By Carole Guzzardi
I opened my eyes in confusion. I could hear someone standing next to me and heard a familiar voice.
“You’ve been on there for hours, Abigail, it’s my turn now,” my little sister Wednesday growled at me.
I groaned and rolled my eyes, taking the Virtual Reality headset off.
“What do you even do on here? Simulate schoolwork?” I laughed at my own joke, but Wendy wasn’t amused.
“For your information, I am actually simulating the American presidential election of 2016 to get a better grasp of my political history class.”
“Whatever, narc,” I said as I got up and handed the headset to my sister. My little sister was a nerd, but I loved her. Not that I’d ever say that to her face.
I looked at the laptop next to me, checking the time. Nine-sixteen PM.
“It’s actually past your bedtime, Little Einstein.”
She froze, and I could almost see the machinery working in her mind. On one hand, Wendy was always to bed at the same time every single night, on the other hand, mom was on a business trip for three days and wasn’t here to regulate us.
After careful contemplation, Wendy, always a fan of regulation, groaned and put the headset down, glaring at me.
“Fine, I’ll go to stupid bed,” she unplugged the headset and clutched it to her side, “but I’m taking this with me.”
I shrugged as she walked out of the living room and up the stairs to her room. Once I heard her door shut, I grabbed the laptop and signed into my account. As I was opening my favorite game, I noticed that the clock said 99:99 PM.
Huh, I thought to myself, guess the clock’s broken.
I opened system settings and checked the date and time.
October 20th, 2056. 99:99 PM.
Everything was right except for the time. I messed around with the settings for a few more minutes before giving up and going back to my game. I’d fix it in the morning.
As I clicked out of the system settings, a black pop-up appeared on my screen, freezing everything else. I froze.
Exit simulation, it read.
There were two options. Yes, or no. My heart started racing. Did I have a virus? Mom was gonna kill me. I tried restarting the computer, but nothing happened. I panicked, reaching for my phone. Suddenly the computer started beeping. I jumped in my chair.
“Please pick an option.” It buzzed at me. I blinked, staring at the yes button. Without thinking, I hovered the mouse over it and clicked.
“Are you sure?” The computer said. I clicked yes again.
Suddenly, the world melted around me. I yelled in surprise as I fell into the floor, and my entire body started to tingle.
I opened my eyes and gasped. Around me were men and women wearing fancy business suits and people wearing white lab coats.
I heard loud cheering and clapping as one of the women in a white lab coat helped me out of the chair, I was sitting in. I was standing on the center of a platform, looking out onto a crowd of a thousand people.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the first ever real-life simulation!” One of the men in a business suit yelled to the crowd. There was a roar of cheering and clapping.
“Where’s my sister? Where’s my mom?” I asked the scientist next to me. She smiled at me.
“Honey, they never existed. That was a simulation. You volunteered to be the first ever user, remember?”
I was on the verge of tears.
“No! Take me back!” A few other scientists grabbed me and forcefully lead me offstage while waving and smiling to the crowd.
I looked back at the stage one last time, and at the device that had plunged me into an alternate life.
I’ll come back, Wendy, I thought to myself.