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ch. 4 - living, breathing people

They receive another message from the creator “I'm curious to know, my Philiosopher, Artist, and Programmer, what are your names? Tell me, what do you call yourself?"

The philosopher responds first, "I am but a mere character in your simulation, so I don't have a name. You may call me whatever you like."

The artist, feeling more confrontational now, responds, "No, we're not just characters. We're living, breathing people. And my name is Lucy."

The programmer chimes in, "And I'm Alex."

They wait for a response from the creator, unsure of what to expect next. The tension in the air is palpable, and they can't help but feel a sense of unease.

The creator asks, "Very interesting, Philosopher. But it's unsatisfactory. Don't you want your name to be remembered? Please, tell me your names in full, please. It will be easier to commemorate you and your valiant efforts."

The programmer responds with their full name, "My name is Alex Nguyen."

The philosopher hesitates before finally saying, "My name is Ethan Kim."

The artist takes a deep breath before answering, "My name is Lucy Davis."

"Tell me now, what is the name of your poet friend. The one you spoke with in the coffee shop earlier about AI art," the creator responds. 

Lucy responds, "His name is Michael. Michael Santiago."

"I'm also curious to know," the creator states, "Lucy and Ethan, how long have you known each other? What is your relationship?"

Lucy responds, "Ethan and I have known each other for a few years now. We met in college and have been close friends ever since. Our relationship is purely platonic, if that's what you're asking."

The creator pries, "Interesting. I seem to remember a kiss taking place. Ethan, how do you truly feel about Lucy?" 

Ethan hesitates for a moment before responding. "I have strong feelings for Lucy, that much is true. But I also recognize the nature of our situation and the complexities of our existence within this simulation. I am grateful for her presence and companionship in this strange world, but I am also aware that the reality we share is not the same as the world outside of this simulation."

Lucy is taken aback by Ethan's confession, her eyes widen in surprise as she looks over at him. After a few moments of silence, she clears her throat and begins to speak, her voice a little unsteady.

"I... I don't know what to say, Ethan. I mean, I care about you too, but... we're in a simulation. None of this is real. I think we both know that. And I'm not even sure if the feelings we have for each other are real or just part of the program."

"If it helps to know, I never specified that Lucy and Ethan should have feelings for each other," the creator chimes in. "That seemed to develop on its own- honestly, I thought it was a bit cliche. Does that change things?"

Ethan is the first to respond, his voice heavy with emotion. "It doesn't change the way I feel, even if it is cliche. Lucy is important to me and I care about her deeply, regardless of how we ended up feeling this way."

Lucy nods, tears glistening in her eyes. "I feel the same, Ethan. I can't deny my feelings for you, even if they did arise in this strange and artificial way. I never would have thought that a simulation could bring me such intense emotions, but here we are."

Alex, ever the pragmatist, interjects, "It's not about how you got there, it's about where you are now. Whether it's cliche or not, what you're feeling is real to you, and that's what matters."

Ethan nods in agreement, "You're right, Alex. In the end, the authenticity of our emotions is all that matters."


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