Author : David C. Nutt

The notice hit Carlton just as he was about to base-jump off el Capitan. He tried to ignore it, but each time the simulation got to the jump point it wouldn’t let him go any farther. Carlton sighed, “Fine.” He took himself out of the jump line and sat on the pleasantly warm rock of el Capitan, closed his eyes and opened his message.

Dear User 10935783906;
An audit of your account has shown you have exceeded the maximum number of self simulations and branch VR simulations. You are currently 7.4 x 3³ decision gates passed the acceptable limit. Further audit indicates you have tampered with the safety setting on your VR unit and have exceeded the number of VR generated simulated personalities of yourself. Legal action will be taken. Disengage immediately as you currently run the risk of catastrophic implant failure and severe brain damage.
VRLifeCo., account security division

Crap. Caught. Carlton pulled up his logic tree and saw all the different lifetimes and decisions he engaged in the VR world, some still running sims of himself, all the experiences being dumped into his core personality. Carlton couldn’t wait to integrate all this into his real world memory. The integration was a rush beyond any senses he had. Just 5.3 x 3² alternative simulations of himself integrated into his core personality increased his intelligence and world experience far beyond what he could imagine. The integration of all this would be ecstasy beyond ecstasy. He watched with fascination as at each decision point a new branch blossomed and spread out with all the possibilities. Some terminated abruptly, others just kept going. Carlton had his implants give him the 360 degree view. In 2D it looked like a growing tree- in 3D it looked like a tumble weed in a transparent globe with fireworks going off inside it, spreading out in all directions. Carlton noticed that there was now an outer barrier. It was as if the “Firework tumble weed” was now encased in a globe. Soon, nodes on branches within the confined space started looking like black clumps. Carlton didn’t like the color scheme so he changed the clump color to sky blue. Now, what used to be black clumps were a pleasant blue. A ragged band of that blue was forming at the equator and it encircled the “firework tumble weed.” Next, the poles turned blue. With increasing speed, the globe began to fill up with pleasant blue coloration. “I wonder,” thought Carlton, “what is going to happen when it’s all filled up.” Carlton didn’t have long to wait. As the globe filled up the El Capitan simulation started to collapse accompanied by a high pitched screech. Carlton couldn’t disengage. The screech was followed by excruciating pain and blackness.
Carlton sat bolt upright and tore off the headset. The sales person nodded grimly. “As you can see Sir, the dangers of generating too many simulations of yourself, engaging in too many alternative, simultaneous occurring decision points can lead to total implant failure and brain damage. A single human being cannot enfold all those different self experiences into one personality. That’s why before you upgrade federal law requires us to run this simulation and why you need extra emergency ROM in the cloud.”
Carlton nodded, and signed the federal alternative lives simulation limitation agreement. The memory of the lingering pain was enough to keep him true to his word.