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Literature / A Model Life

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"A Model Life" is a short story written by Kim Antieu, and published in 2015.

A retired police officer named James, and his wife Alexis, win a lottery to spend a vacation in a safe, simulated Utopia. James struggles to fit in, and questions what he really wants out of life...

Tropes found:

  • After the End: The second model James is given the chance to live in is a post-apocalyptic nightmare, where he'd be an all-powerful cop.
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  • Anti-Climax: Believing himself and Alexis to be in danger, James demands they both leave the model as soon as possible. Their car is surrounded...and then it turns out there was no model, and that it was all an elaborate scheme to get James to realize he needs therapy.
  • Bungled Suicide: His depression only made worse while in the model, James attempts to shoot himself. Unfortunately for him, his bullets were replaced with harmless ammo by the staff.
  • Crapsack World: Discussed; Charlie offers the dissatisfied James a home in a different model, where he'd be a powerful law-enforcer in an apocalypse, with the complete authority to hurt or kill anyone. James finds the idea utterly horrifying.
  • Not Used to Freedom: Since retiring from the force, James finds himself bored and maladjusted to everyday life. It reaches the point where he tries to use his gun just to blow off steam.
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  • Therapy Is for the Weak: No matter how hard Alexis tried to convince him, James refused to seak professional help for his depression, insisting he didn't even have a problem.
  • Utopia: The model is a perfect society of pre-chosen people who don't engage in violence or cruelty. James finds it utterly miserable, no matter what he tries to do. This is subverted; the model isn't even real, but an elaborate therapy scheme.