i-live

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


• 100 years from now • they have us controlled • connected from inside us • overpopulated • drained from resources • no water • no animals • no life • only i-live

Submitted: June 02, 2018

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Submitted: June 02, 2018

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Perrin sat on the rooftop of her home looking down at the world below. High up on a building, she could see all beneath her. Her legs slung lifelessly over the edge, her eyes darting around, like a hawks searching for vulnerable prey. The clean roads and perfectly maintained apartments and houses, the bright green trees and the magnificent gardens filled with the colour of brilliant, vibrant flowers.  The city parks and the crystal clear ponds, children playing, adults strolling.  Perrin scoffed in frustration and looked up at the clear, open blue sky. Upon it, small puffs of white clouds floating peacefully, slowly moving with the soft wind.  A small brown bird flew down by her and landed on her knee. Perrin looked down at it, she could feel it, each individual small claw on her skin. It tilted its head and gave a small chirp. Perrin shook her head in disbelief, “How do they make you look so real?” she said repulsed, as she turned off her the virtual reality setting on her i-Live, and returning to the harsh reality.

 

Now, as Perrin looked down upon the world, no tree, flower, animal nor person was in sight. Dark green threatening clouds, engulfing the blue sky that once was there, never parting or breaking, like an enormous dull blanket enveloping the sky.  There were dilapidated buildings everywhere, fluctuating in size, tightly packed and never-ending, stretching out to the horizon. They were the homes of the people. They were destroyed, deprived, depressed.  Perrin sighed. This was her world, the real world. Perrin placed her hand on her i-Live, a rectangular device, placed over her bright green eyes. Perrin raised her hand to her forehead and felt the individual wires emerging from the device, straight into her skull, her mind.  If she had the power to, Perrin would remove that wretched device, but she knew that was impossible. Each individual fibre optic wire was surgically fused to her brain. Removing it was impossible. Removing it would cause sudden death. I-live was part of her. I-live was her, and Perrin hated it. She, like the entire population, had the i-Live placed in her from the moment she was born. Every single person had one, and deeply relied on it. She resented her i-Live, an unpopular opinion. She unlike the rest of the world, had the ability to live without it, to bear the real world. Perrin took a deep breath and laid down on the rough roof.

“Siri, can you please tell me where Jacob is?” Perrin said out loud. The whirring of the device started and gradually became louder and Siri responded in a monotone and robotic manner.

“Good morning, Perrin. Your brother’s i-Live cannot be detected. It has been off the map for 6 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes. I am sensing you are distressed. Would you like me to play the playlist “History of Earth”, to make you forget about your problem?”

Perrin didn’t respond at once, she simply gazed up at the dark clouds above her.

“No Siri, not now. But can you please notify me when my brother is relocated?”

“Of course, Perrin,” Siri said before returning to her silent state. Her brother had been missing for almost a week.  He just left, so suddenly, and hasn’t returned. Jacob, like Perrin, hated they idea of i-Live. Why he left, or where he went was a complete mystery to her.

 

The house has been quiet without him. Suddenly Perrin’s i-Live buzzed.

Caller ID: CodyCaller ID: CodyCaller ID: Cody

Perrin shook her head.  Answer, she thought, and instantly, a small camera hooked over to face her, a thin clear screen appeared over her eyes and Cody was now in front of her, bearing a large smile.  

“Hey!” he said, running a thin hand through his curly brown hair looking down nervously.

“Cody,” Perrin began, “how many times have I told you? If you want to talk to me, do it, person!”

“I know, I know! But I’m not at home, I’m with Dexter, were working on our homework” he said with a guilty, crooked smile. Perrin shook her head and grinned.

“How long did it take you to hack the test this time?”

“4 minutes! I swear, we’re probably good enough to work for the freakin’ government!” Dexter yelled from off the screen.

“So, what’s the emergency Cody?” Perrin sighed.

“Nothing, I just want to check up on you, you haven’t been yourself lately. I haven’t heard from you in a while” Cody said, looking concerned, “Any sign of Jacob?”

 “No, not yet.” Perrin replied softly “Anyway I got to go, dinner is ready. Bye”

“Bye…Perrin”, Cody said before she disappeared from his screen, and all he could now see was the dull wall of the small bare room. Cody turned to Dexter who was sitting at his desk chair. He wore a smile so large, almost all his teeth were in view.

 “You’re still into her, aren’t you?”

“What? No way! She’s just my friend, Dexter…”

“Yeah, your ‘friend’. I’m sorry, but buddy, I can read you like a book”, Dexter said grinning from cheek to cheek. Cody was silent for a while, he hesitated, but eventually gave in.

“Oh, so what? I like her! Ok! I like her! You happy?” Cody said, finally giving in as Dexter laughed.

