I strap myself into a virtual reality rig and start a game. It is supposedly a
period game involving conspiratorial victorians but the game is soon hijacked
by a vindictive AI. The AI identifies as female but I cannot determine why she
is out to get me.
The game morphs and I find myself in a futuristic hospital (perhaps late 21st
century). I am in the ICU. My friend, J_____, is in a cryogenic
stabilization unit. It is early in the morning: perhaps 3 or 4 AM.
There is a harried nurse. She greets me and wonders if I am one of J_____'s
friends. I say that I am and ask what's wrong. The nurse explains that J_____
became infected with "brain bugs," fat, earwig-like insects that feed on gray
matter. He was quickly put into cryogenic storage to halt the bugs' progress
and now the only recourse is to periodically lobotomize him with a laser
cutter, cleanse that section of brain, and then re-integrate the brain piece
free of insects.
The nurse is exhausted and has been working full time on his case. I offer to
take over her shift. She brightens and teaches me what to do, explaining that
each time I kill a bug I have to fill out a "warranty" form that says the
hospital killed the bug in the best, most professional way possible and
guarantees this bug's absence moving forward.
It seems straightforward enough. The nurse brings me a glass container full of
brain matter floating in some kind of green preservative. I can see the
disgusting bugs waking up and wriggling around.
"Work fast, now. And don't damage the brain piece. It has to go back in. I'm
going to go get some sleep."
The nurse leaves and I stand there with heavy tweezers, picking out the bugs
and crushing them. I decide to just keep track of how many I kill and then fill
out all the warranty forms in one go at the end.
J_____'s wife A____ comes in, delighted to see that I'm there. She offers me
food and drink and thanks me profusely while I crush bugs. I'm getting
increasingly disgusted and horrified by the process and soon cannot take it
I recall that this is all just VR anyway and try to quit. I bring up the game's
menu but the AI taunts me, fuzzing out the UI and making it impossible to
choose "Save & Quit." I am terrified to quit without saving my progress because
even in the virtual world I do not want my friend's condition to regress.
I turn the bug squashing over to A____ and begin to explore the hospital,
seeking out the AI so that I may defeat her and save my progress. I instead run
into a crowd of corpulent, monopoly-looking businessmen all trying to shove
themselves through an archway into a garden so that they may drink champagne
I am just as disgusted by the businessmen as I was the bugs and wake up
I am in a meeting on the 18th floor of the Equitable building in downtown atlanta. The meeting is very boring. I am there with A___.
The sound of whistling missiles interrupts us and we see explosions all over downtown. North Korean armies are parachuting (Red Dawn style) all over. A___ and I flee into the men's bathroom and climb up into the ceiling to hide; A___ has a rifle.
We listen as soldiers bust into the 18th floor and begin arresting/shooting everyone. An armored and armed female soldier kicks in the bathroom door and starts checking the stalls. We probably should have stayed hidden but A___ attempts to shoot the soldier through the ceiling. It is a near miss and a terrifying fight ensues. We win.
We prepare to try and work our way through the building via the duct network but I need to urinate. I climb down and use the toilet and several soldiers hear me and burst in. A___ flees as I'm taken into custody (I did not blame him).
I'm marched in front of a high-ranking and wealthy older North Korean couple who are sitting down to a very traditional Korean meal. They're about to decide which labor camp to send me to when I ask if they're eating kimchi and say that it smells delicious. The couple is delighted that I know anything about Korean anything and they tell the guards to leave and invite me to eat with them.
I begin an in depth conversation with the husband about how rad dictatorships are and how awful America has become. We agree that in principle democracy sounds nice but at the end of the day it takes good ol' fascism to keep citizens/countries in line. I become carried away with the act and start going on about how three things ruin every republic: assholes, alcoholics, and stupid people (I was just making shit up at this point).
Suddenly the husband and wife become very quiet. I realize that their son is, in fact, a stupid person (he looks like a teen-age Kim Jong Un and is sitting in the corner playing gameboy with a vacant look). The mother bursts into tears and runs out of the room.
The father slowly begins to tell me about how seriously they take stupidity. That he loves his son even though is is stupid. The mother comes back and offers me dessert but the father says no, it's time to send him to his labor assignment.
I'm marched out of the building and into the streets. They are crumbling and on fire. There are corpses everywhere. I march in a column of prisoners for blocks and blocks, miles and miles. I pass by a little cafe the soldiers set up; A___ is sitting there hidden in a tattered hooded robe sipping coffee keeping and eye on things.
Eventually I'm pushed down into a filthy basement. The floor is covered in wires: USB, ethernet, some exposed copper. There are bare motherboards on every surface and VR rigs scattered about. I'm force-fed a drug that messes with time and makes it appear to go by much faster.
It turns out our "labor" is to strap into the VR rigs and gold-farm in WoW 20 hours/day for the rest of our lives. We are fed through a tube.