User:K6ka/Salvaged stuff/k6ka-test/Fanon:Dinner with the master of the pie menu
I must've been writing a story for my Sims fanon... which I haven't touched in a long while. Perhaps I'll work on this again someday.
- Note: Please read Fanon:K6ka if you haven't already; you will not understand this story otherwise.
Dinner with the pie menu master is a philosophical story written by k6ka. It follows a single middle-aged Sim, constantly buried alive in his paperwork and generally being unhappy with his life. When he's not living life, however, he's always wondering just why is he living life the way it is. He is invited to dinner by the creator and master of his world, and they delve deep into philosophy, psychology, and the workings of the world they are in.
This story touches upon many ideas and theories put forth by philosophers throughout history, both present and past. If you are not interested in philosophy, this story will bore you.
The door to the office slid open. "Come in!" said a man behind the desk.
A figure entered the room, closing the door softly behind him. "What's up?"
The man smiled. "I should be asking you that question, for you asked to speak with me."
The figure grinned. "As much as I'd like to be funny today... I'm afraid I cannot." He reaches into his pockets and pulled out an envelope. "From Mandy."
The man nodded and took the envelope from his hands. He read the label. "Ah, I see..."
The man nodded. "Yes, I know him. I have been thinking about him. This is the perfect opportunity."
The figure nodded in agreement. "Shall I call the messengers?"
The man shook his head. "No, leave this to me. I will deal with this myself."
"Ha!" The man leaned back in his chair and chuckled. "You know I'm never alone."
The figure smiled. "Is there anything else you need?"
"No, I have this situation in my hands. You are free to go."
The figure straightened up and exited the office, closing the door softly behind him. The man could see his shadowy figure through the translucent windows descending down the hallway.
The man turned his chair towards the window, where the sun was setting, its brilliant flare of red and orange stretched out across the sky. He sighed quietly to himself.
Chapter 1. The letter
It came one Friday morning, hidden at the bottom of a mountain of other white envelopes. It was beige in colour, missing its stamp. My name and work address was printed neatly in the middle. That was it. No return address. No RSVP.
I should have just tossed the letter, then. I clearly had better things to do — heck, the mountain of envelopes was still a formidable sight on my desk. But for some reason, my curiosity soared, and it overrode otherwise common sense. I grabbed a letter opener and, with a swift stroke, ripped open the flap.
Boy, doesn't this seem legit, I thought sarcastically. Who's going to fall for some crappy joke like this? I say that because I have been foolish enough to fall for one of these sappy pranks. One time, I went to a "spaghetti cookoff" hosted by a local charity; admission was §4 in exchange for a "glorious pasta lunch, lots of new friends, and exciting afternoon games." Yeah... they tried. Having nothing better to do that day, I decide to go and give it a shot (After all, who could pass off a §4 lunch?). My donation was "accepted" by an old lady with a smile so massive I wasn't so sure whether or not it was genuine. The cookoff was divided into five tents, one for each contestant, and I got assigned to the tent of some big dude with "I'M AN IMPASTA" on his T-shirt. He seemed more interested in chatting than he was cooking or serving, oblivious to the fact that he missed my plate and dropped the pasta straight onto the ground.
That's nothing, however, compared to the agony — and the misery — that was the afternoon games. A three-legged race, where I was paired with a mentally-retarded twerp that could barely hop, barely speak English, and barely knew the objective of the game, ended the visit for me. No more charities.
It wasn't enough, though, to teach me my lessons. A few months later, I was invited to a party by some of my co-workers to celebrate my then-recent promotion. They promised "endless fun, so much that you'll never want to go home!" I was still living with my mother then, and since my recent activity with her hasn't been... positive... I needed some time away from home. So I went. And as a generous reward for bringing them a bottle of champagne as they had requested, they fitted me with cement shoes and threw me into an indoor swimming pool. A heated pool, fortunately. A few weeks later, they sent me another invitation; I rewarded them with me dropping the envelope into the paper shredder right in front of their eyes.