“And so he falls in love with his best friend!” Dexter exclaimed, unable to hide his amusement, “I can’t blame you though, she is super-hot.  Come on, Jax showed me how to hack into Siri’s responses, we can make her say pretty…interesting things”  

*******

Perrin sat down on the hard stools at the small white table in the middle of the small square room. The walls where grey and bland. There were no windows, no furniture, no kitchen, no dining room. Nothing. That was their home. Just a dull room with a simple table. Above her, a dim light bulb hung by a thin wire flickering, giving off a soft yellow glow. They didn’t need much, for i-Live provided.  Perrin stared at the empty chairs that her parents should have been sitting in. Perrin’s father, used to be an electronics engineer, repairing i-Lives’. Perrin’s mother of the other hand, was an author. Writing about the healthy, beautiful past. That’s one thing Perrin and her mother shared in common. The past. The beautiful healthy past, before humankind selfishly destroyed everything. Perrin missed Jacob, so much. He was all she had. It was silent, the only noise was the soft hum from the light above her. Perrin looked down at her dinner, repulsed. Even though she had been eating that same meal for her whole life, her stomach still squirmed at the sight of it. Upon her plate lay a grey mush. A pile of sludge, almost like jelly. It was tasteless, shapeless and bland. Perrin’s stomach grumbled and ached. As much as she hated the thought, she needed to use i-Live to eat. As she activated her VR, the disgusting sludge before her was now a plate of spaghetti bolognaise. She could immediately smell the powerful garlic, the sweet tomato sauce and the onion. Perrin looked up, to see a large room. It had polished, brown floor boards. Calming grey furniture and a kitchen lined with smooth white marble. Large windows that displayed the beautiful garden outside filled with vibrant flowers and many bright green trees. All fake. She stuck her fork into the meal and turned it. The spaghetti turned in unison with her fork, as it would if it was real. But Perrin knew that under the perfect, yet deceiving disguise, the grey slop was concealed.

Perrin placed the fork in her mouth and immediately tasted the sweet runny tomato sauce and the creamy melted cheese. It was so real, the way it looked, the way it tasted and the way it smelt. All thanks to i-Live’s way of altering perceptions with deceptions. 

 

Suddenly, without notice, the door flew open. Standing in the door way, heaving and dripping with sweat was Jacob. He looked consumed with fatigue, almost deranged. He leaned on the door handle, almost on his knees, heaving, taking deep forced breaths. He was sweating, his face red, his clothes ruined. It took a while for the Perrin to realise that he was finally home, but once she did, she jumped from her chair and immediately ran and embraced him. He was home, finally home. Perrin held her brother tight crying out of joy, out of relief. Jacob raise his head. He grabbed Perrin’s shoulders, stared her deep in the eyes. Perrin could tell that Jacob was serious.

“Perrin, I need you…I need you to listen to me, listen to me carefully,” Jacob panted softly looking petrified. “Listen! Perrin, they have tricked us! Those selfish, greedy bastards!” Jacobs eyes where wide, wild with rage. Perrin looked at her brother shocked, it wasn’t him. It wasn’t Jacob. The man she was holding her did not seem like the humble, kind brother she grew up with.

“What is it? Jacob, tell me! Who has tricked us?”  Perrin yelled, “Jacob tell me what the hell is going on!”

“The government! They’re…they’re…they’re” Jacob stopped. His eyes went blank and glassy, they almost seemed hollow.  

“Yes, Jacob, what about the government? Jacob? Jacob, talk to me!” 

Jacob didn’t respond. He just looked blankly ahead.  His i-Live began to whirr softly. Gradually getting louder and louder.  

“They’re…they’re…they…” Jacob’s legs gave in and he fell to the floor. He began to yell and scream in pure agony. His body writhing in pain as he held onto his head. His fingers digging in to his skull. His screams filled the small empty room. Perrin was in paralysis, watching her brother thrashing in anguish, not knowing what to do.She began to shout, kneeling beside him, her arms shaking over her brother, trying to find something, anything, to do to help him.

“Oh, God!” she cried. “Jacob? Jacob! Oh God! Somebody help us!”

Jacob was thrashing and howling in pain. 

“Make it stop!” he screamed, “Make it stop, Perrin!”

Perrin didn’t know what to say, let alone what to do.

“Help! ANYONE, HELP!” Perrin shrieked at the top of her lungs, but she knew no one can hear her. His i-Live was now emitting a high pitched tone.  Without warning, Jacob released one last shriek of torture before he fingers curled around the wires of his i-Live, and with a harsh rapid jolt, he detached the device out of his skull. The room was now quiet. Jacob lay on the floor in silence. He lay on the cold hard floor, dead. Perrin looked at her brother unable to breathe. Her eyes shot from his i-Live, to Jacob, praying that what she just saw didn’t just happen. She couldn’t believe it. She didn’t want to believe it.

