When you exit the other lives you remember everything. You remember who you are, who your friends are, that you’re not dead, that the life you just lived was only a learning tool for the one you live in The Main Life. But you also remember everything that happened in the other lives, whether you decided to live through all of the choices for the day or just one. It’s kind of like reading a book, playing a game, or watching a movie. You remember the choices you made and the choices your friends and the people closest to you in The Main Life made. You remember that you may have been the cause of someone’s death, or even your own. It’s hard to not hold it against someone when you know they were the cause of your death in one of your other lives. It’s hard not to turn on people for what they may or may not have said or done in the other lives. The first few trips into the machine are always the hardest. But after a while you learn to deal with everything. You learn to live with the fact that you and everyone around you won’t be happy if you hold what happens in the other lives against them. You learn to treat it all like a game. Because the only thing that matters is the lessons you take with you from the other lives into The Main Life. Because The Main Life, and what you do in it, is the only thing that matters. Because The Main life is real life. This is the real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life. This is my real life.
This is my real life.
"Hey Darcy," A tall, dark skinned boy with dreadlocks, Samuel, said from the open pod beside her, snapping her out of her thoughts. "You’re out early today."
"So are you," Darcy replied after taking a deep breath. "Losing your touch on making the right choices?" she asked as she lifted herself out of her pod, her bare skin sticking a little to the inside. That was the only thing she hated about the pods. You were required to wear the least amount of clothing possible in them, but whoever had designed them obviously hadn’t taken into account the fact that they got hot and skin started to stick to them. "You were in Oppression the same times as me I noticed? I saw what happened to you in there. I died not that long after you....Why’d you do it?" she added, pulling on the black pleated mini skirt, loose white tank top, and sandals she’d left outside the pod. She liked to bring clothes with her that would help her cool down after being shut up in the hot, stuffy, pod most of the day.
"I did it because of a girl, obviously. And some would say that what I did was the right choice," Samuel told her with a half chuckle, pulling on a pair of jeans, socks and sneakers, and a baggy white T-shirt over top his chest binder. "As for the other life I chose and died in, it was weird. Like there was something wrong with it."
"What do you mean?" Darcy asked as they both set their pods to Cool Down Mode from their side panels and closed them.
"I don’t really know how to explain it because you haven’t been in the life I was in yet, but it was almost like some of the people knew that it wasn’t real," he answered and they set off out of the giant pod room and down a hall, heading towards the food and shopping district. It was an hour passed lunch and they were both hungry.
"That doesn’t make any sense Sam. They must have just thought it wasn’t real. Like in Religion, the one where half the people worshiped some God from another world and were waiting for him to lead them on to it, while the other half of the people thought they were crazy?" she suggested.
Sam shook his head. "No, you don’t understand. It was different than that. They-"
"A reminder to citizens not to discuss their other lives with people who have yet to experience them."
"That was weird," Sam commented, after pausing for a few seconds mid thought.
"What was? The other life you were just trying to explain or the fact that you paused without finishing your sentence?" Darcy asked him, raising an eyebrow questioningly, and then continued talking before he could answer. "You know, maybe you should talk to Bailey about it instead of me. I’m sure she’s lived it already. She’s lived through every life that pops up in my pod."
"Yeah..." Sam said absently, then shook his head. They had arrived at the large City Food Court and were already next in line to order. There weren’t many people around. Lunch was over and most people were already finished eating. The adults had gone back to work, and the kids were off shopping, back at home, or still in their pods. "Yeah, I think I remember seeing her name on the activity list. I’ll talk to her. It’ll be easier to explain. And then I’ll get back to you on it when you’ve lived it."
"A reminder to citizens not to discuss their other life experiences."
"I don’t know how Bailey does it. Going through all those lives so fast," Darcy told Sam as they sat at an empty table with their lunches.
"It’s because she never goes back to relive a life. She believes that after a life has been lived it’s over and shouldn’t be lived again, because you’ve made your choices and your death should be sealed," Sam told her. "Unless of course someone else lives the life after you and changes your fate with the choices they make for themselves. But even then she won’t go back and try to live a life again, because you don’t get a second or third or even forth chance to live The Main Life so she thinks you shouldn’t get to live the other lives over and over either."
"Your girlfriend sounds like kind of a downer," Darcy said as she chewed on a fry. "You forget everything every time you enter one of the other lives, so every time you play it’s like you’re living a new life. And the outcome is always different no matter how many times you live it because of how everyone else lives them and changes them."
"A reminder to citizens not to discuss the other lives."
