Now would be a good time to repost a standard disclaimer: These stories are entirely fictional and any resemblance to any people or events is accidental. Also this story is rated R for lots of swears and weird blood rituals.
I could write it like a horror story, the way the world ends, or I could write it like a beautiful dream. You could describe the awful shock of suddenly waking up to a world colored in radioactive glowing pinks and purples, sitting up to exclaim some profanity, and instead vomiting tiny colorful candies all over the bed. Or you could tell the truth about the end of the world, because I have to be honest here. It feels amazing when the candy pours out of my mouth unbidden. Even that first time, when my shock and horror gave way to supreme bliss, I knew that this was what my life was leading up to.
I know that sounds stupid when I write it down, like that. But it brings me great joy. It is a pleasure greater than orgasm, a wholesome gift of giving. It is what I am meant to do.
Annnnd welcome back, folks, to ESPN3 for this years final event of the GHL. I’m Steve Inlezzen. With me is Bob McHestle. We’re happy to bring you the exciting action of this years playoff event. These competitors have clinched their path to these championships, and, well now, Bob… it’s time to see if they have what it takes.
That’s right, Steve. It’s finally time. The stage has been set. Let’s introduce our competitorrrrrs, in the… World Grudge Holding Championships!
Two giant CGI robots grimace at each other with glowing red laser eyes while bombastic theme music plays, and then they stand back to back with their arms crossed as the camera flies between their stoic spines towards a branching graphic.
You’re in the kitchen making dinner, listening to one of your favorite albums in your headphones because the neighbor is out mowing the lawn yet again. Chopping up the potatoes, singing along because the house is empty, still, and then the music stops.
You frown, wipe your hands off quickly, and pull your phone out of your pocket. Oh, it’s a call. Your area code, but unknown number. You shrug and pick up. “Hello?”
A woman’s voice you don’t recognize says, “Is Sandy there?”
“No, sorry, you must have the wrong number.” For some reason you’ve been getting a lot of these lately. You rattle off your number.
“Oh, shoot, you’re right. I should have known! You don’t sound like a Sandy,” she says.
“Yup, have a nice day…” And you’re about to hang up when a moment of deja vu makes you stop and wait. Didn’t this exact conversation just happen recently? You could swear that ‘You don’t sound like a Sandy’ line is just too familiar. Where did you hear that?
Then her voice breaks your reverie. “Umm, sorry. You still there?” She says ‘still’ with a slight drawl, but you can’t place the accent.
“Yeah, uhh.” You blink. “You want something?”
“What… what’s the date? I mean I know this sounds like a prank call…” But it doesn’t. She sounds earnest, and a bit stressed out.
“Uhh, I’m not sure. It’s Sunday. Like the twentieth or something, maybe?”
“But it’s… it’s 2017 where you are, yeah?”
“Look lady–” And just as you’re about to yell at her for messing with you, a strange echoing series of clicks interrupt you, rhythmic and almost musical, but loud and getting louder. They get so loud that she’s saying something you can’t hear at all beneath the noise.
“Gah!” you yell, as you rip the earbuds from your ears. Your phone shouldn’t be even able to get that loud. You stand there, weirdly embarrassed, staring at the wires as they sit placidly on the waiting pile of chopped potatoes.
The mower next door buzzes. You can hear something coming out of the headphones. Oh, right… it’s the album you were listening to before. You pop the earbuds back in, pick up the knife, and slice the onion down the center.
And then the music stops again. Another call. Same number. You have to confess to yourself that you’re kind of curious. Even if it’s a prank, she’s at least entertaining.
So you answer it. “Hello?”
“Is Sandy there?” It’s the same woman.
“No, you still have the wrong number.”
“And you still don’t sound like a Sandy,” she says.
“Well, it’s 2017 still, if that’s what you’re after.”
“Who’s president? Trump, right?” Her voice sounds like she’s almost too nervous to ask it.
