Time stood still as the sun peaked across the sky. A cluster of stars twinkled in a song beyond the horizon. Peace reigned throughout the cosmos, evolving into a colony of nations. Together, expanding among the universe. Reaching the farthest of galaxies, traveling to the impossible and creating a reality to believe in. From a single man who brought us to the light. Who freed us from our psychological imprisonment, levitated our consciousness to the outer limits. “We are more than just reality.”
Day turned to night in a vast park surrounded by tall metal domes. People packed their things then disappeared to their homes. Birds flew in and out of trees as they settled for the night. More stars appeared in the sky, brighter than before. “You have big dreams,” laughed a man near the growing shadows. “You got everything you need. What more could you possibly be missing?” He shook his head lightly, questioning the young philosopher who sat beside him.
“There’s more to reality than what we can perceive.” The young man continued as he collected his thoughts. He pointed out the science behind his existence, the meaning of the tree that stood next to them. The family eating by the bench feet away, the creatures that routinely move on their own, to the distance beyond his awareness. “Do you know why we keep finding distance stars? Why the universe never seems to have a end?” The elder man waited for his answer. “Because we live in an infinite plane.”
“A three dimensional virtual eternity where nothing lives forever.” The young philosopher trailed back to the sky. “We are raised into a system that binds us to be obedient and kind. To mind your manners and care for our neighbor. If you fall from the system, the system rites you back in. We are told we are at peace. We are told other worlds come in peace. What is famine? What is poverty? What are diseases? No one care to think because that doesn’t exist, they are just a name.”
Blue was the moon, crescent and present as ever. The pulsing stars jeweled its light. Silence whispered in a subtle tune. “There’s a world out there.” He continued. His face, towards the sky, blew up from the light reflecting in his eyes. “A world beyond this reality. People talk about them. Some have gone there.” The elder man rolled his eyes. “There are plenty of chatroom's immersed by the same awareness craving to be free. Sites devoted to waking up the masses, save us from reality.”
“And just where exactly is it that you yearn to escape to?” The elder man questioned.
“They call it Zion.” His young friend answered.
“Why would you leave?” The elder man leaned forward, curious as to what his reason may be. “Do you have an idea worth investing in? People can crowd fund your dreams. Got a show in mind? They’ll sign petitions to get your show started. They, ultimately, are the ones investing in people’s films, inventions. Need a place to stay? The world is full of remote locations you can call home, anywhere; in any galaxy. War is just a noun, illness has a cure. The sky welcomes all its wonders and still you find a fictional city more real than the one staring you in the face.” He repeated the thought in his head. “Are you sure about this, Atom?”
“They say it’s an adjustment.” Atom recalled. “Yes.”
“It use to be.” His elder accomplice proclaimed. “Now, it’s a smooth ride. Your body is there but your sub conscience is here. It’s an obstacle illusion, but you see right through it. There are no drowsiness or headaches, just a jolt to the real world. You’ll be awake before you know it.” Atom turned to him with questions in his eyes. “So they say.” He took his hands and buried them deep into his trench coat. He steadied his fist before Atom, “We all are given a choice to make. A choice one is asked when presented the opportunity to awaken from the dream they have created.”
Atom observed, connected every dot, while time froze behind him. “In one hand you get what you want. The other will bring you luck, with no hidden fee, for the rest of your life. Know once you’ve made a decision, the actions of which will occur beyond this place and time will not last. You may be recycled or be laid to rest. Energy is never destroyed, only created. Which ever road you decide to take from here on out will be of your own will, mind and soul. Only glory awaits you.” Atom paused before taking what he wanted. His reality would soon gained a different perspective.
Atom dove deeper into the rabbit hole. Codes and wormholes, symbols and blinding lights. Everything consumed Atom as Atom consumed everything. Simultaneously, his body fell numb as his mind disconnected. Heavenly in a vacuum of serene weightlessness, Atom woke up. He felt a tug pulling him out from the abyss. A sudden heaviness made the room close in on itself. Atom was ascending while falling to light. A voice called to him. Light broke from the shadows, Atom opened his eyes and found himself half naked on an iron bed.
