This story was written in early 1999 and posted to the pretendfic mailing list in May of that year. In it I was exploring the idea of the nature of simulations. I was studying for History 100 at the time, as I recall. 888888 indicates a section break, as I don't like using lines and ff net won't let me use asterisks. This story is being posted to ff . net as part of a project to get all my fanfictions past and present archived together in one place. I haven't re-edited it for posting here though it was proofread in the past. Please forgive formatting and other errors.
"Simulations" by Deichtine
"This is Sydney."
"Hi, Sydney, um, are you busy right now?"
"Not particularly. Why?"
"I found something I think you might like to see."
"I'll be right there, Broots." Sydney opened the door to his office to find
Miss Parker there, hand poised where the doorknob would be.
"Good morning, Syd. Where might you be going?"
Sydney smiled. "Good morning, Miss Parker. Broots just found something he
wanted to show me. Would you care to come along?" He knew quite well that she
would insist on coming whether he asked or not, and he was determined to beat
her to it.
"What is it?" she asked, eyeing him warily.
"I don't know. He hasn't told me yet. He didn't sound particularly excited,
Miss Parker waved him forward. "Lead on," she said.
As they paced through the corridors of the Centre, Sydney observed his companion
from the corner of his eye., She was almost smiling, and her step seemed
somehow eager. Her deep blue eyes sparkled.
"You seem to be in a good mood this morning," hs observed.
She smiled at him, saying, "I have reason to be."
Sydney's eyebrow climbed. "Which is?" he prompted.
"Let's wait and hear Broots' news first," she said, and Sydney's other eyebrow
joined the first. This must be something big, to have her this excited.
As they entered, Broots swung around in his chair. "Hi, Sydney," he greeted,
then visibly jumped as he noticed Miss Parker. "Ah, hello, uh, Miss Parker...
I, ah... wasn't expecting you."
"Don't put the nudie magazines away because of me. What's the big news,
Broots' eyes narrowed slightly. He had learned to be suspicious of Miss
Parker's rare good moods; more often than not, they resulted in more work for
him. A little less animatedly, he swung back to the computer and began to key
in instructions. "It's not really big news, really. Sydney, I was going
through some of the old Centre directories that are no longer used - conserving
memory, you know. I found this misfiled with the components of a
word-processing program. I knew something had to be wrong - it was much too
large for even a Microsoft program. So, I opened it." Broots clicked the
mouse, and a familiar black and white scene filled the screen of the computer.
DSA: Jarod 5/11/65
FOR CENTRE USE ONLY
Jarod stood still in the middle of the sim lab. "I don't want to do a
simulation," he announced. "I don't want to be someone else. Why can't I just
Sydney stood before him, arms folded, a stern expression on his face. "Jarod,
you must work with me. These simulations are very important. You are very
special, Jarod. No one else can do them but you. Think about the captain of
the ship, Jarod. What is he thinking? What is he feeling? Become the captain,
Jarod. Think what he is thinking. Feel what he feels. You are the captain."
Jarod stamped his little foot and moved to cover his ears. "No! I don't want to
- I don't want to -- I don't want to..."
Sydney spoke over him. "Become the captain, Jarod. You are the captain."
Jarod's expression changed, and his arms fell to his sides. He seemed somehow
older, more experienced, as if Sydney's words had aged his six-year-old mind
forty years or more. "The ship," he said, in a voice heavy with worry and
sorrow. "The ship is gone already. There is no escape. Is it true that the
captain must always go down with the ship?"
"Stop the DSA, Broots." Miss Parker turned to Sydney. "I just had the most
intriguing thought," she said.
"If I got that right," she went on, "you brought Jarod into that simulation
against his will."
Sydney stiffened to meet her stare. "He ws always stubborn," he said
defensively. "And he usually needed help with the sims when he was young."
"Can you still do it?" she asked.
"Force Jarod into a sim."
Sydney gave her a cold brown stare. "I would never do something like that, even
if I could."
"You did then," Miss Parker said pointedly. "Why not?"
Sydney's accent thickened slightly, showing how strong his emotions were on the
subject. "Why, it would be like... like... it would be reprehensible!"
Miss Parker gazed at him with cold, clear grey eyes.
"The only thing I could liken it to would be... Mental rape. Jarod could be
emotionally scarred -"
Miss Parker sniffed. "It's too late for that," she said. Sydney flinched. "Is
it possible to create a simulation that would bring Jarod back to the Centre?"
Sydney shook his head. "I see where you're going with this, and it won't work.
I would have to be there with him, in person, and -"
"Skip that. Would the simulation work?"
