Session One (1,499 words)
“How do you….” I glance around in frustration, trying to find the words. “How do you do it? How do you resist the urge to just grab someone’s head and bash it into a wall? I don’t understand how I’m the—the only one here who feels the need t-t-to do that!”
“Marcle, I’m certain there are others who feel the same, however self-control is necessary. That’s why you’re here in this facility.”
He smiles at me, in an oddly feminine kind of way. I can never tell if it’s a male or female. He or she is wearing a dark loose fitting jump suit, the hair is shoulder length and tied at the nape of it’s neck. Therapist gestures to a chair.
“Would anyone like to comment on how Marcle feels? He seems distressed in regards to his temper. How can we help him?”
Therapist looks at the other three group members expectantly.
“Who gives a shit?”
Everyone looks up at Benaay. He bounces his right leg on his toes, un-waveringly, in that really annoying way, as he bites his finger nails. It’s like he’s trying to make his leg magically become a jack hammer. He leans forward. “Tell me, who really gives a shit?”
He leans back against the seat, spreading his legs in an laid-back manner, then leans forward again. “They pretend to care, but the credit they get for keeping us here is all that’s really important to them. The truth is: whether or not we get fixed doesn’t matter. Execution day is coming boys, and there’s no stopping it.”
“As always you seem…content with your current situation, Benaay,” says Therapist.
“I’ve been convicted for killing over one hundred and forty-seven people. I’m imprisoned here while your precious government hopes that I’ll show some remorse before I’m executed.”Benaay sneers, his teeth are yellow from what can be assured is smoking. “I got news for you programmable piece of shit.
Therapist shakes his head. “The purpose of this program is to help you not only realize your mistakes, but to help you redeem yourself. To make you better than who you were before.”
Benaay sneers at Therapist, crossing his arms over his broad chest. He’s defensive. His arms are pale, but bulky. You could tell he used to work out. I look down at his feet, chains of iron are on his ankles. He’s got anger problems, and from the data, so did everyone he ever killed. A case of self-hatred? Or maybe he thought it’d amusing to have someone fight back, a challenge. Either way he ‘s built like a brick house, as they say, and he doesn’t give a shit.
“Waste of time if you ask me.”
Therapist sighs and turns to the next member.
“You usually have a number of things to say Seraph. Is today a better day?” Therapist smiles, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be as kind as it’s programmed to be.
Seraph watches us from her seat wearing a white summer dress with thin straps on her shoulders and no shoes. Her lips are a bright red, plump. Her hair is chocolate brown and her skin sun-tanned light brown. I could imagine it glowing in the bright sun outside.
I turn to Therapist. “I’m sorry. I thought this was solely a male group?”
“Usually it is. However, Seraph is a special case. Aren’t you?” Therapists smiles.
Seraph looks at the last group member, Thomas. He’s a quiet fellow, lanky. His hair, black and un-kept, is up to his shoulders. He looks like a metal rocker, maybe not. He smiles, his huge cheek bones turning pink. He has a round nose and thin lips, reminding me of a sleuth. She makes this low animalistic growl suddenly and his face drops. He turns pale and looks down at the floor.
She turns to me and says, “You’re fake.”
I stutter. “I’m—I’m sorry, what?”
“Everyone’s fake to you, you crazy bitch,” Benaay remarks.
“She’s not crazy.” Thomas pipes up under his black hair veil. “She’s…she’s just eccentric. That—that’s all. She can tell when people lie—it’s a common fact. I don’t lie Seraph.”
Seraph looks at Benaay, tilts her head, and turns to Thomas. To Thomas, she walks up to him slowly and brushes small child-like fingers under his chin. His face comes out of his black shoulder length hair. Thomas smiles nervously.
She brushes her hand across his left cheek. “You’re not bad, but don’t think that because you try to defend me, I’ll start to favor you.”
Seraph turns to me, tapping Thomas on the face. “You’re fake because you’re not like us at all. All that generic crap about questioning yourself. Benaay’s a mass murderer and Tommy-boy stole information on the stock market and several files from ten different governments. The fact is: we don’t give a crap. So, why are you really here?”
I scratch my head trying to stay calm. “It was either this or an actual prison, and let’s be honest I’ll live longer here.”
“You think this is better than a real prison? We’re stuck here and have to—to put up with this whole shit-fest and for what?! Just to do what?! Pre-occupy our time before they decide to execute us, while you sit and watch? You think we don’t know what’s really going on? I know for a fact that this is a load of crap! That whole thing about execution is just another lie. You’re monitoring us like lab rats; we’re gonna be here forever, aren’t we? Aren’t we?!”
Seraph turns to Therapist. “I’m getting sick of your face, you fucking piece of shit.”
Therapist simply smiles and responds, “I will not justify that comment with a response.”
She laughs, shyly covering her mouth with the back her hand. “Of course not. Can you? Are you even real? You’re just some computer program designed by some punk high schooler.”
“Why are you here?” I place my arms elbows my knees and lean forward, intertwining my fingers.
Seraph turns her head to the side slightly, as if debating whether or not to answer me. She straightens and says with a seductive smile, “I eat people.”
My face drops. My eyes never leave her face. Next thing I know she’s rushing towards me and Therapist jumps in front of me. It grabs her, twisting her around into a bear hug and seemingly crushing her in its arms.
She screams out, but I don’t think it’s in pain. Seraph screams louder, and I see Therapist glitch and get thrown through a firewall. Benaay is frozen, staring at Seraph, and Thomas keeps staring at the floor.
“Look, I’m not doing anything wrong. I just came here for some help.” I put my hands our, almost pleading. This is not going as planned.
“More than anything–more than anything, I hate liars! Get the hell up!”
Seraph takes a step forward, but Therapist appears between us suddenly. Pixels reassemble into what looks like a male figure, much more brawny than before .Its voice becomes monotone.
“Program protocol’s have been breached. Guest will now be ejected from program X-473. ”
The static overcomes my senses and all I can see is the dark lenses of my goggles. Taking them off, I find myself back at home out of program X-473. It is definitely more intense than Deek had led me to believe. I really thought I was going to get hurt. Two months from now and all the worlds criminals would be in the program. I couldn’t imagine a better case to study: The transference of the criminal consciousness into a virtual reality prison.
No, I’m lying. That girl, Seraph, was definitely interesting in and of herself. She was a subject all on her own. Her personality was volatile, and despite knowing the consequences of attacking a “guest” she still came after me.
How did she even know?
A chill runs down my spine as I swallow hard. It’s not just her I’m interested in either, is it? The truth is, more specifically, I want to know more about her smile. I can still remember it; how beautiful I thought she was when, for that split second, I saw her rose-red lips begin to curve up.
Her extremely white teeth. Those rose-red, no blood red, lips. The muscles slowly moving as her cheekbones began to go higher. The flush of her cheeks as her lips settled into place, spreading to reveal her perfectly aligned teeth.
Her shockingly white teeth.
How could they be so damn sharp?
Every single one was so jagged and yet so…so clean. No gaps, no chips or even a stain. Her teeth were sharp, almost like—the image of a shark comes to mind. Were they filed to a sharp edge? She couldn’t have been born that way, could she?
And was she serious?
All I can think about is how that bright white shine must have looked before she ripped someone’s neck out.