Joe Prosit

RealSim

What would you do if you could do whatever you wanted without any repercussions? I can tell you what I’d do. Last week I told off my boss.

Called him a bitch-faced cocksucker who can suck the shit straight from my asshole. He never wrote me up. Never called HR. Nobody was going to fire me. The week before that, I brought a twelve gauge into the local bar and just shot the shit out of everybody there. Not because I didn’t like them. Not because I was angry. Just because I wanted to see what would happen if I did. And it thrilled the hell out of me, turning my local drinking establishment into a level of Grand Theft Auto. We’ve all done that before. Hit the save button in a game and then just went full psycho killer. Only now, RealSim let us do it when and where we lived.

The realism of it all… it was off the fucking charts.

This week, I didn’t know. Maybe I’d steal that shiny Camaro with the big red racing stripes from the local dealership and watch the cops try to catch me in the rearview. Or maybe rob a bank. Or maybe just take a dump right in the middle of Main Street while giving the finger to passing traffic. I could do whatever the fuck I wanted.

Ain’t technology amazing?

I sat at my desk, took a long pull of beer, plugged the VR remote into the base of my neck, and leaned back. The menu came up and I perused what pre-generated options they had to offer:

RealSim

Settings: Local / Single Player / Private

Select a curated adventure:

Play quarterback for your High School Football Team

Solve a local murder mystery

Parade for you as a returning War Hero

Hunt velicoraptors is your own backyard

Compete for Homecoming King/Queen

Everyone else is a Zombie!

Walk the runway as a fashion model

Drag race through downtown

Free play

RealSim Entertainment Unlimited. All rights reserved. Copyright 2021. Scheduled maintenance 20211026-20211027.

This week, I thought I’d take off the training wheels. I clicked on Free Play.

A flicker. Hardly noticeable. Nothing around me changed. That was how great RealSim was. You hardly noticed when you went in. You couldn’t tell the difference. When I told my boss to press his wrinkled dried up lips around my pulsing asshole, the look on his face was exactly as I imagined it would be. No pixels. No lag. Nothing that would suggest you weren’t actually doing what you were doing in real life. Only you log out, and everything goes back to normal. You’re at your desk, you’ve worked out your frustrations and fantasies, and no one’s hurt. RealSim was totally anonymous. Your boss or your bank or your church couldn’t see what you did. Couldn’t hold you accountable. You just did your thing, got the demons out, logged off and went to work on Monday morning happy, productive, and sober. That movie, The Purge? This was what that was supposed to be.

Coming down the stairs, I threw my bottle of beer against the fridge and watched it shatter and foam. Then I grabbed the bottle of Canadian Club from our liquor cabinet, spun off the cap, and let it spin like a top on the kitchen floor. What did I care? My wife, Anna, wouldn’t have to pick it up. I loved her. I’d never do anything like this in real life, but this was all a game, and god damn if it fun wasn’t to act out.

I burnt the tires of our Hyundai Sonata as I backed out of the garage. I had to turn off the traction control before I could get the tires to slip. That’s how real RealSim was. Attention to detail. That’s what real sold the experience. I downed a quarter of the bottle of whiskey (it burned just like for real) before I put our shitbox four banger in D and peeled out of our neighborhood. Drinking and driving was child’s play compared to drinking while driving.

Maybe I’d knock off the liquor store for some good whiskey. Or maybe I would steal that Camaro after all. Maybe stop off at Bed Bath and Beyond. I didn’t know if there’d be time. I laughed to myself.

I parked the Sonata sideways on the middle of Sixth Street in front of Bulldog’s Bar and Grill. Cars swerved. Brakes screamed. People honked. I gave them all the finger and strode into the bar like a fucking boss. I wanted some good whiskey and maybe some random social interactions. Sure, I could go off on some weird adventure. But sometimes, I was just a man who enjoyed the simpler things in life.

On my way in, Brett Thompson stopped me. Familiar faces were all a part of the fun. After all, what was the point of taking a piss on your church’s front altar if you couldn’t see the look on your pastor’s face when you did it? Anyway, Brett was a local jerkoff father of a friend of my son’s. He stopped me as I came in the bar, held me by the shoulders, looked me dead in the eyes, and pointed a finger straight at my nose. “Your son can’t box out to save his life. And it will be a cold day in hell before he’ll ever hit a three.”

