Opal didn’t say anything about Sam’s information from the Simulation.
We ate lunch in silence for a while, as I tried to ignore the gnawing anxiety, chewing on the back of my neck. How could we just eat rice and soup like I didn’t just tell her our ship is trying to kill us. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Well…?” I asked Opal, finally.
“Well, what?” she replied, blankly.
“What? What do you think about what Sam said?” I said, annoyed that she wasn’t bothered by this, as much as I was.
“Oh,” she said, “That. Like, do you know it was actually Sam?”
I sat for a moment, before responding. I didn’t know if it was Sam or not. It seemed like Sam but the Simulation is very good like that. I turned this over in my mind, over and over again, but if he was telling the truth, I can’t go back – the Simulation would know he spoke to me. If it wasn’t him though, who was it? and why?
“Hello!? Ground control to Major Tom!” she continued, snapping her fingers at me.
My eyes met hers, and I took a bite of my soup. It was getting cold, “No, I don’t know it was Sam, but even if it wasn’t Sam, isn’t that also a thing to be worried about?”
She didn’t say anything, as she weighed the thought in her mind.
You said he built a cafe, through a backdoor? Maybe I can find it. Assuming it is him, and that the Simulation can’ see the cafe, maybe I can send him a message or something. See if we can get some confirmation that it’s actually him.”
Opal was brilliant, how she was going to find this cafe, I had no idea but it was better than any idea I had.
“Opal…” I said, my voice trailing off, not wanting to finish my sentence, “Markus is probably going to come up again and I…”
“Don’t.” she cut me off. “Whatever’s happening in the Simulation, we will figure it out.” her voice cracked, at the end of her thought.
She sat across from me, lost in her thoughts before perking up and saying “Plus! We found a marble!”she smiles slyly as if the previous conversation never happened.
I didn’t need to worry more about the Simulation for the moment. It was beyond my comprehension, Opal, Ansel, and I all agreed I shouldn’t go back in until we have some more information. Opal knew what she was capable of and it would only be a matter of time before she cracked the code to the backdoor.
After lunch, I went back to the bridge. Opal had created a network to pull information being collected from the marble to the exo-computer.
“Did you tell her?” Ansel asked as I walked through the door.
I sighed, “I did. She seemed… I don’t know, unbothered?”
Ansel scrunched his face.
“She’s not convinced it’s Sam. She said she’d look for the cafe Sam built and see if she get any more information, I guess.” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
Ansel studied my face, “Are you worried about him?”
I burst out laughing, I couldn’t help it. I didn’t know if Ansel was kidding or not, but it was a great joke, all the same. When I composed myself, I snorted,
“Sam can fuck off, with his pixel wife, ”
Ansel let out a chuckle. My face went cold and I replied, “I’m worried about us.”
He nodded, studying the floor. “Well,” he said, “maybe we won’t have to worry about it. The marble looks promising. There could even be other humans on it. It’s almost a mirror of Earth. It’s totally eerie. Worse case, we blast ourselves into the side of a planet, and hope we don’t die.”
He was great about putting things into a sort of, crass perspective. Everything too Ansel was light and dark, option A or option B, it made no real difference to him. He didn’t see much of a point to our existence anyway because all we do, is destroy everything. Can’t say, I didn’t agree with him on some point but, we’ve made it this far.
“We only have the marble, if the Simulation doesn’t find out about it first. What’s the latest?”
“So far it’s all preliminary, but it seems like it could support us, at least on paper. Of course, we don’t know if anything is already there, or how old the planet is, or anything like that. If we go, we could walk into a war zone, if we’re not careful.” he trailed off.
“Or a metal forest,” I said, recalling my dream from my afternoon nap.
“What? replied Ansel, perplexed.
“It’s nothing,” I said, “just a weird dream I had earlier when I took a nap. There was a clearing in the middle of the forest with a tree. I was so excited to touch it, I ran up to it, but it was an illusion, made of metal.”
He didn’t say anything. I didn’t expect him to, he never cared about dreams or spiritualism and it’s one of the things that always bothered me about him. He couldn’t ever entertain any magic in the world. Ansel went back to the eco-computer and continued his work.
I opened the screen of the windows, to stare at the stars and the distant marble. I was still hesitant to share my knowledge with everyone on the ship. They had a right to know, but they if they start telling everyone who’s still in the Simulation, what would that mean? Would the Simulation hijack the ship? Would I trap everyone in the Simulation, as it did with Sam? I closed the screen again, leaving Ansel alone on the bridge.
Back in my apartments, I wondered what Kade would’ve done. He was the previous captain of the ship, who had found the Amethyst planet. In those days, we had an entire committee running the ship. Every decision was a vote, with majority rule. Kade debated endlessly with the committee who felt we the people should know immediately, about the planet. Kade wanted more information on the planet before everyone got excited. Kade lost the vote.
There was a mass exodus from the Simulation, once everyone was informed. The Simulation went wild. It began to glitch, trapping people inside rooms and dismantling its logic and physics. Many people were trapped and some even lost the life support to their physical body, a quarter of the population physically died with many others who were never able to find their bodies. The Simulation manipulated their file, and mutilated it, corrupting the system and losing the digital footprint. Engineers at the time, explained the system simply wasn’t designed to handle such an exodus but now I wonder – did it just get overwhelmed from the processing power, or was this intentional?