JUST LIKE I ALWAYS WANTED ... a micro novel
by Eerk Hofmeester
Original title: 'Niet van echt te onderscheiden'
First published June 1987 in 'ST Clipboard' of the ST club
Eindhoven. ©1987 Eerk Hofmeester.
'Oh, fuck off! I don't have time for games now.'. Brian Surkos;
Polish father, American mother, in his early thirties, work-
carved forehead and clearly very nervous, could hardly surpress
the urge to kick his little dog. 'Sorry, Ami, please go and play
outside, today your human friend has other things on his mind.
Where is that bloody interface-cable... Wait a minute.. just lend
it out to van Mill of course. The harder you need something, the
greater the chance that you'll have to look for it in that
pigshole he calls 'my room'. Never mind, I can work on that
interface tomorrow.' He scribles something on one of the piles of
Mumbling something you shouldn't say in public, Brian walks to
the stairs, almost breaks his neck over two chairs with strange
looking computer parts, says something you even shouldn't say
among your best friends, is hardly able to save a box with
diskettes from the hungry mouth of Ami, kicks it outside after
all and disappears in his second computercave, mumbling something
about dogs who are supposed to be man's best friend.
It's not strange that Brian is nervous. After years of hard work
and waiting for permits, his dream will finally become reality.
He got the idea for it long ago, when he first saw this strange
machine called 'computer'. Many people made fun of him or called
him dreamer when he talked about his plans. But he kept on trying
to interest people for this project that had become more and more
a part of his life and work. 'It must be possible', he told
everyone who didn't change the subject fast enough, 'to live
inside a computer program, without any impulses from the real
world'. When you were unwise enough to ask what he meant with
that, you could expect an explanation in a more and more
emotional and dramatic tone, about this plan that 'could change
all ideas about reality around us'. He who had been so unlucky to
ask for more information was supplied with a load of information.
Subneural feedback, alternate reality, sensoric depression; only
a few of the daily words that would buzz around.
The idea Brian was so enthousiastic about was principally very
simple. 'What will happen', he thought, 'if all someone's senses
are given information from a computer instead of from the real
world around him or her. Disconnect the senses from the brain and
feed them with information generated by a computer simulation of
a self chosen reality. If this information is made to fit for all
senses together, the 'victim' will experience this electronic
world just as real as reality'.
Principally simple, yes, but before Brian had built a good enough
model of the human nerve impulses, made a computer program to
generate these impulses and finally was able to make a complete
connection with a human brain capable of interpreting this
computer information, ten years of hard work and many
disappointments had past. But finally he reached his goal. His
connections with van Mill (who seemed to have some semi-legal
connections with the other side of the law, but Brian was more
than willing to overlook that fact) proved to be a source of the
financial backup he needed. Thanks to this backup (and the
influence of some 'friends' of these other side connections),
Brian was able to use the latest model computer, the E.S.T.E.E.,
of which the specifications were not even known exactly to its
builders. He was fired because of too many 'irrelevant
activities' on his last job, so he had all his time to spend on
'I thought I had those prints upstairs. Why do those things
always happen when you're in a hurry. That bloody dog with his
funny interest in playing with my prints and diskettes instead of
running after balls like a normal dog should do. ...Oh, there
they are, of course on the chair I just kicked to the floor.
They'd better not be broken'. He picks two print boards out of a
box in which we can recognize the remains of what seems to be a
double big mac with extra ketchup. He wipes them somewhat clean
and fits them in two slots on a device, somewhat looking like an
electric chair of the year 2134. He touches three switches. The
device shakes, BANG... , smoke slowly rises up and a smell like a
burned big mac with extra ketchup penetrates the air. 'Thank God,
they still work; for a moment I thought I had to start all over
again with that thing', says Brian relieved. He looks at the
piles of parts, machines and other less easy to define electronic
buildings and says: 'Well, everything is ready, the party can
begin. No, Ami! Get away from that thing, for Gods sake go and
play with a ball for once, that thing is loaded with 2000 Volts
The party starts for real, two days later in a specially built
laboratory. Not fully convinced that everything will work
according to plan, Brian tries to encourage himself: 'I have
triple checked everything, all devices are built double and will
switch on the spare parts automatically if something would go
wrong, Ami has been in the simulator three times now and walks
around now as happy as can be.