"No. Unless the subject is extremely deep in the simulation, it is difficult to
make them assume roles very opposite to their own personality. The most I could
make Jarod do, even with his cooperation, is put himself into a situation where
he is open and off-guard."
"Do it. Get the simulation prepared."
Sydney shook his head again. "I told you, it won't work. By the time I could
get close enough to Jarod, he would already be captured or in flight. And I
would have to be alone with him, and he would have to be relaxed. We don't even
know where he is, for heavens' sake. The last time I saw him was outside of the
bank, and we obviously didn't get to talk then. It will be a long time before
Jarod lets us that close again."
"I know where Jarod is." Miss Parker said it quietly and perfectly calmly;
Sydney had to do a double take before it registered.
"Jarod," Miss Parker said, reaching for a cigarette, "Is currently teaching
history, specifically the French Revolution, at the University of Regina up in
Canada. Office 410. You can call for an appointment to see him at 555-6894."
Sydney and Broots stared at her. "How do you know that?" Broots burst out.
She smiled serenely. "I have my ways," she said. The men continued to gawk
incredulously. She sighed. "If you must know, my cousin is in his class. She
emailed me the other day, prattling on about her classes, and apparently she's
rather taken with Dr. Jarod Lefebvre. She described him quite well - and at
Sydney smiled as he heard the name. Miss Parker raised a questioning eyebrow at
him. "Georges Lefebvre was a famous historian of the French Revolution."
"I'm so happy for him. Get started on the sim, Sydney." She turned to leave,
but Sydney caught her arm, turning her to face him.
"Please, Miss Parker, don't make me do this. It's not only wrong, but it will
destroy any trust Jarod has left in me. What if it doesn't work? Jarod will
despise me, and it will all have been for nothing."
Her eyes were ice as she shook her arm out of his grip. "Make it work," she
said, and left.
Jarod set the chalk down and brushed off his hands. "So you see," he said, "how
it was the financial crisis in France that set events in motion for the coming
of the French Revolution." Looking out at the students, Jarod suddenly noticed
that he had gone overtime and that most of the students had put their books away
already and were looking anxiously at their watches. He smiled.
"I'm sorry to have kept you late. I'll see you on Wednesday." As the students
streamed past him, Jarod suddenly noticed that one of the girls bore a striking
resemblence to Miss Parker. Jarod looked again, then shook his head. He had
been thinking about her too much lately - he was seeing her everywhere.
Miss Parker and Sydney watched Jarod from the small window in the door, ready to
duck out of sight if he were to turn towards them. Miss Parker grinned. "I've
been waiting way too long for this," she said. Sydney, who had been smiling
softly as he watched his protégé at work, abruptly remembered why he was there
"He's right there, Parker. Open. Waiting! Why don't you just take him?"
"Because, Syd," she explained with mock patience, "if I try to go in and take
him now, not only will the entire class, including my cousin, see everything,
but he will have ample opportunity to pull his escape-artist trick yet again,
and we'll be back where we started." She turned back to the window. "I am not
letting you get away again," she muttered, and Sydney sighed. She flicked a
glance over at him. "You're not getting out of it, Freud, so just pull up your
Pampers, tuck in that lower lip, and get used to the idea."
At that moment the door opened and the students began flowing past, and they had
to step quickly to stay out of sight.
The next day, the last bugs had been worked out of the simulation, and it was
ready. Broots made an appointment via email for one of Jarod's students at his
office at the University. Finally, Sydney and Miss Parker stood face to face at
the end of the halway. Sweepers, dressed for the occasion not in their
trademark dark suits, but in sweaters and jeans, wandered seemingly aimlessly
through the hallways.
"Will it work?" she asked him.
Sydney shook his head resignedly. "If it doesn't nothing will. It's the best I
can come up with." If the plan goes well, after about fifteen minutes, Jarod
will come out of the office, go to the front door of the building, and get into
the Centre car outside. He should come out of the simulation about 5 minutes
later if you don't interfere. Don't let the sweepers or anyone else interfere
with him until he is in the car, or the sim could be shattered."
For once, she didn't answer with a nasty comeback, but merely nodded and said,
"Go do your stuff, Sydney." With that, she, along with several of the sweepers,
disappeared into a vacant classroom.
A moment later, Sydney was standing before Jarod's office door. Hating himself
for what he was about to do, he knocked on the door and slowly pushed it open.
Jarod closed his briefcase quickly as the door opened. "I've been looking over
your essay, John," he began - then looked up. He sprang up as he saw who his
visitor was, and his eyes widened in a curious mixture of pleasant surprise and
alarm. "Sydney? What are you doing here? How did you find me so soon?" His
eyes darted around the room, searching for an avenue of escape.