Monitors traced his heartbeat, wire tubes fed him nutrients. Atom laid for a moment as he realized he was up. “Welcome home.” The same man from before approached Atom. “Though your mind is active, the muscles in your body have never been used before.” He instructed, “You’ll gain your strength in a minute. Give it time.” He checked his monitor. “Your body’s catching up to your mind. You’ll be walking shortly.”
As the room settled, two men approached their positions. Atom held a blanket to his waist as he sat. He looked around before noticing the inserters implanted on his arms, legs, chest and behind his head. Those were the adjustments he kept hearing about. He marveled at its design, ingenuity. “Put this on.” The pilot tossed a suit to Atom. “Keeps you warmer,” he added. “Serling, I’m the pilot.” He introduced himself. “Welcome on board to the Millennial!”
They shook hands before the engineer introduced himself. “Ghost,” Atom extended a greeting. “You already know Bos.” The man whom Atom spoke to back in his virtual dream, stood flesh and bone, tall and real. “Every person saved brings the Millennial that much glory. She’s a born lifesaver. You’re our last for today but there’s plenty more out in the fields.” Atom dressed himself while the crew introduced themselves. “Great to have you on board!”
“You may feel minor uncertainties but they will fade,” Bos began. “You’ll find that Zion has grown over the years.” Past the corridors, across the hallways. Bos guided Atom to the control station where Serling steered the Millennial on route to Headquarters. Atom stood behind Serling as they flew across the city. Towers of all shapes and sizes, color and texture, trailed below. “We no longer reside in caves buried on earth but the caves buried by the cosmos. We hide only what the dark conceals, never from machines.”
Ghost entered the station and sat behind Bos. Atom fell silent as he bathed in a new stream of consciousness. Names he has never known, legacies he could not forget. One name repeated throughout the time Bos lectured Atom of the brief history he’ll soon inherit. The name they chant in praise. The martyr statue across the galaxy, the man who brought them awareness, the light that freed them from reality. His name alone keeps the world spinning.
“After the war,” Bos concluded, “Machine and man work together. We inhabit the farthest planets, established monuments throughout the stars. Man reigns upon the universe with all of its machines. The only thing we fear is the distance between one inhabitable planet to the other, nothing more. With the machines help, we’ve been saving more than a million lives each day. They make finding those who seek to be free easier. And they do much more.”
“Take your suit for example.” Ghost added, “They are made with smart thread material. With built in GPS tracking signals that automatically sends a distress call, if you ever find yourself stuck in space that is. In said emergency, the boots will track the nearest inhabitable planet and safely land you to the embassy. Your suit will keep you warm, it's radiation resistant, it also supplys you with recycled oxygen. Not like you’ll be fighting anyone in it.”
“Registrations will train you the minute you enter.” Serling continued. “We train so we are prepared. Just because there are no wars, doesn’t mean we can’t keep fit by practicing the arts. Center your core to better others. We shouldn’t be far now.” Beams of light trailed behind as the Millennial soared through space. Light after another, cities grew into new ones. The same cluster of capitals turned into different active towns.
Before them spun a world evolved beyond its years. Rockets big and small came soaring throughout the atmosphere. Heading into the beyond or cruising down to its moon. The closer they approached the clearer things became. Men in jet-packs flew above skyscrapers, cars all the same. The Millennial slowly ascended down below. Jet-packs and jet fuel screamed in the sky as they drew in the air. Teleporters took people to their destinations. Bionic gear connected the people of Zion the vast multiverse. The air smelled clean, the sun felt warm but the sky lit the same. Atom felt at home.
Bos took his crew down to Registrations for Atom’s clean slate. “Here, you’ll be trained to move like you would have moved had you been plugged in.” Ghost instructed as Atom passed a group of trained new comers. “Did you catch the red light behind his head?” Ghost pointed. “We go wireless into the matrix now, no more cords. Any bootleg hacker can build you one.” He laughed, “Simple mechanics.” Atom paused as a group of new comers test run their skills.
Atom took notes, entranced and willing. Red lights illuminated from behind their heads as they flipped, jumped and somersaulted their way across the pavilion. The agility they succumbed within seconds. The heights they reached with a mere lift of a muscle. As new information seeped into their stream of knowing, their eyes opened. They took their positions then proceeded in action. Others eagerly anticipated their turn.
