Author : Michael F. da Silva

Being dead, I wasn’t expecting much conversation at the café.

I had loaded the environment as soon as I was uploaded. The red carpet and round lamp-lighted tables stretched out to infinity in all directions. The Viennese coffee that had melted into being tasted as real to my digitised thought patterns as anything I had had before my retirement.

So I was surprised when the legal avatar came down the carpet like a supermodel on the catwalk, successfully pulling off someone’s idea of legal chic.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Vieira. I trust you’ve enjoyed your stay?”

Afternoon was a relative term in Lalaland. It was whatever time of day I wanted it to be.

“So far.” I answered trying to keep annoyance out of my voice and admiring the curve of her hips. “It’s only been a few hours, you know.”

I tried to undress her with the avatar control suite, thinking she might be just some cover girl I had fantasized about when I was a teenager.

“I’m afraid I’m quite the real thing, Mr. Vieira. I’m here about your return to Reality.” She pronounced the word like it came with its own punctuation mark.

“There must be some mistake. I’ve only just uploaded. I signed up for the Bachelor Retirement Package. That’s fifty years simulated vacation. I just got here, like I said.”

“Mr. Vieira.” My own name was starting to get on my nerves at this point. “There seems to have been a problem with your upload procedure. As you may recall, we perform a thorough analysis of each client’s neural pathways prior to digitalisation and upload to their vacation servers.”

“Yes.” I contributed, hoping against hope that this was going to lead to a champagne-drenched lap dance.

“What is left to the fine print, however, is that there is always the small chance of a mimetic neural virus being present in a client’s subconscious.”

I blinked incomprehension. Technical mumbo jumbo. Not my forte.

She plodded on, legally obliged to keep me in the loop. ”What that means, Mr. Vieira, is that you have had your fifty years simulated vacation. You just lose all memory of it after an interval of three hours and two minutes. I hope you understand.”

“Wait a minute. This has to be a mistake. I’ve only just arrived!”

“It’s not a mistake, Mr. Vieira.”

“Well, fix it then! Make me remember. I’ll be damned if I get packed back into a synthetic with no memories of my own vacation!”

“I’m afraid that can’t be helped, Mr. Vieira. A mimetic neural virus is intrinsic to a subject’s specific thought patterns. It can’t be removed without severely damaging the subject’s thought patterns at their core level. I would suggest you make good use of the next hour.”

And then she just walked away towards a crimson horizon leaving me with a panic-laced erection and not enough time to do anything with it. I considered running her down and bending her over a table for one last hurrah.

“That simply wouldn’t do, Mr. Vieira.” She said turning neatly on one foot. “There are security measures to prevent such things from happening in virtual environments. And you would still face legal action for making the attempt.”

“Well, what the hell am I supposed to do, you courtroom drama bitch?!”

She cocked her head to one side and narrowed icy blue eyes. “You still have both hands, don’t you?”

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