I wasn't a party person, clearly. I mostly kept to myself at work, as miserable as it was that I had no one to really talk to. The only person at work that really talked to me was my boss, Jim, who frequently ordered — ahem — invited me to his office to... show me my less-fortunate skills at meeting quotas:
- "You were hired to work here..." ... "No, I don't care about what sort of snake you ate for breakfast!" ... "If you want to be a respectable employee here at this office, you better drag your sorry ass to work on time. You hear me?"
Home was my only relief from the ills of the outside world, as lonely as it is. I shared my apartment with nobody, save for the occasional fly that came in through an open window. The only people who ever buzzed for me was my mother or the landlord reminding me to pay my overdue rent. At home, I was pretty peaceful; I had the place to myself, my thoughts could spill out without fear, and I could be as lazy and apathetic or as silly and absurd as I wanted. For this reason, I've mostly avoided leaving home, except to go to work and to go shopping. My only "friends" were a few of the guys at work, and even then we didn't talk much, save for the occasional lunch.
So, this bogus opportunity to leave my comfortable apartment and have an "evening of limitless value" didn't appeal to me. I had more value being at home with myself than I did outside of it. But the more I thought about it, the more... interesting... the whole thing seemed to be. I was disgusted at myself for thinking that way. Interesting, huh? Being thrown into a swimming pool headfirst was interesting, albeit not exactly fun. Well, at least, that was more interesting than going to this bogus dinner. But the more I tried to convince myself not to go to this stupid dinner, the more I found myself being drawn towards it.
No, I thought, I can't do this. I went to my bathroom and splashed my face with some water. Didn't work. I turned towards the envelope again and stared at it, both with a sense of benevolence and a sense of utter abomination. Part of me wanted to lash out and rip the damn envelope to shreds, like I did with my co-workers crappy party invitation. Part of me held me back, saying This might be worth going to.
I fought with myself for over an hour before giving up and giving out. I undressed, got into bed, and tried to sleep. All night long I kept turning and tossing, unable to find a comfortable position. Finally, I turned on the light and sat up in bed, looking towards the envelope. My source of insomnia.
I grabbed the envelope and headed out to the balcony. I held my hand out over the railing and tried to let go. I couldn't. There was a breeze that should've made it easier for the envelope to fly off into the distance, away from me. But the envelope seemed to defy all the Laws of Physics, refusing to drop to the ground, refusing to blow away.
Morning came, and I was still sitting up in bed, staring at the envelope which now sat on my desk. This is a hoax, I kept telling myself. This is a joke. This isn't real. Don't go to this bogus dinner.
My entire weekend seemed to be surrounded by thoughts about the envelope. I thought about it from morning to evening. What is this about? Is this real? Who even set this up? That last question, especially, garnered a list of possible suspects. The first thing that came to mind was the church just down the street. They've tried numerous times to "outreach" me, all of which I turned down and promptly filed their invitations down the garbage chute, save for the candy cane on Christmas. The church has hosted a number of "gatherings" in-and-out of the building, all of which I avoided. Ever since the cement-shoes-and-swimming-pool incident, I've been distrustful of people at parties ever since.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I doubted it. For one thing, how could that church have found my work address? They didn't particularly know me very well, and even if they did, their garbage would've gone to my apartment, not my office. And speaking of spam, their invitations sure looked a lot like it, what with the fancy lettering and the title of their church stamped on every page just to make sure you couldn't miss what awesome gathering of people organized the event. The invitation I got was absent of any of these. So it couldn't have been that church.
My next suspects were my co-workers. Knowing my work address was an obvious plus, and not simply handing it to me or making it obvious that they were the ones who concocted it was also a plausible indicator. After all, I was pretty sure they knew that I was guaranteed to shred any invitation from them on sight, so writing their names on it would've been a dead giveaway. But again, I doubted it. While they were pretty good at playing tricks, they weren't particularly skilled with philosophy and logic. For all I know, they had little to no interest in the "workings and reality of the world", and more with popping corks and suggestive rendezvous. Frivolous parties that held no meaning was more their style. Other than that, they did a pretty good job: nice card and fancy restaurant.
