Natalie Fuentes


I dreamt of the lives before the time of Breakage, a time where the humans walking upon the earth were free to wonder, imagine and hope for the day of tomorrow. I was skipping through time itself, observing the unfathomable depths of the human mind if only we were free to dream what the world would be like today.

I woke with a start my heart pounding at a frantic cadence, my chip must have reached its programmed capacity and misfired, explaining the dream. I checked the holo on the side of my cot to note the time. Five minutes, give or take, the programmers were bound to send their guards to fetch yet another person who dared dream unconsciously but this time it would be me.

As I stood I felt the ache in my muscles searing through every nerve from yesterday’s labor making me wince in pain. Slowly I reached with my hand to the scanner on the wall. A click emitted once it accepted my DNA code, disabling the hologram, hiding my scarce but invaluable belongings. Books greeted me, the last remnants I have of the time before I and everyone else were forbidden from being who they were. Everyday I opened it knowing it was a risk, for it was a crime to be hiding anything unprogrammed, let alone objects that held knowledge of the time before. But it soothed my mind and weary nerves knowing that I had a piece of hidden fragments of the time before that held truth to who we are.

I retracted my hand checking the holo once more to find that two minutes had gone by, leaving me with about three to four minutes to get in my gear before the guards arrived. So as I whirled around to get ready, my holo started to float towards me probably my days schedule, but checking the time, it was far too early. Curious I called out to my holo and it soon stated: “To the Dreamers may they be free forever more.” A few moments later the forbidden ensignia of the dreamers was on the surface of the holo revealing a star with various hues and sketches etched into the edges of the star itself portraying a story long lost.

Terrified, I stood reaching for my holo trying to erase the memory from its data only to find that once I reached the archives, it was already forgotten, like it had never even been received. A knock on the hologram of my door shocked me out of my reverie as I tried to understand the encrypted message. As I stood, I realized I was shaking, thinking, how could this be? A group of people called the Dreamers, years ago in one of the city’s farthest quarters had been caught short-circuiting their chips purposely to dream if only for a moment. Once the programmers at the time had been notified of the malfunctioning chips, they had dispatched a group of guards. No one to this day knows of what occurred–whether they found them or not or even what happened to them.

So as I reached to press the door with my hand to disengage the hologram it slowly began to disengage itself. Or so I thought, but instead as it faded completely. A hacker and two guards stood on the other side. Something was off, the tension was palpable as I steeled my body against the frigid air. They led me up into the carrier that would take us to the heart of the quarters where people were reprogrammed and debriefed.

Surely the programmers didn’t think I was capable of short circuiting my own chip. I hardly knew how to code my very own holo, which was the most basic piece of technology. Entering, I saw to my left were the med rooms; to the right were the checks. I walked straight into the checks, losing the guards and the hacker. I sat  on the right of the holo when a young man looking close to my age walked in wearing the usual garb of the programmers, but what was offsetting were the colors of his ranking. He was one of the select elite programmers. So as he took up residence at the holo to my right, I heard him scrolling through what I presumed were my schematics.

The silence was unsettling as I heard him scroll. Then, suddenly, he paused and turned to meet my eyes. His eyes were of the darkest hue of blue like the depths of the ocean, but lurking under his gaze was a spark of emotion. What was it–pity, intrigue, or sadness? If what his eyes revealed about the situation were holding the truth, then I should be afraid. Then, suddenly, just as swiftly as he had come in, he left. Returning, he held what looked like … an activator. What could he possibly need that for? They were only used at birth to place a chip into the mind. My growing panic threatened to pull me under.

He spoke with the lilting accent of someone of the higher quarters, saying, “This might hurt.” I hadn’t realized what he had been doing until I felt the cold caress of something metallic touching the base of my neck. A burst of pain shot through my skull, reverberating throughout my body, making me feel as if he had pulled an essential part of my very essence.

In his hand was what looked like my chip, only now it was covered with blood. My eyes were starting to well with tears, blurring my vision. Slowly he came back into focus, but now he was standing before me. He said, “Welcome to the dreamers, Alyeria.” This was too much. I felt the sudden rush of blood to my head as my heart thrummed against my body trying to ease the pain.  How? What? Why? Who was he? And how did he remove my chip? It had never been done successfully because they were designed to become integrated into the nervous system of our bodies, so how am I not dead yet?

Wait. How had he known my name was Alyeria? That name was the name of the girl I used to be, forgotten ever since the day of the Breakage–the day that I ceased to be who I was, the day that dreams and imagination became forbidden. That name wasn’t even coded into the system. I was merely a number to the system. Slowly my sight began to fail me fading in and out like a broken light caving in until I saw no more. My world became a part of the night sky itself. 

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