TE21 Serbian Moments

M. Caterina Mortillaro

Virtual Truth

Jack has learned her words by heart.

like a horse. As a result, his body has already grown stronger. He resembles the reflection he used to admire in the mirror. There’s a girl. They have sex in barns. It’s not always perfect, but he likes it. With his intelligence, she says, he should follow a course that enables him to work fewer hours in the fields. While waiting to decide what he thinks of all this, Jack is going to give it a try. After all, any change from his monotonous routine will be welcome. But every day, when he awakes and discovers that he’s still on this damned farming planet, with its unchanging sun and with no hope of getting his feet off the ground, he can’t help hoping he’ll find the control panel and escape from this nightmare. At which point, unseen, he looks everywhere, even under stones and in the grooves left by a plough. And he repeats the release sequence like a mantra. Or possibly, to be more exact, like a prayer throbbing with desperation.

Dear son,

You’ll hateme for this, but I had to save you fromyourself. When you were a boy and started to play with virtual reality, we thought it was normal. All the lads your age were doing it. When you told us you wanted to create virtual adventures, it seemed like a good job to us. We were wrong. You’ve become a slave to that stuff. Your disorder has a name: VIREA – Virtual Reality Addiction. The Kolkhoz psychiatrist will give you all the scientific info on the matter, including the risks you ran. Now it’s up to you to decide. They told us you might seek comfort in the idea that you’re a prisoner in a flawed adventure. Or accept that what you’re experiencing is reality itself. And that you can’t escape. What will you decide to do? Do you want to live, or would you rather age as the prisoner of an illusion? Jack often thinks about it. His mother seems so real. Perhaps there isn’t a control panel. Perhaps what she’s saying is true. But what is the truth, anyway? Virtual reality is so perfect, these days, that he wouldn’t be surprised if it was all a dream. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe… He’ll have to decide how to live. His mother is right about that. Meanwhile, they’re not soft on him at the Kolkhoz. He works 228



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