“Here is where I leave you kid.” They stood feet away from the Registrations office. “Head inside and they’ll tell you where to go. If you ever decide to join the Ark, look us up. We’re always open for new members.” Ghost and Serling gave their goodbyes then headed back to the ship. “You made a wise choice. Waking up to the real world. There is plenty of unknown for you to find now that you are here. The universe is out there, we are out there.”
The Millennial and its crew left to tend the fields. Atom watched as the ship hovered away. Into the distance, the Millennial disappeared in search of more souls to free. Atom paused before proceeding to head inside. He stared at the sky and felt a resounding familiarity to its pulsing lights. Its moon, twice as big. Its people more self aware. Some born full fleshed, others with special abilities. An easiness helped Atom reach the front doors. He entered and was shown the way to his new home. His new life began just as promised.
Back in a virtual reality where life is but a dream, more eager souls seek the unknown and the wonders yet to be behold. Back in a city rich and prosperous, drunk in light and justice. Deep in the cities that never age, doves hop around plucking the crumbs off the floor. An old happy woman fed the doves while the birds sang. Children innocently pranced around the playground, laughing. The elderly woman crumbled bread into her palm then gently tossed them to the doves. “Took you long enough.” She began as an elderly man approached her in the park.
He sat beside her, knowing she knew why he was there. She continued feeding the doves while embracing the city that stood in front of them. Colors illuminated the changing sky. Laughter echoed throughout the corners of the coming night. “Beautiful sight.” He began. “It’s become too big to fail now.” She smirked. “Honestly woman, how long did you foresee this peace to last?”
“So long as people fight to keep it alive.” The elderly woman replied. “I know that you know, you said it yourself in this very spot. We may have looked different but the message was all the same. He will always find a way to make his return. He’s done it before, let’s not forget.” She paused to admire the night. “As much as he or they or anyone try to upset the balance, tip the scale, watch the world burn. There will always be a counterpart to correct the mistake, they may not always be who you would expect, but they are there because you are there and I am here.”
“Once He, they, come to realize no matter how much they try to corrupt the world, control each and every creature, there will always be a counterpart to complete the equation. It is how the universe was design to be. So, until they learn that no matter how tight sealed their plan to control the world is, there will always be a flaw. That flaw is the opposite of what they plan to achieve. Nothing changes only the faces, as you and I can tell.”
“Then you’re aware that the virus is on its way?”
“It’ll come and go like a trending fad.” She answered confidently. “The people affected may have no hope but they will have a savior.” She tossed more bread crumbs into the floor. More birds wobbled around as they cleaned the ground.
“And who’s going to be there for them now,” the old man questioned. “Who will lead them to the light now that He’s gone? Who will be their savior?”
Far into the towers, a castle sheltered half of the residence occupying the city. Delivery spotters paced through the halls. Active joggers made their runs. Members of a thriving society came and went as they pleased. Guards patrolled the streets, kids played by the playground. There was something happening in every corner. The elevator slid open to the seventh floor. One single scrawny civilian made his way to his apartment. To his surprise a package stood by his door. “Yes!” He hissed as he took his gift inside.
He hung his keys, locked his door then made his way to his office. He slid his door shut then armed himself for the deep web. A small USB drive he purchased off the internet lay wrapped in a package within a package. His new gizmo promised faster reception, an untraceable line and access to every backdoor known and unknown lurking in the deep internet. He started his computer then inserted the USB drive. As promised, he was given access to a door never opened before.
“Wow!” His screen cracked as it began to melt, warp into a silver liquid. The silver goo engulfed his computer screen. The cracks liquefied into a mirror that reflected an upside down world. The kid reached for its silver oceans rumbling on his screen. “What science is this?” The silver ran down his fingertip, up to his wrist then swallowing his arm whole. “Help!” He shouted but only distortion creaked as the silver consumed his entire mass.
His spasms lasted for a second. He stood as the silver morphed into a man. A man in a black suit with dark shades soon took the scrawny millennial's place. He looked around then laughed. He laughed as loud as he pleased for he had returned. He, the agent who was freed from the system. He, who was given his own line; his own vein to the matrix. He was back, back in virtual reality to finish what he sought to end long ago. The agent of order and chaos was back to claim his throne.