“Jacob…” she sobbed, tears running down her face, “Jacob, at look what you have done”.

 She reached out with a shaky hand and grabbed his i-Live, cleaning the bright red blood off it. Blood was slowly emerging from the deep holes around his skull. “Here I’ll help you, I’ll fix you up,” Perrin desperately tried to reattach the rogue bloodied wires back into his head, where they once were. “There you go,” she whimpered, “All better. You’re all better Jacob. You’re fine. You’re fine.”  Jacob didn’t respond, he lay there in his own pool of blood, his eyes empty, gazing blankly at the ceiling, his body lifeless.  Perrin covered her mouth and stared at her brother who lay motionless on the floor.  Perrin lifted the limp body onto her knees. She hugged Jacob tightly. Although as much as she absolutely hated the thought, her big brother, her best friend, was now gone.

*********

Cody slammed the door of his home before quickly making his way down the unstable ruined metal stairs. Dexter was calling from above him, Cody didn't care. He reached the bottom of the wrecked building and began running down the dark alleyways. It was good that Perrin only lived a few blocks away, Cody wasn't very fit at all. The floor beneath him was an uneven, rocky pavement. The atmosphere was hot and sticky, as always. The alleyways where narrow, for the buildings were tightly packed. Cody needed to change his direction rapidly dodging and avoiding the large, imposing houses. When he finally reached his destination, he gazed up panting. He could just see the dim light emerging through the dusty window.  Cody began to make is way up the thin metal ladder. He was exhausted, but he couldn’t slow down, adrenalin was pumping through him. He finally reached the door panting. It was wide opened. In the middle of the small room, Cody could see Perrin, her back facing him. There was Jacob, lying next to her.  Cody let himself in. There was no time to waste.

“Perrin!” he said behind her, “Perrin! Come with me now!”

Perrin didn’t respond. Cody rolled his eyes in frustration and quickly made his way around, and finally saw Perrin’s red and puffy face showing no emotion, Jacob laying lifelessly in her lap, and a deep red pool of blood surrounding them both.

“Oh, shit,” Cody whispered. “Perrin! Come with me! We need to go!”

Perrin sat there, looking straight ahead. Not making a noise.

Cody shocked, ran over and crouched down beside her. She slowly looked around at him, her eyes were swollen and bloodshot. Her hair was messy and her face red.

“Cody…” she whispered, her voice croaky and raspy, “what happened? Please, Cody. Tell me, what happened to him?”

 Cody looked down at Jacob’s limp body held tightly in Perrin’s arms, at the deep grooves in his head. At the blood.

 “Look, you know me, I’m here to help you, and you know that.” Jacob said reassuringly, “But we need to go! We can’t stay here, I’ll tell you why on the way.” Perrin looked at him, almost like a small child, before she rigidly nodded her head, and stiffly got up.

“Ok…ok good! Let’s go!” he said before grabbing her arm, and Jacobs detached i-Live and began to run out of the small room and into the street.  

“Cody! We can’t just leave Jacob there”, Perrin panted. 

“Look, Perrin, right now we have no damn choice. We’re going to my place to figure this thing out, I have a feeling, a crazy feeling that this is big, very big, not just a stupid malfunction.” Cody puffed, leading the way.

 

The two friends didn’t stop running until they reached Cody’s house. Like Perrin’s, it was a simple small room, with nothing but an old desk chair and a plain white table.

“Ok,” Cody gasped, hunched over, trying to catch his breath, “well that was the most I’ve run in years. Ok, now Perrin, I need you to tell me what happened. Everything.”

“Well, he came in, he looked exhausted, like he had just run a marathon, and he was angry. So angry and he looked wild as well.” Perrin’s voice shook as she spoke, her voice was raspy and panicked, “then he started rambling on about how they have tricked us and something about the government.

“Then he just stopped. And sat silent for a while, then he suddenly fell to the ground and screams. I didn’t know what to do. After a while he grabbed his i-Live and… and…” Perrin closed her eyes, and took a broken breath as she sobbed.

“Ripped it out,” Cody said looking down at the bloody i-Live in his hands. There was silence.  “Ok…ok, ok, ok. Now, as I said before, I think this is bigger than just a malfunction. Siri, place large screen on display.”

“Of course, ma dude”. Siri responded in a monotone manner “Anything else, gangster man?”

Cody laughed nervously, “Um, no Siri, just the large screen”

 

Immediately, a large green screen appeared, hologram-like, against the wall.

“Ok, now where is it, were is it, “Cody murmured under his breath as he fidgeted around Jacobs i-Live. “Aha! There!” he said before removing a small wire green from the device.

“Cody, what is that?” Perrin asked curiously.

