I barely glanced at the woman as I took my seat behind my desk. It was the start of the day but I was already exhausted. Luckily I had my coffee with me. I took a sip and placed it on my desk. I picked up the file.
“Mrs. Sonphy …” “Miss.” “I’m sorry?” I looked up at the woman for the first time. The woman smiled at me. It was unnerving.
“It’s miss,” she said simply.
I glanced down at my file. “It says here you’re married.”
“Sure,” she said and shrugged. Then, she gave me a big smile. A bemused grin appeared on the corner of her lips. Something was really wrong with her. People who’re sent to me don’t ever smile. They either fidget or are completely bored.
Like Dave. He was a fidgeter. In our sessions, I could never get him to sit in the chair. He would keep bouncing impatiently between the window and the door, looking for his fix. He would close his eyes, mumble to himself, count his fingers, push against his palm, but never would he be still. And never would he smile.
Or like Stefanie. She had the perpetually bored look on her face like she was bored of the world, bored of reality – which she was. Stefanie had become addicted to virtual reality. She was fragile and thin because she had stopped eating in the real world. She had lost her job because she hadn’t turned up there for two months. When the medics had found her, she was almost hysterical, not having slept for four days. She was arrested and as per protocol a chip was implanted right behind her neck. A small EMP device that would render any virtual reality device that she put on useless to her. And it was my job to adjust back into reality, to not be bored with reality, to find the beauty in reality. Never in our sessions, though, did she once smile. Or grin bemusedly.
Mrs. Sonphy’s grin was disturbing. I had to get to the bottom of this.
“My name is Adam. I am the health officer in-charge for your case. Do you understand what that means?”
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“I do,” she said simply.
“Okay, Mrs. Sonphy, let’s start with your …” “It’s because this is the final level.”
She flashed me that unnerving smile once more and said, “This is the final level.”
“The final level?”
“It’s really cute that you don’t know what’s going on. This,” she said and pointed around us, “is all a game.”
I paused. This was a first for me. “Do you think you’re in a game, Mrs. Sonphy?”
“Miss! I am not married in real life.”
“And this isn’t real life?”
“Of course it isn’t.”
“What is it then?”
“It’s the game. The final level. The boss fight. This game has been going of for 5 years in game-time and now it’s finally coming to an end. Only have to kill the boss.”
“Who’s the boss, Mrs. Sonphy?”
She flashed me that unnerving smile once more and said, “I am. So, Adam, what are you going to do now?”