“Take off your clothes. All of them.”
“Why do I have to be completely naked?”
“We have to implant a lot of electrodes for the simulation to feel real. Thousands. No. Tens of thousands.”
“You are kidding, right? Is it going to hurt?”
One of the technicians laughed as they strapped me onto the table.
“About the electrodes—yeah, it’s just a few hundred. About the pain? Oh hell yes. Didn’t you read the brochures or listen to the ‘familiarity lecture’ before you signed the papers?”
I admitted I hadn’t paid much attention. I am not a detail person.
“The last thing we’re going to do is put the helmet over your head. It will also supply an intubation tube in your throat,” he paused when my face screwed up. “It’s for safety,” he said. It’s will insert probes into your eyes for a very realistic visual experience. Also your nose and ears. And output orifices in case of accident.”
Something hot and sharp jabbed into my eyes. I wanted to scream but there was a tube down my throat. Now there was a voice in my head.
“How are you feeling, Bill? Just think your answer. We’re processing your thoughts now. It wasn’t so bad was it?”
I replied with something obscene in my mind as something wormed its way into me from the bottom of the chair. Wasn’t there supposed to be anesthesia? I could feel every probe and sensor and the insertions were agonizing.
“Well, Bill. If you had listened, you’d know that once you paid the fee and walked through that door, of your own free will, that you no longer had any input. The simulation must go to completion. It’s the way it works. You should start to feel cold now and a sense of weightlessness and other sensations.”
What had I gotten myself into? The ads said: “Visit a black hole. Experience being ripped apart by gravity. A once in a lifetime experience!” Me and Jake were feeling bored after the weekend partying wound down and all we wanted was something to cap it off. Something stellar. We decided to try Ultimate Stimulation. Jake opted for ‘Fifty Babes In Bed’. He was a great party bud. None better but he lacked imagination. I’d one-up him with my intellect. Show him how to stretch out his life experiences. I signed on for ‘The Black Hole Simulation.’ It was guaranteed to be realistic. Now it was too realistic. I wanted out.
“My feet are so hot! Like burning!” I screamed in my head and choked on the air tube.
“We try to make the feelings intense. Now, relax and let go. It’s only a simulation. This is a top dollar ride,” the voice in my head said.
“I feel like I’m being torn apart. It hurts!”
“We’re simultaneously stimulating all the nerves in your body. This is the experience you paid for.”
“The lower half of me is being sucked away. I don’t like this anymore. Pull me back.”
The screen in front of the technician displayed, “PROCESS COMPLETE.”
“Load him up,” he said to the others in the room.
They unstrapped Bill’s body from the chair and loaded it into the disposal chute.
“Third one today. Wish I got the commission those sales guys get. If this keeps up the market will be flooded with fresh organs.” He laughed. “We’ll work ourselves out of jobs.”
The other tech nodded as he cleaned the couch Bill had been on. “You’d think they’d read the fine print, but no, everybody wants a cheap thrill. All the contract states is that we have to give them a righteous simulated death. The corporation is not liable in the event a real death occurs. Organ harvest is the our primary business, after all, and we get paid twice. One great adventure of a lifetime and they never read the small print.”
– Gene Turchin
R. Gene Turchin runs away from West Virginia winters and hides out in Florida for a few months where he is currently working on a science fiction novel and comic book scripts. Most recent published works can be found in VerseWrights, 365 Tomorrows, With Painted Words, Aurora Wolf, Literary Hatchet, The Ginger Collect, Eye To The Telescope, The Broadkill Review, Astounding Outpost, Event Horizon and Aphelion Webzine.