“This, is the occipital wire. Using this we can see what Jacob saw, were Jacob went. Momentarily, on this screen we will see the world through Jacobs’s eyes. It will help us understand what happened, I’m sure.”

Cody sat for a while tampering with Jacob’s i-Live.

“Cody?” Perrin asked

“Mm-hmm?” Cody responded.

“Thank you. For all of this.”

“Hey, no problem. I want to help. I care about you…guys.” Cody smiled, with his usual dorky grin.

Perrin beamed with gratitude.

After a while of tampering, the empty green screen on the wall burst into a video. The imaged was bobbing quickly, side to side, moving fast through the alleyways.

“Is that Jacob running?” Perrin asked.  

“Yeah, it is. Damn he’s gunning it! Look at how fast he is going!” Cody laughed, astonished. “Let’s time lapse until he gets to his destination.”

The imaged sped up rapidly, but Jacob still appeared to be running.

Perrin sighed, running was what Jacob did best.

“Hang on…look!” Cody pressed a button and the time lapse was switched off.

The image started to slow down. There was a door. A plain grey door at the end on an alleyway, it was camouflaged, and Perrin could barely just see it. They saw Jacob’s hand reach out and turn the handle and open the door. Both Perrin and Cody were at the edge of their seats, eager to finally know where Jacob went. Jacob’s hand turned the handle, but as he did, the screen went black.

*********

“What? What happened?” Perrin asked disappointed. Cody wasn’t listening, he was too focused on his screen.

“Just as I thought.” as he said this, the black screen was immediately replaced by a birds eye view map of the city, and a small red dot that indicated Jacob’s whereabouts, “Look here. This map shows the entire city. And there is Jacob, right at the edge. Only a few blocks away. Now what I am thinking is, Jacob actually left the city!”

“What? Left? That’s impossible, the conditions outside the borders are simply unliveable. The government says so!”

There was silence.  “How does the government link into this?”

“Look, I have an idea, a crazy, crazy idea,” Cody looked concerned, as he looked at Jacob’s i-Live. “I can figure out why and how he died, but I can’t do it alone” he turned away and began starting multiple i-chats. Perrin just sat there watching him work away. She fiddled nervously, her fingers intertwining. Her mind was scared with the horrid images of her dead brother, his limp body.  The deep holes in his skull, the blood. The way he violently detached the i-Live. A cold shiver ran down Perrin’s spine. 

 

“Siri,” Cody said out loud, “face call Drea, Jax and Dexter.”

Immediately the green screen split into three, each section black waiting for a connection. Suddenly Dexter appeared in the left box.

“Hey, Cody! This better be important buddy, I kinda have better things to do,”

“What could you possibly be doing?” Perrin called out to him.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Perrin! Why didn’t you tell me she was with you Cody I would have come over and given you a little visit” he said with a sly smirk. He looked back at Perrin and gave her a cheeky wink. She rolled her eyes.

The screen buzzed and the right screen was now occupied by a girl Perrin had never seen before.  She was dark skinned and had wild frizzy hair that went all over the place. She wore dark gothic clothes and and deep purple lipstick making her lips look quite large. Her i-Live screen was over her eyes, she was preoccupied.

“Perrin and Drea? This must be my lucky day.” Dexter laughed. “Hel-lo gorgeous!” Dexter said, smirking.

“Hey, Drea!” Cody yelled. Drea held her hand up.

“Look, Cody, I’m about to beat my high score in Tetris, so the only voice I should be hearing are the insane cognitive thoughts in my head, telling me what to do with my shapes, kapeesh?” Drea said harshly

“Can’t it wait?”

“We’re still waiting for one more connection? No, I’ll stop when they come.”

“Tetris? What are you 100 years old? Need help on your i-Live granny?” Dexter laughed

“Dexter, you better shut up or I’ll damage you in every way possible.”

“Who else are we waiting for?” Perrin asked.

“Just Jax. Then we can get started.”

The third and final screen buzzed on. It was now mostly taken up by a large boy. He had short flat greasy hair that stuck to his round head. He was so large, his i-Live was struggling to stay in place.

“Look who decided to join the party!” Dexter exclaimed.

“Hey, guys!” Jax called out, waving his chubby hand.

 “Well ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at the world-wide leader in the game of Tetris” Drea bragged proudly.

“Yeah, you’re first, then my great grandma, Tessa, second”, Dexter snickered. Drea gave him a threatening look.

 

 “Ok, ok! Now that everyone is here, I must say that something very serious has happened. And we need to find out what caused it and why it happened. I called you guys here because you are all great hackers and I need your help to solve this.” All the hackers were all listening intensively. “Now guys, this is my umm, friend Perrin,” Cody said gesturing towards her. Perrin stood up and entered the cameras view so they all could see her. Perrin waved kindly and returned to her seat.

