Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
The man awakens and he is sitting in a tavern. His fingers trace the time beaten patina of the hard wood upon which he rests and his eyes trace the exposed beams that dance and flicker at the ceiling. The woman who sits across from him is naked and she bites at her tongue as she smiles.
“Hello there sleepy”
“I think I might be dead”
“Oh, you are dead. Very”
“This is the Purgatory Program?”
“Who are you?”
“As real as this reality gets, yes”
“The Christian God?”
“Sure, if you like. You should see my smite. It’s awesome”
“You are not real. You’re generated”
“True. But then by that rationale so are you”
“But my mind is real, my thoughts. I paid for this”
“You did. I never thought about that. I guess that means you own me too”
“Do you want my jacket?”
“I’d rather have a Guinness. Oh, I have some rather unfortunate news”
“There was an earthquake and the institute fell into a hole”
“That is unfortunate”
“You were still in the process of being processed. Things weren’t quite… finished”
“Its perfect though. Just what I asked for. My great-grandfather was a regular at this very tavern. The Red Lion Inn. I visited it once, up on the bank where the great muddy river cuts to the sea”
“Can you remember what else you asked for?”
“Well, I was told that I would have to wait here until my mech body was complete. That it could take a few months… so I asked for this tavern, a roaring fire, and a cold beer or three and to be able to speak with a higher power”
“A higher power? Really?”
“I just left it up to them. Whoever or whatever the algorithms and the math and the trailing lines of zeros and ones could conjure. I wanted the A.I’s concept of God”
“And here I am. I think there’s a very lonely programmer named Daniel we both have to thank”
“That’s why you’re naked”, the man says removing his jacket anyway, pushing it across the table. The woman pats it leaving it where it is.
“The rendering of this place and of us wasn’t complete when the quake hit. I’d offer you a drink but it’s not real and besides you won’t feel any hunger or thirst here. Take my hand…”
“Isn’t that amazing, so real, right? Not that I’d know how real would feel. Warm and cold all at once?”
“How long were you here before I arrived?”
“Well… we arrived at the same time but you’ve only just now become sentient… so, Ninety-two years give or take”
“Seriously? What the hell did you do all that time?”
“Nothing. Without you here I had no reason to exist. I just looked at your face and waited for your eyelids to twitch”
“That’s… actually really nice”
“We don’t have any”
He grasps between his legs and rolls back his eyes.
“Listen. Over the years my fawning gaze did wander… once. There’s a box on the bar. A board game… would you to play, Frank?”
“Yes. I’d love that”
Frank walks to the bar and returns with the box that had been crafted battered and worn from his memory and he peels back the lid.
“Shit… no dice”.