"Ok!" Sam said suddenly, slamming the glass he’d been drinking out of onto the table and making Darcy jump. "You had to have heard it that time!" Darcy stared at him blankly. "The voice! The ’reminder’ not to talk about the other lives!"
"Why would some voice be announcing not to talk about the other lives. We talk about them all the time," Darcy responded skeptically. "I mean, I was just about to tell you how today in Science I got this weird feeling that I knew you and Bailey even though we’d never met in that-"
"A reminder to not to discuss the other lives."
"Wait, I just heard it!" Darcy exclaimed after a pause. "The voice, I heard it! But why are they doing this now? They never did this before when we talked about the other lives."
"I don’t know," Sam answered. "But it might have to do with the other life I was trying to explain to you, because the first time I heard it was right after mentioning that life to you."
"A reminder to not to discuss the other lives."
"I have to talk to Bailey about that other life!"
"I have to talk to my dad about this voice!"
Both of them shouted at the same time, jumping up from their chairs. They nodded at each other and Sam was the first to turn and run off, back towards the pod room. Darcy watched him go, and then took a deep breath before heading towards an elevator. Inside she pressed the button for the floor of the department working on and monitoring the other lives, the floor her father worked on. The elevator doors closed in front of her, encasing her in the metal box, and a shiver went up her spine as the elevator lunged into motion climbing upwards. She couldn’t shake this feel. This feeling that she’d heard the voice giving her and Sam the ’reminder’ somewhere before.
The elevator doors opened a few seconds later and Darcy stepped out into a large room full of large monitors, desks, and computers. The sight wasn’t anything new to her, she’d been to her dad’s office before on days when she had nothing else to do and during Bring Your Kid To Work Day; a day dedicated to getting the younger generation prepared for what was next, after they were done using the other life pods. What was new though, and surprised her, was the amount of people on the floor running around and shouting to each other. Darcy stood just outside the elevator, stunned, watching as people knocked into each other. She tried to make out what was going on by the shouting, but there was so much of it that it was all blending together into a mess of just random noise. She looked up at the giant screens on the walls. All but one was flashing a red warning sign, and the one that wasn’t was showing video from one of the cameras in the pod room of a few adults crowded around a closed pod.
Finally Darcy shook off her shock and began to weave her way through the panicking adults. She made her way to her dad’s desk hoping that he was still there and not running around with the other people, and wasn’t disappointed when she reached it and he was there. "Dad, what’s going on?" Darcy shouted over all the other chaos as she came up beside him.
"Darcy! Thank god!" her dad shouted, pulling her into a strong, quick, hug. "But what are you doing here?" he asked, turning back to his computer, typing frantically.
"I needed to talk to you about something," she told him, moving out of the way of a lady trying to push by, by sitting herself on top of her dad’s desk.
"We’re all really busy here honey," he told her rather calmly, not taking his eyes off the computer screen. "One of the pods malfunctioned and won’t open. There’s a girl in it screaming her head off, but she doesn’t seem to be trying to get out, and according to the information we have she’s technically still stuck in whatever other life she’s in even though she’s been attacked and should be "dead"." Darcy opened her mouth to speak, but her dad cut her off. "No, we don’t know who it is, or what life she was living. That’s the other strange thing. All the feeds from the pods went offline just before the girl started screaming." Another woman ran by as Darcy’s dad spoke, knocking into his chair. She gave a hasty apology before hurrying off again. "Listen, Darcy," her dad said still in his calm voice, though he was getting visibly frustrated. "I think you should get out of here. Things are crazy and it’d be better for both of us if you left. Go home, go shopping, go anywhere but here or the pod room."
"But I need to talk to you. It’s important!" Darcy exclaimed, thinking about the voice again and the locked up pod. She couldn’t help but wonder if it had all started because of Sam trying to explain his strange other life.
"A reminder to not to discuss the other lives."
"It can’t be more important than this. There is a girl screaming trapped inside a pod. You know how hot those can get. We can talk later," her dad told her, starting to get frantic as Darcy tried to shake the voice out of her head, which seemed to be getting louder.
"But I need to ask...I need...help," Darcy told him as she massaged her head, which was starting to feel fuzzy. Her dad was now ushering her towards the elevator. "It might help. The question I have. It might have something to do with the girl and the pod. It might be able to help..."
"Darcy please!" her dad practically shouted, pressing the button for the elevator. The door opened instantly. "Go," he said giving her a nudge in the back, and she stepped into the elevator. She turned to him and opened her mouth to speak again, but he had already pressed the button for the main floor for her and was walking away. The elevator doors shut and she felt a shiver of familiarity over the voice in her head travel up her spine again as the elevator began to descend.