My Ghost by piccadillywilson
One clue that might lead you to believe your life was a scripted simulation might be the sudden emergence of new themes, or abrupt changes in your story - as unseen undergraduate experimenters move on to a new module in their degree course and devise a new set of experiments for their imprisoned but unaware and virtual subject.
Has your life suddenly become dangerous? Is everything recently very French? Are you encountering purple vegetables with worrying regularity?
In my case I am being tortured by frequent encounters with co-workers from my old consultant days.
They are everywhere.
Encountering two in a Canary Wharf wine bar last month was unremarkable happenstance; meeting a third at a mini-rugby festival felt like coincidence, but when I noticed fourth ex-co-worker running on my shoulder at the Richmond Park 5k I suddenly suspected enemy action
By now I was even beginning to recognise them and recall their names. (Somewhere a tentacled hand pressed pause and made a note of my pleasing progress)
So, when a fifth ex-colleague phoned me up out of the blue last month to ask me for coffee, and then a sixth turned up at in a meeting at work I wasn't even surprised. "I've been expecting you" was my (slighty unusual) opening conversational gambit but she wasn't thrown (they're good, the holo-deck programmers, they're very good) and somewhere far away someone decided turned up the heat a bit "I know! How about giving him a an alumni reunion?" and lo, I have been to two such occasions in a fortnight.
I see ghosts, I see them all the time. And last night I saw very many of them. And if the spectres of age, and the credit-crunch and a sense that things could have been different, if those spectres were also there, and they haunted us, well, we didn't let it show for there was free wine and canapes.
It had been ten years since I last saw David and it's been fifteen years since we worked together in a city in Africa, and it was good to see him again, and when everyone else had gone we stayed and we reminisced about old friends and narrow escapes, sale pitches won and lost, clients satisfied and upset and do-you-remember-whens, when suddenly it hit me
"You know, David", I said, "you know - we used to be friends didn't we" and he laughed, "Yes Alibert, so we did".
Since I last saw him he had found time to get married and father an eight year old - and I didn't even know.
"Have you been to many other reunions lately?", I asked; and he looked at me strangely.