Please, Ami, keep quiet, your boss must think. The printer is on
line, I fed the E.S.T.E.E. with the reality drive, cleaned the
connectors. Good, let's roll it'.
He walks to the 'electric chair', connects wires to a small
helmet he wears and sits down. 'Well, if all goes well, I will
live the next three weeks in a world, completely build up within
these four walls. Even the weather is perfect. Outside the worst
snowstorm in years, but inside my computer lay the sunny beaches
of Barbados, without tourists but with enough female beauty of
course! And after that I can give the ultimate proof to those
giggling idiots that my idea is not so ridiculous as they think
it is. Three weeks in a dreamworld of my own, which for me will
be as real as this sealed laboratory here. Stop dreaming, Brian,
let's go to Barbados!' He puts his hand on a ball shaped steel
button and pushes two switches on the left side of the chair.
Hot. After the cold in the little room, it's the first thing he
notices. He wants to take of his thick sweater but to his
amazement he finds out he's wearing swimming trousers and is
sitting on a beach chair. 'Of course, I programmed those swimming
trousers only last week'.
He stands up and looks around. A beautiful yellow beach with a
deep, deep blue ocean as far as the eye can see. 'Just like I
always wanted'. Turning around he sees two smashing looking girls
walking his way. When they come closer he notices they look
exactly the same. 'Little mistake, I had to build in that ideal
picture of women with somewhat more variations. But, who cares,
to see this woman everywhere for three weeks isn't that bad..'
He walks towards them. 'Hello ladies, what can I do for you?'
They smile and say exactly at the same time: 'Well, it's quite
hot, can't you get us an icecream?' 'Next time, more variations',
he thinks and says: 'Sure, like to join me to an ice-bar?' Of
course they like that, it would have surprised him if they
wouldn't. Brian walks with the girls to a beach tent, where not a
soul is sitting and goes inside. A girl is standing behind the
counter. 'Maybe it's not so nice to meet your dream girl
everywhere', he thinks as he looks at here. 'Two icecreams for
your sisters here and a big mac with extra ketchup for me; I'm
quite hungry'. The icecreams are as big as you always wanted them
to be, not to mention the big mac, which really looks like a
hamburger. 'One point for me', he thinks and sinks his teeth in
the juicy meat. Then, suddenly, his face darkens.
'Damned! Food! Why haven't I thought of that before. I can be
eating the best meals on earth here, but that's no use to myself.
It tastes and feels like real but my real body gets nothing
substantial inside. Shit! I must start all over again'.
Of course, Brian has taken problems like these into account. Like
every good programmer he had built in an escape procedure in his
his program. He only has to pronounce a special sentence aloud,
through which a signal will be transmitted to a special device
that will take him slowly out of his computer simulated world.
The process must take place very slowly, because otherwise his
brains could get into a fatal shock. Only a week before the
current experiment he had found a solution to accomplish this. In
short the process is as follows: the reactivating impulses are
send to the steel ball he has in his right hand and these will
take him slowly out of the dream world.
'I'm sorry girls, but I have an important business meeting. I
don't think it's very healthy to sit in a chair for three weeks
without eating and drinking, I don't think anyone can take that'.
Regretfully he looks around to his oh so beautiful dream reality
and says aloud: 'Three, two, one, that was it, here I come!'
The girls look at him smiling, while he waits for the cold
reality of the laboratory.
One minute goes by, two minutes. The girls are still smiling. He
feels sweat starting to run down his back. 'What could have
happened? I have checked and tested everything three times.
Three, two, one, that was it, here I come!! ... Nothing. My hand
is tied to the reactivating ball, so that can't be it... Oh God,
Weaving his tail happily, Ami looks hopefully up to his boss. It
was nice, the way he hold that ball so tight, but why don't we
play on? And why is bossy looking so frightened?
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.