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'The nightmares surely wouldn't come tonight, right?' The boy thought when he clambered into his bed.
He slid under the wooly sheets, but realizing that it was a July night, so too hot to have the thick comforters on his body. Instead he just lay on top of the sheets, and stared up at dark blue ceiling, with the window casting a yellow glow every so often from a passing car. The digital clock on his bedside table cast a bright red glow of 9:30 on the boy’s face. Surely the nightmares wouldn't come. He glanced across from him at the pastel his mother had painted of a group of cows grazing in a field. He started to count the cows, hoping that the action of doing so would stop him from falling asleep.
'1 cow... 2 cows... 3 cows...' He blinked, and suddenly it was 10: 24.
He had slept, but he hadn't even noticed it.
At first he panicked, but then realizing that the nightmares would've already come by now, and relaxed, and settled back down into the bed. Suddenly, the clock changed to 10:23. He drew back in alarm. Oh no... The clock then went back to 10:22, then 10:21, then started to go back so fast it started to all look like a blur. No, no! The numbers were then replaced by a group of strange symbols, like some kind of alien hieroglyphs. 'Oh dear god no...'
Then the glass of water on his bed began to shake, and the water ominously rippled. He started to break into a cold sweat, then it became real sweat, as the room was getting hotter. The glass tipped over and smashed, spilling water all over the floor. Then the puddle of water started to bubble and steam. The boy huddled underneath the sheets. Everything started to shake now, and the room became hotter and hotter, until it was like an oven from hell.
He knew what was happening now, it had happened so many times already, the painting of the cows would start to curl and burn up, and eventually turn into fiery ash. The kleenex would begin to lift out of the box and from flaming fireballs and hurl themselves across the room, exploding into smoke. He suddenly heard a cackle, which went on for a few seconds, and then a rumbling of stone against stone.
I don't remember this happening, the boy thought to himself.
He dared himself to peek out of his sheets, and looked down on the ground. There were 5 glowing concentric circular depressions on the floor, and the rings created by the depressions were spinning, emanating the grinding sound that the boy had heard. Smoke curled up from the rings like snakes curling up from some fiery domain. The rings spun faster and faster, as the boy began to scream, and suddenly the bed was jilted up off the ground, and floated up into the air. The devilish cackle started again, and boy could feel it rumbling in his soul, each laugh quickening his heartbeat a little more.
The boy cried and huddled in his bed, as his room was turned into a fiery inferno, and the walls and floor all turned ablaze and the boy felt his own skin burning away at the very flesh. Then suddenly, everything stopped. The fire disappeared as if it was on rewind, and the poster reverse burned and reappeared. The cup jumped back up from the ground and the water materialized from steam and slipped back into the cup. Finally, as the bed fell to the ground with a crash, the clock reset to 10:24. The room was suddenly silent and cold. Too silent.
The boy carefully looked around, and the clock changed to 10:25. Were the nightmares over?
GRAWHHL! A monster with glowing red eyes popped up in front of his face with a snarling maw and gleaming white teeth.
"AHHHH!" the boy screamed with all of hi-
THIS SIMULATION HAS ENDED, TO CONTINUE, PLEASE INSERT ONE DOLLAR.
The boy lifted the goggles from his face.
"Man, I love these simulations," he said to himself.
He lifted the covers from the mock bed used for these simulations, and walked out of the shiny metallic booth, which had a glowing neon sign labeled Fear. He passed by similar booths, a young woman simulating a secret party for herself in the Surprise booth, a man walking in the rain after his girlfriend dumped him in Sadness, and an old woman simulating sitting on a park bench in Happiness.
He had finally been allowed by his parents to try out Fear, because earlier they thought that it was too powerful of an emotion to feel for his age, but for his 8th birthday it was acceptable.
He finally came to a door, which he opened into a dark hallway. He started to walk down the hallway, which was only dimly lit by flickering fluorescent lights. Sometimes he passed other people going the other direction on their way to visit the booths. When he turned the right, he found the exit, and stepped out of the museum, and into the grey light. He gazed up at the towering buildings and rushing cars, the dark colorless world, where all emotions, feelings, and purpose was sucked away, but a time when the world wasn't like this could not be remembered by anyone anymore, it’s only in stories now.
It's Bobby's eighth birthday today, in the year 3035.