That was oddly specific. I mean, Brett was a douche and RealSim didn’t pull punches on the dickishness of other people. That way it was as satisfying as you imagine it to be when you told them off, but god damn!

It was just RealSim challenging me. I had to step up. Had to play the game. “Hey, Brett! Your wife is a fucking hippopotamus! Sit and spin, buddy!” I called after him, but he was already out the door. I laughed because I got the last laugh, and then pushed my way deeper into the bar.

Bulldog’s was busy for a Sunday night, but that was cool. The more people the better. The next local jerk that had something to say about my son, I’d have some burns ready to unleash. Mentally, I prepped a good one for every parent on the A Team Boy’s Traveling B-ball team. Who was I kidding? I’d been saving these gems up for months!

Pushing through the local slobs and suckers, my vision tightened and focused on one table in the middle of the crowd. Natalie DuPree was sitting all by herself, sipping on a pinkish drink through a cocktail straw, and throwing the crowd one long sideways glance. Natalie and Mark had been married for, I didn’t know, fifteen or so years. And Mark was one of my closest friends. Never, ever in real life would I dream of creeping on his woman, but had I never envied his life? His wife? His ever so slightly higher salary? Money was one thing. The look in his wife’s eyes… I mean, I was only a man and this was only a game. And she had a killer butt.

I snaked up to the bar, grabbed a bartender by the shirt sleeve as she passed and told her, didn’t ask, “Full bottle of Glenfiddich. No glass.”

If the bartender ever looked at me, I didn’t notice. My eyes stayed on my friend’s wife. The bartender said, “Two hundred dollars, asshole,” and I slapped down my credit card on the bar. It wasn’t like this was going to show up on my bank statement after I logged off. When I heard the bottle thunk against the wood, I abandoned the credit card and carried off the full bottle of top-shelf scotch.

Natalie finally saw me coming her way. I had one chance to get this right. I cracked the cap, spun it with the meat of my palm, and didn’t look to see if it did that cool-ass spin-like-a-top landing on the bar floor. I watched her eyes follow it, and knew I’d pulled it off. I sat down at her table. She stirred her drink with that plastic straw and did this aloof thing with her eyes that told me everything I needed to know. Even though this was just a game, even though I knew I was really just at my computer desk, rocking a semi and a cheap plastic-bottle-whiskey buzz, my heart was still thumping. The realism man… I never could get over it.

We looked eye to eye. She melted me like I was back in middle school, crushing on the cute girl I knew I could never have. No way, no how, never would this happen in real life. She was out of my league and anyway, I’d never actually mess with my best friend’s wife. That shit was purely off limits. Even the idea of it here, in RealSim, where nothing mattered and everything would be forgotten the moment I logged off, still gave me hesitation. But with the hesitation came the thrill.

I smiled. “Hey, Nat. Do you… uh… Do you want to fuck?”

She let out a laugh from deep in her throat. A knowing, inevitable laugh. Then she looked up from her drink and said, “Uh, yeah. Where do you want to do it? Right here on the table?”

Shit, RealSim! These were some off-the-wall scenarios! But god damn if I wasn’t down for it. Or at least the idea of it. But on the table in the middle of the bar? Jesus!

“How about the bathroom?” I said. “I’ll make you scream and we’ll make the whole bar jealous.”

She didn’t say yes. Just said, “I am so fucking wet right now,” and took me by the hand. We left her pink drink with the straw and my bottle of scotch behind.

The bathroom was a wood paneled room with a toilet, a sink, and a paper towel dispenser. We locked ourselves inside and got right to work. When we were done screaming each others names at the ceiling tiles and I was done dribbling out onto her leg, she collapsed back against the wood paneling.

She exhaled, “Whew! That was a good one. Fucking aye, this thing just keeps getting better.”

“What thing?” I said, pulling up my pants, feeling a little ashamed of my behavior, and itching for that log off button on the implant at the base of my spine.

Natalie ignored my question, reached for her own neck and said, “RealSim, log off.”

“What?” I mumbled. This… This wasn’t in the script. Nobody in RealSim was supposed to use the word RealSim. Even in multiplayer mode, it was a major faux pas to use the word RealSim. Took people out of the immersion to say RealSim out loud.

Wait. Holy fuck. I was in single player mode, right?

“RealSim, settings,” I said and touched my own implant. The settings appeared before my vision.

RealSim

Settings: Local / Single Player / Private

RealSim Entertainment Unlimited. All rights reserved. Copyright 2021. Scheduled maintenance 20211026-20211027.

