Author: Hillary Lyon

“So, ponder this,” Drew began, “Thomas Jefferson was a Deist—he subscribed to the idea of the Clock-Maker. Remember?”

“Yes,” Brady nodded. “I recall.” He loved thought experiments. “The belief was, a cosmic clock-maker—God—created this perfect, intricate time-piece, and after approving of his work, placed it on a shelf, then went on to build another clock. A rather steam-punk theology, and—”

“And one of those clocks is our world,” Drew finished. “Anyway, that corresponds with this notion that our reality is a simulation. Does it not?” Drew walked over to the vertical fish tank in the corner of his home office. Neon red and blue striped fish darted about, a tiny snail slowly slid along one glass panel. “But rather than Clock-Maker, we suspect a Master Programmer is behind all of this.” He tapped the glass, causing the small school of fish to scatter in panic.

“Right,” Brady agreed.

“Well,” Drew turned to Brady. “If there’s Programmer, then our reality is code-based.” He waited for Brady to nod in agreement. “So if it’s code, what does that mean?”

“Uh, since code’s a string of numbers and letters and symbols,” Brady shrugged, “then, it’s, ah, mathematical?”

“This means, as with all code,” Drew leaned in close to Brady and whispered, “it can be tweaked.”

“To what end?” Brady asked incredulously. “And how?”

“As to what end, why Drew, my old friend—it means we can make the world into anything we want!” Drew raised his arms like a score keeper calling a goal. “And as for how—I truly believe I’ve already figured that out.”

* * *

Brady stood before the floor-to-ceiling window. “It’s all so beautiful—so perfect.” He watched aerodynamic vehicles glide in organized lines crisscrossing the air-space of the city. Lights twinkled like fireflies in the towering forest of buildings before them.

“It is, isn’t it,” Drew yawned.

“Clean air, pure water, a balanced population—an equal number of births and deaths.” Brady happily bounced on his toes.

“Yes, ‘tis all very Goldilocks, I suppose.” Drew examined the rings glittering on his fingers.

Brady spun away from the window. “It’s a wonderful world! No war, no disease, no hunger—” He walked over to Drew, who was slouched down in his over-stuffed chair. Why was he not thrilled with his handiwork? Brady wondered. “Drew, old pal, it’s all so—”

“Excruciatingly boring,” Drew murmured.

“Come on, Drew,” Brady encouraged, “let’s explore this world; take time to—”

“You mention time,” Drew said, his mood brightening. “Truly, it’s well past time—” Brady’s smile began to fade.

Reinvigorated, Drew rose from his chair like Zeus rising from his throne. “To tweak the code.”

* * *

“Back where we started, eh?” Brady muttered, looking around Drew’s home office.

“You don’t sound happy.” Drew sauntered over to the vertical tank in the corner. “What did you expect?”

“As you appeared bored,” Brady scoffed, “I thought you’d create someplace dangerously exciting—like a primordial swamp overrun with dinosaurs—or a magical forest populated with inscrutable wizards and menacing trolls—or a united world at war with invading space aliens—”

“You’ve seen too many blockbuster movies,” Drew said as he watched the neon red and blue striped jellyfish floating through the toxic ether of the tank’s atmosphere.

“I suppose,” Brady sighed, “there’s no place like home.”

Drew tapped the glass. As one, the jellyfish swarmed the glass in an attempt to attack the tip of Drew’s bejeweled finger. Tiny lightening bolts discharged from their effort, electrocuting the snail creeping along the glass, too slow to flee their territory.

“Who said anything about being ‘home’?”