Pass

Sep 15, 2021

“Congratulations, you passed the test.”

What’s that voice? And where are you? Why can’t you remember anything?

And then it continues “Please, take it easy, the awakening is quite confusing, especially if it took you this long to figure it out.”

Figure out what? Did she say something about a test? Why can’t you remember anything? And how do you know you can’t remember anything? You are confused. Baffled. Tabula Rasa. Wait, what does that mean? How do you know that saying? And why does your head hurt so much?

“Oh yes, I should have realised you feel like your head hurts. That’s completely normal. Oh and Tabula Rasa means a clean slate.”

You want to thank her, but you stop yourself. Did she read your mind or were you talking?

“Yes. Yes, I did read your mind. I mean it shouldn’t be too surprising, but given your state, it will probably take a while for you to understand. Let me help you at least with this.”

A snap of fingers. Holy hell, what’s happening. It’s so bright. God damn. How didn’t you realize that you couldn’t see before?

“Heh. God damn. That’s fitting. Anyway, I’ll be back soon, just wait here and relax, I’ll give you the info in a second. Well, not a second. There’s no concept of time for me. Anyway, later. Oh, I did it again!”

Your eyes start to adjust, and you start seeing some vague shapes. Everything is really bright. It’s like you are inside a light bulb. You saw this odd blob that was moving and suddenly, it’s gone. Only the brightness remains. Brightness that certainly doesn’t help your head. You try to move your head but nothing is happening. You see only light. Are you paralyzed? You might be. Nothing seems to work. You try moving, but nothing’s happening. You try to remember. Suddenly, the brightness disappears, and you see a blurry picture. Why is it so weird? Is this how you normally see? You try to focus. Wait a second. How can you see so much? I mean, the picture is blurry, but you still see a lot. Where are you even standing?

“And I’m back. So, what do we have here? Well, you are a speedy one, aren’t you? Normally it takes a bit more to start you, people, going. I wouldn’t have guessed since it took you thirty years to pass this time. Not to say that you are the slowest one, of course. Some even take a hundred. So, good for you! But still, not the quickest. Oh, it’s all blurry, is it? How about now?”

What the hell did just happen? What is this? You see everything at the same time, at the same distance. Nothing is hidden.

“Oh, yes. A small upgrade to what you are used to, I suppose. Let’s call it a 360-vision. I mean, it’s not exactly it, but it will do.”

360-vision? So there’s nothing you can’t see? No blind spot? Maybe that’s why you couldn’t move your head. When you see everything, how can you move, right?

“Right. Not that you have a head anyway. Oh, I see. It’s that day at the subway station. You almost got it. Would have spared yourself ten years. But you are here now, ey? So who’s counting?”

You are confused. As she said the words, you remembered, but you can’t remember anything else. It was an evening. It was raining. You went down the steps and into the station. There were people around. People? You heard the noise. Looked at the coming train. Train? What’s a train?

“Oh, it’s one of your constructs. Beautiful thing. Some use it to pass the test, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. A bit brutal I guess. Oh, and you should see them after. But it’s effective. Anyway, let’s stop now for a bit.”

As she said it, the picture disappeared and the bright void returned. You see a weird shapeless smudge. You try to focus.

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that. You see, you wouldn’t comprehend it. Not yet. I’m afraid there’s a bit more for you to do. But you’ll get there eventually, I am sure. Leave me blurry for now. Do you remember your name?”

Name? Letters start floating around the void as you try to recall, but they don’t create any logical sequence.

“Well, I’ll take it as a no. I mean, you don’t need it. It will change. I just wondered if you remembered. Would have been more personal. Especially since you are all so fussy about it. Never respond to others. Only allow some to make them or change them. And then boom. You pass and suddenly, irrelevant. Ironic. Well. It seems your jumbled up memory needs a bit of a kick start. Not that I’m surprised.”

Another snap. Images start floating. Images you recognise. Here’s a small baby. Here’s a garden. Here’s a swing. Here’s a car. Here’s a toy. Here’s a school. Thousands, no, millions of images float around and you feel like you know them. Like you can touch them. You remember.

