Practice Makes Perfect

Art by Benjamin Specklin.

They killed me hundreds of thousands of times. I bled my insides out. My brain decayed all sense out of the simulated world that was my only reality. I had bleeding flu, spontaneous paralytic muscular torsion, cholera pox, rooster fever. The epidemics came too fast for me to worry about names.

Art by Benjamin Specklin

I was the only one with any memory of my previous life, the only one with any idea how to curb the infection. I assumed I wasn’t an oversight, that they let me remember their plan, that they gave me roles of varying importance in their simulations so that I could fight their biological attacks more effectively. After a few thousand iterations, I was certain the people I used on my teams were subconsciously primed to act in my favor.

The disease vector and the delivery site changed, but the sickness was always hidden in meteor showers. Recovering the meteorites was priority number one when I had the hierarchical power to give priorities. My teams discovered viruses, retroviruses, proto-viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions and parasites. The worst we couldn’t name, but all of them changed during and between iterations until total infection was achieved in under thirty hours. Survival lasted longest under quarantined HAZMAT totalitarianism, plastic suits plodding between bubbled safe zones. We never lasted more than two months.

Each time I died, I reappeared as a ghost, an invisible avatar displaced around the world to witness scenes of strength and madness. They wanted me to learn how to survive better, or so I thought. I tried to save lives. I tried every time.

In the final iteration, they released them all, by all vectors. Humanity didn’t even last twelve hours. Now, I alone roam the simulation, the final human ghost. Until they decide to turn me off.

-Chris Airiau

Benjamin Specklin is a game artist & 2D art freelancer based in Strasbourg, France. You can find his work on Behance and Artstation.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published by ChrisAiriau

I'm a science and SF content creator, specializing in writing technical scientific concepts in clear and engaging language. Alongside many writing and editing side-projects, I taught English in French universities for eight years. At university, I worked mainly for engineering Master’s programs and science undergraduates – from economics to physics, biology to psychology. My goal is to tailor SF and science content to a diverse range of audiences, and my background provides all the necessary tools to succeed.

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