The Literary Simulator
Beatriz L. Seelaender
1. Once upon a time there was a
a) Bitter orange man.
b) Apathetic cat.
c) Encyclopedia salesman.
d) Gunman on the loose.
2. This was a long time ago, before
a) The war; there were many wars.
b) The sea swallowed the land due to global warming.
c) We were born.
d) We were ourselves.
3. The conflict came about swiftly. They told us to choose
a) Between happiness and reason.
b) Body and soul.
c) Thought and freedom.
d) Sugar and salt.
4. Then he tore the dictionary’s pages apart, the cat or the gunman or the orange man or the salesman. He said
a) The truth is what I say.
b) Without definitions everything’s the same.
c) No need to choose between two meaningless sounds.
d) Meow, meow.
5. We were at a library. Someone was taking pictures of the ruined books. We pretended to be all right. Our job at the time was to
a) Organize the books in alphabetical order.
b) Deal with crises of this type. All our lives, we’d been preparing for this moment.
c) Make lists and PowerPoints.
d) Memorize our textbooks for the SATs.
6. Nevertheless, we dreamed of doing something different: we wanted to
a) Move to New York and search for meaning. Part of me had always been in New York, waiting.
b) Overthrow the government and all those lost Romantic ideals.
c) Walk away from our parents, who didn’t understand.
d) See things before we already knew what they meant, and what their names were too.
7. Time, place, and history. Those are things that change us forever. We wished we were ephemeral, but we were the sick side-effects of the century. This is a ballad about millennials, because those are popular right now. Another lost generation; the September children, destined to
b) Feed on evading hope.
c) Be children forever.
d) Live off halves of abandoned ideologies.
8. Oh, what a tragedy, you’ll say. But this is not a tragedy, this is a
a) Timely satire.
b) Pop punk-inspired hymn.
c) Pretentious pile of mumble jumbo.
d) Dystopic present, a social critique: the end of the world is here.
9. It’s time to meet your love interest. She is a
a) Blonde princess, vaguely courageous and vaguely intelligent—though much less than you are.
b) Working mom who is clumsy but has a sweet personality, and you find her funny.
c) Mysterious woman who always wears things made of leather, but whom you’re not quite sure can be trusted.
d) Misunderstood actress who only ever became a beautiful screw-up because no one understood her like you do.
10. You have a moral dilemma upon you: you have a choice between abandoning everything and running off with the love interest of your choosing, or facing the anonymous monster threatening life on Earth as we know it. Here’s what happens:
a) You run off with her, but aren’t happy. Turns out she was just an illusion created by the socially constructed ideal of what a woman is.
b) You go face the monster, since you would rather gloat than love. Turns out this isn’t a Greek mythology narrative, but your regular plain ole realism, and there is no monster to defy. You are actually insane.
c) You go face the monster, and there is no monster. The monster is a social construct: the monster is within you.
d) The real monsters are social constructs tended to as laws of nature.
11. Either way, deconstruction is the key to survival. This is the beginning of your existential crisis: question everything, but beware, you might end up
a) Accidentally deconstructing yourself, and disappearing forever.
b) Accidentally deconstructing time and space, and dissociating more than the healthy intellectual.
c) Accidentally denying the world and all painful things because they are connected to an artificial self.
d) Living like the artificial self you now know you are.
12. The monster is misunderstood. He only tried to destroy you because no one ever called him anything but “Monster.” What is it that causes you to take mercy on him?
a) He said he felt compressed by the overwhelming grasp of Post-Modernity, in which one is expected to keep individual habits all the while dissolving into anonymity when it came to matters of higher importance.
b) His miserable, weeping.
c) You didn’t. Real men show no mercy.
d) He dissolved in the air while whispering, It’s all right. I never really was anything; not even myself…
13. If you went back in time and saw that you could avoid a disaster, would you? Would you go the extra mile? If you saw Hitler walking down the street, would you shoot him?
a) Yes, obviously.
b) Oh no. It’s dangerous to interfere with time.
c) Less enthusiastic Yes.
d) This wouldn’t be possible due to my belief that if someone were to go back in time and kill Hitler, he would therefore have always been dead—-which means, there would have been no reason to go back in time and kill him in the first place.
14. So, right now you have a similar choice to that, minus the time travel aspect. Time travel complicates things. Anyway, this is the climax of the story: this is your final battle. Do you…?
a) Kill whatever is destroying the books.
b) Get hit by a stray bullet as an act of deviance.
c) Die for your ideals even though you probably could have accomplished more if you stayed alive.
d) Go away and refuse to take part in any of this, given that it is all fictional.
15. The end.
a) The end?
b) Followed by five series-length spin-offs.
c) Death is the only end; the other stories are ideologically edited.
d) There was never anything to start with. This is fiction.
Beatriz L. Seelaender was born in 1998 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and is the author of the novel De Volta ao Vazio. Seelaender has recently been trying her hand at English, and her work has been published in journals such as Grub Street, The Manifest-Station, and Feminine Collective. She is a student of Literature at the University of Sao Paulo.