The alarm woke up Daniel.
He groaned as he got up and began getting ready for work.
As he brushed his teeth, he studied himself in the mirror. Though he didn’t notice anything unusual, he had a nagging felling that something was off.
He went through the motions of getting dressed, trying to remember what he did the day before, but the only thing he could remember, was a vague sense of going to work and returning home.
Seeing that it was raining outside, he grabbed his umbrella.
“Good morning, Daniel,” Frankie, the newspaper guy said as he got a paper ready for him. “Why do you have your umbrella out?”
Daniel was confused by the question. He was forced to open the umbrella as soon as he had opened his car door when he parked it, so the inside of his car wouldn’t get wet. It was raining that hard.
The sun was bright and sunny as he collapsed it, not sure how he had missed the change in the weather.
Shrugging it off, he said, “I must be out of it. I didn’t even notice that it stopped raining.”
Frankie looked at him with mild concern but didn’t want to get caught in a long conversation. He was happy when another customer walked up.
“Take care, Daniel,” Frankie said, courteously.
“You too, Frankie,” he replied, taking his newspaper and walking off.
At work, Daniel stared at his screen. He had a strong sense of Déjà vu as he typed up his report. He felt like he had already completed it the previous day.
He searched his computer, trying to find it, but he couldn’t.
‘Man,’ he thought. ‘I am not with it today.’
“Hi, Daniel,” a beautiful woman said, breaking him from his train of thought.
“Oh, hi,” he replied, trying to remember who the woman was. As far as he could remember, he had never seen her before.
“We still on for dinner tonight?” she asked.
“Um,” was all he could say.
He didn’t know how to tell the woman he had no idea who she was.
“I’m sorry,” he started. “Do I know you?”
“What?” she asked, lightly laughing. “Are you feeling okay today?”
Unsure how to answer, he tried to keep it casual.
“I do seem to be feeling a little off today, but I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you work here? I’ve never seen you before.”
She looked at him quizzically.
Confused, she answered, “Maybe we should try this again when you’re feeling better.”
Before he could say anything else, she walked away.
‘This is turning into a very weird day,’ he thought. He wondered if he should just head home and get some rest.
He stood up to go tell his boss he was leaving, when he banged his knee on his living room coffee table.
“Shit!” he yelped, rubbing his knee. “What the hell?”
Panic set in as he now found himself in his living room at home. He looked out the window and saw that it was now night out.
‘How the hell did I get home?’ he asked himself.
He ran to the garage, partially relieved to see his car safely parked there.
He had never blacked out before, even when he used to go out drinking in his twenties.
Fear was starting to creep in.
Wanting to know the date, he pulled out his phone. The date seemed correct. It was Tuesday but it was now 6:00 pm.
Visibly shaking, he sunk into the couch.
For some reason, he felt the need to run, though he had no idea where he would run to.
Not able to remember what had happened to the day, or how he got home, he finally got up and poured himself a drink.
One drink turned into several, and he soon passed out on the couch.
The next morning, he slowly crawled out of bed, and began his normal routine of getting ready, hoping to not have a redo of the day before.
He was willing to chock up the day before as a one-time deal, but in the back of his mind, he was worried about a repeat.
At work, he sat as his desk, wondering if the same woman from the day before would return to confront him about why he didn’t remember her. He had mentally prepared himself for the encounter.
Half way through the day, he saw her enter the office. He kept his gaze on her as she walked right past his desk, only giving him a passing smile.
Confused, he turned in his chair to continue staring as she walked away and sat at another desk across the room.
Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, he watched her, hoping that she would approach him about what had happened the day before.
Impatience took over, and he decided to initiate the confrontation.
He walked over to her desk and said, “Hi.”
She looked up at him, and with a friendly smile, replied with a ‘Hi’ of her own.
They both stared at each other awkwardly.
Finally, Daniel broke the silence by saying, “So about yesterday. I’m sorry if I seemed rude. Yesterday was just an overall weird day for me.”
She looked at him confused.
“I’m sorry,” she started. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Now it was Daniel’s turn to be confused.
“Yesterday. When you came to my desk about having dinner together,” he explained.
“What?” she replied with a nervous laugh.
Daniel couldn’t help but notice when she looked around, probably hoping to see a security guard.
“You don’t remember?” he asked.
She slowly shook her head and said, “I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else.”
Although Daniel was sure he had the right woman, he couldn’t help but second guess himself.
Not wanting to make her any more uncomfortable than he obviously already had, he apologized, and walked away towards his desk.
He almost had a heart attack when suddenly he heard a horn blaze and a car slam on its breaks, stopping within inches of where he was standing.