Only one thing held me back from going: myself. Well, my own thoughts. Every night before bed I stared at my popcorn ceiling and reflected on my day, aside from the angrily scraping off the teenaged pranks under my desk and having to be yelled at by Jim. Every night I asked this question: Why do anything? Why do anything when all life seems to be is a small sliver of sunlight before the clouds pass by again, AKA Death? You're born... and then you die. That's it. It doesn't matter if you amass incredible wealth throughout your life or if you've been a hobo from the moment of conception to the second your heart gives out. You are born and you will die. Why, then, must I get up every day to be tortured at work, only to come home, eat, sleep, and repeat the process? So why must I waste my time going to this dinner? I may as well enjoy myself staying at home.
Annoyingly, though, my thoughts were also pointing towards going to this dinner. "Dinner with the master of the pie menu" was, as fishy as it sounds, something I've actually wanted to do for a long time now. Many times, on what I will call "thoughtful nights", I had ended with "I wish I had a talk with the one who created all this, the one who has the answer." And now that this opportunity was in front of me, my inner thoughts were all channeled towards it. They wanted to go, if only, to get my questions answered.
Being torn apart by myself. I wanted to go and I wanted to stay. Wanted to keep the letter and wanted to burn it. My hair was in disarray, and I kicked and screamed at the wall, the bed, the sofa, throwing myself against them. Trying desperately to break free and imprison myself, thrashing around as I fought myself and my thoughts. Eventually, exhausted and defeated, I laid myself out on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
Chapter 2. The arrival
I rolled over in my bed and tried to go back to sleep. But a sliver of sunlight told me something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
I looked over at my alarm clock and nearly did a double take.
Oh snap! I thought. I'm late for work. Again! And it's Monday morning! The morning flew by in a whirl. Out of bed, trying to brush my teeth while putting on my clothes at the same time. Tie was tied improperly and crooked. Clothes looked like they haven't been ironed in ages. And my stomach was still growling when I ran out of the house as fast as I could, trying to inhale a banana in the process. On the subway, running down the street, up the elevator, and into the office. It all went by in the blink of an eye.
I was just in time... unluckily. Jim turned around the moment the doors opened. "Mr. Kowalski!" he said as I stopped to catch my breath. "How good of you to come all this way to arrive to work, late. Come into my office."
I groaned and followed him.
Jim plopped down into his leather chair and gave me a look of disdain. He didn't invite me to sit down or grab a cup of coffee, which I needed badly. Outside, the window washers were scrubbing the sides of the sixty-storey building.
He turned around to look at them. I couldn't help but follow his gaze. The view of the city washed around like an oil painting, distorted by the water, covered by the suds, before being wiped off by the squeegee.
Jim turned around and gave me an unpleasant smile. "As the head of this respectable company, Mr. Kowalski, I have the most unpleasant job of having to inform you that you have arrived thirty minutes late for work. I invite you to look at the clock. You're supposed to be here at nine o'clock sharp. And by nine o'clock sharp, I don't mean nine-thirty or nine-fifteen or even nine-o'five. When I say nine o'clock sharp, I mean nine o'clock sharp."
I swallowed a lump in my throat and slowly nodded.
"So, Mr. Kowalski: the choice is yours. If you want to be shown the door, then by all means, feel free to come at any time after nine o'clock sharp. But if you want to keep your position in this company, you better get your sorry ass here on time. You understand me?"
"Good." He turned around to look out the window. The window washers had finished his window and all that was left of them was the scaffolding and their feet. "You may leave now."
The cubicle felt cold and uncomfortable. I had no decorations or photographs around my workspace. I booted up my computer and dug through my bags for my work.
The invitation fell out. For a split second I wanted to stuff it back inside my bag, but another part of me wanted to...
I grabbed the envelope and pulled out the letter, rereading it over and over again. No hints as to who in this office was guilty.
I stood up and looked over the walls. My co-workers were by the water cooler, chatting and joking like nothing had happened. One of them caught a glimpse of me, but didn't react to it. No sudden bursts of hysterical laughter, not even a wave.
