A girl is stuck in a world where she can't control anything, and she learns how to finally take control of her own life.
I hear my heart pounding through my chest. I’m sprinting, but I don’t know why. At this point in my don’t-know-how-long-it’s-been life, I want to unplug. But that’s not up to me; it’s up to the government. I’m one of the only ones who can determine the difference between Plug-In and reality. Reality is just about as twisted as the Plug-In, which is probably why people can’t tell the difference. When I’m in the Plug-In, it always seems to be a me-against-time scenario. See, Plug-In is a place where everyone is plugged into something that the government controls, and for a certain amount of hours a day, they control you. Then, after a certain amount of hours, they unplug you. This is what, most likely, has brainwashed our society.
Rumor has it that everyone in their Plug-In lives has a signal. Something that would see every time in the simulation that reminds your brain that it’s Plugged-In. Again, this is another secret that most people don’t know. That there is one thing in every “dream” to remind us that all this is, is a nightmare. I don’t know what mine is yet, but at least I know to look for one. They also say that this thing in every “dream” is your only connection to the real world.
I am running as fast as I can, but whatever is behind me is catching up quickly. I’ve had this one before, this scenario. Somehow, this creature chasing me never catches up. Another reason the whole Plug-In idea is a total nightmare. I don’t know when I wake up. I don’t know who I really am. All I know is that I’m Plugged in as number 3879. I “sleep” here and so does everyone else, whoever they may be. When we are unplugged, we just sleep. We sleep until we are Plugged back in. We don’t know how long it is in between Plug-Ins; it could be days, months, even years.
Sometimes I think about society. About which one of the psychopaths creates and manipulates my destiny. I lay here, number 3879, and I’m just another machine the government plugs and unplugs, into an even bigger machine. What human would want to take other humans and brainwash them? Well, I don’t know who they are, but all I know is that they are messed up.
I’m running, running, running. Running until the end of time. Or at least that’s what it feels like. As I run, I hear the ruffling and shuffling of leaves behind me. I just see streaks of green as I sprint. The cold breeze on my skin almost stings. My feet are moving, but I’m not making them. If I wanted to, I could stop. Just freeze. I have finally found a way to show them. To show the Creator that he can’t manipulate me. To say no. To rebel. But that’s not going to happen, because I can’t control that, let alone myself or my own life.
Running, running, running. I swear I can smell the breath of the beast. Although I was sprinting, I had never gotten tired. I can just keep running. But I won’t. Because soon enough, the creator will become sick of this little game, and he will unplug me. And then, in years, months, days, they will Plug me back in. to a different world. I personally like it here. Running through whatever jungle this is, somewhat free. Of course, at this point, I have no freedom. And for the record, I never really had any freedom to lose.
The beast is roaring and sprinting towards me, as I sprint away from him. He is big. I can tell, because as he is sprinting I can feel the ground shake as his paws go down on the jungle floor. It’s almost like a mini earthquake. For the first time, I feel tired. Exhausted in fact. For the first time, I can feel something. Exhaustion. The only feeling I have ever truly felt. And to be honest, I don’t like this feeling. My legs feel like they are about to give in. An unidentifiable liquid drips down my face as I run. Sweat? The spit of my beast? Panting, I almost feel my legs giving in. I hear the beast roar and the ground shakes. And all of a sudden, I go blank.
I wake up and everything is blurry. The sun beats down on me, and I stand up. As I look around, all I see is sand. I yell, and all I hear is an echo. I start to walk in circles waiting for something to happen. I start walking in one direction. I keep going, going. Seems like the only challenge here is surviving the heat. I walk; and I can see nothing but sand and the sun. It’s calm and peaceful here, a hot breeze almost stinging my skin.
Barefooted, the sand feels hot on my feet. And that’s an understatement. It’s almost hot enough to make me run somewhere. Maybe if I start running, the Creator will let me go somewhere. Let me find something. A city. A jungle. Something to interact with me. I walk, and I cringe every time my feet hit the ground. I almost smell the burnt skin on the bottom of my feet. In fact, I smell something similar. The environment is changing, but not drastically. Every once in a while I see a tree or a rock, but that’s about it. But something tells me I should be expecting something more than this. I keep walking, thinking that the Creator will eventually let me find something. Now, looking down at the ground, I see drips of sweat in the sand. I’m surprised I can even sweat right now because I haven’t taken in any water in a while. The air feels almost cool now, as I walk through this endless desert. The smell of rain taunts my nose. The Creator, whoever he or she may be, is probably laughing at my pain right now. And to make everything worse he’s saying, “Let me make her smell rain to taunt her.” Cruelty I tell you. Cruelty.