“Oh thank fucking Christ,” I said.

“Why did you say that?” Natalie said. The look on her face was sheer panic.

“Say what?”

“What you just said. You said ‘RealSim, settings.’ Why would you…” she reached for the back of her neck again. “RealSim, log off.”

“You’re not supposed to say…” I touched my implant again. “RealSim, log off.”

Nothing.

Natalie was saying “RealSim, log off. RealSim, menu. RealSim, log off.”

Nothing.

There we were, crammed in a one-stall bar bathroom, both of us repeating the same shit over and over again, as frantic and energetic as we’d screamed each others names just moments before. We weren’t quiet. Hadn’t been quiet before. Why be quiet now?

Eventually, Natalie said, “Fuck this,” and made the decision to leave the bathroom. One peak out the door changed her mind. She slammed us inside and pinned her back against the door.

“Everybody’s looking,” she said. “Oh my god. My kid’s math teacher is out there. Karen from across the street is out there. They all heard us. They saw us go in here together. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck meeeeeeeee.”

That wouldn’t help. That’s how this whole problem started. Only, it wasn’t a real problem. Couldn’t be. This was some… some new scenario. A part of the game. It had to be. Cause if it wasn’t… I drove here drunk. I parked the family sedan in the middle of the street. I cheated on Anna with my best friend’s wife, and Brett really thought my son couldn’t play basketball.

I laughed. “This is just part of the game. This is just some…”

The glare Natalie threw me cut off my words.

“RealSim, menu,” I said and gave it a good look for the first time since I left my desk.

RealSim

Settings: Local / Single Player / Private

Select a curated adventure:

Play quarterback for your High School Football Team

Solve a local murder mystery

Parade for you as a returning War Hero

Hunt velicoraptors is your own backyard

Compete for Homecoming King/Queen

Everyone else is a Zombie!

Walk the runway as a fashion model

Drag race through downtown

Free play

RealSim Entertainment Unlimited. All rights reserved. Copyright 2021. Scheduled maintenance 20211026-20211027.

“Scheduled…” I read the words and let them fumble out of my mouth. “Scheduled maintenance? What is that supposed to mean?”

“This never happened,” Natalie said and left the bathroom. A quick opening and slamming of the door and I was all by myself.

Those numbers that followed those words. 20211026-20211027. What the hell did that mean? 2021 10 26. The year. The month. The date. It was October 26th, 2021. The system was down for scheduled maintenance. Everything I’d seen and said and done… it was all real. I never logged on. Neither had Natalie. Neither had anybody else. None of this was any simulation at all.

“Oh fuck. Natalie!” I called after her, still buckling my belt and zipping my fly as I plowed into the bar crowd.

They were laughing. Some of them cheered and clapped. The familiar faces were pissed off, ashamed, wouldn’t look my way. I was either a joke or a degenerate to the whole bar. Natalie too. She hadn’t left the bar just yet, but was standing near the front door looking back at me. Her face crushed me. When we did what we did, she hadn’t realized we were offline either. Never wanted this to be anything other than a private fantasy no one would ever know about. And now this.

When Brett came back into the bar with an AR15 at the ready and his work tie wrapped around his head like a bandana, it was almost a relief. Then I realized why he looked so eager and happy.

“I got a lot of problems with you people,” Brett called out across the bar. “And now you’re going to hear about ‘em! Say hello to my little friend!”

Oh god, he was going to kill us. We were going to die to the tune of an asshole spouting off movie quotes.

Only it wasn’t the last thing I heard. After all the screams and pleas were silenced, after the gunshots had echoed and reverberated into silence, Brett walked through the bodies until he got to me. I coughed up blood. Gurgled red froth. Called out for Natalie. She didn’t respond. Brett straddled over me with his AR15. He pressed the hot barrell against my forehead and said, “You’re kid is B Team at best. Tell him to follow his shots. Like this.”

RealSim

Settings: Local / Single Player / Private

Select a curated adventure:

Play quarterback for your High School Football Team

Solve a local murder mystery

Parade for you as a returning War Hero

Hunt velicoraptors is your own backyard

Compete for Homecoming King/Queen

Everyone else is a Zombie!

Walk the runway as a fashion model

Drag race through downtown

Free play

RealSim Entertainment Unlimited. All rights reserved. Copyright 2021. System online.

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