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His cup of coffee sat in front of him stone cold at this point as he tried to take in his wife’s words. Was she even his wife, or just some talking mouthpiece that looked like her? It was unknown at this point since he didn’t know what to believe.


She shook her head, “You don’t remember the surgery they did on you before deploying, do you?”

He frowned, his gaze hardening as he shook his head.

“They not only implanted a chip in that lovely head of yours, but they took several pieces of DNA before you left, pieces that would be crucial to keeping ‘you’ here even while you were still over there.”


“They cloned your cells, much as they’ve done for several soldiers. No one knows about it, because there’s never been any problem with the program. The soldiers that fall in battle are activated, their cloning process goes forward, and everything that’s been downloaded at that point gets sent to the program and uploaded into the cloned brain that’s grown in a vat.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“It’s not supposed to honey.”

He grimaced, feeling his fingertips on the table in front of him as tried to push away, but couldn’t.

“Bad batch,” he said quietly.


He didn’t answer for a moment, casting his gaze out through the sliding glass door again. “Bad batch, it’s something I keep hearing in my dreams, only it’s being yelled by someone, I can never see who. Goddammit, what’s happening to me?”

“Hell if I know soldier,” she replied, “I just work here.”

“Did I never come back?”

She eyed him carefully, “None of your regiment did soldier. You’ve all been activated, which means you can go on believing that this reality is what’s there to be enjoyed, or…”

“Or what?”

“Oblivion,” she stated plainly, “It’s the only stop left after realizing that none of this is real.”

“Are you shitting me?”

She shook her head, saying nothing. Looking around the home, the spacious living room, the wide open kitchen, all of it darker than it should have been, he couldn’t help but wonder what might happen if he just let it go, if he let himself go. There was too much to think about right now, and it was starting to crash down around him as he felt the table turn into the consistency of sand, the temperature in the room escalate suddenly as-

“Shut it down,” she said, “The subject is hyperventilating.”

Just like that, the dream ended, and the nightmare started all over again. She’d been right, he had never made it back, he was still there.

The End

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