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Will Arthur is a writer, amateur comedian, and though he'll deny it, accountant. He claims to be descended from King Arthur, usually at the top of his voice after a few Guinnesses. Perhaps someday he will have a website. Read his previous Daily Science Fiction Story here: Palindrome

Pay attention. This may be my only chance to communicate with you. Read carefully, and think--really think--about what I'm saying. Please.
You believe you are in front of a primitive computer, reading text on its screen. You believe you are safe at home or at work, and likely in good health. You believe the year is 2011 AD.
You are wrong about all of these things.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but better me than some faceless doctor: you are not in front of a computer; you are laid out on a hospital gurney. You are not in good health; you are in a memetic coma and near death. Everything you hear, everything you see, everything your senses tell you is part of a mental construct, a fantasy.
None of it is real.
You are hearing a voice now, the voice of reason. The voice of doubt. "Nonsense," it says. "This is ridiculous," it says. "There is no reason to disbelieve in what I smell, taste, touch."
Silence this voice. Reject it. It is not the voice of reason; it is not a part of you at all. It is the memetic programming.
I will start at the beginning. Read carefully, and try to understand, to open yourself to acceptance. Your name is John Samuels (our memetic specialist tells me it is possible you believe yourself a woman. Vagina envy, John?). You are thirty-two years old, five-foot eight inches tall; you've a slim build, tanned skin, the reddish brown hair of a Samuels. You were born the same year I was, fifteen years After Invasion. You are--were--an operative for the Resistance. Not one of the best, but good enough.
You must have been good enough, because you broke into Facility 57 and you found something. Something the Invaders wanted kept secret, something so hot it was trapped to five layers down with psych-bombs and the latest memetics.
We don't know what you found, but we know it was important. And we know you triggered one of their traps. Your mind has locked itself inside a fantasy world.
I can't tell you any more; the higher-ups are worried about what else the trap might have done to you. Now I can only plead: fight it.
John, do you remember? We used to run down the catwalks hand in hand, explore the caverns and hidey-holes, sit close and hold tight when the wind came up and the red sand swept through, scouring everything in its path.
(breathe in and out; clear your mind; expand)
John, do you remember? We used to sneak out after curfew, steal moments under the blood-red moon, trade kisses and sweet nothings beneath the twilight hum of distant Invader machinery.
(a blossom unfolding, a flower blooming, your mind opening to the truth)
John, I'm pregnant.
If you've made it this far, John, I'm sorry. The previous paragraph was the keystone, the pinnacle, the ingredient that should have jarred you out.
You can read it again, if you like. But the impact is gone.
It's a one-time thing.
This was our last resort, the final thing they'd let me try before they close the loop. I failed you, John. And you failed me--you didn't trust me enough to let go of the fantasy. I'm sorry. For you, for me, for the baby.
Remember us.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, May 30th, 2011

Author Comments

This story began as a simple experiment--what would a truly second-person story be like?--and grew to a logical conclusion. Don't worry: none of it is real. Is it?

- W. Sean Arthur
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