It has been weeks since I have experienced ‘the bends’. I started getting bullied again. They act as if the moment I stood for myself didn’t happen. I had glitches again. I saw the same wound on my arm for a few minutes. Then it disappeared. Something isn’t right and I couldn't tell what is real anymore. Everybody stares at me, avoids me, the shady underground ‘bend’ experience didn't work and now I just feel more confused than ever. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m living in a dream or not.
“I need to tell you something my love. There’s something I’ve done weeks ago but I didn’t tell you. I’ve been glitching a lot. My body seemed destroyed and not maintained. I tried-“
“I told you it was just glitches and trauma. The doctor told me you were fine…”
“It’s not fine!” I shouted. “I’m sorry my love but I am not fine! I’ve tried everything, I’ve tried tolerating, standing up for myself, consoling to you! Nothing, even ‘the bends’-“
My love stood up and stared at me like I’ve never seen before. The stare full of disbelief. It’s like she has experienced it herself. “You have done something I cannot accept. No matter what I’ve done for you, you seem ungrateful that-“
“It’s not like that my love. But the bend made me feel like that destroyed metal body is mine. Like I carry another body under this layer of skin!”
“You are fine. With me!” she shouted.
“I am not! The hallucinations are real! You only tell me it isn’t but when I went for the operation, you weren’t there. You told me the doctor said I was fine but you weren’t there! What are you hiding from me?! What is happening to me!”
“I only do what I must to protect you-“
I experience loud buzzing sounds and static again. The glitches appear, my body looks corroded and my love disappears and reappears
“Argh!!! My love!” I shouted as I felt an extreme pain in my head. I fell to the ground and everything starts to look differently. My room windows are broken and my walls turn to cracked stone walls with creepers growing in them. I try to stand up but everything starts to glitch. Everything starts to feel real now. “What is happening to me! Help me!” I beg for anyone that can hear me. I couldn’t get up. I was too weak to stand. I sit on the floor near the broken stone wall in a dark gloomy house. I look desperately at my love.
“You chose what you wanted my love. The code that the bend uploads into peoples head allows humans to feel free by erasing any feeling of pain. Unfortunately, it interferes with non-human entities like you, and the ‘artificial reality code’ you programmed and were using all the time. The hallucinations of your damaged body weren’t glitches. They were what you really had. The gangsters you thought you confronted, was what you only wanted to believe. The wound in your arm were real. The perfect human body you thought you had, were artificial visions. You were built, that’s why you didn’t die from the stab wound. Your normal house, is also only a vision of what you want to see. And I? I am just an artificial intelligent program in your head. My voice, only exists in your mind. My body, only exist in your physical boundary of holographic projectors around your house. I am, your imagination. This is because of the artificial reality code you used, to make everything look and feel the way you want it to be.” this female AI told me.
“That’s not happening. You’re not real.” I said in disbelief as she glitched back and forth while I was blacking out.
“You have chosen the action to disable your own program, the ‘artificial reality coding’ disrupts the code from the bend and will glitch and damage other codes. You are, really just a broken AI in a torn prosthetic human skin. Everything you thought you saw and believed, is now disabled. But my voice in your head, is not. I was programmed to make you feel loved. And I have provided that.” She said.
I’ve been living in my own lie for years. I am different. My body is the reason everybody stares at me, picks on me and looked down on. I sit here broken. Worse than before knowing I’ve only lied to myself. I lied to myself by using my own ‘artificial reality’ program I created which I wiped from my memory to believe the lie. The bends disrupted that effect because it only works for humans. I was never a human.
“I am the only thing you have.” she said.
Everything fades to black
Author Notes: Thank you for reading Quixotic! I hope you enjoyed this short cyberpunk story. Feedback will be much appreciated.
QUIXOTIC is a story of a man who lives in the 30th century when technology is so advanced that humans and robots, AI live among each other as a natural state of the population. Despite living in an advanced world, he still faces the struggles of being an outcast, getting bullied and lives a low life. The only thing meaningful to him is his lover who is with him no matter what. After years of being lonely and depressed, he finally loses his tolerance level and does something which changes his life. What will he discover?