(trigger warnings: II and III both deal with violent imagery)
I need to get from Atlanta to San Fransisco for a conference but I forgot to buy a plane ticket. I go to the office of this new startup promising convenient, safe teleportation technology.
Cliched bearded startup men smugly swipe my credit card into their square-enabled ipad and lead me to a half-cylinder large enough for me to stand in. They say to close my eyes and inhale deeply, then I'll be transported (my luggage would be transported seperately).
I do what they say and, sure enough, open my eyes to find myself in their San Fransisco office. My luggage is next to me. I feel kind of woozy. I check my watch and realize it's been several hours since I stepped into the teleporter in Atlanta. I'm late to my conference but happy to have made it at all.
I find out later that the "teleportation" technology is that they gas you to knock you out for hours, then load you with your stuff on a specially chartered cargo plane that flies specific routes between teleportation endpoints. Essentially, they'd converted an amazon-style supply infrastructure to accomodate humans in tight temperature controlled / oxygenated coffins.
This at first offends me with its banality but then I realize it was actually a lot nicer than normal flying.
Some kind of superpower--an AI or an alien race--takes over the earth and subjects all humans to immersive VR experiments. I'm injected into a WWII simulation but something goes wrong with the memory drugs and I am still cognizant of the fact that it's VR.
I find myself thrown into a battle somewhere in the European theater. The Wehrmacht, however, consists solely of short green goblins. I attempt to point out this absurdity as proof of reality being a simulation to my fellow soldiers but they act like I've gone insane because, "of course they are goblins, they're nazis."
The experiment is horrifying and I decide to try and kill myself to end it. I allow myself to be shot and stabbed by goblins but I feel no pain and do not die or even weaken. I realize that no one is dying: soldiers are just getting more and more ragged and bloody but continue to act like nothing is wrong.
I run from the battle and find a cliff so high I can't even see the ground below. I jump off and fall for several minutes, praying for death. I reach the ground and land unscathed on my feet. It's a beach and gray pixellated water laps at the shore. Behind me, goblin soldiers rain screaming from the cliff's edge, thrown by explosions above.
I am living with a married couple who have a child. I do not like this arrangement and intend to move out soon. The couple invites me to the top of our apartment building which is situated in a valley somewhere in Colorado. We hang out, looking at the mountains that tower and loom above the apartment building.
There is an experimental space shuttle doing loops in the sky above us. This is fun to watch, but then it becomes clear it is going to crash into our building. It first slams into a huge antenna array and then impacts the building, puncturing it through the roof. The couple and their child are caught by the shuttle and crushed. I run down the stairs among a mass of hysterical residents. For some reason, most of them are paunchy middle-aged men in business suits. There is destruction and death everywhere as the building collapses.
I manage to escape the building and watch as half of it crumbles behind me. I have a panic attack and lie on the ground shaking and crying. My mom and sister appear and try to console me. They talk me down from my attack and I explain to them that my computer was in there and wasn't backed up and it has all of my memories in it; that without it I'm essentially going to suffer amnesia.
They try to convince me to just let it go. My sister gives me a pink netbook to use and while I really like it, I need my data. It feels like a matter of life and death, as if to lose the memories on my laptop would be to die and born again as some new person. This terrifies me.
I run from my family and push past the fire rescue teams and run through the smoke and rubble and find my laptop. It's been smashed into pieces by a fallen girder. I pray the hard drive is intact and gather the pieces into my arms, crying.