Either this invitation is fake or they're being really, really good actors here.
They seemed to be playing it cool this time, so I decided to play it cool too. At lunch and during my afternoon coffee break, I pretended not to pay much attention to them, and they returned the favour by not paying much attention to me too. A small smile, laid back and casual. Yeah, you sent me that nice invitation to dinner tomorrow? Well thanks, glad you did. I'll see you there.
My mind was set that evening. So they sent the invitation, didn't they? I decided to quell my fears by going in ready to ditch. If anything went awry, I could avoid further damage by leaving early. And if this dinner goes okay, then I'll stay. That's a plan! For the first time in days, I had a restful night.
My plan seemed disjointed, however, as I approached the restaurant Tuesday at 6:45. I had fallen behind on my work at the office, and Jim expected me to work overtime to get it all done. I knew the dinner invitation excuse wouldn't work, so I stuck with the "doctor's appointment" excuse, and even managed to print out a fake reminder from my non-existent doctor saying I had a "very important appointment" scheduled for today. He didn't seem awfully convinced by it, but he let me out anyway.
The bus came to a stop. I got off and watched it disappear down the street. I turned around to face the restaurant, its neon lights giving off a pale, reddish hue. Squisito's, it read.
Well, here we are.
I pulled out the invitation and looked through it again, hoping to find some more clues about what would happen for the night ahead of me. It didn't. Suddenly, I desperately wished I was back at work sparing myself from the wrath of another demerit from Jim — and a queer[note 1] night.
I was here, though. And if this night turns out to be a mess, I can always leave early and get away from it all. I wondered if I should just avoid the risk and ditch right now.
With a deep breath, I pushed the doors open and walked in. No crazy lunatics lounging around the entrance waiting for me. No guys from work, either.
The maître d' appeared from behind the lattice, dashing my plan to flee before anyone noticed me. "Dinner for one, sir?"
What was I supposed to say that doesn't make me sound like some sort of a nut? "Uh... I'm looking for someone. My name is Wilson Kowalski..."
"Ah, Mr. Kowalski. Yes, come on in."
He grabbed a menu and led me into the restaurant. I followed, remaining on guard. I did a brief scan of the dining room. No familiar faces. No dodos hiding under tables. No swimming pool. No cement shoes. At least, not from what I saw. The restaurant was relatively quiet overall, with only about seven tables being occupied.
The maître d' took me to a small table for two in the corner, where a man wearing a suit and bow-tie was perusing a menu. The man took notice of me immediately. He extended a hand out to me. "Good evening, Wilson."
I stared at the hand, for a moment not knowing what to do, as if the hand was covered with slime. I caught the maître d' giving me a curious look, so I reached out and shook the hand. "Hi..."
The handshake lasted a bit longer than expected, and it grew awkward. "Uh-huh." The man released my hand and invited me with his hand to have a seat. The waiter handed me a menu, and with a "Enjoy your dinner", left me with...
"Thanks for coming, Wilson. I know you're deep in trouble at work, and I know you have a lot of overtime work to do, but I'm glad you made the decision to come here."
We stared at each other. Well, I stared. He resumed looking at his menu. I blinked a couple of times. Who was this guy? How does he know my name? And how does he know that I was behind on my work?
He caught me looking at him and smiled. "I know you're uncomfortable, so I hope I don't come off as being a stranger to you." The man handed me a small business card. "k6ka. Creator of this world, and as it says on your invitation, 'The Master of the Pie Menu'."
I blinked, not knowing what to do. The business card felt foreign in my hands. I looked up. "Come at me again... you say you are..."
"And... how do I know you're not a mental institution escapee?"
"What makes me one?"
"Well..." I hesitated. "Who honestly calls themselves 'The Master of the Pie Menu'?"
"What if I really am?" he said. "They taught you that in school, didn't they?"
Good one. "Prove to me that you are," I responded.
"Prove to me that I'm not."
I examined his appearance. He looked exactly like he does in the school textbooks, save for the clothing. What was off about him? Either this guy is a really good actor or...
