The Games We Played Played Us

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A crackling fire. Once foreign constellations shining above. Faces of varying ages all peering at the wrinkled man standing in the fires light. One of the younger, still bright eyed ones, works up the courage to finally ask. "Tell us the scary story again! Please pleaaase!"
"What is worse, Men or machines?"
"Early on it was the machines we demonized through our movies and stories. We shared a common assumption that one day the machines we made would undo all that we built. That wasn't the case at all."
Simulate people. Play God. Have fun!
"It started out as an innocent game.  It gave us all a break from the reality we inhabited. I was 13, by the aging system of the day, the first time I played. Even at that tender age my heart knew I was wasting precious time. Time that could be better spent chasing girls, learning to play ball or pursuing knowledge of any kind. After a month I gave the game away and to live as I hadn't before. Come to think of it that was the month my lips tasted another's for the first time. Those shuddering, glossy lips altered the course of my life. Maybe that's why we're here."
The wrinkles on his brow deepened and silence reigned.
"The first generation was played on early computers." The little one mimicked this foreign word, "Kompootah." "The second generation was released around my twentieth birthday. The days of the computer had given way to super cellular phones, holographic tablets, and virtual reality sets. All over that blue globe..." His aged hand pointed to indistinct point in the stars "Helmets were being worn to escape into wild dreams."
Join Us. Live the Life. Live the Dream!
"It had evolved to become a worldwide massive multi-player dream world. Concerts were held with tens of millions in attendance, professional sports were viewed from the players’ perspective, and virtual vacations became all the rage. We wanted more... Seeing and hearing weren't enough, we wanted to live it..."
His voice trailed off but his eyes grew wider. Behind their yellowish exterior life on a distant place flowed out of them. They conjured themselves into a ball and rolled down his cheek, the wrinkles acting like ditches watering parched crops.
"Grand Pa..." The little one began speaking once again, "Why do you talk so funny?" Her mother puts a hand over her mouth. 
"The system developers became rock stars in the eyes of the globalized populace. Whatever they dreamed up became the must have experience for young and old alike. The porn industry..." "What's porn?" Another little one asked. The old man continued, his mind still diving ever-deeper into the ocean of his experience. "Hastened the development of all the technologies, pushing them almost into the world of reality. Governments, always slow to adapt, joined the party later. Warfare became completely digitized. Clunky robots fought fleshy foes in third world countries, while their controllers sat in plush chairs a world away.
“The world was no longer a silicon empire but an invisible quantum network enveloped the globe. The atrocities committed by those in power were broadcast by elite hackers. The world didn't care. They were too caught up in their own narcissistic elixir to care.
By the time my thirtieth birthday came around the world had changed forever. There was no going back to the old ways. The developers had found a way to entangle the synapses of man to the processors of machines. Immortality, they said, was just around the bend."
We can all live forever, we can all learn everything. Welcome to the future!
"It wasn't all smooth sailing. The first test subjects all lost their minds during or shortly after the transfer. The machines just couldn't handle the massive load of the human brain. One scientists', previously heralded as the Einstein of the developers, moon walked across the entire state of Nevada after his machine lost his mind." "Grandpa... what's a Einstein?"
"Almost everyone at this point had a job within the developers’ world. Money would be transferred digitally, cash was absolved completely. People would occasionally log out to walk their dog, if they had a real one, or attend a funeral. People like me, the reality trekkers, were outcasts. The developers found jobs for us though as well. We would fix machines, cables, and coded while the rest of the world grew lazy, bulbous, and immobile.”
“The ultra rich lived with a foot in both worlds. Day-by-day they too would become more machine than man. But underneath the steely metal their human impulses still raged on.”
“On my fortieth birthday I lost my freedom. They had already figured out how to extend life indefinitely. They also extended their subjects perception of time as well. Years inside the game were mere hours outside. Those of us left outside the game were considered threats to the established order.”
“The developers became modern pharaohs, living, metal clad immortals among mere digitized mortals. They had become all powerful; they knew everything there was to know. They had access to anything, anytime, anywhere. The world they had created became all too convincing simulacrum. People no longer wished to live without it. True reality was but a nightmare.”
“There was no cake for me on that day. No candles or ice cream. They tracked me down and loaded me into a skytrain.  Silky gas filled our lungs and the deep sleep began.”
 “Later, after the awakening, we realized for decades we had been sleeping. Their technology had perfected the art of sleep. Our fleshy bodies were frozen and stored with the other reality trekkers and sent here, prison colony GJ1214b. This is where my life began anew. Trapped in a domed prison of the stars for the rest of time."
 Silence filled the camp. The blue lights on the back of their heads began to glow as the fire dwindled onward into the nothingness. The developer guards would be by soon.

About the Author: 
Joshua Nieubuurt is a silver tongued devil from the land of the United States of America. He currently teaches English in the land of the gods, Okinawa, Japan.

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