You sigh. “Yeah, sad as that is, right?” Your reply comes out of your mouth before you realize how strange her question is. Then a strange whooshing noise comes across the line, and you hear what sounds like an argument in the background.
“Listen, Frank,” a man’s voice says loudly. “It’s too late, the branch has grown too long after we cut the root.”
“No, I’m telling you, we can take this upstairs.” A different male voice.
“Forget upstairs. We’re talking about fundamental laws,” says Not-Frank.
A tiny click and then you hear the woman sigh. “I’m really sorry I involved you in this.” Then she breathes your name like she knows you. “I’m sorry.” In that moment, you could swear she’s a relative. Or an old friend. But you just can’t place her.
The clicks start overriding her just as she starts to say something else, and you yell “Bye!” as you rip the headphones out.
Standing there, staring at the cutting board still, you shake your head. Then you pull up your call log and call back.
A man with gravel in his voice answers. “Hello, this is Sandy.”
“Oh, uhh, sorry. Wrong number,” you find yourself saying, feeling slightly dizzy.
“Look, we’ll try to purge and reincorporate the branch you’re on, but it probably won’t work. Things have gotten too strange. We just clipped a root of Trump branches, but we must have missed one.”
“Branches? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Now your time is isolated. You have our apologies, but there’s nothing else we can do…” He trails off, like he’s waiting for you to say something.
“Okay. This is officially the weirdest prank I’ve ever been subjected to,” you say.
“Yes,” he says. “It sure is. A prank.” He doesn’t sound real sure of himself. It’s a pretty convincing act, you think. “Again, sorry. Goodbye,” he says.
The phone clicks, and your music starts back up. You poke at your phone to go save the number, but there’s nothing in your call log. No outgoing, no incoming. None from today, none at all. Just blank. That’s weird.
Oh well. You pick up the onion again and start mincing it. When the next song kicks in, you start to forget all about the calls. You love this song, so you start singing along.
Greg yawned as he leaned into the butterfly stretch, feeling the knots in his lower back whine, squinting in the morning sunlight with the stale taste of sleep lingering on his teeth. Everything was just a normal, annoying Monday. Then he saw something black slithering up his inner thigh.
“Oh, fuck!” he yelled, his brain interpreting it as a giant centipede. And then the perception shifted and he laughed at himself. It was just a bruise.
Wait. No. It was a dark bruise a second ago, but now it looked an awful lot like text. He blinked, and tried to stretch closer, feeling his hips start to whine. Definitely text, but… can’t… quite read it.
Greg scrambled to his feet, knocking over an empty water glass as he rummaged for his glasses. “Mrph glumph,” went his mouth involuntarily.
Then he saw it. HELLO DONT FREAK OUT GREG, it said, in tiny little block letters. Is it a tattoo, or sharpie? Friend playing a really out-there prank?
Poking at it with a finger, bent over, staring at a part of his thigh that he never looks at, Greg started giggling. “Gotta be sharpie.”
He licked a thumb, and rubbed it on the inside of his thigh, willing the black to blur. “Nope.” Greg stared at his thumb, clean. Then back at his leg. The text didn’t dull or move at all. It’s really on there. “What in the hell…”
He picked up his phone and took a picture, to solidify it somehow. A way to try to prove it wasn’t just his eyes wigging out.
All day at work, Greg wondered about it. It sat there, invisible. He couldn’t feel it, but it was a strange kind of mental itch.
When he sat on the toilet, he had to stretch down to read it, suddenly embarrassed all over again, even though he was alone in his kingdom of the echoing stall.
HELLO DONT FREAK OUT GREG, his leg said.
Mom gave me this weird paper diary 4 new year.
and showed how 2 like write in it. So weird!!!
can doodle too, like a tablet.
But old style! No auto correcting.
<picture of a unicorn>
In just 1 year, ill b able 2 pick a morph.
What will I turn in 2?
I’ll b lettin u no, diary!
What even am I?
