Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

I know how you feel, Freddie, I know how you feel. In the days since my trip to Nano-Wonderland, I've spent pretty much every moment trying to determine whether or not I'm actually "awake" now. Although I was raised on a steady diet of nerdy British sci-fi and soft-core anime, I consider myself a fairly grounded person. But when you've been forced to look at the world through funhouse mirrors one too many times, you reach a point where you just can't trust your own eyes.

With that in mind, I attempted to attack the problem formulaically. If the previous realities (or nano-reality) were created from the knowledge and experiences in my head, then one might deduce that, if this is indeed another fabricated world, it can't contain anything I didn't already know.

So I attempted to test that theory. I've been zig-zagging our path back to Willoughby using roads we didn't take on our initial trip to Lubbock. Granted, they all still look the same, but it's a different same. I've been secretly tasting things behind Priscilla's back - crazy stuff I never messed with before - moss, dandelions, pine cones. I even licked a rock. And when we paused for a pit stop, I raced inside a nearby house and grabbed the first random book I could find. It was Andrew Dice Clay's autobiography. Not exactly something I kept on my bedside table back home. But I have to admit, I laughed. And all of these new sensations, good and disgustingly awful, all feel entirely real and completely new. Which is a good thing, right?

Unfortunately, this all leads me to two sad possibilities. Either I'm simply back in the real world where electricity no longer functions and I'm doomed to wander in constant fear of an overlord nano entity deciding to snuff me out whenever it feels like it. Or, I never woke up those two times and I'm in yet another hyper-advanced computer simulation. The nano are everywhere; they see everything and are in everyone - so it's entirely possible they simply have the world's greatest set of Google maps, think that is what moss tastes like, and are big fans of the Diceman. I'll admit on the nights when I'm freezing my ass off, with stomach rumbling and nothing but acres of sky and miles to walk, I regret not staying in that beautiful powered fantasy. Sure, it would have been selfish and weak to leave everyone I loved behind simply to live out my days in a world of blissful ignorance. But a part of me thinks I would have gotten over it.

But then I look to my right, and there's Priscilla. One of the strongest, most compassionate people I've ever met. She's been there every step of the way. And I realize - reality, fantasy, purgatory, whatever - none of it matters. Not as long as I have her with me. And that is a reality I can get behind.

Aaron Pittman

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