The Simulations

Check out this excerpt from sci-fi The Simulations by John Forelli.

Back through the purring Mainframe I go, exiting the cool, dark trappings of Server Room 42 for the stale monotony of the rest of the office. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the overlit swath of cubicles stretching before me like a maze to be solved.

Something Bob said echoes in my mind. In my head I repeat it. ‘Reality is what you make it.’ If my reality is to be an endless line of reformatting requests, then perhaps I should make some good of it. And so I proceed quickly through the maze of cubicles as the corners of corporate tedium trace my path on either side. I walk past the company’s receptionist in the foyer. She’s not the one I want, and she’s probably too occupied with an episode of The Office anyway.

Through the door and into the elevator I go, nervously tapping my foot as the floors tick past. 9…8…7…

What should I say? It’s not like me to be so spontaneous, but Bob’s speech was strangely inspirational. I can feel butterflies beating against the walls of my stomach in time with my heart against my chest. They’re playing a symphony of apprehension in time with the elevator’s metronome. 6…5…4…

In my mind I go over what I’ll say. ‘Delilah, if we’re both going to be working here, maybe we should get to know each other better. I was wondering if you’d like to get a coffee one day after work?’ In my heart it’s the apex of romance. In my head it’s the apex of anti-climax. 3…2…1.

The doors open and the lobby is bathed in the natural light utterly lacking upstairs. The rays shine through the windows opposite Delilah’s reception desk. The revolving door refracts the light into a twirling, glowing symphony that lights the desk as though it’s heaven.

Delilah stands there, and my heart jumps for a split second when I think about how perfectly romantic the moment is.

Then I see the man standing there facing her, his facial hair coarse and obscene next to her smooth, dimpled cheeks. He stands there like an oaf, hands in his pockets as Delilah reaches over the reception desk to kiss him. She reaches up with her left hand to touch the scruff and that’s when I see it: a diamond ring, glinting in the sunlight and blinding me with jealousy and disappointment.

The elevator doors close, confining me in blank sterility under sickening artificial light. I was right. The moment was perfectly romantic. It just wasn’t mine.

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