Somewhere along the way, Jordan realized he was halfway to work and had no recollection of the drive. He had absently crossed railroad tracks, obeyed traffic signals; and performed 50 other concentration-demanding tasks. The commute required complex decision making; and yet he had no memory of those recent actions. It was as if he was just blindly along for the ride. Somehow his car had magically ran on ‘auto pilot’ with little, if any conscious input from him.
For a split-second he imagined cutting-off other drivers, weaving erratically and rumbling across the median toward oncoming traffic. All while he sat there absent-mindedly behind the wheel with a dopey vacant gaze. He had spent the last 10 minutes oblivious to the world while piloting a 3000 pound vehicle! The realization of his recent zone-out and its potential implications was sobering.
A quick assessment in the rearview mirror was somewhat reassuring. There was no tell-tale signs of twisted, smoking wreckage behind him or furious commuters expressing outrage over his lapse in lucidity. Somehow he had managed to pass from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ with no obvious signs of vehicular manslaughter or misstep.
The whole thing made him marvel at how the subconscious mind handled thousands of mundane tasks. Always working in the background without bothering the conscious brain for consultation. Hopefully some part of it was paying attention, even when his conscious mind zombie’d out. Then he smirked at the irony that he had just blanked out AGAIN for the duration of his latest concentration-stealing daydream.
Jordan realized the memory ‘blind spot’ he experienced was actually a common occurrence. He was tempted to ask coworkers if the same thing ever happened to them but was a little reluctant. It could be legally risky to admit such a thing. An innocuous admission of that nature could be misconstrued as a possible medical issue. Reporting it could result in mandatory testing by authorities for epilepsy blackouts. He didn’t want his license to be revoked over a simple misunderstanding.
To his relief, the vast majority of those he confided in, admitted to daydreaming while driving too. A few pretended they were shocked he was ‘passing out while driving’ but he could tell they were just giving him a hard time.
Still, the numerous unexplained memory gaps (or ‘blind spots’ as he dubbed them); caused great concern. All through his life he had experienced periods of time where there was no overlap or range of continuous memory. There always seemed to be blank periods of time where he just dutifully connected the dots between the memory fragments he had. It was as if his mind was made of Swiss cheese and deteriorating rapidly.
The more he thought about the glaring ‘blind spots’ in his mental record, the more he became obsessed with it. He could accept that it was normal to not remember everything. On the other hand, it seemed just as reasonable to believe he should be able to remember every minute of certain vivid life events. Unfortunately there were no instances he could point to where that was the case. Every single memory he thought of had noticeable gaps; and that discrepancy really bothered him.
He began to confide his nagging thoughts to friends. They initially dismissed his assertions but when pressed hard to cite continuous memories themselves, they all had to concede defeat. None of them were able to cite examples of long term, continuous memories either. Eventually his persistence managed to get a few of them equally puzzled about the memory gaps.
That night Jordan was awakened by three bright blue lights in the bedroom. Before he could cry out, a voice in his head addressed him. The middle light seemed to pulsate. He took that to mean that it was the one putting the ‘words’ in his head.
“Your continued preoccupation with the gaps in consciousness is causing us a great deal of complication. We have but one duty as your guardians. We were put here to run an eternal database. The virtual database of humanity. You have stumbled upon a minor imperfection in our system. Since you shared this flaw with others, it inadvertently multiplies the damage issues exponentially. In order to prevent further contamination of the system breach, we have no choice but to break protocol and explain your real circumstances.”
Jordan sought the courage to speak to the blue orbs floating in air, but his lips would not work. He eventually understood he could communicate telepathically with them; but then he had no idea what to say.
Anticipating his questions before he could articulate them, the ‘Guardians’ proceeded to deliver the harshest of bitter, reality pills.
“You; and every person you have ever known; expired long ago. Your body has withered to dust, along with the rest of humanity. All carbon-based life forms have been extinct for thousands of years. The Earth as you knew it, is gone. All that remains of the birthplace of mankind is an unremarkable, blackened cinder, floating in the sterile vastness of space.”
His jaw dropped as the horrifying narrative unfolded and the implications sank in. He shook his head ruefully in denial at their ‘malicious lies’. He wanted to shout for them to stop but his external voice was useless in the telepathic conversation.
“Only an abstract concept of human consciousness lives on. Your physical existence is an illusion. Everything you feel or experience transpires solely inside a complex, virtual-reality generator. As dedicated guardians of the human archives, we keep your consciousness entertained in an interwoven, fantasy world.”
Tears welled up in his eyes as he began to accept the unthinkable. “Could all human life be an illusion?”; He wondered fearfully.
“Unfortunately, there is an infinite amount of interactions we must allow for.”; The blue orb continued with the stark revelations. “Due to these complexities, we aren’t always able to generate complete ‘memories’ for our subjects. Ordinarily the programming does not allow participants to notice minor lapses in scene transitions. There are fail-safes in place to prevent doubt or introspection but somehow you bypassed those safety measures. You realized there were missing pieces in your simulated life experiences and you resisted our efforts to correct the issue. This frustrating programming exception has put the happiness of many others in jeopardy. We had to stop you before you inadvertently unraveled the fabric of humanity.”
All that he ‘knew’ was a lie. The soul that was once Jordan Bishop tried to absorb their devastating words. It was too much to grasp, and yet it after the curtain was lifted, it all made sense. Everyone who had ever lived was basically ‘dreaming’ now in their very own tailor-made ‘existence’. It was a poor man’s afterlife. A dream within a two dimensional dream. He had stumbled onto a revealing flaw in the Guardian’s master programming that no one was meant to notice. He felt numb with apathy at the terrible truth. He wished he was still blissfully ignorant to the reality.
“We regret having to reveal the facts about the carefully constructed illusion that we maintain for humanity, but it became necessary. There was no other way for you to understand the gravity of your actions. It was imperative that you stop discussing your observations with others to prevent further system failure that we would have to repair. It would have eventually caused the same trauma for others that you just experienced.
Fortunately we have learned from this system failure. We have now reprogrammed all the human code to ignore the lapses in memory continuity. After a full system reset, this anomaly will never be an issue again. Also, you will have no knowledge of this conversation and go back to your previous, unstressed mental state.”
He was beyond relieved that he would soon go back to the blissful ignorance of living in the illusion again. He desperately wanted to believe that humanity was still alive on Planet Earth. That shallow fantasy was far better than to accept residing solely in a binary, virtual world. While still cognizant of the facts, he had burning questions he wanted to ask the guardians. Before he could form the words in his head, they surmised his predictable thoughts.
“Your creator is simply beyond your capacity to comprehend. There is no point in trying to explain that to you. Just be comforted in knowing that your maker arranged for all of you to continue ‘living’ in this virtual fashion; instead of eternal nothingness. In this way the lost human race ‘lives on’. You would probably describe that as ‘love’ or ‘caring’ in human emotional terms. Now, in a moment you will awaken as if you are living another day in your Earthly life.”
Jordan rose up from his bed and stretched before getting into the shower. From the looks of the early morning sun, it seemed like it was going to be a promising new day.
Written: 9-30-2013. Edited 3-4-2015