“So um, Perrin’s brother, Jacob, died tonight. He removed his own i-Live out of his skull to avoid the pain it was causing him.” Cody said. Perrin squirmed as he said this.

“Holy crap…” Drea said sadly.

“I’m so sorry for you loss Perrin,” Dexter said solemnly.

“Ditto man,” Jax said. These was a short silence in the room.

 “This is not a simple malfunction guys. I think this is much bigger, so much bigger than what we think. So this is what’s going to happen, I’m going to send you the entire data base of his i-Live and we need to break down the coding.”

“Wait, we’re hacking into i-Live itself? Do you realise how much coding we are talking here? 3-4 billion coding lines to evaluate!” Jax said. “This is going to take us a while”

“It is! Of course it is! This is why we are going to work together to break the code.” Cody replied. “Please guys, help me out. Help Perrin out!”

 

“Ok let’s do it!” Dexter exclaimed. “First one to find the problem wins, and may be crowned the coding master,” he said pointing to himself with both thumbs.

“Oh, it’s on, like Donkey Kong!” Drea said competitively.

“What’s with you and these old games?”

 Cody smiled and began to send the individual code copies to the hackers, and the code-breaking began. It was a frenzy. Perrin was taken aback by all the flashing lights, the multiple screens, and the uncountable lines of coding. She wanted to help in some way, but she knew this was Cody’s thing. One hour passed, two hours, three. Perrin was tired. Cody seemed to be losing hope, when suddenly…

“Hey bozos!” Drea called out, “Look what I found! Look at what the coding master found. That’s me by the way. The coding master. The winner. The queen of coding. The Codess of…”

“Just tell us what you found!” Cody yelled.

“Ok, ok, but just to let you know, Cody, I think you are right. This is bigger than just a simple malfunction. Here check this out”

Suddenly Drea message was large on the screen.

***//Receiver: Jacob-Lawson////Sender: Apple INC// Location: “Rural”//^i-Live Disengage^ //population elimination processes {1/3} ***

*********

Governess Saraia glared upon the hundreds of workers beneath her. She wore a number of long elegant robes made of silk that displayed many colours. Her large square earrings dangled loosely, and a thick black choker placed tight against her thin neck. Her face was heavily made up and her hair was pulled back to a pony tail so neat and tight, no hair would dare go out of place. Her i-Live was made from pure Rhodium, and she walked around the bright circular room, hey eyes piercing like a hawk glaring down on its prey, making sure each and every worker is doing what she has ordered them to do. The room was filled the noise of buzzing i-Lives and the occasional monotone voice of Siri. Saraia felt a soft tap on her shoulder. Annoyed to be disturbed, she turned slowly to see a large, bald man. He bowed deeply.

“Ma’am, good news.  I must inform you that the first process of the mission has been executed successfully. All those who escaped the cities and were living in the Rural are a problem no more.” He said blankly.

“All of them?” she responded, as she eyed the man deviously.

“Yes Governess, all of them are dead. Killed off around two hundred million.”

“Excellent, Thane, excellent!” she beamed. Her thin lips formed into the grin of a mad man. “Begin preparation for the elimination of Area 3.”

*********

Cody’s room was silent. The newly found code was displayed on the wall.

“So, what does it mean, what it is?” Perrin asked, breaking the silence.

“Here, I’ll break it down for you Perrin,” Jax said solemnly, “Receiver: Jacob Lawson, means that your brother received some sort of message or virus and the “Sender: Apple INC” means that he received it from the government.”

“Jax! You don’t need you explain it word for word!” Dexter said angrily. “Long story short, the government is killing people!”

“I think it’s too early to draw conclusions, Dexter, I think we might need a bit more evidence!” Jax yelled.

“Seriously, all the evidence is there! It literally says Population elimination process”, loud and clear!” Drea said. “The government is killing off people by sending deactivation signals to their i-Lives!”

“Well, why Jacob? Why him? Why just him?” Perrin asked shaken.

“I have a theory,” Cody included.  “Perrin, do you remember when Jacob left the city? And it went blank when he opened the door? That was an entrance to the rural area, outside the city. That’s common sense. He was there for a while, so his i-Live settings changed from Area 3 to Rural. Then I think he found out about the government’s plans, somehow, and ran back home to warn you.”

“I don’t get it, wouldn’t his i-Live go back to the location setting of Area 3?” Perrin asked.

“Well judging from the footage, he ran home straight away after he left Rural. I’m guessing the setting didn’t change in time, and when the government wiped out all the people living there, Jacob was still, according to his i-Live, “in the rural area”.

There was silence again. Perrin looked down at her feet.

“One thing I don’t get. What the hell is one third supposed to mean?” Drea asked, pointing back up at the code.

