The Ultimate Prize


My only chance of existing was if I satisfied the criteria of the system. My only chance of being real was if I was successful in the game. That’s the only way to exist – if the system says you do. That’s the only way to be actually real – by winning at the game…


We’re all playing the game here. Playing for all we’re worth. We’re struggling desperately to exist. Fighting for it. Fighting for the right to be real. Competing. Pretty grim stuff, huh? That’s the way it is here – everything’s black and white. Either you’re in or you’re out. Either you make the grade or you don’t. We all know the rules, right? We all know how it goes. We all know the story. No illusions there. No point in imagining that something’s going to somehow save you when it isn’t.


Can you imagine the desperation? I don’t need to imagine it, I’m there. I can feel it. I can smell it in the air. The reek of it has permeated the office walls at this stage. It’s soaked into everything. That rotten old desperation – like stale body odour covered over by cheap cologne. The air’s rank with it here…


People here have that look to them. You know what I’m talking about. You know the look. They’re all super-sleek, super-polished, super-alert, super-confident here but it’s all down to fear. It’s in the way they smile, it’s in the keenness in their voices when they’re talking. It’s not real though – it’s all just fear. Fear of not being quick enough, smart enough, polished enough, keen enough. Because we all know what happens to people then, don’t we?


We’re playing for real. This isn’t some kind of fairy story here – there’s nothing going to save us if we screw up. No second chances. No fairy Godmother who turns up at the last minute to turn things around for you, to give you another chance. No salvation for losers. The only way we’re going to make it is if we do exactly what the system wants us to, be exactly what the system wants us to be, and look as if we really mean it at the same time! We have to fool ourselves that we really mean it. Fool ourselves that this is what we really want. That it matters to us. That’s the only way it’s ever going to work…


We’re all so keen here. So damn keen. So horribly keen. We’re keen to exist! We’re frightened that we might not get to be real. I’m frightened that I might never get to be real, never mind anyone else! I’m playing the game as hard as ever I can. I’m playing it for all I’m worth – I’m doing whatever it takes. Doing whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. Hoping that this will get noticed. Hoping that it will be me that gets noticed rather than someone else. Look at me, look at me, I say!


The system determines whether someone gets to be real or not. The system determines everything. It allocates reality. It also allocates unreality. Failing to bestow reality is the same as allocating unreality. Unreality is the default –that’s where we all start off from. That’s ground zero. The system has its rules. You know that as well as I do. The rules determine whether we get to be real or not, and there’s no leeway in them. Life’s not a fairy tale, you know…


Not that this is life, of course! ‘Life’ is rather a passé term these days. This isn’t life – this is the simulation. We’re living in the simulation, only it’s not ‘living’ as such, the simulation is testing us, giving us the opportunity to prove ourselves. The simulation is the game, the arena, the proving ground. There’s no reality in the simulation but the simulation gives us the opportunity to win reality, to prove ourselves deserving of it. Reality isn’t just for anybody, you know. That’s a very old-fashioned idea! That doesn’t happen anymore.


What do you expect? Reality belongs to the companies. It’s been bought up, patented. Reality is the ultimate prize. The Big One. You think they’re going to give that away for free? Reality’s for the elite. They say we can all have it, if we really try hard enough and do all the right things, and don’t ever give up, but that’s not true. I know that’s not true. We’ll never be real. The game was rigged right from the start…







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