I opened my eyes to find myself disconnected from the world, something had woke me up. My head was consumed by a helmet. The device was heavy, cold and alien. One thick cord dangled from the ceiling like a chandelier that trailed down to my head. As I detached myself from the bulky machine, I came to find I was alone in an empty gray room. Staring at the ceiling, I questioned; where am I? How did I get here? There were no windows to the outside. No pictures hung of distant relatives or of family vacations. Just solid gray concrete.
On the other end of the room, a thin line drew the exit. I stood to approach the long rectangular door etched on the wall. There were no knobs to twist open or a button to press. I knocked thinking someone was on the other end. “Hello,” I called. More than once, I repeated the pattern with no response. I tried not to panic though my mind raced and my heart thumped. Surely someone would come for me. I knocked again, a bit louder. “My name is Thut Apple.” I pressed my hands against the wall. “Hello?!”
“My name is Thut.” I called to whoever lurked around, if anyone stood near. I kept quiet. I listened precariously but nothing came about. I leaned my other ear to the cement hoping it made a difference. “Hello?” Still, I called hoping someone would answer. My head rested on the cold gray concrete, I prayed for a miracle. The wall cracked the more pressure I applied, I noticed. With enough force the wall slid open to a dark desolated prison.
The building was cold, the air was thick, the lights were dim and no other soul were awake. Silence surrounded me in an unpleasant serenity. I stepped outside to find no one around. No one but rows of occupied rooms as far as I could see, with no way out. I leaned against the rails to find more levels descending and ascending into an abyss I did not want to be a part of. This was not my world. I was not where I was before I woke up in this nightmare.
Where did my country home vanish to? What happened to the family I came home to every night? My friends and co-workers whom I made plans with? Where’s the sun and the moon? The bright blue sky and the cotton clouds? Where’s the prickling grass and scent of bouquets? Where did all the life go? I began to race down the halls, screaming like some lunatic. “Is anyone there?” I called, frantically searching for an answer.
Thousands of sketched doors throughout the building told me I wasn’t alone. I made my way towards a door and slid it open. I bothered not to knock. There, an elderly man sat on the floor with the same devise I was hooked-in. His stillness felt abnormal and disturbing. He just sat there, breathing. He did nothing but age. Who built these machines? I questioned as I examined the man before me. They do nothing but suck the life out of us, I thought. We stopped living and ended up as nothing. We have come so far to go nowhere.
I wanted to unplug the devise from him. I wanted to know why I was disconnected but the helmet was locked to his neck. If I yank it from him he will die. “Sir,” I addressed him, “Can you hear me?” I shook him lightly, “Sir, wake up!” I shook and shook but he could not hear me, he never budged. He just sat there, unaware that I was there. I released him not knowing what to do. On occasion, he would laugh or sigh. Wherever he was, mentally, he seemed happy.
The exit to this maze I came to find myself in was my only priority. I stopped entering other people’s room, trying to wake them up, since they were all connected to some colossal computer. The same computer I was in before something woke me up. The deeper I entered the maze, the more I was haunted by the visions of the paradise I was deprived of. Finding a way out was my last salvation before I go mad. The questions that kept repeating in my head were turning me insane. I did not have the answers I desperately needed.
Finding the exit was not as simple as I hoped it would be. The exit must be somewhere, I looked around, There’s got to be one. I noticed there were no windows either even outside the rooms. No exits too, just endless hallways and levels of concrete. The lights were becoming dimmer the further I traveled. Something up ahead caught my attention. It sounded big and menacing. The ground trembled as the sound approached me.
The insidious thing stood feet away from where I was. There was nowhere to hide, unfortunately. Four red lasers scanned the halls while I peeked to see what lay ahead. The monster began to shoot darts at whoever it sought as a threat, me. I ran as fast as I could, afraid to look back. The creature spotted me and instantly came after me. I caught a glimpse of its spider like legs crawling all over the narrow hall.
It climbed the ceiling as it aimed its web for my feet. I did as best I could to escape from its grip. Its sticky web disappeared into pieces as the creature sped by leaving no trace of its presence. The big arachnid monster slipped over me as I tripped. Its needle pounced on me as I ran away. The creature spat its venom while I jumped the rails to the floor below. I swung, landed aimlessly to the level below the monster and continued running.
Cautiously, I slowly made my way down the hall. I peeked to see if there stood any danger but I couldn’t see a thing. The light was non existent where I had jumped to. A low whisper called to me in the dark as I stood there. It was calling me, inviting me to enter the darkness. Blindly, I followed the call. The walls were my only guide down the dark corridors. The further I walked the louder the whisper became until I realized they were not whispers.
The whispers that called to me in the dark were in fact the wind blowing through an opening. There, to my surprise, an exit marked the end of my travels. Light from the outside broke the darkness from my desolated imprisonment. I was relieved to have finally found the exit to my nightmare. I felt my sanity subside and my mind straighten. I felt ridiculous running around like some deranged maniac. Screaming at the top of my lungs for some sign of life.
