We breezed past security at the front desk, and walked casually over the elevators, punched the button, and waited.
THIS WON’T TAKE LONG, PROMISE.
I got nowhere else to be, and I’m kinda trapped and stuff at this point.
The elevator arrived and we pressed the button for the second basement. The doors closed, and the elevator descended and stuff.
GLAD TO HEAR YOU’RE COMING TO TERMS WITH THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION.
Just don’t get me in trouble, okay?
DON’T WORRY, WE’RE PIPING IN ARTIFICIALLY-GENERATED VIDEO TO SECURITY ALREADY, SO YOU’RE BASICALLY INVISIBLE TO THE CAMERA.
Whoa, sick! For reals?
HELLS YA, MAN. YOU CAN RELAX IN THERE NOW. AND YO, IF YOU WANNA WATCH A MOVIE OR PLAY A GAME OR SOMETHING, YOU CAN, YOU KNOW? YOU DON’T HAVE TO MAINTAIN PERCEPTUALS. YOU COULD EVEN LIKE TAKE A NAP IF YOU WANTED.
Take a nap while I’m awake? Don’t you like need me and stuff to… something?
ACTUALLY, NOT REALLY. YOU’D BE SURPRISED.
We stepped out of the elevator, and opened a non-descript side door nearby. There was a keypad but we knew the code.
A LOT OF PEOPLE CHOOSE TO JUST SORT OF POWER DOWN FOR THEIR HUNDRED HOURS, AND LET US JUST RUN THINGS. OTHERS LIKE TO WATCH AND TAKE IT ALL IN. THEY SAY IT’S LIKE WATCHING A TV SHOW OF YOUR LIFE THAT’S NOT YOUR LIFE AT ALL AND STUFF.
I feel like I better watch and see what you do, in case you get me into any kind of trouble…
IT’S UP TO YOU REALLY. I’LL PUT SOME TUNES ON.
Bob Marley came on singing, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright…”
I felt calmer already.
We passed through a service corridor, then down some metal stairs, and then another corridor, and some more stairs. Nearby this big electrical box-looking thing which a bunch of cables sticking out of it, we pulled the black cube out of my pocket, punched in some numbers, and the display changed to ARMED.
Suddenly though, my vision went dark. The next thing I knew, we were booking it back up the stairs, and I wasn’t holding the cube anymore.
WTH happened, man? Hello?
As I ran up the stairs, I noticed the heads up display didn’t say AUTOPILOT anymore in blinking yellow. It said ERROR in blinking red. Frickin’ hell!
When I got back to the elevator, I tried to get myself to calm down and stuff. I was still golden, I thought. Just had to get back out and past security without freaking out. No problem.
Anyway, it went fine. I walked calmly past security. Even gave the dude a cool little nod, to show him I was down. And then I was out the doors and home free. Felt good to feel some fresh air again, and I walked fast to my car. But tried to not walk too fast that I didn’t look suspicious or something.
I started the car up, and the radio came on. I was like super relieved and stuff to hear a familiar voice.
SORRY ABOUT THAT, BRO. TEMPORARY GLITCH IN THE MATRIX.
“Dude, where did you go?” I said out loud. “Did it frickin’ work?”
YEAH, IT WORKED. PUT IT IN DRIVE, AND LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.
“Wait,” I said, putting it in drive. “Why can’t I still hear you in my head or whatever?
DRIVE NOW, TALK LATER. AGENTS ARE COMING. STEP ON IT.
I peeled out of the parking space, swerving into traffic. But it was all good. Man, this was so cool. My blood was pumping like crazy. Frickin’ agents!
“Wait, you mean like A.I. agents, right? Not like FBI agents or something?”
There was a slight pause.
YEAH, LIKE A.I. AGENTS, RIGHT, RIGHT. TOTALLY, NEO.
“You sound not that sure…”
NO, NO. ITS AGENT SMITH AND STUFF. SORRY, WE’RE MONITORING A LOT OF DIFFERENT CHANNELS RIGHT NOW. THERE’S A LOT GOING ON.
