After scientists verify that we live in a simulation, a new field of science emerges: bug finders
The man who sat in front of the camera was human. That much was clear. But what they’d done to him in the pursuit of science was anything but.
Socks were stretched over top of his sandals, swallowing up his feet. His pants were on backwards. Shirt worn upside down, neck hole stretched to uselessness and a thin band of cloth covering nothing of his front.
He wore sunglasses indoors.
“In the name of science, right?” The convict laughed, adjusting his upside down shirt. “Have to admit, this is pretty uncomfortable.”
“That’s fine, you shouldn’t be aware of that for long. Begin the test.”
“Approach the wall,” came the bark over the intercom.
The convict swallowed. But hey. Reduced sentence for shooting up an ice-cream parlor in a fit of stupidity, who was he to disagree? He turned and walked over to the wall. Various doors sat embedded into the sheer concrete. Casually, he touched one to yank it off, but they were actually embedded, not just artsily put there.
“Gee, I’m not going to end up like that, am I?”
“If you follow our orders exactly, no,” came the drone of the intercom. “Now, for science remember?”
“Fiiiiiine,” the convict whined, turning and thumping his head against a door embedded six feet off of the ground.
“Stand in between the doors.”
He did so, looking at the darkened glass on the opposite side of the wall. Were they actually watching from there, or were they watching from cameras? Bug testing was a newish field… he was just grateful he might get out a little early.
Jury’s found it hard to sympathize with a man who got glass in a kid’s face, after all.
“Right.” He said. His heart beat thumped a tiny bit faster. He didn’t really like this position much at all. Something about all of the doors around him felt… wrong.
“We’re detecting your heart rate is increasing,” The com said. “Try to calm down, it might interfere with the next step.”
The convict’s skin with ice cold at that, and he calmed the hell right now. He’d be fine as long as he followed their directions exactly.
“Heartbeat within normal parameters,” they read off. “Now, I want you to think of home.”
“Home?” he asked.
“Home,” they replied. “Where you last felt safe, I guess.”
He breathed in. Breathed out.
Remembered the old hunting lodge his grandfather had taken him to before the end. Spider webbed up. Not an electrical light in the hole of it. Candle lit dinners of venison while trying to read by a dying LED.
Homework strewn across dining room tables, ignoring his phone. He knew there would be a half dozen missed calls from his mom.
He hoped she was burning in hell.
But the far room, where it got dark as pitch, and he could pretend the bruises were going away. That felt safe.
Late at night when his grandfather’s snores rattled the windows, and he thought it was a dragon watching over him.
That felt safe.
The com came distantly through that emotion. “Excellent. Now, I want you to imagine that you’re water, alright?”
The convict quirked an eye open. “Water?” when had he shut his eyes anyway?
“Water. Pouring through a colander.”
“You sure? That seems…”
“You’re safe, don’t worry about it,” the com assured him.
and then he imagined he was water, standing in front of all of the cameras, thinking of when he’d been younger and bills had been less complicated, and he’d been safe, and he was water.
The socks over his shoes were itchy, but for the first time in a long time, he was forced to actually use his brain instead of finding a thousand ways to just ignore every bit of him screaming about how much he’d fucked up, how he’d never get out of this alive.
It was nice.
“Go through the colander,” The com said.
Like water under a bridge, placid, showing off the reflection of a hunger dog clutching a steak, the convict drifted down. A colander, eh?
At the edge of the river the water was filtered by a massive fucking colander, sure. And he was water pressure, pushing down against it, and he was safe, and he was young too, and maybe his grandfather was still alive while he was imagining shit, so whatever and
“Open your eyes.”
The convict opened his eyes and abruptly realized that the door was sticking out of his head. “Huh.”
“Congratulations! You’ve achieved a clipping bug. Now be careful, we need you to step forward.”
The convict drug his arm through the wall, finding just the slightest bit of resistance. “Wow. This is pretty cool.”
“I’m sure we’ll find a use for it. Good job repeating the glitch. Now be careful and walk forward, alright?”
The convict took a step forward, his sock laden feet touching the ground.
Actually, if he was passing through everything, then why wasn’t he-
Then he fell through the ground.
Silence in the testing chamber.
“God dammit, now we need another convict.”