“I might know the answer to this one!” Jax exclaimed. “Ok, so the government and all the fancy, rich people live in Section 1, right? And the government is obviously not going to kill themselves, so if you exclude Section 1, and add the Rural area, there are three areas they are planning to kill off. They are killing from the lowest status and making their way up. So first Rural than Section 3 and finally Section 2. One out of three is just the code for one down, two to go. ”

“Wait! So you’re telling me that we are next in line!?” Dexter shouted.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were royals who live on the top of the world drinking fine wine and feasting on the most splendid foods, OF CORSE WE ARE NEXT YOU IDIOT!” yelled Drea in a panic.  Suddenly argument broke loose and the small room was filled with the loud blur of words.  

“OK, everyone calm down!” Cody yelled. I know this is very alarming but yelling at each other won’t help the problem.”

“Look Cody, we are just simple teens, we can’t go against an entire government.  They have professional adult hackers! Plus all their i-Lives are programed to synch, to connect with each other. They are like one huge mastermind of hackers! We can’t go against them.”

“But we can’t let them get away either! Don’t you get it! If they succeed, by the end of this more than two thirds of the population will be dead! Gone! Including us.” Perrin said powerfully, “Guys, what the government is doing is brutal and just plain cruel. I know we are just teens but can we at least just try and stop them.”

Everyone just stared at her. Even though they said nothing Perrin could tell they agreed with her.  The room was silent for the teens were thinking for a solution. Still after an hour, none of the hackers had the slightest idea what to do. Unlike everyone else, Dexter was working away at something, with his huge cheek to cheek grin.

“Dexter will you stop playing around! I’m trying to think.” Perrin said annoyed

“Pfft, playing around she says! Playing around, she says! Well, I’m glad to inform you that I have found a solution!” he smirked, “Siri, what do you do, if your government is planning mass genocide and you are next?”

The room was silent. Perrin just rolled her eyes thinking I was a joke, but the hackers seemed furious.  Drea even left her seat in anger.

“Are you freaking kidding me?!” Cody yelled.

“Why the hell would you do that?” Jax added.

“What? Siri just gave me a list of what to do if zombies takeover.  Hey, it was just a joke.”

“Just a joke? Just a joke! Do you realize what you have done?” Cody shouted shaking from fury. “I spent hours making our chat invisible to the government’s eyes! Siri, is part of the freaking government you moron!”

“So?” Dexter said confused.

“So, now, thanks to your witty little brain, the government now knows that we know their top-secret plan!”

********

Thane ran quickly down a plain brightly lit corridor. With every stride he took, a small echo followed. He didn’t stop until he reached the office of the Governess. When he finally reached his superior’s office door, he was heaving. He contained himself and straightened out his black suit. He took a deep breath, wiped the sweat from his hairless head, and entered the immaculate room. It was circular and white. Along the side where large silver pillars and at the centre on the floor a magnificent gold carpet with delicate floral embroidery. It was a beautiful room, and no i-Live’s virtual reality was needed to be activated to see it.  At the back of the room sat governess Saraia behind her desk. Thane entered nervously and bowed deeply in respect.

“Governess,” he said softly, “I have some news.”

The governess raised her hand. “How is the next elimination coming along?” she asked curiously.

“It will take longer to set up than usual, ma’am, we will not be able to undertake it until next week” Thane replied with his head down.

“What is the delay?”

“Well, governess, we are dealing with a much bigger population. We are talking around four billion citizens. All the workers are working hard to connect the signal to all of them.”

Saraia didn’t say anything, just simply raised her eyebrows.

“Ma’am I’m afraid I have some bad news. There are teens in Area 3 who know of our plans. I don’t know how, but they do. The Siri receive and response department got the message only ten minutes ago. What do we do?” Thane exclaimed.

Governess Saraia took a noticeable deep breath. The silence was almost unbearable.

“How on Earth did a few teenagers find out my secret plans,” she said calmly.

“We believe they are skilled hacker’s ma’am.”

Saraia laughed, “Skilled hackers you say? Well, well, well, we can’t have that now, can we? We can’t have those children tell anybody about this. Not a soul. And sometimes to avoid a problem from growing, we must destroy it at its source. Immediately,” The governess said calmly, “You know what to do Thane.” And with that comment she waved him out.

***********

“Look, I’m sorry! I didn’t think of that ok, I’m sorry!” Dexter yelled over the others.

“Well you should be, you dumb ass! Why don’t you ever use your freakin’ brain?” Drea shouted.

“This the worst day of my life!” Jax yelled over them.

As the three argued Perrin run up to Cody, who was in his seat, his head in his hands.

“Cody what the hell is going on?” she asked.

“Were in danger Perrin. They know. The government knows that we know their plans. They could send that death signal any time now. Any time. Look Perrin” Cody said frantically, “whatever you do Perrin, do not let me take it out. Don’t let me disconnect!”

