“Gout is something you get if you’re a character in a Dickens novel!” Ricky shouted out.

“Then I guess I am the main character of this chapter because I have it and I can’t keep running with all this money!” I yelled back.

“Maybe it would have been good to know that when we were discussing the heist last month!” Ricky shouted back.

“Maybe it would have been good to know that our driver was going to chicken out so we didn’t have to run in the first place!” I retorted.

“Here I got this car open, get in.” Ricky said as he smashed the window, I hopped in and threw the duffel bag filled with cash in the back as the car alarm screamed through the streets. A spark flew as Ricky smacked the two wires together and the car started up.

“We’re in business now.” Ricky stated as he whipped the car around and zoomed through the streets, distant sounds of a police siren were slowly becoming louder and louder.

“Brace yourself!” Ricky yelled as we drove straight through the middle of two cop cruisers slamming right through the front of them, we needed to get out of here and we needed to do it fast.

“Here, take this burner phone, call up Isaiah and ask him if he’s got the Cessna ready.” Ricky said as he reached in his pocket and threw the phone at me. The phone began to ring, no answer, I called again, no answer.

“He’s gone dark, we have to figure something else out.” I said, the anxiety now beginning to creep within me.

“We just need to-” and then everything went black. I awoke in a field but something felt off.

“Hello?” I shouted out, no response, this repetitive cycle of me yelling and getting no response went on for quite some time until a mass amount of flood lights turned on.

“Jacob, can you hear me?” a strange voice rang out.

“Who is that, where are you? Why can I hear you but I can’t see you?” I was so confused.

“Jacob, just calm down, right now you’re in a simulation room.” The voice said again, as the field began to dissipate and the sky went away turning the room into a giant concrete box with one way windows.

“Simulation room? What, what do you even mean?” I said

“It’s a room where we can change the environment into whatever we want and you can smell and be hurt by whatever the environment we choose to project.” The voice said.

“Hurt? What do you mean by hurt?” I stated back

“It’s better if we just conduct the test and you’ll see for yourself.” The concrete box began to transform and change into a heavily vegetated area and there were animals galore.

“Your job is to evolve and live within this environment and survive, hunt, gather, and all that.” The voice said.

“What? Why? You want me to live the rest of my life and build a life here?” I said, I got no response. I lost track of time, and what day it was, no matter how hard I begged for them to let me go they didn’t. For what felt like centuries went by, I had hair that went down to my lower back and a massive beard, I had learned how to hunt and grow crop, I even built myself a hut, and then the day came, a loud creak shot through this fabricated yet somehow real environment, I turned my head to see two people in hazmat suits entering the room.

“Are you Jacob Reed?” one of them said to me.

“Stay back, I’m warning you.” I said back, I was much stronger and agile than ever because I’ve had to navigate this mass of vegetation.

“No sir, this building is being shut down for crime against humanity, we’re here to save you.” The other one said. Tears began to fill my eyes, for I never thought I would see life ever again.

“How long has it been?” I said.

“Unfortunately sir if the date is correct on the year you were admitted, then it’s been 24 years.” I fell to my knees. I felt defeated, I’m 43 years old, and I don’t know where to begin. The two men guided me out and out front stood Ricky, he looked just like me, and many other convicts.

“What happened to us?” Ricky asked.

“I don’t know. I definitely still have gout though.” I replied, we both laughed even after what we had endured.