Although you may not remember agreeing to be a part of The Human Experience™, don’t worry. This is completely normal, part of our “secret sauce” that increases verisimilitude during your time spent as a client in the human state.
I seem to have little to no control over myself. Why?
Yes, this is normal, especially as a developing human. Feelings or emotions can override your experience throughout the client lifecycle. This is by design.
Humans have a multi-modal state of consciousness, where much of the processing happens without their awareness. This functionality is also by design, so don’t worry too much when you don’t understand your own mind! This partially hidden, not-fully-explicable processing is a key factor in our recipe that helps make The Human Experience™ so exciting for our clients.
Why is my body breaking down?
Part of the current iteration of The Human Experience™ includes realistic biological breakdown. The exciting part is, it can happen in so many fascinating ways! You’ll never guess how your human body will fail, and that’s part of why people choose The Human Experience™ time and time again.
Because of the way your consciousness arises from your body’s systems, you will find that your stay in The Human Experience™ is affected directly by changes in your body over time. Pretty neat!
Other humans keep messing with me in strange ways. What’s the deal?
Yes, other clients in The Human Experience™ are just like you. Set in a world of limited resources, with limited understanding of your selves, you are all engaged in a real-time struggle for resources and information! Will you cooperate? Will you war against each other? Only time will tell! Each iteration of The Human Experience™ allows for the full spectrum of interactions.
Why can’t I remember things?
Imperfect memory is a planned feature of The Human Experience™ as well, so don’t worry if you seem unable to remember simple things, even for short periods of time.
Most people choosing the The Human Experience™ enter it at a time partially along the Information Gap, so we recommend using whatever technology is currently available for memory augmentation. These options include writing, computerized search and retrieval, and telepathic off-site storage where available.
Why can’t I forget things I want to forget?
Unfortunately, sometimes the human mind’s subconscious processing will focus on things that you seem to have no control over. In this state, you may be stuck in a loop of sorts, iterating over the same painful memories or the same anxiety-inducing projections.
We recommend using various psychological techniques supported in your timescale of The Human Experience™, such as mindfulness meditation, discussing the issue with other clients of The Human Experience™, or attempting to avoid the loop by focusing your mind elsewhere.
As you have found, it’s not exactly easy to steer the mind you are provided in The Human Experience™. This is an intentional feature to keep things exciting and fresh, but we understand that it causes quite a lot of confusion to the clients. Good luck!
Why do I suffer?
All suffering is relative; you can easily compare your current level of suffering in The Human Experience™ with others in your timescape to see where your level of suffering lies in relation to the average. Unfortunately, our lawyers have not allowed us to include the full meta-ethical reasoning behind why The Human Experience™ includes so much suffering in this FAQ. You will be able to discuss this in more detail after your time in The Human Experience™ is complete.
Okay, fine, but why is it that other humans cause so much suffering?
“Other humans”, referred to in this document as clients of The Human Experience™, are dealing with the same confusing multi-modal mental structure as you. We can agree to mark most inter-species struggles down to the bizarre outcomes of evolution, and most infra-species competition may also arise from evolutionary drives, but at the most abstract level you may find humans still cruel for no visible reason.
This emergent cruelty is part of the challenge you will find in The Human Experience™! The learning process of overcoming this is the core reason why The Human Experience™ is so compelling after all this time.
But we truly are sorry about all the suffering; see the above question for legal limitations of our FAQ.
Doesn’t this FAQ’s very existence threaten the verisimilitude of your client simulation, or whatever?
Not really! To use a human phrase, we have “plausible deniability” here at The Human Experience™ which allows us to hide in the shadows of existential doubt. It’s very easy for your mind to say, “This FAQ can’t possibly be hinting at a real thing! The universe we live in wasn’t planned! I’m not in a simulation!”
And so, The Human Experience™ is able to exist at the belief level of a conspiracy theory, un-provable and un-dis-provable. Have fun out there, humans!