I was on a bed with a girl who seemed my age and we were flipping through papers.
girl: "I think I'm 51. How old do you think you are?"
me: "There's a biological component of me that's 33. You can trace it back to a hospital and a birth certificate and a stream of physical evidence which has led up to the current time. But I think I am guided and informed by some forces that are way older than that."
girl: "What you've done so far is phenomenal. Way too much for 33."
me: "Thanks but...wait a minute, who are you? What are we talking about?"
My attention turned to the papers. They looked a little like test booklets--printed blue ink on white paper with writing on them in pencil. These were character sheets for something called "The Reality Game" (or similar).
Many books were blank. But I found one with my name on the front, which I opened and started to read. The sections mostly contained a series of tick marks counting things--number of positive points scored, number of negative points scored. There wasn't much textual writing, but one of the areas in the booklet was for "performance in the Sprite Painting scene", which had a little essay scrawled in the space.
Under a section it listed "Player Skills For Commerce" and said "Growing and selling Tomatoes". I am not sure why, but this caused me a very intense anger.
Obviously growing tomatoes has no relevance to my life. But I felt that somehow, someone else had been exploited and what had been the attribute that was to sustain them had been deprived...it would be like if you were playing World of Warcraft and there was an exploit which stole your gold every time you killed a monster. I had this vague sense that the tomato skill had been stolen from a character. The evidence doesn't support that conclusion, I'm merely suggesting what I thought I knew at the time.
Reaching the end of the book full of hash marks, I dug in the box for more paper. There was a flier that had been more professionally printed, so I went for that. It had a page full of businesses which in this "Reality Game" had kiosks where players could go to check status, ask for help, etc.
me: "Okay, this is what I'm looking for. I'm going to have to remember some of these."
The girl offered me a phone.
girl: "Why don't you just call them? There are numbers."
me: "Because it's not important to establish their relevance here. Here I have the flier--it doesn't do me any good when I wake up. I'll try and memorize the names of the ones I'm most likely to remember."
The paper was very visually stable, though my memory was really weak. I just kept cycling around the page, focusing on the names of the businesses that were the least outlandish and did not change as I looked away and looked back. They were "Cat Claw Construction", "Wormfarm", and something approximating "Museum Find" or "Museum Hunt".
Other businesses were proper names combined with Shoe stores or fashion, and as they were unusual names I felt little chance of remembering them.
Though I'd had a long time without being attacked, my attention was drawn to an open door in the room, which a guy ran into. He seemed to flit between being a prototypical gamer with a ponytail, to a small wiry guy with white hair and glasses--like a biology teacher or a stage magician. Obviously hostile, he came in and started throwing glassware at me--there seemed to be a rack of it in the room for this purpose.
me: "A ha, you again! Well, I already know about this bit. And I already know about the next bit. The only thing is, you have no idea how outgunned you are here. This is a serious audit, with severe consequences."
him: "Yeah well the last time you were here, she helped smash your skull with these glasses."
He was indicating the girl on the bed who I'd been talking to, who seemed to find our confrontation more amusing than a source for concern.
me: "You think I don't have memory, and that you're safe. But there are records of this--oh believe me, there are. Ever see the movie 'Memento'? It's all about recognizing your own handwriting, which 'I' can."
I of course was referring to the idea that he felt he was killing this tomato-growing character who can walk down the street to Cat Claw Construction, but that I who shop at Whole Foods am watching. Whether Mr. Glassthrow knows about this journal and my life or not...I still think the somewhat random method by which this information is exchanged points at the idea that you might be watched. From A Scanner Darkly
I'm supposed to act like they aren't here. Assuming there's a "they" at all. It may just be my imagination. Whatever it is that's watching, it's not human, unlike little dark eyed Donna. It doesn't ever blink. What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me, into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly, because I can't any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone's sake the scanners do better. Because if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I do, then I'm cursed and cursed again. I'll only wind up dead this way, knowing very little, and getting that little fragment wrong too.
...which is very much how I feel.
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