The smell of rain lingers in the air, but the weather is nowhere close to rain. Like the smell in the air, I am lingering, even though it hurts. The air is thick, like water, but I can tell you there’s no water in this air.
Walking, through the sand, with the sun beating down on my forehead. The urge to run is eating me up inside. If I run, maybe the Creator will just let me run. Find an end to this madness that we call reality. Find the wall between whatever you call this, and whatever’s on the other side.
I decide to take a crack at it, and start to pick up my pace. I see things rushing past me as I run towards the end of the world. As I run, I almost feel free, so I keep on running. Nothing but me, the sun, and the sand.
I’m running, and as I had hoped, the environment has drastically changed. Seems like the Creator is starting to care, and is possibly realizing how screwed up he is. It’s like he wants me to control something in this strange world. Maybe he’s sick of watching me play his sick little games. That’s all I am to the Creator. Just a game piece.
He let me run, like he had given up on me. And I don’t know who the Creator is, but I’ve gained a little bit more respect for him. As if he were Plugged In to my thoughts, which he is, he knew I wanted something different.
I run, and the feeling of freedom rushes through my veins. For the first time, I feel free. The hot breeze is rushing through my hair. The air smells of a dead animal. For some reason, this scent is comforting. Knowing, there was, once, another living thing here.
Seems like this scenario hasn’t come anywhere close to the end. I slow down, and realize how much my feet hurt at the moment. The pain I’m enduring is proving to me that I’m human. I might be a human in what seems to be an inhuman world, but I’m human. So, I guess you could say you could say I’ve become partly human. Not only am I enduring pain, but the smell of my burning skin and flesh has almost become comforting. And that disturbs me and my stomach. I look down at the sand as I make footprints in the sand. But these are strange footprints; they’re red. Then I realize that the sand has burned the bottoms of my feet off. So as my feet hit the ground, I focus on the horizon, instead of the burning, stinging, agonizing sensation. The horizon gets closer, and right when I’m about to find out what’s beyond it, I get further away.
As I continue my very painful walk, the sensation slowly moves upward. It’s as if the heat has burned my knees off, but I don’t look down to find out. Because, like humans, I can throw up, and that’s what I’m worried will happen if I look down. The last thing I need is to lose the lunch I didn’t have. The same system happens whenever I reach the horizon. The Creator is being so cruel. He lets me get almost all the way there, then makes it further away. My brain is going crazy. I’m almost trying to yell at the Creator as if he would actually hear me. For once in my entire life, I feel the need to rebel. Of course, I can’t remember a lot of my life, and what I do remember wasn’t that long ago. So I could have felt the need to rebel a long time ago, but obviously that doesn’t matter, because the Creator erased that memory. The only thing I remember is my previous scenario; being chased by the beast. And my number; 3879. And this pain, the sun. And I’m not even sure that’s the sun. For all I know, I could be in some alternate universe. I can tell you right now I wish I was.
The pain, still moving upward, has finally moved so far up my body, that I’m not even sure what’s left of me. Again, I don’t really want to know, but I think at one point I have to. I sinch again, picturing what’s happening to my lower body. Then, I make the crazy decision to look down. I look down, and it seems like all I can see is bone. The skin; gone. The muscle; gone. I feel tears gathering in the corners of my eyes, but I can’t put myself through crying. Crying shows weakness, and during a rebellion, you can’t be weak.
I’m still walking, but I don’t think there’s that much left of me. I have the need to rebel. The need to just yell into the quiet. To break the silence. It’s quiet in this desert. Too quiet. As these thoughts race through my head, I shout into the vast emptiness, “What is this hell?!” But he doesn’t care. He won’t give me an answer. No one will. Ever.
He knows I’m here. He knows I’m in pain. But he doesn’t know what I’m going to do next. Only I can control that. It’s the only power I have over him for now. At least until I find my way in…or out.
