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Truly Alive

By TDL

Adventure

Prologue

Prologue

Date: 20??

Location: Northern Miami


Is this thing on? Hello?

Signal is stable... okay. Let's give it a shot. 3, 2, 1...

My name is Dean R. Styner. I've been an apocalyptic survivor for almost four  years now. I haven't been keeping track, but I'm pretty certain I'm 19 or so by now.

A lot of events are out of order since everything started. I don't remember who fell first, the middle east, the Nordics, or South Asia, but that's besides the point. There's no help from them anyway

America started it all. Land of the free, home of free enterprise. With technology advancing as fast as it was by 2026, our leaders thought it best to create a central organization to regulate technological advances, to further our understanding of the digital age. When cuts to the program's budget were sliced, they turned to creating their own unique innovations, selling them for profit. The organization was known officially as AFOGG, which spills out to Americans For Our Greater Good. The US government started AFOGG with another goal in mind: to create defenses against the growing terrorist threat.

I remember the date perfectly: October 17, 2029. It was the day AFOGG was discovered to be selling to both sides of the war on Uzbekistan. The news spread like wildfire and it was mere hours later before every international news station had a reporter outside the gates. AFOGG was sneaky and invited them inside, wanting to prove that they were nothing wrong and they were outraged at these malevolent rumors. Inside, some dim-wit reporter had the bright idea to pick up a remote and press buttons. He never knew what he did wrong, the prototype explosive in his hand killed him instantly as with the others in the vicinity.

This bomb had breached another department, the biological containment center. There, AFOGG's true weapon was released, the first virus made from nothing.

The disease spread quickly, infiltrating water supplies, food storage warehouses, the very air. Even being weaponized, the effects were harmless enough. A light cough, mild fever, and congested sinuses were the only problems. Life went on for over a year and people gradually forgot about the incident. The virus, known to doctors as the Little Big Deal, didn't forget. Through the test of time the virus mutated, strengthened, evolved. The fever not so harmless anymore, it killed it's host. Then within a week, then days.

Yet the trees had only begun to burn in the great forest fire that spelled out the apocalypse. Through the fever, the virus breached the blood-brain barrier. This not only killed the victim, but the virus remained in the brain transferring new proteins and codes the natural world had never seen before. Through horrifying reanimation the Little Big Deal wasn't so little anymore.

The dead walked among us.

But few were lucky. The early strains of the virus, the ones that were unable to reanimate the dead, died off. Roughly seven and a half percent of the world's population were left alive. A number that drops daily.

Me? I'm not normal. Since I was a kid I've been able to... communicate with machines. Similar to how a phone connects to a PC, I can communicate to anything that runs with some sort of processor. Wireless is difficult and I need some sort of signal, but besides that I have no idea how it works.

I'd been searching for a facility around Macon, Georgia. The base of operations for the AFOGG program. I'd found the grey building, where this all had started. There were hardly an Zs, but whatever I found I mercied. Why I had been drawn here... I wasn't sure. I was a wanderer, homeless and alone. I had turned to leave, convinced that it was as lifeless as it would ever be. Yet a glint of light had caught my attention. I spun towards it, the gentle blue hue captivating.

It was a perfect cube. Blue, unlike anything I'd ever seen. It shimmered and shook as I moved closer, my instincts screaming to turn and run from this unnatural object. Curiosity had me by throat and I lifted it from the table.

It was... light. The cube looked to weigh at least ten, fifteen pounds by how solid it was, but felt like two. There was a computer to my right and I placed a hand over it, making a brief connection. I found information about this thing, that it was the result of an archaeological  find. Brought to the facility, they were unable to identify the element. It was something new, a configuration they'd never thought possible.

In my link I discovered something else. I jumped back, the cube falling back to the table with a clink. I had... connected with the object. Cautiously I approached it again, linking with it. The mystery cube was empty. But... limitless. I had an idea. I checked the area, making sure every inch was secure until I bolted the door shut. I sat down, beginning the link with this object.

I spent hours in that room, motionless as I copied every single thing from my mind into that... that memory chip. Every bit of memory, every second of my life along with every piece of information that I'd ever picked from other connections was sorted there. It was a copy. Of me.

It was a failsafe. I'd called it Failsafe for the months that followed, until I tried to draw information from it. I was sitting in a house, trying to learn how to take care of a rifle I'd found. I tapped into the cube, searching for information on cleaning a TAR-21.

This time when I drew the information from the cube, the paper floated in the air, projected from an unknown part of the cube. I'd turned it around, sideways and stood on my head, the projection is always readable from whatever angle. For it's hologram appearance, the name HoloCube stuck.

But that was  before. Life was simple, food was plentiful. For anyone who reads this, for anyone who has gotten my message, you're in the same shit I am.

Godspeed.


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