The black monitor flickered to life. The words typed onto the screen and flashed white.
Wake up, Tom.
A man in his 30s rolled over.
Tom kicked the white sheets off to reveal a naked body aside from fitted boxers. He sat up and rubbed his face. Looking over to the monitor, he rose from the bed.
What time is it?
The time is 7:00 am. Do you want your usual breakfast?
The man stumbled to the toilet to relieve himself. Balancing himself with an outstretched hand, he turned his head to the side.
Start the shower.
The showerhead turned on. Steam filled up the enclosed space as Tom undressed. He took a look at his unshaven face and grabbed his razor.
Location of Edith?
An image of a map and a blue dot appeared on the mirror.
He squirted a handful of shaving cream into his hand.
Will you be wearing blue or black today?
Tom looked at the words projected onto the mirror and looked back at his reflection.
He lathered shaving cream on and ran a razor down his cheek. He hated new razors.
A sound escaped his lips as he nicked his neck. He grabbed a towel and pressed hard.
Do you need assistance?
The mirror flashed contact numbers and first aid procedures.
No. Turn off.
The mirror went silent. He threw the towel to the side and jumped into the shower.
Minutes later, Tom walked out onto the stone balcony in a blue tailored suit. The time, date, and temperature flashed across the screen of his sunshades. He took a sip of his coffee as the steam hit the morning air. With one hand in his pantsuit pocket, he descended the stairs.
It looks like fair-weather all morning.
The man entered the one-person drone and placed both his hands on the steering wheel. Authentication codes and prompts ran across the glass screens.
Good morning, Tom. Destination?
Please fasten your seatbelt.
You run the risk of serious harm or injury.
Yeah, Yeah let’s just go.
The four propellers started and the drone lifted off the ground. Tom watched his house disappear behind him as the drone merged into a traffic line in the sky.
The highlights flashed across his screen.
Read “Hackers to take down Network.”
Tom lifted his shades and the article popped open on the main glass screen before him. He scrolled through the article, killing time. Tom felt a jolt and his heart jumped as he watched two drones crash into each other.
Please modify your question.
Tom lowered his sunshades and looked down at the crash below him as he passed over. Data streamed across the lenses.
What is happening?
He felt another jolt and tensed as his drone went through pieces of debris, his windshield cracking from the impact. Tom’s face contorted as another drone knocked into his right side. He flew from his seat and into the windshield. His heart thumped into his ears as the glass broke beneath him.
A police officer approached the wreckage. He lifted his sunshades as his boots crunched on broken glass and debris.
Tom Lively. Born in 2186, Austin, Texas scrolled across his tablet.
The police officer tapped on the screen and selected Tom’s profile. His ears tingled as a sound escaped Tom’s mouth.
What is he trying to say?
Cannot access. Tom Lively is now unplugged from the Network.
A chill ran up the officer’s spine as he knelt beside Tom. With a piece of glass stuck out of his side, Tom sucked in a raspy breath. The injured man reached out a bloody hand and grabbed the officer’s arm. The light in his eyes disappeared as Tom took another breath and exhaled. The officer’s throat dried up and tears blocked his view as he closed Tom’s eyes. He looked up to see a handful of burning drones scattered across the landscape.
So many bodies.
A list of all the victims popped up on the tablet.
What's the cause?
System malfunction flashed across the tablet.
The officer looked up at several of the other officers now joining the scene. He lowered his shades.
Is the threat contained?
A new recruit walked up to the officer and shook his head.
Hackers. They are taking down all the main hubs.
The officer took in a sharp breath.
Back up systems?
The recruit looked down and tapped on his tablet. The data flowed into the officer’s sunshades. The officer shook his head as his heart beat faster.
Just a few left.
A woman ran up to Tom. The officer’s shades revealed her to be,
Edith Lively, born 2186 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tears streamed down her face. An agonized wail resounded as her knees hit the pavement. The officer pulled her from the wreckage and handed her over to the recruit.
Take her to the ambulance.
Yes, Sir. The recruit nodded and escorted the woman away.
The officer turned around and nodded to a few colleagues.
Files downloaded onto the officer’s tablet. Every system failure scrolled across the screen of the officer’s sunshades. Too many to review.
What systems are still intact?
The data began to glitch and stopped flowing. The officer tapped the side of his temple. The lenses flickered and went dead. The officer lifted his shades and tapped on his tablet.
Network Down flashed in red letters across the screen.
He looked up at his colleagues and the crowd before him. Grunts, cries, laughter, and screams were the only verbal language he knew. His sweaty hands gripped his stylus. He looked down at his tablet and tapped the screen again.
Status of Network.
He stared at the blank screen. Tension crawled up his chest and settled in his head. He squeezed the tablet, willing it to answer. The cursor blinked on a silent screen.