The space around me brightens as my eyes adjust to the darkness. I see a sun far off, millions of miles away and yearn for its warmth. It smiles oddly and tells me that the operation was a success, and it hands me a key card. The ring now sits next to my bed on a small table, and I don't cry. I accept the piece of integrated metal as my only reward and stand, ready to take on my role as a pilot of my people.
I'm above myself. Beyond my being. My neck is cut open; wires are being inserted into it, and a hole is drilled in my skull. Suddenly it all blurs and readouts cloud my vision. Temperature, velocity, transversal, shields, armor status, weapon mounts, and more. The teacher tells me I am ready, and pats me on the shoulder as he hands me my first beer. I optimize the systems with a few quick adjustments, and grab the can, open it and drink.
The beer flows around my face and I wipe it away in the zero gravity, questioning the validity of even this seemingly empty space. I sense I may be imagining it and that I'll wake up at any time. I am not dead yet, and it all seems too...manufactured. The placement of the can, the likelihood of a bridge breach and no self destruct activation sequence. After all, simulations are usually very expansive and contain tricks to encourage you to excel. But what exactly could a simulated death prove? What could it show?
The old man...
He is all I see now.
I wish I was able to gaze in awe at the tremendous power of the universe as my blood froze.
I wish my wife was still here.
I wish I could feel warm again...I am so cold. Everything is so slow....