I’ve thought about this before. This in or out shit. Whether it’s the fact that I need to get into or out of the Real World. If really, I’ve been avoiding the wrong thing all along. The Real World is supposed to be beautiful, unlike this crazy world.
The problem with the Real World is the fact that only certain people can get there. People who can find a way to trick the system. They are considered special. They found a hole somewhere, a gap in the perfection. A flaw. That’s why they’ve been rewarded.
My eyes are now stinging, so I know I’m about to burn out. Pun intended. I still feel the stinging moving up my body, but it feels numbing. Of course, the Creator being who he is, he’s keeping me alive for as long as possible. I’m fading out. It’s soothing, getting away from this heat of the sun and the sand.
The buzz and bustle of the streets is loud. The Creator probably got bored, so he put me here with civilization. The only situation I can’t truly overcome. The only way I’ll be among people, really ever. So I’m deciding to enjoy it. Because whatever I do here won’t affect anything else in the world. The world is spinning; so much to take in. The lights, the city. Real, human people.
One of them approaches me and starts speaking. I’m programmed to know English, but this was some gibber-gabber shit. One woman also heads over and starts yelling in my face. In all the chaos, I decide to run, which by now, seems to be the way I escape my problems. The issue with running is here, there are tons of people in my way. And cars. And buildings. But it really doesn’t matter what happens here or anywhere for that matter. Or at least until I get to the Real World. That’s the only place where everything matters.
By now, I start to wonder how they build such a “perfect” world. With no screw ups. Nothing. They must have machines working day and night to fix every single thing that goes wrong. By now, I’m just trying to find that gap. Because this has become a hell. But I guess it’s even more hell-like for me because I actually know there’s better.
I look around, and in all the unknown chaos, I feel calm. I’ve finally found what I’m here to do. All these fake journeys have somewhat led up to what I’m supposed to do. As I’m looking around, everything seems to make sense in my head. Why I’m here. What I can become.
“A-ha!” I yell into the busy city streets. I want to make it to the Real World. At least now I have ideas about where to look. For the gap, of course. The buildings wouldn’t have gaps. A gap in the sidewalk? Maybe it’s not a physical gap at all. Not sure.
I have finally found the loophole to the system. The only thing between me and the Real World is the actual loophole that I have to find. I’m running still, through the city sidewalks and the streets and a car is the last thing I see.
As I wake myself in the haze of my thoughts, I find myself in an all-white room. I look down and discover a white table with a cup of very-black coffee. The walls and ceilings are very bright, because the light reflects off of every surface. It seems like it has no windows or doors in the room, but soon enough a man opens what seems to be the wall, wearing all white and dark glasses. I am sitting on a bright white couch. He comes in and sits next to me.
He sits there silently for about two minutes. I stare around the room, squinting. He sits there calmly, like he’s waiting for me to say something. He looks over at me through his dark sunglasses like he wants me to realize something.
He finally opens his mouth and says, “Hello 3879. Are you looking for something?” “Not necessarily, no.” I say this in a quiet voice, for I am afraid. “Oh, okay.” He said it in a snobby voice. “Is there something for me to find?” I say this in an even more timid voice than before. “I do not know.” He has very deep voice. “Is there anything you’re looking for?”
I had to think about this for a while. What really am I looking for? One thing I could say I’m looking for is justification. Am I even right about this gap I happen to be looking for? Is what I’m doing even close to getting out of hell? And what am I looking for? Well, I can say I’m looking for a hint, or an answer.
He still has his head tuned towards me, as if waiting for an answer. I say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I got distracted.” He looks at me over his glasses, when I finally notice he has one blue eye and one green. The gap. The mistake. “I’ve found the mistake!” I yell into the white room. The man gives me a funny look as if I’ve done something wrong.
All of the sudden, everything pauses for a few seconds. I hear a voice come through the room. He says, “Congratulations Scarlett. You’ve made it to the Real World.” I didn’t reply, specifically because I didn’t know the comment was directed to me. I smile, finally realizing. “Scarlett’s my name?” “Yes. It fits you. Adventurous, rebellious.” “Thank you.” I say with a sigh of relief. “No, thank you.” He finishes his sentence and then he and I head off into the Real World. A world unknown.