Prompt: You woke up in an entirely fake world. It’s an endless doll-house plastic facsimile powered by miles of clockwork gears and levers that go straight down into darkness. You did not get here yourself, and you have no idea how to leave.
The world in which I live, though who’s to say the previous world I occupied was any better? Bubblegum pink walls, baby blue floors, lime green furniture… Bright, bright colors with a brand new sheen, reflecting light without light. Never is. Outside the windows is black, and beyond featureless framed pictures are endless columns of machinery. Greased bronze and gold cogs, wheels and tickers, numberless clocks and hourglasses without sand. Out of reach.
Every floor different. Every floor the same.
Not a soul, plastic or not, to be found, nor food or water or anything seemingly real. I don’t get hungry, parched, or famished. Am I fake, too? Impossible—my arms are doughy like flesh, face and hands and legs have bone and muscle and fat… Are my insides like my surroundings? If I dig my fingers into my belly and tear it apart like a gift, would my innards have the same glossy sheen, the same smooth surfaces? Does blood run through my veins or air fill my lungs?
It must since I’m alive.
It’s taken me what feels like weeks to pry open the attic door, using the blunt silverware placed perfectly on the kitchen table. The door’s bending eventually gives, and something snaps like bone and I’m able to pull it open.
I stand upon a landing beneath towering machinery, so tall I can’t make out the top. The columns rotate as chains stream over whirling gears. Bits of the flat and copper floor twirl like a twist of the wrist, revealing more workings underneath. There is no sound, silent as the house I’m leaving behind.
“Hello!” My voice echoes until it’s nothing. “Is anyone here?”
Despite no answer, I carefully move ahead, keeping my eyes to the ground. I don’t know what would happen if I fell through. This massive place cannot be connected to the small house. It’s an entirely different world, one of metal and cold steel, grease and oil. Not plastic to be seen. I keep my distance from the gyrating giant edifices.
“Hello,” I shout. “Anyone here?”
Wide alleys run between the workings, and gloom smothers the distance. Time passes or it doesn’t. Days? Weeks? Months? Does time exist here? Numberless clocks yet I can’t tell. I don’t stop.
Darkness subsides and a brown door’s appears in a wall. I touch it to find it’s real wood, actual lumber. Smelling it, I catch hints of mahogany. Stop myself from licking it, to taste realness, and instead turn the knob. A winding flight of stairs greets me.
Another door at the top. Lighter brown—oak, maybe? Birch? Things that are but words now… Opening it, revealing a small room with yellowed pages plastering the walls, ceiling, and floor in diagrams and schematics. A stool in the rear stands before an easel. Atop a…
“Man,” I gasp, my heart berating my chest.
He drops his pencil, straightens, and turns to me. A bald scalp with a wispy gray hair crown; glasses perched on a crooked nose, shielding blue-gray eyes. I stop myself from sprinting and grabbing hold of this flesh and blood and muscle, someone who is fake—oh God I want to breath in his musty scent like the door because he’s real.
“Got that pesky door open again, have you?” he says. “Thought it was fortified enough the last time, but guess not.”
“Wha—who am—are?” My words trip over one another.
The man stands, thin and tall, and his faded blue robe drags on the floor as he nears me. “I know, I know. Many questions, many answers you want.” He halts a foot away, looking down over his nose. “Like yourself, none of that matters.”
“Same ol’ question, over and over. I’m surprised you haven’t thought of something different after this many times.”
“Different—times?” My mouth hangs open and I can’t help the tears. “What does any of this mean?”
He leans in to eye-level and places a hand over each shoulder, long fingers prodding bone. “That’s for me to know.” His cold, calloused palms touch my neck, “but not to worry, son.” He smiles. “You’ll forget this soon and, maybe, one day, you won’t be an only child.”
Thoughts crash and boom and clatter and whorl. A maelstrom brews in my skull and I can’t and don’t and won’t understand what all of this means, the house, the gears, this old man, me—what am I? What’s my purpose? Who am I here?
His fingers rest at the nape of my neck. His big eyes twinkle. “Sweet dreams,” he says and
The world in which I live, though who’s to say the previous world I occupied was any better? Bubblegum pink walls, baby blue floors, lime green furniture…
Read the previous prompt, “Worse Than Hell”
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