"Why don't you ask me some questions, then?" he said. "If I really am the creator of this world, and I really am the self-labelled 'Master of the Pie Menu', I'm sure you'll have some questions for him if you saw him."
Good idea. I looked around to see if anyone was eavesdropping before I leaned forward, taking up space and authority, and said, "Okay. If you preach goodness and well-being across your 'world', and if you label yourself as the ultimate authority and the one who controls everything, then why do you make everybody suffer? Are you a hypocrite that delights in watching the world get swallowed by its own idiocy?"
Ha! Got 'em! Smokin' barrels!
Unfortunately, he wasn't surprised. "That's a good question," he said, "and you're not the only one who asked."
The waiter came around. "Are you ready to order, sir?"
The man turned to me. "We'll go back to our discussion later. What do you want to eat tonight?"
I opened the menu and confronted myself with a list of unfamiliar dishes. Guests at Squisito's ordered five courses per meal: an appetizer, a soup or salad, the main dish, a dessert, and a coffee or drink. I was tempted to order the most expensive item on the list, just to spite my host, but decided on...
..."I would like the Bruschetta, Pasta e fagioli, and the tortellini pasta."
The waiter nodded and repeated my order verbally as he wrote. He turned to my host. "What would you like, sir?"
"I'd like the Crostini, the Minestrone, and the veal."
The waiter jotted everything down. "And what sort of wine would you like this evening?"
k6ka turned towards me. "You pick the wine. I'll drink anything."
I scanned the list. None of the entries were familiar to me, as I seldom drank wine.
"The Dolcetto," I said finally.
The waiter glanced over at my menu. "The Dolcetto d'Alba, Piedmont," he said, confirming my request. He took our menus away, wishes us a good evening, and left. Behind him was the busboy, who filled our glasses with water.
My parched throat told the story — to cram as much work into my limited overtime misery, I neglected to drink water in order to avoid wasting time in the bathroom. As soon as the busboy departed, I grabbed the glass and drank greedily.
"I see where you're going, Wilson. I tried doing that myself." The man turned his head slightly to hide a grin. "Locking myself in my room, denying myself water so I wouldn't have to pee, was the silliest thing I've ever done, looking back at it now."
"But, back to the question you just asked me."
"Oh yes, of course. Isn't your laissez-faire approach to this world the reason why it's a living hell right now?"
That wasn't the answer I was expecting. "Well, what's your defense for that?"
He smiled and leaned forward. "To answer that question, I will have to ask you one: Do you believe in free will?"
What? "What does this have anything to do with my question?"
"Oh, you'll see." He leaned back. "I can tell you're a bit unsure, aren't you?"
How does this guy know what I'm thinking? "Well, would the answer to the ... main ... question be affected at all if I answered 'No'?"
"Yes, it will." He looked me in the eye, though not in an uncomfortable or sinister way. "Can you give me your honest, no-nonsense answer?"
I was stunned. Now he had me. "Does Free Will Exist?" was a question I frequently asked myself at night, and it always resulted in me becoming fidgety and unable to sleep, as I could never think of a satisfactory answer. "I don't know," I finally responded.
He nodded slowly. "I know exactly how you feel..."
He cleared his throat and had a sip of water. It reminded me of my own thirst, so I quickly had a sip of my own.
"So, first of all, let's talk about you. When you wake up every morning, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and wash your face, do you think you were the one who made the decision to do so?"
"When you go to work, do you think you are the one who makes the decision of working, and when to take breaks, eat lunch, et cetera?"
"Yes, except for the last one. My stomach decides that."
"Ah," he said, smiling slightly. "You are wrong on that one. Your stomach may irritate you, and it may seem irritated itself, but it never made any decisions for you. All it did was tell you that it was empty. You were the one who decided to feed it."
He pointed to my glass of water. "You chose not to drink water today, even though your body was crying out for it. Your body has no control of its own. You are the one controlling it. All your body can do is tell you about things. It's up to you whether or not you should act upon them."
"But what about reflexes? For instance, if I touched a hot stove, my hand would automatically thrust itself backwards."
