01 Feb It wasn’t an ordinary glitch in the matrix
I’d always thought that life functioned like a system of complex computer programs.
For example, when you touch a stove, you get burnt. If you spend too much time in cold temperature, you get hypothermia. If you apply too much strain to a limb, it breaks. Every consequence is resultant from a previous action. A simple conditional statement, if you will. Now, I can’t confirm the existence or lack thereof in regards to a creator… a God, if you will. I obviously don’t have that authority. But if one were to exist… it would make sense that this is just the way that we were programmed. How the reality that we see in front of us was meant to function. Just a system of codes.
But just like man-made programs, nothing’s perfect. And with such a large and complicated one like life itself, even a God would have to make mistakes… right?
I can pinpoint the exact moment where it all started happening. At that moment, I wasn’t at a great spot in my life. Now, I wasn’t depressed or anything… just kind of disassociated with everything around me. My life had stagnated, to say the least. I had a feeling that my best years were behind me. And being a mere 32 years of age… that wasn’t a good feeling.
I’d gotten fired from my last job when I was 29. Luckily though, I’d gotten a new one nearly right after. Now, it wasn’t one I liked but… I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. However, my office was only around a ten minute walk from my studio apartment, so that was good. Anyhow, it was a late night work session. Most everybody else had gone home, but I stayed due to the amount of work that I’d procrastinated on from weeks prior. I wanted get a good chunk of it done. At one point, I got up in order to pour myself some coffee. As I was walked into the kitchen, I noticed a door located in one of the corners.
The thing is… I didn’t think that I’d ever seen it before, but I also rarely went into the kitchen. I find small talk with my particular co-workers to be incredibly excruciating. I just assumed that I didn’t pay enough attention to notice it. It was a rather large area, after all. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to see where it lead. I was honestly expecting it to be a pantry of sorts. However, I was surprised as hell when I opened it up.
It was an empty, medium-sized room with smooth grey walls and floors. I walked around, exploring the place for a while before quickly realizing that there was literally nothing in there. It was pretty damn weird, in all honesty. I mean, what the hell was this place and what purpose did it have? As I was about to turn and head out, I noticed what appeared to be small objects in one of the corners of the room. Now, I could’ve guaranteed that they weren’t there before. In fact, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw it. I quickly walked over and examined them, discovering that they appeared to be a couple of rifle rounds. I just threw them back down and left that room. I was beginning to feel uneasy as hell. I ran back into the office and prepared to head home. I just assumed that the work had been getting to my head. To make sure, I looked around in order to see if anybody else was still there. The janitor was, so I made the assumption that he was the one that had placed the bullets there. But in retrospect… that made absolutely no sense.
The sky was already dark as I started to make my way back home. It was around 8 PM when I’d left. Feeling somewhat hungry, I decided to stop by at a pizza place on the way. Now, I’d been to the place numerous times, so I’d pretty much memorized the opening and closing times for every single day of the week. That’s why I found it so shocking that the place was closed. It was always open until 9 PM on weekdays.
Whatever, I thought. This wasn’t even the strangest thing that had happened to me that day. The place must have just abruptly changed their hours. I looked over at the opening/closing times displayed out on the windows to confirm it. However, this part made less sense. 6 out of the 7 days maintained the same schedule. It was only today – Tuesday, that had changed so that it closed one hour earlier. Although this was somewhat disconcerting, it wasn’t beyond explanation. I just went home and made something else to eat instead.
These kind of small, unexplainable incidents started happening to me more and more often throughout the next few months. Things would be misplaced from where I had last left them, people I didn’t know seemed to recognize me while people I’d known for years seemed to have no clue who I was, and I’d keep finding bullets in the most random of places. One of the strangest incidents was when I finally decided to go and see a psychologist. After telling him everything that had been happening, he just stared at me for the longest time before saying: “This isn’t where you really are. This is just temporary, but it’s better that you don’t wake up right now” before literally leaving me by myself in his office.
