The room was painted insane asylum white, so bright and sharp that Jeremy had to squint to keep his retinas from burning out. Everything, even the chair and desk he sat in front of, was white. It made Jeremy feel out of place in his faded jeans and flannel shirt.
It was almost anti-climatic when the door opened and a tall, bald man in, yes, a white lab coat, walked in. He wore a name tag that said Dr. Slide and carried a tablet computer. A pair of copper colored pince-nez perched on the bridge of his nose. Jeremy was intrigued. He had never actually seen anyone wear pince-nez in real life.
The doctor took a seat behind the desk and looked down at his tablet. "Ah, welcome Mr. Hornblower, I see you're here for a final download. Let's just double-check your information. I see you're seventy-four years old. And your spouse, um..."
"Amanda, she downloaded last week. I was just finalizing some of the finances," he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Is that ok? I'll be able to find her right once I'm inside, right?"
"Oh absolutely. You're never more than a thought away from your loved ones in virtual reality," Dr. Slide smiled reassuringly, then looked back at his tablet. "I see you've already paid the body disposal fee. Good, and, oh, hmmmm." Dr. Slide frowned.
"Is something wrong?"
"It says here that you are an author."
Jeremy smiled proudly. "Yep, I wrote The Burning Badlands."
"Never heard of it," said Dr. Slide.
"Oh, well, it was published by a very small, independent publisher."
"I'm sure it was very good," Dr. Slide said.
"So, what's the problem?"
"Unfortunately there are certain people that cannot download. Schizophrenics, people suffering from multiple personality disorder, and authors. They just have too many people in their brains."
"You mean I can't download? But what about Amanda? She's waiting for me!" Jeremy's voice quavered and tears welled up at the corners of his eyes.
The doctor's tablet beeped. "Great news, you're still eligible." Dr. Slide beamed.
"I don't understand," Jeremy said, "You said authors couldn't download."
"Well, I should have been more accurate. Authors who create well rounded, realistic characters can't download. Their characters come to life in inter-space and then we have to scrub them and it becomes a real mess. Hemingway, Dickens,Woolf, none of them would have been allowed to download. But your characters are," the doctor consulted his tablet, "flat and one dimensional. Apparently your plot is also weak, but that isn't as important as the quality of your characters."
"That's ridiculous, my characters are great and memorable. Everyone says so. Check again."
"But Mr. Hornblower, didn't you hear me? You can download..."
Dr. Slide sighed and pressed a button. After a moment, his tablet beeped again.
"Same result. Flat, unremarkable characters..."
"Bull! I'll show you. I've got another book in me yet." Jeremy leapt to his feet and stormed out the door.
"But sir, your wife..."
Jeremy slammed the door behind him, cutting the doctor short.
Dr. Slide shook his head and muttered, "And people wonder why I prefer the schizophrenics."
copyright 2012 John Lance