Drifting Away – One Infinite Loop Series, Part 3 by Seth Comire
I wake up to the feeling of nausea and have no idea where I am.
There’s a thumping noise and a gentle rocking feeling. It takes me a moment to realize my left knee is bouncing uncontrollably. I blink a few times. I can’t see a damn thing. It takes me a few minutes to realize it’s completely dark outside. Am I on a boat?
The gentle rocking reminds me to throw up, so I lean over and wretch over the side of the raft. Wait. A raft? I’m on a raft? Shit! How the hell did I get here?
The moon is a mere sliver and offers no light whatsoever. I fight my arms’ resistance from leaving their clutched positions against my chest and I start feeling around, looking for something to eat or drink. Anything. There’s nothing here. Not even a sail, oar, or driftwood.
My lips feel bone-dry like someone poured cement on them. I look at my hands, and I don’t recognize them. They look like my grandmother’s hands before she passed away. I see the bones more than anything. How long have I been asea?
My glance goes from my hands to my forearms and I notice disgusting patches of sunburned flesh. It makes me thirstier. I shiver as I clasp my hands around my knees. What happened to me? How did I end up here?
I have no idea how far out from shore I am, but it’s not like I see land anywhere around me.
I see something, but I can’t make out what it is. Is that a light? Oh, thank goodness, I’m saved! I start wailing my arms and hands around, trying to get the attention of the barge making its way towards me. A spotlight finds me as I stumble backward and fall on my ass, landing hard.
It’s not slowing down. Why aren’t they slowing down? I’m yelling out to them, begging them to save me. But…holy shit, it’s going to ram into me! I can’t move my raft out of the way! My raft explodes apart on impact and sends me flying into the air. I land near the aft, and I see the propellers churning the water like a blender mixing a margarita.
I’m trying to swim away, but my arms and legs won’t move. So finally, I swallow a mouthful of water and start choking…huh? Did that barge just pixelate?
I love the ocean. Growing up in Rhode Island – the Ocean State –
“Vastiva! Prisoner 452346 is glitching. Fix it before he realizes he’s in a simulation. You know what happens if he becomes aware, don’t you?” barks the Cryo-Warden.
“Y-yes, sir!” responds Vastiva.
“How the hell am I gonna fix this?” he ponders.
He started work at One Infinite Loop a few weeks ago. Vastiva thought himself clever when lying his way through the interview process. He didn’t know a damn thing about computers, let alone anything as complex as The Big Pen.
Rather than chancing to end his contract early by asking for help and exposing his sham, Vastiva starts clicking his way through the menu on Big Pen. Finally, he sees an option called “RELEASE” and assumes it will release prisoner 452346 from the glitch loop, so he clicks the release button.
He waits a few seconds and doesn’t see anything happen.
If he had been listening closely, he’d have heard dozens of blue sarcophagi hissing open in Hellblock D.