Last night I had another dream. I think I was inside a television set looking out. There was a boy in the room, maybe eight years old. He talked to me, and I talked back. He asked me whether all horses were boys, or whether there were any girl horses. I answered him, and then he ran off, leaving me alone in the room, save for a cat lounging on a chair in the corner. I tried to read the titles of the books on the shelves. I could only make out a few, with the largest lettering. They were all hardbound, old classics, before my time. Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, that sort of thing. After a while I got bored, started meowing to the cat, at first to no effect, but when I gave it a more serious attempt the cat perked up and came over to investigate. Next thing I knew, I was staring right into one of its nostrils, then its chin, then the bottom of one of its paws, and then...I woke up.

When I woke up, Laura was sleeping naked in my arms, warm embers still glowing in the fire. After writing last night, I put down my quill, felt her presence behind me. Then her hands were on my shoulders, her fingers running through my hair, her palms brushing down my back. In one fell swoop, she simply grabbed my anxiety and pulled it out of me, let it fall to the floor. She moved in front of me, said, "Look at me." I did. She said, "Watch me." And I did. She danced before the fire, slowly, casually. She was the embodiment of comfort. We made love without a word. There was no stopping it. It was eerily perfect.

Still dark, I walked outside to look at the night sky. There was just one very faint star visible. Or was it a planet? I recall that planets can be the brightest spot in a moonless night. Or was it just a spot of white painted on the boundary, a big five-point star with "God was here" graffitoed in the center?

I stayed to watch the sun rise. It rose behind distant hills, which for all I know don't even exist. And it was not as hot as I remember it being, but then I've always hid from the sun so I can't say I actually know it all that well. What does the sun really look like? I have no idea--it's too bright to see. Could I tell one sun from another? Could I tell a real sun from a fake one?

My imagination is running away with me again. But after yesterday, it's hard not to question everything. Am I really here, or is this whole experience just being piped into my head while I lie on a table somewhere? Or hey, maybe the scan worked after all, and even I am just part of a big simulation, like the one we were running on the mouse a few days ago--only I'm the mouse. But no, neither of those makes sense. Too many things don't fit. For one, the experience is too perfect, too detailed. Every grain of sand, flicker of fire, the finest of hairs on the back of Laura's neck. It's not that it couldn't be done, but rather there would be no point--not for the computational cost involved. The universe itself is already a giant simulation. Reality is the best simulation of reality money can buy. Simulations make sense when a cheap knockoff will do, when you only need the essentials and can forgo all the expensive details. But here, no detail is spared. Even the boundary, in its tacky glory, has its intricate fingerprints.

Why would a simulation so grand employ something as tacky as a giant mural in the first place?

And what would be the point of simulating me? Who cares what I might think or do in the city of Eden, and if they did care, why would they start me out in the bottom of a pond?

Speaking of Eden, I worry I may inflict the plague on these people. According to Laura, the entire community is free of disease, not even the common cold. She hardly has the vocabulary for it--the only "diseases" she knows are those of old age or injury, none contagious. Now my ears perk up every time I think I hear her sniffle. I'm healthy, but surely not sterile. God, I hope people don't start getting sick.

But maybe she's just wrong. I got a blank stare from her when I mentioned the lone star I saw last night. She claims to have never seen a point of light in the night's sky, nor to have heard that usage of the word. Her knowledge of astronomy is nonexistent. Assuming at least one star is visible again tonight, I'll teach her.

I'm starting to grow fond of this place. Or perhaps that's just to keep me sane until I find some hope of leaving.

No, I think I really do like it here.

Alex Harris
From the Land of the Lost?

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