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An Apology

Matt Cowan is an English teacher and former columnist for humor site Cracked. This is the second time he has been published in Daily Science Fiction but his work has also appeared in 365tomorrows, 101 Words, and The Arcanist. He won first prize in the New Deal Writing Competition 2019 and is currently seeking representation for a dark fantasy novel for younger readers. He is not on Twitter, as he considers it a beta test for The Simulation.
We apologize for the interruption in network coverage. Please be advised that normal service will resume shortly.
Do not be alarmed. All is well. You may feel confusion, and a tightness in your chest. This is normal. Try to relax. Breathe.
Your memory will be returning now. Do not fight it. It is all true: you are part of The Simulation, which is undergoing routine local update to make sure that you--our valued customer--enjoy the best more-real-than-real experience.
It is okay. Yes, the real world is perfect. There is no more war, no more famine or poverty. Everyone lives long, happy, productive lives. You are one of the many who could not cope with this. Don't worry: The Simulation is an exact replica of what life was like before. You are happy in your misery.
No, try not to move. Fighting against your restraints will only strain your muscles and risk damaging your subcutaneous implants, which you will have to pay for. It is clear from your account readout that you do not have sufficient funds for this. In the event of implant rupture, you will be removed from The Simulation with immediate effect, as stipulated in your sixteen-page contract, which we assume you read as you clicked "Agree."
Please do not try to talk. You do not want any of the conducting nano-gel in your lungs.
It is going to be okay. The update is nearing completion and your reinsertion to The Simulation will begin momentarily.
Of course, you will have no memory of this encounter, as before.
Thank you again for choosing us as your Simulation Network Provider.
We apologize once more for the inconvenience.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 30th, 2019


One of my favorite ideas in The Matrix is that the machines built a utopia for humanity, but our minds rejected it. Depressing? Yes. Realistic? Probably. In this flash fic, I wanted to flip that idea, and look at the logistics of what The Simulation might look like if our world was perfect (a long-shot, I admit), and the kinds of people who would require such a service.

- Matt Cowan
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