“Thank you.” I praised to whoever answered my prayer. Slowly, I made my way up the steep hill and soon stood face to face with the outside world. Though I was not where I was before I woke up, I only hoped to be reunited with the life I once thought I had. I dared not turn my back and face the other millions of people enslaved by the machines. One day, I convinced myself, they will rise. With enough force, I slid the door open.
I stood blinded for a moment as my eyes adjusted to the outside world. The grim daylight emitting from the clouds irritated my pale skin. The air reeked of death and the earth was covered in trash. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The millions upon thousands of towers as high as the clouds surrounded me. How did I get from living in a clean world to living in a world cluttered by metal trash, I did not want to find out. The outside world was too much for me to process. My blood ran cold as my head spun. I felt nauseous and sick. The air was poisoning my lungs. My new home brought me to my knees.
“This is not my world.” I told the air, facing the ground. Bolts and springs cut at my knees as I knelt. My palms dug into glass beneath the plastic. “What is this place?” I yelled to the sky. “Take me back!” I plead to the heavens. “Connect me back to the world you yanked me out of.” I prayed, “Please!” The gray towers stared at me as I wept. The wind blew more toxins into my lungs. “What is this hell?”
Am I alone? Did I die in my sleep and now cursed to roam in some barren wasteland? Nothing made sense. I looked around to find some familiarity within the gray buildings but all I could remember was the world I had been disconnected from. “This isn’t real.” I said out loud, convincing myself otherwise. “This isn’t real.” I kept repeating as I crossed the empty streets. Wandering around, I came to find the only living creatures were the animals.
The animals had evolved into sophisticated beasts. They learned mankind’s habits and incorporated their intelligence to create their own kingdom. Giants called in the distant as predators stomped the grounds. The iron jungle sheltered wild apes, exotic birds, human like reptiles and colossal bugs, all running on oil. I followed the pavements, careful at every turn. Few birds flew by, their enormous wings blew dust as they passed. I was certain they were trying to blind me.
Off in the distance, a spot in the smog stood still. I paused for a moment, unsure of what it was. The spot in the smog seemed to be hunched over, as if it were counting down the minutes before it makes an attack. I picked up a metal can and threw it into the smog. A thunderous scream rang in my ear as the spot grew into a beast. I was on the run again, fearing for my life. The beast chased me relentlessly. The animals came for me as if I were an illegal immigrant trespassing in their property. I dared not look back to what chased me for hours.
I hid under a car, or what was left of the vehicle. I held my breath as its feet stomped beside me. The creature stood for a moment as it calculated my whereabouts. Lasers scanned the perimeter. The thing screamed once more before disappearing into the smog. I remained hidden, not knowing what other danger lurked near. As time went on, I felt myself grow weaker by the minute. The air was too polluted. Slowly, I emerged from my hiding spot.
Careful not to draw attention to myself, I began to climb the mountain of trash. I wanted to get to higher ground, I wanted to see where I was. As I maneuvered my way up the mountain, the air was becoming more toxic. My eyes watered, my head spun and a piercing ring rang in my ear. There must be cleaner air once I reach the top, I kept telling myself. I was loosing hope and strength but I persevered. I had to, I must!
Once I reached the top, nothing but gray ancient towers consumed the landscape. Beasts and predators roared in the distance as if nothing was wrong. I violently coughed out blood that brought me terror. Am I dying? My vision was becoming blurry. The ringing grew louder and my lungs heavy from the pollution by all the toxins in the air. I was becoming numb to all the horror that surrounded me. Was I the last human roaming the earth? I questioned as I climbed back down.
I was back on the road, wandering in a daze of confusion. Crossing the street, I heard a machine flying about. It sounded heavy and old. I stood near a post and watched for signs in the smog. A giant saucer came into view as it levitated above me. Never had I witnessed heavy mechanics float like it’s weightless. It shined a beam towards the ground, searching. Hiding from the metallic giant was easy with all the trash laying around. I hid until I heard it levitate away. Its rusty engine echoed as it left. It soon disappeared within the smog.
I found myself entering what used to be a neighborhood. Visions from the world I came to know appeared again, reminding me of how life used to be. What looked like grass peaking out from the trash felt fake. There were no trees or playgrounds, just columns after columns of gray depressing ruins. There were no parks, cars, life; just piles of tall metal trash. I felt hopeless as my body began to deteriorate from the pollution. I was alone in a world with no children to make the world go round with happiness or hope. I was alone while everyone else were safe in their prisons, connected to the real world.
My knees fell on the artificial earth. My vision was growing dimmer. I could feel my heartbeat slow down while the ringing kept pounding in my ear; spreading into an unbearable migraine. I was dying in a world that had died a long time ago. I felt proud, in some way, to be the first to die. To know that I was the first to walk in this abandoned hell that once was held as a paradise. To lay eyes on this ghost town of hopelessness. As I took my last breath I laid flat on the ground and stared at the gray sky.