In a lab, there’s a gold mine. But, it’s not a mine exactly. It’s a cylinder with rounded edges, about 18″ in diameter, and in length, flat faces up/down, floating about waist height in a room. There’s a pedestal under it. If you approach, you see down into the pedestal into an apparently infinite space. There is a lensing effect around the object, and there are suspended chunks of gold around it of varying sizes. They can be pushed and moved, but they bounce back to their original location. Sometimes they shift and change size on their own.
It’s all fairly industrial: concrete floors, computer stations around the edges, subdued lighting. I notice some primary color pixellation and difraction around the interface edges of the object as we head to a non-containment room, but just figure that’s normal. Through various brainstorms, the object comes to be thought of as aware. It responds to us, but not in a way we understand. Hands near it, and it changes. Time to head out, because we don’t know if it’s safe to stay around it for very long.
The lab manager is my ex girlfriend, or something like that. It’s complicated. She looks just like Gwyneth Paltrow, only a little taller, or maybe I’m a little shorter. I’m not me, but I feel like me. I was removed from the project lead for no real reason, or maybe every reason. But, she’s letting me in because it’s too amazing to keep to herself, and they need help. No one else is making any progress on these. Yes, there’s a second one in another room.
I’m really excited, but GP stops to remind me that everything has to go through her. This is a trial involvement, and I cannot just do things with it, nor make decisions on it. I’m excited, but the limitations are tough. I apologize, say I understand, and blurt out that my thoughts were that a machine could be used to just reach in and scrape out the gold. She completes the sentence with me, and kisses me.
I like it, but something is wrong. I see bits of colored static, smaller pixels than in the containment room, here now too.
I realize the device is a computer of sorts. It’s simulating the universe immediately around us, and so long as we are near it, we are affected by any errors in the simulation.
She sees it, and I ask about “shutting it down”, but no one knows how to. In fact, there’s no one around us. The elevator is open, lit, but does not do anything. There’s a window with curtains, looking out into… a warehouse? What? No, now it’s sunlight, but there are pixels around the borders.
I’ve been thinking about the device, and realize it can read my mind. I name it “Pixels” in my mind, and call out to it in fear and exasperation. Continued realizations, not sudden, gradual, as if I’ve thought of all of the possibilities, and realize it is alive, and our entire universe is a simulation. The simulator is crashing, and the device is trying really hard to preserve us.
Stray specks are showing up in the room. I imagine that they would hurt going through me, but I don’t seem to ever make contact with one. We try to open the windows, but they’re not real. We’re stuck. Only this one last room exists. We cannot even reach the simulation interface anymore. Yes, that’s what the objects are: an interface for controlling the simulation from inside.
We’re frantic, but there does not seem to be anything we can do. As I wake up, I realize we had all moved into the simulation when the universe was winding down for us. Not us, per se, but our many-great grandparents. The universe had finally wound down enough, and there’s no repairing. This was the end of the end.