Suddenly Dexter’s screen on the hologram call turned black.

“Oh shit! They’ve…” Jax said before his screen went black. Perrin, Cody and Drea were shocked staring wide-eyed at each other. Drea was hyperventilating.

“W-w-well, guys. It was n-nice…,” she said nervously before her chat disconnected as well.

The room was now dark.  All Perrin could hear was the panicked breathing from Cody.

Perrin’s heart was racing, her eyes wide. “Cody, are you ok?” she asked

Cody was looking straight ahead, his face blank, his breathing slowed down.

“Cody?” Perrin repeated. A buzz began to emit from Cody’s i-Live and slowly began getting louder.

“Oh, no. No, no, no!” Perrin yelled before Cody’s knees gave in and he fell to the floor screaming in pain. “No! No! No! Please no!” Perrin screamed as she fell to the floor and kneeled beside him.

  Cody was writhing in pain just like Jacob did.  Cody raised his hands to the wires on is head. Perrin instantly panicked, and grabbed his hands, holding them down, trying to stop Cody from removing the device from his head.

“No! Don’t you do that! Don’t you pull them out!” she yelled over his screams.  It was a struggle as Cody desperately tried to remove his i-Live, with Perrin’s hands on top of his trying to stop him. Cody stopped writhing and began violently convulsing. His contorted face in a pained grimace as his agonised screams on intense pain growing increasingly louder and harsher.
“Take it out! Take it out of me!” he yelled before his head tiled back and his eyes rolled up, exposing the whites of his bloodshot eyes.  The high-pitched sound emitting from the i-Live was now unbearable to hear. Suddenly, without warning, Cody’s body stopped moving.

 His eyes returned and the screams that once filled the small room were gone. Cody lay still breathing softly, his eyes wide staring at the roof above him. He didn’t move. Just lay there still, his chest slowly rising and falling.

“C-Cody?” Perrin whispered, her eyes filled with tears as she placed her hand on his face. “Cody, are you alright?”

Cody turned his head to face her. His wide, panicked eyes softened as they fell upon her. He gave Perrin a small smile before his body relaxed and his eyes went astray. The room was silent. Perrin sat there staring at her best friend’s dead on the floor, immobile and limp. His eyes looking blankly ahead, empty and lifeless. Perrin felt so sad to the point where she was numb and tears no longer ran down her face. She simply looked ahead of her, her mind empty. She had not only just lost her brother but now, another best friend. Now she could never tell him how she really felt about him.

********

Perrin’s i-Live began to ring.

Caller ID: Dexter Caller ID: Dexter Caller ID: Dexter

Immediately Perrin picked up. Dexter’s smug face was now on the wall. How is this possible, Perrin thought. She was convinced, like Cody, Dexter was gone. He seemed satisfied, though dazed.
“Hey Perrin! Long-time no see!” he laughed.

“Do you seriously think this is a time to be joking around? Are you freaking blind?” she cried, pointing at Cody on the floor.

“Oh yeah, I see your situation. Hang on, in three, two, one…”

At that moment Cody’s i-Live began whirring, and not soon after his chest began to rise and fall.  He was alive! Cody was alive! He slowly opened his eyes, and gradually brought himself to sit up straight.  Perrin gave a gasp of relief. He was safe. He was alright.

“Good morning sleeping beauty!” Dexter exclaimed. “I’m going to call the others, I’ll leave you two to it” he smirked, before disconnecting. Without hesitation, Perrin threw her arms around Cody.  He was slightly dazed, but as he came to, the hugged her back.

“You scared the shit out of me!” Perrin yelled, her heart hammering fast, before giving Cody a playful punch in the shoulder. All she could do was smile.

“Damn, that hurt!” Cody said running his fingers against his skull.

 

 “Aaaaand we are back… !” Dexter exclaimed and immediately the three hackers returned to the bright green screen on the wall.  Drea and Jax seemed, like Cody, confused and very disorientated.

“Who else felt that?” Jax asked. He shivered, as he thought of the wave of pain that had just passed over him.

“We all did. Well except for Perrin,” Cody answered. 

“Well, from what Perrin described, if this is what Jacob went through, shouldn’t we all be dead?” Drea asked.  As she said this, Dexter beamed.

“You’re welcome, guys.” He said arrogantly.

“What?” Cody asked confused.

“I said you’re welcome because I saved all your sorry asses!” he exclaimed. “So, you’re welcome.” There was a pause. “Jeeze, do you want me to explain it to you word for word?”

“That would be nice,” Jax said confused.

“Damn guys! I thought you were smart enough to figure it out yourselves. I guess I am the smartest in the room, and the most skilled hacker and the…”

“Just tell us!” they all interrupted.