"Your body was pre-programmed to do that. It's not making a conscious decision to move your hand out of harms way. It simply received a signal that the hand was burning up, that it was dying, and that urgent action was needed. Your body responded by doing just that. But if you touched a stove that was lukewarm, nothing would happen. Your body wasn't programmed to act on its own during those situations."
"What does this have anything to do with free will?"
The waiter appeared with a bottle of wine. "Dolcetto d'Alba, gentlemen."
k6ka gestured his hand towards me. "You can have the honour of tasting it first."
I nodded my approval, and the waiter poured a small sample of the wine. I brought the glass up to my face and took a sniff. Lavender. Violets. A hint of almonds. "Smells good," I said. My host turned his face to conceal a grin, and I could sense the waiter rolling his eyes.
A small sip. Tart flavour, but very manageable. I nodded my approval, and the waiter proceeded to fill the rest of my glass. He then served my host and departed.
I looked back at k6ka. "So, what does this have anything to do with free will?"
"A lot, actually." He put his wine glass down. "So you're undecided about whether or not you have free will, right? So here's my next question..." He examined his own hands, his own arms. I couldn't help but look down at them. "Do you think your body has free will?"
"Because once the mind is gone, once the brain is gone, the body cannot function anymore."
He nodded. "Indeed it cannot. The definition of 'free will' is the ability to act voluntarily and independently. If the body cannot make any decisions without the mind, then it is dependent entirely on the mind. It does not have free will."
"Okay..." I see where he was getting at. "But what about reflexes? Are reflexes an example of free will?"
"Depends on how you look at it." He was looking at his arms again. "Would you consider a computer to have free will?"
"What do computers and biology have in common?"
"Well..." He took a sip of wine. "Computers are not like living things. The way they act and behave boils down to their programming, the code that was written for them by a human. A computer cannot stray from this path. They are entirely dependent on their coding. Remove the coding, and the computer becomes a hunk of metal. The computer cannot act independently, and therefore it does not have free will. Correct?"
"I'm no computer programmer."
"You don't have to be one to understand. Now, obviously, and you know this because your day job is to sit in front of one the entire day, a computer is constantly given scenarios, and it must act upon each one. Even if the computer freezes or doesn't respond, it has still acted, by choosing to wait or ignore the situation. The actions it chooses are based entirely on the coding given to the computer by the programmer."
"Hold on a sec," I said. "Slow down. You're saying..."
"Whatever the computer does is pre-determined, for the most part. There are some exceptions, like machine learning, but even then, the computer has to be programmed to be able to teach itself. Reflexes are pretty much the same thing. When you touch a hot stove, your body is programmed to remove whatever body part is in contact with the stove from the heat. It was based on something already built into your body. You can't consciously control it, and it is universal. An uneducated man on the street will have this same reflex as a well-educated man in a mansion."
Hey, now we're getting somewhere.
"You would never consider a computer to have free will, however," he continued. "Boot up your computer at work, and while it can still do a lot of things on its own, it can still only start up when you explicitly push the button to start it up. It can only do work if you give the instructions on how to do the work. Your body is the same. You don't think about digestion, breathing, or your heart rate. Your body automates these tasks. But it still can't find food until you tell it to.
"You know that the body doesn't have free will. Neither does a computer. They depend on you for most of their tasks. Without you, they're meaningless. A work computer can't work if there isn't someone there to guide it. A body cannot survive if there isn't a mind to guide it. But here's the question many people get stumped on: Does your mind have free will? Are you really independent, or are you really taking orders from something unseen?"
"Wouldn't you know if you were being controlled?"
He smiled. "I like that answer, or rather, that question." He had another sip of water. "If I was controlling you, would you know that?"
"Yes, absolutely. I..."
"But how would you know? What if I made it so that what you perceived as being free will were really just my decisions? What if I made it so it looked like you weren't being controlled, while I had every cell in your body under my thumb?"
I didn't have an answer to that.
- "Queer", in this context, refers to something that is strange or odd, not homosexuality. (Refer to the first definition under "Adjectives" at wikt:queer)