Guardians (Simulations, Chapter 8)
Raindrops, running over his face, into his eyes and then out again like tears. The world caught in the noise of water rushing down from the skies.
The simulated skies. Simulated water out of simulated skies. And for what purpose?
When he had first discovered that the universe was a simulation, Finn had been excited and full of childlike wonder. The knowledge that there was a higher being that had created everything had been followed by the logical conclusion that there had to be a purpose to life, why else would someone create such a sophisticated simulation?@suesa
The existence of Sophie, a security protocol disguised as a human girl, confirmed that there was a purpose. But that confirmation came with its own problems. Could there be something like a free will, if everything was tied to pieces of code? And if yes, were his decisions more than a glitch in the code? If no, why was he even doing this?
Both options made his stomach twist, and Finn felt like he needed to throw up.
“Why are we standing here?” Sophie asked. She had followed him outside after he had taken the bracelet from her and left the building. Where before there had been confidence and fearlessness in her expressions, there was now only confusion and insecurity.
He had taken her purpose from her, and now Sophie was trying to find out what she was expected to do.
Were the things he said to Sophie in the apartment true? Was there a possibility that he had been supposed to figure out how to manipulate the universe’s code? Or was she right, and he was just a bug that required fixing? If the second was true, he had now turned her into a bug too.
“Finn?” Sophie tried to attract his attention again. “I don’t think we should stay here.”
“Why, are your parents coming home?”
“I don’t have parents. This apartment building was generated purely as a cover to protect me.”
“Of course it was”, Finn mumbled. The building had been there since he had moved to the city, he was sure of it. But how much could he trust his memories? The uneasy feeling in his stomach grew. Long, deep breaths. Fight the nausea.
Sophie tugged on his sleeve.
“Please, let’s leave.”
“I can feel them coming.”
“The other guardians. They detected that I didn’t get rid of you, and now they’re coming for both of us. Do you think they’re acting against the system’s orders too? Maybe I should have gotten rid of you after all …”
“Guardians?” Finn hoped the interruption would suffice to keep her from thinking further about the possibility of killing him after all. “What are guardians?”
“I’m a guardian. I told you, ‘security protocol’ isn’t entirely correct. The correct term is ‘guardian’.”
“Whatever. You said the others are coming? How many are there?”
“Overall? Millions. On their way to us? A few hundred, those that live in this city. We’re not yet a big enough threat to justify more guardians leaving their posts.”
Sophie looked him straight in the eyes, her stare seemed to reach into depths of his mind, which he tried to keep secret from the world.
“I doubt you intend to surrender now, do you? I mean, it’s too late for me, I will probably be eliminated either way. You still have a way out by agreeing to have your memories reprogrammed. I think. Maybe. If they’re having a good day.”
“Do you think they’re having a good day?” Finn asked. His heart was beating so hard that he expected it to explode in his chest any moment. Sophie laughed dryly.
“I haven’t met a guardian who had a good day even once. We’re not designed to have good days. We’re not written for mercy. We’re supposed to follow our code to the letter …”
“How was I able to convince you to spare me then?”
“I don’t know! I wish I did because then I could understand the situation we’re in now. I’d understand why I will cease to exist, once the other guardians catch up to us.”
“We can run, you know.”
“Where? Where do you want to run? They can sense you everywhere. We’re both parts of the simulation, and so are they.”
“I still have this”, Finn said, holding up the bracelet. “We can hide in plain sight if we get the code right.” Sophie furrowed her brow.
“A cloaking code. That might just work … do you have one on the bracelet?”
“No, we’d need to go back to my apartment first and …”
“We’re doomed”, Sophie howled and let herself fall to her knees, splashing directly into a puddle.
“Would you let me finish? We’d need to go back to my apartment first and enter the formula into my machine. Luckily, I integrated a teleportation formula in the last update. I haven’t tested it yet, so there is a possibility of it going wrong, but in theory, it should work.”
“In theory? That doesn’t sound very safe.”
“Such is science. Full of adventure.” The attempted grin on his face felt more like a grimace. He was a mathematician, for God’s sake, not a zoologist. Adventure had not been in the job description even once. But he wanted to make Sophie feel safe to avoid getting killed by her after all.
The rain kept drumming on the ground, while Sophie seemed to think.
“Okay”, she finally said. “Let’s try your suggestion. It can’t be worse than being eliminated by the guardians, and at least we would have tried something.”
Relieved, Finn grabbed her hand.
“Teleport home”, he said, reality around them appeared to flicker and they were standing in his dark, empty room.
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