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November 24th, 2019
A tiny plume of smoke rose each time the hot soldiering iron touched the circuit board. Lucilius leaned back from his work, the suspicion of completion settling down on him. Footsteps accompanied a shadow from the bright outside and Lucilius looked to see a friend materialize from the bright blind.
“Whatchya working on Lucy?”
Lucilius smiled at his friend. “You gotta check this out.”
Lucilius moved around his work table and swiveled two lazyboys around, recliners that were heavily wired.
“Here, sit in this one.”
Lucilius’ friend nodded, looking at the contraption and then sat down and settled in. Lucilius handed him a helmet that was leashed with more wires.
“Where we going Lucy?”
The two put on their helmets and then Lucilius flipped a switch. Instantly the two found themselves standing in Lucilius’ garage. His friend looked at him.
“Look around,” Lucilius said. He watched his friend glance around at the garage, then bump his shoulders.
“Everything’s the same, but like we were sitting in those recliners a second ago.”
His friend paused. An unsettled look of confusion tainting his look. “How’d you do that?”
Lucilius smiled. “We’re still sitting in those chairs.”
His friend looked at him, suspicious. He looked closer at things. He look at his own hands. He sniffed the air.
“No, seriously, I built a simulation.”
“Are you kidding, this is unreal,” he said.
“Well that’s sort of the point,” Lucilius chuckled, watching his friend pick up objects, looking at the details, squinting as though he might see pixels or something. Lucilius went to his table of electronics and started fiddling with one of the circuit boards while his friend continued to wander around the garage, as though he were looking for some poorly rendered part of the simulation.
It was as though the man were a kid again, investigating every little detail of the world around him, as though it had secrets that it might share, details that he might discover. After a time the man stood up from his investigation, realizing that he hadn’t looked at Lucilius’ garage in real life with this much detail, and that he probably wouldn’t be able to notice mistakes anyway. He looked at Lucilius.
“What are you doing?”
Lucilius had his tongue clamped, sticking out as he concentrated. He touched a soldiering iron to one last piece of a circuit board and then sat back in relief. He turned to a monitor and tapped out a command on a keyboard. The screen flooded with processes.
“Yes, ok, it’s working.”
“Sit in the recliner.”
“Yea, you’ll probably notice the difference with the next one.”
Lucilius’s friend sat in the recliner and looked around for the helmet. He grabbed it without Lucilius’ help and put it on. Lucilius watched the processes on the screen until they came to a stop. Then he sat down in his own recliner, put on the helmet and flipped the switch.
Instantly, the two found themselves standing in the garage, looking at the recliners.
“I thought you said this one was different.”
“It is. You’ll notice it in a moment,” Lucilius said, making his way to his work table, tapping away at the keyboard and reading output.
His friend meanwhile simply stood, looking around squinting. “Something is different,” he said. Lucilius glanced up with a smile, watching his friend slowly realize.
“It’s like I can . . .feel more.” The man looked at his own hands as though he simultaneously wondered what they were and couldn’t separate from the overwhelming sensation of their existence. That cloud of tingling radiating from his limbs. The shape of it seemed to diffuse, as though he wouldn’t even be able to tell the shape of his own body if he were to close his eyes. And then he did it. He closed his eyes.
“What are you getting?” Lucilius asked.
“It’s like I can…. I can feel the room around me. And when you talk it’s like I don’t just hear it, it’s like I can feel the thought rumble up before you even make a sound.”
Lucilius glanced back at the computer screen. Processes had stopped.
“Ok, next one,” Lucilius said.
“Again?” his friend asked, still puzzled and amazed by the subtle shift that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
The two sat in the recliners, put on their helmets and Lucilius hit the enter button.
Instantly the two found themselves standing in the same garage, looking at the empty recliners.
“Whoah, what’s going on here Lucy? It’s like I can feel everything I see.. and taste all of it.” The man looked at his own hands and then at the table that Lucilius was taking a seat at. Lucilius began typing away.
“I can feel which keys you’re pressing. Lucy this is getting trippy. I’m honestly not really sure where I am in all of this.”
Lucilius smiled. “Just float your cloud-of-an-experience over to that recliner.”
“Again? We’re gonna do this again?”
Lucilius chuckled. “We’re just getting started.”
Lucilius’ friend sat in the chair, and each time he found his eyes open again, it was as though he dissolved a little more into the space around him, along with Lucilius. Even the floor and walls of the garage, and all the equipment Lucilius had, seemed to be less in its own place than it was somehow connected to everywhere else. Every few times they entered a new simulation, Lucilius sat for a minute in meditation to gather himself, all the while his friend slowly felt as though he were losing his mind, the only anchor now being Lucilius, who seemed to understand, with some sort of deep confidence where they were and where they were going. To his friend, reality felt as though it were melting and being drawn in towards the two of them as though the light of their very consciousness were like points of gravity. Soon they no longer sat in recliners, but merely existed in position, and the cold rigid hardware of the equipment gave way to a structure of light that Lucilius manipulated at will, each time, forming a connection between the two friends until finally they popped into a very deep simulation, one that was experienced as almost pure light, where language barely still existed, but only as thought between the two.
“How deep are we Lucilius?”
“I’m not sure. I lost count. I’ve never gone this far before.”
“Is there any further to go?”
“We could keep going forever. But I think this marks a kind of elbow in the curve. I can hold it together this far, but beyond this, I just don’t know. Maybe if I had a stronger meditative practice I could bring us farther and back but I’m just not sure what’s beyond this point. I don’t know if I’ll have the conceptual ability to reverse if we go. The mere thought of simulations and how to stop manifesting new ones, all that -I think- will collapse into a perpetual process, and I don’t think we’ll have any sense nor ability to stop it.”
“It’s so peaceful though.”
“Yea, it is, that’s why I built it. I thought it might be. . . nice to come here.”
“Into a deeper simulation you mean?”
“You realize what that means right?”
“I do, but if we go back, we’ll go about our regular lives, and we’ll probably die one day. And you can spend that whole time trying to be present, even though each moment is passing by - dying as it fast as it comes up. But here, it’s as though you’ve found a way to crack a moment open and dive down into it.. . .
and if we keep going, it’s as though we’ve found a backdoor to eternity. It’s as though instead of trying to outlive time, you’ve figured out a way to pause it, here in this place that you’ve created.”
“But we’ll have no way of returning.”
Lucilius felt the ponderings of his friend radiate throughout all of reality.
“Whether here or there, we are always stuck in the present. But this is a gift you’ve created, one that gives me the chance to truly appreciate a single moment, forever. Maybe no one has ever had this chance, and I don’t want it to slip by.”
“Ok,” Lucilius said.
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