The thing is, while these events were incredibly disturbing, they were still far and few between. In other words, they were still essentially manageable.
That all changed on a Saturday a few weeks later. The previous night, I’d been out drinking with a few friends. I guess I went a little too hard because I barely remembered anything when I woke up. The thing that I deemed rather peculiar was that I didn’t even feel the signs of a hangover creeping up on me. But just like the pizza place, I didn’t bother thinking too much of it. These were small details, after all. I turned on my laptop and started going through my emails. Having an inbox filled with random bullshit always bothered me. About a few minutes into that, I got a text from my buddy Ansel, who I had gone out with last night.
“Dude, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I actually think Matt might have gotten laid last night. Shit was nuts. You shoulda came man.”
I must have stared at that text for 10 minutes. You see, there were two things wrong with what Ansel had just told me. One, I vividly remembered going out with them on Friday. Now, I don’t remember most of the actual night, but I sure as hell remember getting off work and then entering our first bar. Second of all, who the hell was Matt supposed to be? I don’t know anybody named “Matt”. This was it. I’ve gone crazy, I thought to myself. But then I started to calm down. This kind of stuff happened to me sometimes. They were just momentary blips in the matrix. This couldn’t have been that big of a deal.
With this rationalization in my head, I just continued on with the day. I didn’t have anything planned, so I decided to stay in and binge YouTube. And that’s exactly what I did. I remember it starting out normal at first. I watched the channels that I usually did. At one point, I found myself watching a documentary about human trafficking. It was so weird… I couldn’t for the life of me remember how I had gotten there.
As I listened to the narrator talk, I began looking at the recommended/related videos. One caught my eye. The thumbnail was that of a man in military gear, sitting on top of a Humvee in a desert. However, the title is what drew me into it:
“Where do you think you are right now? Because it’s not where you’re supposed to be.”
I remember just sitting there, trying to understand what that title was getting at. This was… strange, wasn’t it? I decided to click on it. Now, the video itself was extremely shaky and incomprehensible. It looked… erratic, in a sense. I could tell that it was filmed inside, but I’m not really sure in what kind of place. I could make out what appeared to be rotting wooden walls, but that was about it.
However… the audio was the really messed up part. There was screaming. Desperate, hoarse, painful ones. About three sets in total. And they wouldn’t stop. That’s when I noticed the duration of the video… 26,288 hours and 22 minutes. Now, I was pretty sure that wasn’t possible, because of YouTube’s upload duration limitations. I closed the video and then the laptop. That was enough internet for today.
I yawned and stretched my arms out. I felt so… tired for some reason. That’s when I checked the time. It was 11:00 PM. I got out of my chair and opened my blinds. It was indeed dark outside. What the hell? I thought. I knew for sure that I had opened my laptop at around 1 PM. There was no way in hell that it’d been 10 hours.
At that moment, I knew that something must have been very wrong here. But… what? What the hell could have been happening to me? I checked my phone. 78 missed calls and texts. I looked through them. Most of them were from my mother. Some were from my friends. A few texts were even from Brandi… my ex-girlfriend around three years.
“I really miss you” Is what they say. Why the hell would she say that now? I tossed my phone and started pacing around my apartment. My head started pounding. But it wasn’t just a headache. My left arm and ribs were also burning with this intense pain that I’d never felt before. I went to the bathroom, looking for something that could’ve helped. Eventually, I found some morphine. I felt sheer bliss as I injected it into my bloodstream. But then another troubling thought made its way into my head.
Why the hell did I have morphine?
I couldn’t recall a situation that could’ve lead to me having it in my possession. I walked out of the bathroom and started pacing again. This was just a nightmare, I tried telling myself. But why was the pain so vivid? I decided that I really needed to get some rest. I started heading towards my bed when I was jolted by the sounds of explosions coming from inside my bedroom. I flipped shit and ran the hell out of my apartment. I wandered around the streets for a while, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go, and not even beginning to understand what in the actual hell was going on.
