I walked down the corridor. I couldn’t see in front of me at all, but the door I’m walking towards is burned into my mind. I don’t have to know how many steps it takes to get there. My body knows already.
I turn left and open the door. The room is dark, like it always is. I close the door behind me, knowing if someone heard me or saw me, I’d be taken away and humiliated in front of thousands of people. I press a syringe into my neck and drop it. A few moments pass and the ground shifts beneath me and turns into soft earth, tall yellow grass brushing my elbows. It blows gently in the warm breeze.
The warm gaze of the sun fixes itself on my back and warms my neck. The afternoon sky is rose pink with beautiful clouds flying gently across the sky. I can already see the moon. I take in the scenery before I have to turn around and face my greatest fear. A few moments pass and I finally give into it, my chest aching a little.
There, standing to my right with a blank expression, was a girl around my age. Her familiar face drove my heart into my stomach. I got the same sinking feeling in my stomach that I do when I haven’t seen someone I love in so long. Then the cold barrel of a pistol appears in my clenched fist. My trigger finger traces the gun. There’s already a clip in it.
I’m still staring at her green eyes when she whispers something.
I look back down at the gun that has warmed under my grip. I look up and see tears falling down her face. Her eyes are no longer blank but sad, as if I had done something to her that will never be forgiven. I shake my head and hold the pistol up. She is only a few feet away. The face of the gun touches her forehead. She doesn’t move. She just stands there, as if she has nothing left to fight for.
I struggle to see through the tears that have now clouded my eyes. My hands shake as she whispers again. Her voice stays in my head and I thought of all of the times she’s done something for me, all the things I trusted her with, and I begin to cry a little harder.
I can’t do this to her after all she’s done. I can’t.
But I lightly press my finger over the trigger. And drop my arm. She pleads with her eyes, begging me to get it over with. I shake my head again. She picks up my arm from my side and points the gun back at her forehead. She closes her eyes, drops her hand from mine, and leans into the barrel.
I hesitate to pull the trigger, my heart pounding against my chest as I watch the smoke rise from the gun and see her crumble to my feet, blood pouring out of her forehead. It stains the grass with a dark red.
I throw the pistol and fall besides her. She is motionless and cold. I run my finger and trace the blood that is running down the side of her face like a tear. Then she fades away and the grass disappears. I am on my knees in the simulation room. My tears are still there and I still feel the gun in my hand, my body shaking with guilt.
It is my one fear. Being responsible for the death of someone I love.
I cannot control my body anymore; and then I wonder if this is really part of the fear simulation. My head starts to hurt with such a pain that I fall to my stomach. I feel a watery feeling in my right ear and touch my hand to it. It comes away with blood. Spasms start to shake my body and then I am throwing myself against the concrete. I cannot control a single thing like in the simulations. I am thrown to my side and I feel the blood rush down my face from my ear. Then my head hits the floor and everything fades away.
I am reminded of a distant memory, one I have not thought about in a long time. It is my father. He is wearing his lab coat and his stethoscope hangs around his neck. A man walks into the memory, a man I haven’t seen before.
“She’s gonna die, Phil.” the strange man says. He runs his hand through his thin black hair and sighs. “Two hours left on her time. I think it’s time you say goodbye now.”
My father does not answer for a long while. He stares at the ground, unmoving, thinking.
“My daughter will not be another victim to that neurologic disorder!” he suddenly yells. He walks out of the room and I hear his clipboard hit the wall and fall to the floor. “Mr. Williams, please. Your daughter can hear you. Is this the memory you want her to think of when she dies?” a female voice says. My father does not answer. I hear his footsteps echo down the hall angrily. The memory fades away slowly, but I keep the image of my father burning in my mind as long as I can.
I wake up on the floor of the simulation room again. My body aches and dried blood is flaking across my face. My forehead is tender and when I bring my fingers to it, it burns like fire. My face is sticky with drying tears. I stare up at the ceiling. A crazy smile crosses my face. A hysterical laugh breaks from my mouth.
I get up and walk out of the simulation room. My head spins a little, but I hardly notice. I am too excited about this new fear than to notice much. This is the first fear that has forced itself into the simulation without being programmed in. I turn left through the silent, dark hallway. I don't bump into anyone on my way to the roof, which is strange, considering this building is crawling with people all the time.
As I reach the roof, a cold blast of air hits my face. It flakes some of the dried blood away. I look up at the dim stars and smile.
A new fear.