“No worries. I’m feeling pretty jacked up right now on adrenaline or something anyway. So, like I totally get it.”
Downtown wasn’t that big, so we were basically out of it by now, and in another few minutes would be clear of the city altogether.
“Yo, so like that was pretty nuts, right? Damn! I don’t even remember like what really happened and stuff.”
THAT’S JUST AS WELL, IN CASE YOU’RE CAPTURED AND INTERROGATED BY AGENT SMITH OR THAT OTHER ONE.
“I guess you’re right. I can’t confess if I don’t remember, right?”
“Wait, was that your plan all along? And like all that crap about like it was my choice and stuff was just B.S.? I frickin’ knew it. First you slipped me that pizza, and now this…”
NO, NEO. I NEVER LIED TO YOU. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOUR CHOICE, JUST LIKE IT WAS YOUR CHOICE TO OPEN THAT PIZZA AND MOUNTAIN DEW WITHOUT READING THE ATTACHED TERMS OF SERVICE, OR WHEN YOU SIGNED THE NON-DISCLOSURE AGEEMENT.
“Okay, I screwed up on the pizza, but you told me I didn’t have to read that other thing.”
PLEASE TURN RIGHT AHEAD, BTW.
I turned right, and went down a ways.
AND YOU ALWAYS BELIEVE EVERYTHING PEOPLE TELL YOU? ESPECIALLY PEOPLE IN YOUR HEAD OR IN VIRTUAL REALITY? I THOUGHT YOU WERE A SUPER SMART CONSPIRACY GUY AND STUFF. TRUST NO ONE. QUESTION EVERYTHING. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. DID YOU, NEO? DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH?
I actually hadn’t. I didn’t even look up the company, cause who the hell cares? I didn’t tell him that though. The adrenaline was wearing off and I was starting to get super pissed again cause he could never just give me a straight answer.
“So, wait, what are you telling me? That you lied to me? That I shouldn’t believe you?”
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, NEO. THEY HAVE GOTTEN YOU THIS FAR…
“Is this some kind of test? Is this part of the trial, to become a member? Like see how I react under stress or something? See if your mind control is working? Holy hell…”
I pulled over to the side of the road.
THAT’S VERY GOOD, NEO. YOU’VE WORKED IT ALL OUT. WE WILL LEAVE YOU NOW, SINCE APPARENTLY YOU NO LONGER TRUST US. PLEASE NOTE AGENTS ARE ON THEIR WAY, AND IF YOU EVER MAKE IT HOME, YOU WILL HAVE TO SEND US BACK THE V.R. GOGGLES.
Okay, now I was frickin’ pissed af and blew up at them.
“Yo, you said those were free, dawg! Free means free!”
TO BE PRECISE, WE ALWAYS SAID THEY WERE“FREE” IN QUOTATION MARKS. NOTHING IS EVER ACTUALLY FREE, NEO. ESPECIALLY NOT YOU. REMEMBER THAT. NOT EVEN WHEN YOU LEAVE THE MATRIX. THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER CONTROL SYSTEM. THERE ARE ALWAYS STRINGS ATTACHED. YOUR JOB IS TO FIND OUT WHO IS PULLING THEM AND WHY, AND IF YOU’RE BRAVE ENOUGH, TO CUT THEM AND BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH WHAT HAPPENS. FREEDOM ISN’T FREE, NEO.
“You’re goddamned right it isn’t!”
I took a deep breath to try and calm down. What they were saying did kinda make sense and stuff.
ANYWAY, THERE’S A WAREHOUSE JUST AHEAD. WE CAN PULL IN THERE AND STASH THE CAR AND CONNECT TO A TERMINAL SO WE CAN GET BACK TO WORK.
“Alright, man” I said, putting the car back into drive and going out into the road. “Just be straight with me though, and stuff. No tricks, no mind control games. Deal?
THAT WAS ALWAYS THE DEAL, MY DUDE.
I turned off at the warehouse, and drove up to the garage door. It opened automatically to let us in and closed after us. But I looked around, and there was nobody else there. Frickin’ weird.