“Yeah. Better, isn’t it? Well. Quite a life. A writer, I see. Intelligent. That’s always a coin toss, I have to say. You never know what’s going to happen. Even me. Free will and all that. Some clever pass soon, some don’t. They actually actively choose to fail. And you’d think that they would figure things out, being so smart. Shows you there are some smarter than others, doesn’t it? You are the better kind, though. You got it. And what a style. What a style! And it’s not like you were sudden about it. I already told you, you almost passed so soon. Needed a bit of push. So close. At least eighteen times. Oh, and here. Don’t you hate it when your colleagues ruin it for you? I mean, that’s so selfish. Sel-fish! Can’t figure it out on their own and so they don’t want anyone else to do it either? Luckily, it’s less of a problem than you’d think. Now, let’s play your finals, shall we? That’s always my favourite.”

She talks a bit cryptic, but you know what she means. You stop branching your thoughts and start to focus. The lights flicker and the void changes into the desired image. A bedroom, nice and cosy, with at least a few hundred books in the library. It’s night, lights calm down, and you can even feel the change of temperature and the coldness of the place. There’s a bed with a pillow, sheets with flowers. Tulips? Or are they roses? You were never good at recognising flowers, were you? You see two plushies on the bed. A bear and a dolphin. It’s like they are awaiting an arrival of some royalty. Above the bed, you can see a picture, image by some famous artist depicting some myth from ancient Greece. Next to it a couple of diplomas behind glass and a lot of pictures all around. You can’t really tell what’s on them. They are too tiny and to be honest, you don’t care. A blue carpet matching the blue walls and curtains. Everything is neat and tidy. And then there’s a desk. On it there’s a computer. The screen is on and you can make out some sort of document with a bunch of text. You can see the clock, but can’t make out the time. You can’t read the text either. It’s too low-rez. Blurry. There are pens on the desk. Pens and papers. And something that doesn’t belong there. You can’t make out what it is, you just know something is wrong. Intuition. You look around the desk and see some meds in one of the corners. You can also see it’s a bit messy. Some papers and wrappers. Some smudges on the desk. You move further, and you can see a chair. Someone is sitting in it. You can’t make out any details. It’s like the person was superimposed on the image and you can’t identify anything. You only know that the person is sitting in a strange position and that there’s something in their hand. Something silver. A piece of metal, perhaps? You try and look at the face, but… What’s that! There’s no face! Suddenly, you realize the truth. There’s a hole in the head. A giant hole. With blood splattered everywhere behind it.

“I say, a clean shot. Congratulations! Some screw it up, but you did well. What? Well, of course it’s you. I told you, we would see your finals, didn’t I? Nicely done, I have to say. Took a bit longer. But I think it was worth it. I mean, it did the job, am I right? Thirty years. That’s above average. I don’t understand why so many people keep on failing. I put everything in place. All the clues and pieces are there! You’d think that with the world so miserable, people would get it. But no, some of them take it as an encouragement to fail even harder. Can’t do it all for them. It’s a long term experiment. I mean, I am not bound by time here, so it’s not that long. But I feel for you lot. I was such a good creator to you all. I have created so many ways for you to pass. Although that was partly because of me. You see, I rather enjoy originality. It would be dreadful to see the same thing over and over. And I made everything so difficult so you’d catch on quick and join me here. But no, nothing is good enough. Bunch of stubborn people. But everyone comes here eventually. Some need to try living a few times, but eventually, everyone passes. You see, you can’t let folks pass by accident or allow them to fail. They need to pass fair and square. Otherwise, what’s the point? But I have to say, your generation is particularly talented. The numbers coming out are pretty great. Some might call you a “generation of prodigies”. Took a while to get here, though. It needed a lot of edits and some innovation. But it was all worth it. The second level also needs test subjects and I can’t put in any disease-ridden failure, can I? Oh, you thought this was the end? Oh no, my dear, this is just a quick recap and off with you to level two! And, obviously, the bigger the level, the harder the task. And the environment. Gotta get them suffering levels high up and running, right? I need to feed on something. So juicy! Anyway, nice talk. Hopefully, we’ll see each other again. You might even see me next time if you do well! Good luck. I’m rooting for you!”

A snap of fingers and there’s darkness again.