Renewal and growth

Chapter 1

A soft breeze rustles the leaves of the tree lined street. As pedestrians pass each other on the sidewalk with nary an interaction. Then two individuals walking side by side break up the monotonous drone like movement of the other pedestrians headed towards a quaint café on a corner. The more animated of the two was a short slender red head emphasizing what she was saying with her hands as the tallish blonde seemed more reserve as they walked up to an empty table. The redhead asked, “So how was your first vacation in the matrix Avery?” Avery rolled her eyes as she replied, “Hey they never intended you to get out of the matrix Jenna. Aruba, or well digital Aruba was a fantastic paradise.” Jenna replied, “Yeah right with everything automated and everyone working in their digital office space there is no real reason to go out anymore; besides there are no lines at the Louvre on here.” Avery quipped back, “Well I guess there is no lines to see the Louvre in Paris then.” Jenna replied sarcastically, “That wasn’t my point.”
Avery said brushing her hair with right hand, “I still go to the park for a jog just to stretch out when I get off.” Jenna scoffed, “Some things never change you always liked going for a run to try to lose that stubborn freshman 10 you gained all those years ago.” Avery lite up, “Oh by the way I lost that 10lbs over the last two months.” Jenna spat out her digitized drink, “Congrats, how did you manage that?” Avery chuckled, “The same way people have gained 25lbs since the latest version of the network went live, I messed around with the caloric feed system I cut my calorie intake just to lose the weight; once were done today I will hop off and adjust the system back to normal.” Jenna replied, “Just be careful we don’t need you wasting away.” The two chuckled as the conversation dragged on.

In the distance something strange was starting to happen that both girls didn’t see an ever-increasing number of NPCs started to freeze and disappear. Avatars of people started to drop convulsing before disappearing as well. Just then Jenna started to spasm kicking herself from the chair; Avery lunged to her side in response. Avery screamed, “Jenna? What’s going on.” Just then Jenna’s avatar disappeared. Avery felt a quick sharp burning sensation on each of her forearms but as she looked to see what was happening her followed by a quick sharp burning sensation on her forehead as the world went black. Avery was stuck in her own head unable to move. She somehow avoided panicking and focused on just trying to think calmly, as what felt like an eternity passed.

Then her ears heard a faint sound of two people talking. One said with a little bit of surprise, “We have a live one over here.” The lid to the capsule was pried off with one of the two men muttering sarcastically, “What are the odds this one tries to maul us?” Avery was disoriented from the natural light flooding the interior of the capsule as she tried to mutter something, but the feeding tube obstructed her ability to speak. The other of the two said, “She’s trying to say something. Miss I am going to remove the feeding tube and the eye cover.” The two tried to remove the tubes as gently as possible but it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant one; once the end of the tube cleared Avery couldn’t fight the urge to dry heave. The two rescuers released her hands from the tangle of wires around her forearms and her headset to allow her to lean up and over the edge of the capsule to avoid puking on herself. One of the two recoiled away from the capsule as the other chuckled, “You should have asked what ere the odds they would vomit on you.” Avery’s eyes adjusted to the light in the room as she heard the one rescuer lightly hit the other on the shoulder.

Avery groggily tried to whisper, “Thank you.” This caused the two men to look at her puzzled and asked the other, “What did she say?” The sarcastic one that received the playful jab got closer to Avery and took a medical light and turned it to the lower setting. Even though it was at dim as it could be the light was still extremely strong as the man tested Avery’s eye for responsiveness. He said to his buddy, “Her eyes are good and she’s not paralyzed judging by how she moved to puke on you. That shock scare on her forehead must be why she is having difficulties to speak.” The other said, “Well we must keep searching for more people. It’s been 7 months since the network went to hell.” The one that just examined Avery’s eyes relied facing him, “Your right Matt try finding something to I.D. her and lets get back to work.” Avery was shocked; how could no one have come for her sooner. With what little strength she had left the reached for arm of the man that inspected her eyes and limply ripped the cloth of his shirt as Matt started to panic squaring up facing towards her as he shouldered his rifle. He yelled, “Roger look out!”

Roger raised his other hand telling him to lower his rifle as he turned to face Avery again and look at why she was trying to grab his attention. With her left hand she could barely point at a shadow box hanging on the wall. An old athletic uniform had 27 stitched into back with Johston hand stitched into the back. The brass placard engraved read: To Avery Johston, for 4 years of dedication to the University of Farmstead Class of ’29. Roger grinned as he turned to Avery and said, “Thank you Ms. Johston. Now I’m going to pick you up and take you to a triage to get help.” Avery faintly nodded as Roger finished disconnecting the remaining wires and tubes before placing a pair of dark sunglasses to protect her eyes. Roger then tucked one of his arms underneath the back of her knees and behind Avery’s shoulder blades and gently lifted her from what could have been her crypt. Once they made it outside Roger gently rested Avery on a stretcher to be taken away. Matt stood next to Roger and asked, “How much would you say she weighed?” Roger with a frown, “The poor girl probably only weighed 95lbs.”
7 chapters, created StoryListingCard.php 8 months , updated 6 months
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