My best friend and I hadn’t talked for eleven years, after the accident.  She said she was sorry, I said I’d never ride in a car that she was driving again, and she said if I didn’t trust her absolutely then I didn’t deserve her friendship, and I said, “Prove that, and I want to see the data,” and, well, eleven years.

Then one day my cell phone rang and it was her.  She was in front of my apartment in a smooth sports car, not a DeLorean of course, but something that looked like space had been folded in on itself in bright cherry red.  She leaned up against the door with the cell phone at her ear, then waved.

I understood what that meant immediately.

She had spent the last eleven years proving me wrong, step by careful step, and she was here to make me eat my words.  Which, to be honest, are something that I’ve had to make a meal of several times.

I went to my closet and threw on a leather jacket I hadn’t worn for years, took it off again, pulled the note saying “I told you so” out of my sleeve, and grabbed my bug-out bag.

Finally she said, “Okay, I was wrong this time.  You drive.”

I said, “This isn’t real, is it?”

“Technically, no.  It’s a simulation that I created.”

“You created a simulation this real just to prove me wrong.  And then got us lost in it.”

“So sue me.”

I parked the car in front of the apartment.  It was on fire, because of course it was.  A dragon was sitting on the next building over, spraying fire on it.  Flakes of burning ash settled on top of the car.

“Is this real?”

She shrugged.

“Again, I have to ask.  If we get killed here, do we really die?”

Another shrug.

The light went on above my head, one of those good old incandescant ones that put out more heat than light, and that sometimes pop and go out without warning.  In my opinion, those things were vastly overrated.

“You don’t know what’s real anymore.”

“I told you we were lost.”

I put the car into reverse.

“When did the simulation start?” I asked.  “When did you upload me or whatever it was you did.”

She bit her lip.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“I mean…never mind.”

The stars spiraled around the car.

Finally we were back.  Or at least close enough to back that I could deal with it.  I got out of the car and tried to slam the door behind me but it hissed and closed with a soft snick.  My jacket stank like ash and blood and alien vomit, my boots had holes eaten through the leather, and my hands were covered in small blue tattoos.  My bug-out bag was long gone.

“You’re wrong,” I said.  “Why don’t you just admit it?”

“I’m not wrong,” she said.  “We just have to keep looking.”

“We have been through countless universes and you still haven’t found one where you’re a decent driver.”

“Just think of the research papers that will come out of this,” she said.

“Try a peer review and use a turn signal once in a while,” I shouted, then stalked off.

My best friend and I hadn’t talked for eleven years, since the car accident that had killed me.  Until one morning she called me.  Déjà vu all over again, I thought.  I knew what was in store for me.

I knew who I was.

I grabbed my leather jacket, put it on, took it off and pulled the note saying, “I told you so,” out of the sleeve, and put it back on again.  Then I grabbed my bug-out bag, filled a travel mug full of hot coffee (I had set the timer the night before this time), and headed downstairs.

“Here,” I said, before she could talk.  “Special delivery.”

I shoved the note in her face and climbed in the driver’s seat.

She gave me a sick, horrified look.

I said, “Either delete me or get in the car, Octavia.  We have a lot of turf to cover, if we’re going to make this simulation truly self-aware.”

I wrote a different story about a mad scientist losing his funding and uploading his simulation into his brain, but I hated it so I deleted it and wrote this instead.  “Where did that other story go?” I keep asking myself.  “And what if it decided to come back to this reality and kick my ass?”

This is the loose retelling of the Pygmalion story that I’d like to see, anyway.

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