Eyes wide, he looked around to find himself standing in the middle of the street.
It was as if he had been crossing the street but stopped mid track.
Consumed with fear, he leapt onto the nearest sidewalk and tried to regain his bearing.
He looked around, trying to recognize where he was. Once he realized where he was, he made a quick bee line to his car and drove home.
As he poured himself a drink, his entire body was shaking, even more violently than it had the day before.
‘I’m losing my mind,’ he thought, barely able to take a sip without splashing the drink everywhere.
He paced back and forth in the living room, tapping his head, trying to remember how he had ended up in the middle of the street, but no answers came.
The sun began to set, as if an example of what was to come for Daniel. He again sunk into the couch, feeling more tired than he ever had in his life.
Dr. Franzen was becoming concerned with what was happening.
“He’s going to crash if we can’t fix this,” he said. “What is happening with the artificial environment?”
“We are trying to figure it out,” Dr. Norris replied. “It’s as if his mind is fighting the simulation. The only thing I can think of is that his mind knows it’s not real and is trying to break away.”
Dr. Franzen paced nervously. He couldn’t afford to lose the test subject so close to the deadline.
“What can we do to stabilize the environment?” he asked Dr. Norris.
“When he falls asleep again, we need to take away the woman, and recreate the routine he is used to,” Dr. Norris responded. “I think we should simplify the simulation, so that the brain will accept it as real.”
The idea made sense and they both hoped that it would work.
Their clients were some of the most powerful people in the world, and as they were nearing the end of their lives, Doctors Franzen and Norris had been tasked with finding a way to store their clients’ consciousness until the day came when they could implant them into a clone, or other mechanical body.
Daniel was the only test subject that had lasted this long, and if they failed with him, there would be no more time to try again before their clients began dying off.
The both knew that they would be dead long before their powerful clients were.
“Okay, force him to sleep and reset the day,” Dr. Franzen said. “And let’s hope that after a few cycles, he stabilizes.”
Daniel woke up with a jump. He was surprised he had been able to fall asleep after what had happened the day before, but it was now a new day, and he was almost too terrified to leave the house.
He peeked out the windows as if he was expecting to find the world on fire, but it looked like any other day, beautiful and sunny.
His body continued to shake as he slowly got dressed, drove to work, and sat down at his desk.
With every step he took, he expected to blink and be somewhere else. When that didn’t happen, he eventually began to calm down.
When he began typing at his computer, the stress of the last couple of days began to fade away, as the routine of work slowly made him feel safe.
He glanced over at the desk where the woman had sat the day before, but it now stood empty.
‘Maybe she’s sick today,’ he thought, somewhat relieved.
Nothing strange happened the rest of the day, and by the time he fell asleep that night, he finally felt as if the world had returned to normal.
Each day got easier to get through, as nothing out of the ordinary happened. The woman never returned to her desk and he decided to pretend it had never happened. He was afraid to ask anyone about her, so he didn’t.
The days began to blend together into a repetitious loop, but the sense of déjà vu was gone. Doing the same report every day felt normal.
Doctors Franzer and Norris gave each other pats on the back as it finally seemed all their work had paid off.
The test subject was stable and even seemed to be thriving. Though they never figured out what had gone wrong in the first place, now that the project was progressing, they didn’t care.
They felt they could now go to their clients and happily tell them that when their time came, they would be able to safely store their consciousnesses into a virtual environment until the day arrived when they could be implanted into a permanent body.
“Hi, Daniel!” Frankie greeted him with a wave as he approached.
Daniel raised his arm to wave back when suddenly, he found himself staring helplessly as a train barreled down the tracks toward him.
He stood there paralyzed with fear, until he could only muster enough strength to close his eyes and scream.
Instead of being struck by the train, he found himself unable to breathe as water entered his mouth, choking him.
He opened his eyes to see that he was surrounded by water. As he began to drown, he flailed his arms, pulling himself towards the surface as fast as he could.
Water exploded out of his mouth, as he broke the surface of the ocean he found himself in.
Gasping for breath, he looked around to see what hell he had arrived at.
Then he saw the beach, and beginning to feel his strength fail him, he began swimming the best he could fully dressed, towards it.
He was still paddling as hard as he could with his arms and kicking as hard as he could with his legs, when suddenly, the ocean disappeared, and he found himself falling from a rooftop towards the street below.
Falling from approximately sixty floors, he had enough time to hope that he would vanish to somewhere else before he hit the ground, but unfortunately for him, this was to be the last glitch before he would be declared brain dead in the real world.