"Relax, Jarod. I'm alone." Sydney stepped inside and closed the door as a young
man in jeans and a sweater passed by outside. "How are you, Jarod?" he said
warmly, looking the younger man up and down. "You've lost weight?"
Jarod's eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he relaxed slightly, enough to take
Sydney's proffered hand. "I'm as well as can be expected. And you?"
"I'm well." Jarod saw the worry in his face, though, and said so. "I've been
under a lot of stress lately, Jarod. The pressure to bring you back is very
high right now."
"How did you find me?" Jarod asked again. "Is Miss Parker with you?"
"Actually, Miss Parker is how I found you, in a way. You see, one of her
cousins happens to be in one of your classes, and apparently in her last letter
she indulged in a detailed description of her Sydney raised his eyebrows
'incredibly handsome history professor, Dr. Jarod Lefebvre'." Sydney smiled.
"Lefebvre, Jarod? You should have known I catch that."
Jarod smiled back. "I was counting on it. I wasn't expecting you so soon,
however. When is Miss Parker coming?"
Sydney shook his head, and his smile disappeared. "I'm sorry, Jarod, but I
can't tell you that. She would have my head on a platter."
Jarod nodded resignedly. "As long as she's not here now. I understand. I
suppose I'd better get packing, then."
Sydney sat down on the corner of the desk, and Jarod lowered his walls enough to
sit back down in his chair.
"So how do you find teaching, Jarod?"
In the hall, Miss Parker was getting impatient. "What is he doing in there?"
she fumed. "I swear, if he warns him, I'll spread his entrails from here to
Inside, Sydney and Jarod spoke of little things, such as teaching, history, and
Sydney's current projects at the Centre. Sydney began describing one of the
projects he'd been working on in great detail, and, despite his disapproval of
Sydney's job at the Centre, Jarod found himself growing fascinated. The man in
the sim was a very complicated personality, and Jarod thought vaguely, with a
tiny pang of regret, that were he still at the Centre, this would have been his
sim. He didn't want to admit it to himself, but Jarod missed the mental
stimulation of Sydney's simulations. It was so much easier to fall into another
personality with Sydney's guidance than without. As Sydney spoke, Jarod
automatically began to form the man's personality in his mind's eye.
"Think what he is thinking, Jarod," Sydney said, recognizing the familiar
far-off look on the pretender's face. "Feel what he feels."
Suddenly Jarod looked up, realizing what was happening. "Stop, Sydney. Don't
Sydney went on, ignoring Jarod's protests. "Become the man, Jarod," he said.
Jarod looked him in the eyes, recognizing the danger but powerless to stop
himself. "Refuge, Sydney!" he whispered, pleading.
Sydney's eyes were full as he completed the litany. "You are the man."
Jarod immediately stood up and, muttering to himself, walked quickly out into
the hallway, oblivious to the growing crowd of men in sweaters and jeans who
were now following him a few years behind. He strode pas a startled Miss
Parker, who stepped out of the classroom as he passed.
Sydney had to step quickly to catch up with the throng, frowning to himself the
whole way. Jarod hadn't been this deeply into a sim since he was seven or eight
years old. Usually, he had enough objectivity to maintain a running description
of what he was feeling, thinking. Jarod was either very deeply immersed in the
new personality - or he might be Pretending.
Sydney jogged up to fall into step with Miss Parker. "Watch him," he murmered.
"I'm not sure if it took."
She just looked at him for a moment, not missing a step, then returned to
watching Jarod. "Don't worry, Syd. I am not letting him get away this time."
For the first time, Sydney noticed the gun in her hand; it was trained on Jarod.
Sydney shivered, and, for the first time, he prayed for the sim to work.
His prayers were answered. Jarod followed the simulation through exactly as
predicted. Five minutes later, Jarod came to himself, in a car bound for the
border, with a sweeper on either side and Miss Parker in the front seat.
Trapped. He looked around for Sydney, but he wasn't there. Jarod began to
laugh quietly. He should have known.
Six Months Later
"This is Sydney."
"How is he?"
"I don't know. He still refuses to see me."
"It's not like he has any choice, you know."
"No, but he refuses to acknowledge my presence. My existence. Dr. Martin will
be taking over the project soon, under Raines' supervision, of course."
"You sound bitter."
"No. Sad. He will never forgive me, and I can't blame him. I betrayed him. I
was the only person he trusted, and because of me, he has lost his freedom -
likely forever. I doubt the Centre will ever release him now - not with what he
knows - and what he wants to know.
A pause. "I know. I'm sorry."
Sydney shook his head, and hung up the phone.