“Ok, ok!” Dexter said before he began, “so when Perrin asked us to think of ways to stop the government, I thought of the idea. So I simply used all my super cool hacking skills to individually tamper into all of your receiving antennae on your i-Lives and changed the coding so your i-Lives relay any foreign messages sent to them, back to the original sender. So I figured by asking Siri the question, the government would know about us, and out of panic that we will spread their secret, try and kill us off. So when they sent the signal to wipe us out, it relayed and…”

“Got sent back to them”, Perrin interrupted. There was another pause.

“Dexter, you’re the smartest sonuvabitch I know,” Drea said.

“Yeah, I know. Attractive right.” He responded, giving her a little wink. “So yeah, you’re welcome guys.”

“So let me get this straight,” Cody said breaking the silence, “you killed off the government?”

“You bet I did! Aren’t I just great?” Dexter said beaming.

“No way! You guys!” Jax yelled out of nowhere.

“What is it?”

“Guys, since there is no government to protect this stuff, I’ve just hacked into their secret files!” Jax said unable to control his excitement.

“No way!” Drea shouted. Before Perrin knew it, all four of them were at the edge of their seats hacking away.  

“Same! I’m in to.” Cody laughed. “This is insane!”

“Try finding the official elimination plan! We need evidence to show the public!” Perrin yelled, looking over Cody’s shoulder.

“I can only spot one file. It’s called RESTART. Hang on let me just get into it. Ok…holy crap!” Jax yelled. “Are you guys seeing this? I’ll send you a link!”

Immediately, a file appeared on the screen. Cody opened it.  There were two files labelled, “Population Elimination Process” and “Rural Rebuild”.

 

“Guys, I just read through the Population Elimination file, we predicted right. Those sick bastards were planning to kill off more than two-thirds of the population.” Drea said shaking her head.

“Hang on, hang on. Open up Rural Rebuild!” Perrin said. Cody did as she said. Suddenly hundreds of files appeared. Perrin read through them.

Vegetation regrowth….Animal breeding plans…Ozone reconstruction…Water cleaning systems.

The list went on.

“The Rural,” Perrin said softly, “it’s liveable!”

“And according to this, it will be bloody green too!” Drea added. Perrin couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

“Ohhhhhh! It is all starting to make sense!” Jax said. “So the government being the selfish pricks they are, confined us in to three huge cities, make us live a horrible life, while they live in luxury. And while they are doing that, they rebuild all the rural area, but brain wash us all, and tell us “there is harsh and unliveable conditions outside the city walls”, so when it is ready and rebuilt, they kill off all the unimportant people, aka us, and then enjoy the new beautiful world all to them selfish selves!”

There was a pause.

“Well,” Dexter said raising his hands, “if this shit is real, I need to see it with my own eyes.”

“Wait you’re going? Right now?” Drea asked.

“Of course I am! I lived in this pathetic hell hole for years, and now I know that there is actual breathable air outside the city, we need to go! Cody, where was it where Jacob left?”

 

Perrin couldn’t believe what was happening as she made her way quickly down Cody’s ladder.  Her mind was racing, thinking about what was waiting for her outside the city walls. Perrin looked down to see Drea, Jax and Dexter already waiting for them.

“Come on guys! You are so slow! And that’s pretty cheap coming from me.” Jax heaved.  

“Ok, Cody, where is the door?” Dexter asked as the two friends reached the floor.

“Not far, just a few blocks away, let’s go, I’ll lead” he responded.  The group walked in silence, all thinking, wondering. All that was on Perrin’s mind was the dull grey door.  The group meandered through the dark and depressed buildings.

 

“If I’m correct, the door is over…” Cody said, “Right…right here.” In front of them was a large brick wall, and at the bottom left corner was the same grey door Jacob used to escape. Right there in front of them. Perrin ran ahead, took a deep breath and placed her hand on the hot, round door handle. The group behind her held their breaths, as Perrin turned the handle, stiffly and pushed the heavy door open. All the teens squinted as the bright sun shone on their skin for the first time in their life. As they shielded their eyes from the powerful light, they all took deep breaths.

 

The air felt light and clean as it entered Perrin’s lungs. They all gazed in pure wonder. Green. Green, everywhere. A beautiful scene of bright green grass stretching as far as the eye can see. Numerous trees bearing lush green leaves swaying softly with the breeze. In the distance, a mountain range, their peeks hooded with snow and meeting with the soft white cloud above them. To her right, a rushing river. Crystal clear water, real water, elegantly cascading down rocks. Perrin’s heart was thumping, as she repeatedly told herself that this was real, all real, not the devious work of her i-Live. It was right there in front of her. She bent down, reached out and let her fingertips brush against the soft grass. Perrin felt each and every individual strand. It was life. Pure life, free of technological deceit. Now was the time to live. Now began the new life of living without the I.

 


© Copyright 2018 Epiphany Philippe. All rights reserved.

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