Daytime, must be. Birds singing outside. Too warm here, under the covers in my clothes and shoes. All the air’s gone but I won’t move because my Mum and Dad are watching from the ceiling. Floating there, blubbing. Picture perfect they are too, younger than me. Eyes wide and wet as babes’. I can’t bear to look. Still hear them though.
Dad says, “So, last one. He’s what, Fifty-five now, yes?”
“But,” Mum says, “Did he just… see us?”
“LALALALA-” I say.
Dad shouts, “Can someone come and stop this?”
No birdsong, sirens. Night-time. I take a peek. Only streetlights on the ceiling, now. Spark up a cigarette and wonder why Mum and Dad have come back. After all this time. I was doing so well. Why am I seeing them again?
Then there they are. Blurry at the edges, torn out of some other background. It’s not heaven behind them, a doctor’s surgery or some such. And bloody glowing. Oh God. But they’re dead and I don’t believe in ghosts.
“Bugger off!” I growl and look them in the eye. Mum puts both hands to her mouth.
“It’s not possible,” Dad says.
“There’s something wrong?” Mum shouts, “Can we get some help in here? He’s not right.”
A big voice says, DIAGNOSTICS REPORT THAT ALL IS WELL.
No it isn’t.
“No it isn’t,” Dad says.
I slap my head. I’ve got to pull myself together. I make a call. Sis.
“Sis, they’re back, you got to help me.”
“Stay put, Richard. I’ll be right over.”
Mum and Dad are whispering.
“Hurry Sis, before they-”
Cold water. Daylight. I’m in the shower, man that feels good. Cigarette in pieces. Clothes all wet. Beard too. Sis is frowning, arms crossed and all.
“Richard, where are your meds?”
In the bog. No difference. Not mad.
“Shit!” That’s me. Mum and Dad, massive, looking in the bloody window. Blocking out the sun. Sis can’t see that?
“We might have twins?” Mum says.
“That’s what they reckon,” Dad says. “Eighty-percent chance. She’s fine, though.”
“LALALALALALA-” I say
Sis says, “Tell me where the emergency Haldol is, or I’m calling an ambulance.”
Back on the bed in the dark and I can’t move. Haldol ragdoll. Sis on the chair beside me, face lit up by her phone. Mum and Dad hover at the end of the bed with some Doctor Suit, glowing and all.
“We are telling you–” Dad’s finger is a weapon– “he sees us.”
“Sir, he cannot. Let me demonstrate.” Doctor Suit waves at me. I gawp. Mum cries.
Dad’s got his face on. “So you mean to say, every simulation, every one of them, our son turns out…”
Doctor Suit nods like a priest. “Schizophrenic. I am afraid that is the unfortunate truth, sir. Yes.”
Dad smiles. Not happy though. “You’re faking the simulation. Pushing your fancy gene-tweaks,” he says.
Doctor Suit frowns. Mum shuts Dad up. They stare at me. Soft faces on them. Like when I was sick, and when I was chucked out of school. Like when I got dumped. Picked up off the street. When I jumped, unzipped my wrists, took the pills. Soft faces. Like the folk at their funerals.
“What can we do,” Mum says. Not a question.
Doctor Suit bites a smile. “I can show you the options, madam. Your potential child need not be defective. If you would come this way, please. Sir?” Dad’s not budging.
“Don’t believe in gene tweaking,” He says, and he’s right. He didn’t. Heart defect on the bugger. He nods at me. “Who’s to say your system isn’t predicting some new ability. To see what others can’t or something?”
Doctor Suit thinks this is funny. I can see that.
“That is a possibility, Sir, yes. But what is more likely? That the simulator is predicting a grand new human super-sense, or that it is struggling with a representation of psychosis. Creating your son’s visions out of what data it has. The imagery from cameras in this room, perhaps?”
Dad’s mouth flat-lines. Mum puts an arm round him. They turn their backs to me and shrink, walking on the spot. I’m spilling tears. Losing Mum and Dad, all over again.
“What would you like us to do with the simulation?” Dr Suit says, “We can archive it, for a small storage fee. People often find it hard to-”
“Kill it,” Mum says, but quiet like. So Dad can’t hear. Then they’re bright dots on my carpet. Then they’re gone.
And I’ve got no breath. The world’s going tiny and all. And I’m in my Sister’s arms. She says my name. She’s warm.
RM Graves is an illustrator and fiction writer. His book of “Postcards from the Future” is available on Amazon and his stories appear in Every Day Fiction and, soon, Stupefying Stories. He sincerely believes he lives in London with his wife and two children. You can find him at RMGraves.com.
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