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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1994457-Connecting-Offline
Rated: E · Short Story · Technology · #1994457
In a world where technology rules your life a series of events reveals the truth.
1.1

The beeping of the bomb timer was increasing in speed. Laying face down in a heap of rumble, his ears rang from a recent explosion that had just thrown him 20ft into the air. There was no time to stop, no time to think. Knowing he only had twenty seconds left on the bomb strapped to the nuclear reactor, he pulled himself up. Nearing the reactors core, he noticed some signs of lag; he waited for it to pass. Hands shaking, clothes saturated in sweat, limbs numb due to his rigid grip upon his firearm. Badonich peered around at his fellow comrades as they surrounded the reactors core whilst firing with precision towards mutated shadows swiftly crawling and leaping aggressively in unpredictable patterns towards them. Defending him, their commander, who had the bomb disposal kit, which was the only means of stopping the bomb. Reaching out towards the bomb with pliers he had to make the discussion, which wire should he cut?
Badonich's expression grew hard as he got sent back to the EyeRise display screen which was fuzzy and half coated with static. Resting his hand on his forehead, a sigh was released. Muting the sound on his interface he instantly understood that it was the R.E.I.N acting as interference, as he heard the sparks around his house.

Badonich was always online to the world, and the world was always online to him. They were connected together as long as he breathed. However, this wasn't anything to advertise, as it was normal. A microchip was inserted into every right eye at birth; this product was called the EyeRise. This chip has the ability to connect a human conscious to the single independent network around the globe. It has many icons on the interface projected in front of the host where they can control and manipulate the interface by the power of their eye with the direction they look onto the projection. The main two icons on the interface are the AllConnnect, where the host shares information about their daily life and the other is the simulation, where hosts can experience generated worlds to play in, which is what Badonich usually goes in. However, the AllConnect is by far the most popular. It grants the ability to search everyone's profiles; this is where the hosts of the EyeRise post status updates of their life typically concerning what they are doing and how they are feeling. To be online is to be alive; to be offline is to die. Everyone was taught to believe being online was everything; nothing existed when you went offline.

But the concept of being online has become so integrated into society that it has become their most considerable and important foundation to rely on. Every person has a Chip Identification Number, Badonich's is ChIdNo.Ba2738463. However, choosing your own individual name as you turn 18 years of age is a social norm, he chose Badonich; an anagram of all the letters in his Chip Identification Number.

'Did you get dropped?' Looking at the bottom left of his vision he saw a message that Signify sent him. Badonich focused his eyesight over the letters of the projection from the EyeRise in order to precisely write back the response, 'R.E.I.N.'

The 'R.E.I.N' in which Badonich is referring to stands for 'Repetitive Electrical Impulse Noise.' It is a rare electrical storm which is created from the overwhelming use of electrical devices in the world. They produce electrical impulses which disrupt EyeRise chips by creating a surge of electricity within them; the effect is intermittent static covering the host's vision and a severe loss in speed when operating the EyeRise.

Badonich glanced at the game icon to play again.
'Coming back on now Signify.'
'Not a strong enough connection to perform the activity of this icon' was written across Badonich's vision. Falling silent for a second, he instinctively reached for his half empty coffee mug and blindly threw it across his apartment. The colliding smash of the mug was enough to direct his attention back and realise his fault. He could see the black coffee swimming round the shattered china shards on the floor, he glanced up to see what it impacted, and it was the Electrolyser.

Now, the Electrolyser is the equivalent of milk for a baby, it is the power line for the EyeRise. Not every house has one, as they have the capability to be wirelessly fed, Badonich didn't have that privilege however, as he hadn't the credits for such a purchase. It is mandatory for all Electrolysers to have their protective cover on at all times, to never be removed without authorised supervision. However, Badonich thought that he could speed up his EyeRise capabilities by adapting different components in it, but now it was having its circuitry flooded by his coffee.

It wasn't the first time Badonich has had an outburst, there have been countless times. The only thing he really wants is to have a consistently fast speed of access to his EyeRise, which he would do anything for.
Sudden sparks erupt in a cluster of blaze out of the Electrolyser towards the opposite end of the apartment. At exactly the same time a blistering searing pain scorched in Badonich's right eye, falling to the floor he clenched his fists as he began to howl in agony. The feeling of his eye bulging out forced him to push it back. The torment was too much for him, he isn't use to pain considering the worst he ever feels is after stubbing his big toe on his coffee table. After minutes of torture, he couldn't bear the unbearable any longer, he passes out.

1.2

Opening only his left eye he lay on his solid wooden floor, startled. He reached his fingers up towards his right eye, in order to assess the damage, as he thought he couldn't see out of it. Stopping half way up his face to wipe the tears that streaked down his face, and then he continued up. He poked himself in his right eye, blinking instinctively; he tensed his brow in bewilderment. He forced his right eyelid shut, and then opened it; he repeated this action several times. His eye was working, but there was no EyeRise interface, no icons to open, and no messages on the screen or any advertisements popping up at regular intervals. Blinking continuously, desperately, in attempt to bring back the interface, as he didn't know what else to do. But there was nothing, he... he must be offline? But he was breathing and conscious? Badonich was taught to believe being online was everything; nothing existed when you went offline.
Pushing himself up from the floor he is careful not to touch his eye, as he knows it will bring him more pain, although it is bearable now. Moving his eye down to where the AllConnect icon would be in order to write a status on what had just happened, he stopped. It's not there. He's offline so he can't go on it, he can't go on anything... He can't do anything. Badonich is hesitant; he doesn't know what to do, he doesn't know what he can do.

