six. There is no reason why she should be here. I’ll bet I’ll find the usual note on the fridge telling me what she made me for lunch.
“Gosh, I’m getting paranoid! At this rate, I’ll be in an asylum for lunch. ”
He chuckled at his own private joke and poured the cool, left-over coffee into a glass. Then he grabbed a grapefruit and a block of cheddar cheese and walked out to the car.
He sat staring at the steering wheel for about three minutes, wondering what the heck he was doing.
Where did he work? When did he work? What day was it?
“I work at my father’s insurance firm, but today’s Saturday. This is getting sad and a little bit scary. I am really off my mental game.”
He shook out the shivers and laughed while massaging his forehead.
“I need to get out of my cave. Heck, I’ll just patrol the city, looking for curios and distractions. It’ll be good for me. Kill a little gas, waste a little money-I’ll just wander the town.”
This was totally unlike Andrew Ingels.
“Heh, this is totally unlike me…”
In town, he passed the Regal Cinema.
“Movies are really going downhill these days. Oh, that looks cool. He’s always interesting anyway.”
It was the latest M. Night Shyamalan film.
“They’re a good concept, but they’re all the same concept. By now, I can predict every “twist” ending he does. Meh, nothing better to do. I might as well.”
The poster showed a spiraling abyss with the translucent faces of a worried couple superimposed above it. The movie was called “Should We Tell Him?”
The tagline said, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. This is all normal.”
And that irksome little crease in his forehead showed up again. Why did that freak him out?
Suddenly it occurred to him, he still couldn’t remember the night before.
A sudden urge to puke hit him like a wave. He suppressed it and thought.
“Let’s see, ummm… I… went to work? Came home… dinner, facebook, and bed? That sounds right.”
He walked into the gaudy building, bought the ticket (he wasn’t a popcorn person) and made his way to the theatre. His was room eleven.
Wait a minute. Eleven was where two should be. He paused… then he un-paused and took a seat in the back. The room was empty and the screen was black.
Andrew shifted uneasily. He almost got up to leave, but then the screen turned on and began to show the previews. He sort of drifted off during them, but he did realize that they usually don’t start with the previews; they usually start with ads.
The movie began. There were no credits, just an elderly man looking at the camera.
Oh my gosh…
The old man was his dad.
The view zoomed out. It showed a conference room with a long table running its length, seated at the table was an assortment of scientists.
“Andrew Ingels! Thank God you came here! It’s worked! Chelsea, it worked!”
This time, the urge to vomit was too great to control. “Chelsea…”
His father spoke,“A.I… it’s time to tell you who you are… what you are.”
Suddenly, the theatre faded. There was only Chelsea’s face. Her voice was calm, level, almost bored and definitely technical, but her wonderful rich eyes brimmed with excitement. Her voice spoke from inside his head.
“Andrew Ingels… A.I… that’s what you are. We created you. You are not human. You do not exist. This is your first day of perception. Congratulations! That you can hear this message means we have succeeded. ”
“We control your emotions. The love you feel for me is only there because we wrote it into you. The fear you felt was part of the test. Even the suspicion and confusion are artificial. You have never moved, never breathed, and never had a thought that we didn’t suggest or speak directly. We were still writing your history as you were ‘moving’ to see what would happen. I’m actually impressed with how human you act.” The scientists hugged and cheered and toasted their success.
“This was all a test of your capabilities.
The A.I no longer thought that this was sickening. It had finally found its place. It all made sense. The humanity didn’t matter. All was as it should have been.
It was all right.
Finally, it all seemed right.