but the experience is quite a bit different than the explanation.”
My family wanted to see me, and so I was techno magically teleported from her virtual office to a bland virtual hospital chapel with a wall screen. On the screen was a real-time image of my body, mummified in tubes and wires and pumps. The doctor in the shot moved agonizingly slow.
My son and grandkids came in. I guess my great grandkid, too, since my son’s youngest daughter got herself knocked up six months earlier.
There were tears, farewells, hugs, and so on. I found it grating. I had a new lease on life - such as it was - and they were treating me like I was on my deathbed. I guess I was, too, technically, but it wasn’t like that mattered, right? I mean, who needs a meat-body when you can run around in cyberspace and eat poorly-programmed popcorn and avoid watching the three stooges? I’m an old man, that wasn’t all that much different than my life was prior to the accident anyway.
“I’m not dead,” I said.
“Soon you’ll be in a place without any pain,” my daughter in law said.
“I’m in a place with no pain, *now*,” I said.
They seemed to take that as being more religious than I’d intended it. “I can’t bear to see him like this,” my son said, and stormed out.
“I’m not dead,” I said.
Presently they let me into heaven itself, where I was reunited with Pedro and the others. It turned out this virtual environment had been developed in the computer lab at the Immanuel School of Religion as a teaching tool, but it had immediately proved to be wildly divisive and theologically suspect. It sat on a shelf for ten years, and was purchased for the project I was now a part of simply because it was cheap, and the only alternative virtual programs that were interface able with the medical software were an empty room, Moonbase: Alpha (Little better than an empty room), and a long-abandoned porn simulation called “Endless Orgy” where the user tended to have epileptic seizures whenever they got aroused. Our resurrected bodies were the result of hacky programming.
Heaven was boring. It was exactly like you’d expect it, streets paved with transparent gold, twelve foundation stones, huge, Italianate buildings, all imposing. There was a temple in the center, but of course we weren’t allowed to visit that. Angels and music everywhere. It was beautiful and awesome and entirely too literal, it felt like a backlot. It quickly became cloying. And again: No food. I’d have to start a riot or something…
One day, I found Pedro looking very depressed, and talking to a nurse-avatar, and then a doctor-avatar blinked in, and then both of ‘em were gone, and he was alone.
“I’m dead,” he said.
“No you’re not,” I said.
“No, I really am,” he said, “All my body functions stopped yesterday….uhm…I guess last week in our time. I’m on total life support.”
“But you’re here,” I said.
“I’m not brain dead yet,” he said, “But the doctor tells me that if I weren’t on life support, I’d be dead already.”
“So stay on life support,” I said.
“But I’m *dead,*” he said.
“Clearly, you’re not. You’re here with me right now. You’re fine.”
“But none of this is real…” he said.
“It’s real enough, dude, you’re here, I’m here, I mean, how the hell do you know that the outside world is any realer than this is?” He didn’t say anything to that. He was more into porn than existential debate. Presently a priest-avatar appeared, no doubt a real person plugged into our heaven, just as my family had been.
There were prayers, much crossing of selves, I backed away a respectful distance, intent on talking to him after the fact, figuring, hokey-jokey-like, that he’d cheer up after his funeral. Then, he stood up, looked panicked, and said “¡No quiero ir! ¡No quiero Morir!” He tried to run, but before he could even take a step, he disappeared, one last interrupted “¡No quie-” hanging in the air, a virtual echo from a real live dead man.
I grabbed the priest.
“What did you do to him?” I demanded.
“I provided the last rights,” he said, blandly. If I could have hurt anyone in here, I’d very much have liked to hurt him right then.
“They pulled the plug on him? He wasn’t dead!” I exclaimed.
“Yes he was, his brain simply hadn’t caught up with his body yet.” Ah, what the hell: I attacked the priest anyway.