TE21 Serbian Moments

M. Caterina Mortillaro

Virtual Truth

“Why am I in hospital?”

Farmer? Yuri will pay for this! Jack blinks three times again, but the illusion won’t go away. Shit! He starts to examine every inch of the room, from the brick walls to the feet of his bed. He crawls underneath it, then climbs onto chairs to examine the ceiling. There’s always access to an emergency control panel. After all, he’s one of the leading experts in this stuff. He created a lot in the past. But it all depends on where the programmer placed it. Some of them get a kick out of putting those panels in the most absurd places. An adventure within the adventure. Exasperated, he repeats, loudly and obsessively, the emergency release sequence. But nothing happens. He curls up and cries like a baby.

He brings the woman into focus: she’s a short-haired doctor with a healthy tan and stunning blue eyes. No longer young, yet really lovely in a fresh, natural way. Strange as it may be, Jack wishes this was a porn. She would give him a thorough physical and…He gets a hard-on, notices that thewoman’s eyes are on his groin and realizes that his patient gown is too short to cover his condition. The woman raises an eyebrow. “Well, this strikes me as an excellent sign. But I think you should get dressed.” His erection has gone for six and this is no porn. “No, wait. Tell me what’s going on.” Asking for information is always a good way of getting one’s bearings in a virtual adventure. She sighs. “The combination of sedatives and you having to adapt to the atmosphere on Astarte-1 knocked you out for a while. But you’re recovering just fine. In a couple of days you’ll be able to start your new job. How’s that for good news?” “Here at Kolkhoz. We understand that you have no specialization, so you’ll start as a farmer. But we have special training programs. With your IQ and previous studies, and provided you pull your weight, you should be able to access a more qualified profession.” She moves away, leaving him with the impression that he’s a child and she his teacher. 226 Pleased? Was she taking the piss? “Job? What job?”


SCENE EIGHT – EXT. – DAY His skin is burning. He’s lathered insweat. Hehas eatenenough dust to last himthe next tenyears. The Kolkhoz shrink told him hemust resign himself: this isn’t a virtual adventure. There’s no such thing on Astarte-1, she said. And he mustn’t do anything stupid, or he’ll die for real. He also gave him a message from his mother. Jack hasn’t seen her for years: she’s aged a lot. She’s crying, in the video.


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