• Dron Sharma

How to handle death 101

The wind seemed to speak to him as he walked into that giant grey building – a testament to the progress his kind had made. Humungous structures that reached out to the heavens and elaborate systems of rails and roads beneath his very feet. The earth rumbled at the departure of every energy-consuming mode of transportation they had shaped into existence. It’s no big deal, it’s all a show. Jeremy had graduated from school as a full-fledged doctor and had also gone through the rigorous training module. Now, it was the time for the final test. The dreaded simulation. He had heard about it during the training and it sounded like something straight out of a shoddy sci-fi film. “I’ve operated on real dead bodies, you really think something fake will stop me from pursuing my dream?”, those were the words he repeated whenever someone asked him about the dreaded simulation. It’s just a show. The wind screeched even more harshly, as if she was warning him not to go in. But in he went.


“Good morning, Mr. uh Smith, is it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have a seat”

And thus, he was seated.


The white-coats and the officers looked at him curiously, wondering what will his response be as the wires were brought in and he was hooked up to the monitors. Heart rate, pulse, neurological activity – everything was to be documented. A proper lab-rat. But he wasn’t just a lab-rat. Jeremy was a lab rat with hopes and dreams. A lab rat who had to pass the test in order to become the hardworking hamster in the Australian military machinery. Finally, the needle was pricked into the back of his neck and connected to the computer. Blank monitors fired up like corpses coming back to life.


“He’s in”, said one of the white-coats.

“Boot the scene”, said an officer with a spruce mustache and a look in the eye as dead as all the soldiers he must’ve killed in the battlefield. There was no sign of any light, just an empty void hiding in the black of his eyes.

“Officers, screen 27”, the white-coat said. “Here’s the microphone and the headset.”


The procedure was quite simple. Jeremy had been hooked into a computer and was loaded into a simulated version of a battlefield. He was to perform his duties as a field doctor in the simulation and all his activities were visible on the monitors. The simulation was as real as it could get.


What’s this. Where am I. What’s happening. “Mr. Smith, can you hear me? Mr. Jeremy Smith”, a voice boomed. “We will be monitoring your heart rate, pulse, and all other physical signs. Your job is to remain calm and do your duty. If you faint, you will fail. If you deviate from the orders that you had received outside of the simulation, you will fail. God bless you, son. Best of luck.”

Silence.

A flash of white light blinded Jeremy for a good five seconds and suddenly, he found himself on a green field. The booming of artillery and machine guns pierced his ears as he struggled to cover them. “Get down”, a voice shouted at him, and he obliged. I can smell it. The smell of dirt, blood, piss, and gunpowder all mixed into a beautiful olfactory cocktail.

“MEDIC!” That was his cue.


He ran to the voice and he saw a soldier lying down crying for his mother. Watching a grown man cry like a newborn baby with his hands full of his own intestines made Jeremy stop in his tracks. The soul-piercing cry only grew louder. The computer was intelligent and it knew what it was doing. I can’t do this. He could feel death breathing down his neck. The dying soldier looked into Jeremy’s eyes with a glimmer of hope. No, this is real. It cannot be. He’s real. Only a real being can have that look in their eyes. It’s all real, they lied to me. Jeremy tried his best but the red worms kept crawling out as if gasping for simulated air. “MAMA”, the young boy in the uniform cried again and again. “MAMA”. “MAMA, HELP”. The light in his eyes was slipping away. All Jeremy could do was give him something for the pain. He couldn’t hold the injection as his hands shook like that of a crackhead. He couldn’t get the medicine into the needle and the cries only got louder. Then he broke down. He cried with him. The computer cried for his mother and Jeremy cried for her too. His vision was now blurry. Soon, it ended.


“I’m sorry, you’ve failed. But you can try next year, son.”

One thing Jeremy couldn’t understand was the presence of death that he felt in the simulation. How can a computer code death? It should not be possible. But then he realized that the computer didn’t have to code death at all. Death was with Jeremy when he was launched into the computer.

You die as soon as you are born. You are born with death. Both life and death are a simultaneous happening.

The only way to pass the test, he realized, was to launch into the system without giving the fear of death a free ride.


And that was the story of Jeremy Smith – the guy who broke simulation.


Now, class. I want a 1000-word essay on the flaws in the coding of that simulation program. Plus, you will have to write a critical reflection document of 600-words that will include everything that you have taken away from this creative piece. Enjoy the weekend.