Isolation is never a good combination when it comes to certain individuals, especially ones who for all their life have been connected to the rest of the world, and the rest of the world with them. Badonich went through withdrawal symptoms, for a number of days. Having panic attacks on regular intervals, sleep terrors shaking him awake in the middle of the night, crying unable to know what he could do, hyperventilating and feeling vulnerable. He also became increasingly anxious as he began to think that he would never be able to get back online and never be able to talk to his friends again or see anyone or be with anyone, he would die in his apartment all alone. Everything he ever knew had been ripped from his life and thrown out, never to be seen again. After his days of desperation, he had a thought, just a single thought, but one that would change his life forever. His thought was to go outside.

From a whole day of preparation Badonich gradually moved towards the door. He didn't even own a pair of shoes, as to be fair, he didn't need them. After food, clothes and other bare necessities were delivered in rations to each block of apartments, there was no need for them as there was no need to move from the apartment and Badonich never did.

Stepping tentatively outside, his brow tensed and eyes squinted due to what he could only describe as unnatural dazzling light. Looking down to shelter his eyes from the sun he spots something which is alien to him, he crouches down for a better look. There is a green rod shape at the bottom which shoots up out of the pavement with wider flat green shapes sticking out of its sides, but on the top of the green rod is a bowl of light blue blades huddling around one another turning up towards the sky. Badonich reaches out towards, clenching his fist around it to touch it, the soft delicate blue blades crushed in his hand with some blades falling to the floor; he released his fingers and caressed the tips of the remaining few that stand. He couldn't understand how something so fragile could stand all by itself and exist in the world he lived in.

Badonich had been wondering for hours, he had gone beyond the city and discovered forests, lakes, flowers and many other things. These things he had never seen before because he didn't need to know what they were so they were no longer programmed into the educational system of the EyeRise. But sitting under a tree enjoying the first sweet taste of a fresh emerald apple is the last thing he remembers.

1.3

'Good Morning!'

Is always the first message that fades into vision when waking up; Badonich has given up trying to ignore it. Heaving himself out of bed and shuffling towards the coffee machine; the only machine he now feels dependant on. Between the time walking from his bed to the kitchen he gets a game invite from someone, he recognises the identity number, it's from an old friend Signify. He doesn't want to reply, but it feels rude not to

'No thanks.'

'Why not!? Why haven't you been replying to my invites? We still need to save the reactors core remember, you last played when you got dropped weeks ago.'

Badonich is hesitant of the reply he is thinking of sending back as he glances over to his apartment door, bolted shut from the outside.

'It's not real.'

'What do you mean? Your our commander, we need you!'

'It's not real. It's fake, it's all just fake. Stuff that isn't really there, that exists only in our heads.'

'What? Of course it's real, how can it not be? If it isn't then what is? I can see it, hear it, touch it, and feel it? What isn't real about that? Come on we need your bomb disposal kit!'

'Go outside.'

'Why would I want to do that? They say you suffocate out there, what's gotten into you?'

'Exactly, why would you want to live in the vulnerabilities of reality, when you can dream in the delusion of virtuality?'

There is no reply, the conversation ends there but previous friends status updates from the AllConnect and advertisements still pop up in Badonich's vision.

To explain this sudden change of perspective Badonich has seemed to acquire, we have to look back to when he left his apartment a few weeks back. He saw something real, a concept that matched his own self in relevance to being and decaying. Something strong and yet so fragile it's difficult to describe with any combination of words. A dynamic world that is capable of transformation eager to live and grow with ambition. Badonich that day found something that wasn't fake, it was organic and beautiful. Going outside is something that is discouraged among this virtual society, but forgetting this little detail and unaware that there is a also a tracker implemented at birth in everyone's arm in order for the current party called The Message to keep track of movement into the outside world, he got caught and was taken to one of the factories for a replacement EyeRise. The Message stress that staying inside is for their own protection due to the high risk of suffocation from Carbon Dioxide in the outside world, but suspiciously Badonich didn't seem to suffocate. They took a record of his Chip Identification Number just in case he goes out into the world again unsupervised without correct protective equipment, but it's more likely so they can make sure to suppress his curiosity.

Remembering this as he stares down, slowly pulls the draw below his kitchen cabinet open and grabs the only piece of cutlery he owns, a rusty metal spoon that he uses to eat the ration packets he receives monthly. He brings it up to his right Eye which is still producing a gateway into the virtual world and when he eventually has the spoon by the right side of his right eye, he starts pushing it behind his eye while gritting his teeth, he pushes further but has to start shoving to get the spoon all the way back, he struggles in preventing shouting due to the raw feeling of rust, and yet he still ends up crying out. He stops when he feels the cold rusty metal spoon at the back of his eye, right where he wants it to be. Hands shaking he takes one deep breath in, he clenches a fist around the handle of the spoon and thrusts it forward with all of his strength in that one action, blood spattered over his kitchen wall as he fills the room with his screaming that hurts his ears for a few seconds. The most memorable aspect of that experience for Badonich wasn't the pain or the sight of his eye soaring through the air sticking to the kitchen wall in front of him, it wasn't that he was once again free of the EyeRise, it was the sound of his eye as it flew out of its socket as it made an unmistakable popping sound.





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