Eventually, I came across what appeared to be a group of four men huddled together at a crosswalk. They all had their backs turned to me, so I couldn’t make out any facial features, but I could also tell that they weren’t moving at all. I don’t know how to explain it but… the air started to feel hostile around me. It felt like I was heading right into danger. I started backing away, but not before the men turned around to look at me. But ironically enough… they had no faces to look at me with. Just smooth, empty skin where an expression should have been.
In an instant, they began charging at me. I started running. As I tried to evade what was surely a horrific fate behind me, I began notice that my surroundings had drastically changed. I wasn’t in the city that I had been living in the past three years anymore Instead, I was somewhere both familiar and not at the same time. Like I’d been to the place before but didn’t quite remember where it was.
It got to the point where I just couldn’t keep running. I remember collapsing onto the pavement and turning back in horror to see the group of faceless entities still thundering their way towards me. I just sat there, waiting for whatever twisted outcome to finally come and claim me. I didn’t want to deal with this shit anymore.
However, as the men got to within about thirty meters away from me… they just stopped. A few seconds passed before one of their throats seemed to get slit open by an invisible force. The others looked around frantically before two of them literally seemed to blow up. The last one just started sprinting away.
In absolute shock at what I had just seen, I pulled myself back up and started walking around again. As I did, my mind seemed to be getting clearer. This new city I was in… I started to recognize it more. But… what was I doing there? Eventually, my vision started to fade. But in the conventional sense. It was like the area around me was getting too bright. It got to the point where I could barely see anything. I passed out a few seconds later.
I awoke in a run-down cabin. I heard a bunch of commotion as figures swarmed around me, talking loudly to each other. I looked over to see a man in military gear kneeling beside me, administering a needle into my arm. We made eye contact. Wait. I recognized him.
“What’s up Dempsey? You’re safe now. We finally found ya.” He smiled at me. It was… Matt. I did know a Matt.
I started looking around the room to find it filled with other military guys. There were also two, skinny, broken looking men also being tended to. In addition to that, there were also three body bags on the floor.
I was still somewhat disoriented, so I passed out again. I woke back up again in a hospital room. A man in a suit was sitting by the foot of my bed, looking at his phone. He smiled when he saw that I was up.
“Mr. Dempsey. How are you feeling?”
He went on to explain how I was actually a Navy SEAL. I had been sent on a mission to capture a notorious human trafficker who had been tracked down to an abandoned town in Belarus. However… things went south and nearly everybody on my team had died, leaving only three of us, including me – to be captured and used as leverage towards the US government. We were held hostage there for three years, constantly being tortured during that time. It was only a few days ago before they finally found us, also managing to kill the trafficker.
After dropping that bomb on me, the man left me alone to contemplate. It all started to come back to me. The mission… the ambush… however, I didn’t remember the torture. That was when my memory became foggy and was replaced by the life I thought I had been living just a few days prior. The evidence of my physical deterioration was evident. I was bone-skinny, had cuts all over my body and was missing my left ring finger. But I don’t remember experiencing any of it.
I told all of this to my nurse, but she probably thought I was insane. Who knows, maybe I am. However, I asked for a laptop, so that I could type all of this down. My request was granted. The first thing that I did was search up major events that had happened during the three years that I was out of commission. It all lined up. The Cubs won in 2016, Trump took office in 2017, Carrie Fisher died, I knew it all. I even searched up Brandi’s Facebook profile. She had the same picture that she’d updated only a few months ago. There was no way that the last few years of my life had all been imagined.
Now, I can’t begin to speculate what happened. Was it a glitch or corruption in the matrix? I couldn’t say. Was it a mistake by God? Possibly. But…
Maybe it wasn’t a mistake. Maybe it was deliberate. Maybe this “God” knew exactly what it was doing.