“One iced caramel latte with skim milk?”
I smiled, nodding my head as I reached for my phone. Cole worked today from ten to two, one of his longer shifts since it was a Tuesday. I made sure I showed up during his shifts enough times throughout the week for him to remember my order. I still pretended to be surprised.
“How did you remember?” I winked as I asked. A smile spread across his face, as reached down to hand me my coffee. I reached out my phone for him to scan, a whooshing sound sending through the air as at the press of a button the payment went through.
“Can’t believe you still pay like this,” Cole teased. I shot him a glare, but threw in a grin. This was a good sign. I grabbed my coffee and left the cafe, my eyes once again blinded by the bright lights of the city. Each step I took through the busy streets made me feel shaky and uneasy, the caffeine usually did that to me. My eyes danced along the bright signs of the city, a flashing screen on every corner. Each street was always constantly swarmed with a sea of bodies, hurrying along their way to work. Somehow every person seemed to have a smile on their, waving and nodding at those to passed them. I hurried my way through the crowd, my hands still shake from the caffeine now in my system. A group of girls I had seen around school waved at, the brightest smiles plastered on their faces. I waved back, passing on the friendliness. I had lived around here for years and it never ceased to amaze me.
I finally reached my apartment, the elevator slowly but surely bringing me up to my floor. Walking out the door, I reached for my phone. Missed Call from Avery. Of course. I quickly tapped the notification, glancing around the hallway as I listened to ringing through the phone. The ringing stopped almost instantly.
“Serena, are you home yet?” Avery sounded as if she was shouting into the phone.
“Well hello to you too. I just got home, what’s up now?” I stopped in front of my door, waiting for my face to be recognized. Light shone out from the door up and down my face until it finally unlocked with a click. Avery continued talking.
“Okay, listen to me, Serena, this is important.” I sighed. What was important to Avery was usually just some drama. Not that I really minded though, Avery’s drama was pointless but pretty entertaining. I pretended to be interested nonetheless, the gossip being part of our daily routine.
“Let me guess, something about Aubrey, and how you think she is such a bitch?”
“Okay okay, but before you judge you need to hear the whole story. So I was talking to Sam, right, and I told him that-”
My mom interrupted, yelling from the kitchen.
“Serena, baby, you’re home? Have you been on your computer today?” I yelled back to her, phone still in hand.
“No, Mom, I’ll do it later. There’s still more I need to download from today.” Hopefully Avery’s drama is worth remembering. I flopped down onto the couch, laying my phone down onto the coffee table.
“Okay Avery, keep going. So you were talking to Sam and you told him…”
“Right, so I was talking to Sam. I told him that Aubrey was talking shit about him to me, and that I don’t even know why he still likes her. He got all defensive, but what he really doesn’t get is how fake she is. Like yeah, she thinks we’re friends but I know she’s talking about me too.” I rolled my eyes. Usually I liked hearing about Avery’s drama but this was too much. But I continued to nod along, adding in a “uh huh” and an “oh my god” in every few sentences. The conversation came to a close, when Avery was finally finished ranting about how stupid it was that her mom went on vacation with her boyfriend last weekend and how much of a bitch she still thinks Aubrey is. I always played along, never really expressing my real opinion. Avery didn’t really care if I agreed or not, so there was no point in letting her know if I did. Avery hung up the phone leaving me to lay on the couch by myself, now having to converse with my mother.
“Serena, baby, you need to download everything tonight. Your brother forgot last Sunday and lost his whole week. I’m not letting that happen to you, you have a lot more to remember, being that it’s your senior year and all.” Knowing that the nagging wouldn’t stop until I dragged myself out of the living room and upstairs, I listened. Why do even need to download this week anyway, it’s not like I’ll even look back on it. Senior year was already kicking my ass.
When I reached my room upstairs, it was spotless, the only thing in the same state that I had left it being my monitor, open on my desk. When the cleaners came every morning, that was the only thing left untouched. Everyone’s lives lied within their computers, so much so that even the automated cleaners were programmed not to tamper with them. The bright city lights from outside shone onto my clean white walls, making everything including the screen of my computer appear brighter. It had been years since they rebuilt the city, but the illumination still hurt my eyes. I sat down at my desk pulling my computer closer to me and placing my scanners carefully over my temples. Well, better to do this now, before I end up wasting an entire week like my brother. With a single click, my computer began to download. My whole week flashed upon the screen before my eyes, from waking up on Monday morning, to my many trips to coffee shop, to the waving girls on the street, to my last conversation with Avery, all quickly displayed before me. Within a matter of seconds my week was cleared from my mind, every thought and memory from the past seven days now downloaded and locked away. I sighed, the process being short but a little exhausting. It was now a fresh week, with new thoughts, new memories, new conversations. And by next week, no one will have to remember any of it. I slid out of my chair and flopped onto my bed. Senioritis was kicking in hard for me, my motivation to do schoolwork or keep up with friends nowhere to be found. Breezing my way through assignments and just shooting a quick smile to a passing “friends” in the hallway was so much easier anyway. No one really had to know how I actually felt about them. Despite the caffeine in my system, my eyes grew heavy, my cleared mind slowly drifting off to sleep, preparing myself for another hectic week with the same old routine.
“Justin, turn on the news!” My mom shouted at my brother from downstairs. I was quickly awakened by the voices from the downstairs, along with sudden murmur coming from outside. The whole city seemed to be rumbling, loud, echoing conversations audible even from inside the apartment building. I shot up out of bed, rubbing my eyes, as I took off down the stairs. The news station boomed from the living room. My phone instantly started to blow up with messages and calls, but I ignored it, joining my mom and brother on the couch.
“Mom, what’s going on? I just heard-” The news anchor cut me off, standing in the streets of the city, almost swallowed by the mass of bodies. The crowd was angry.
“Just in, it seems that our government’s current memory system has been hacked, personal information and thoughts of the civilians of the city now being leaked.” Viruses have taken over computers, and the personal information of others’ is quickly spreading. Contact your provider immediately is this is affecting you or family. More updates are on the way.”
I froze, unable to process what was being said. The commotion continued outside, loud shouting and banging echoing through the streets. My mom and brother also remained still.
“Go check your computer,” my mother slowly ordered, an eerily calm tone to her voice. “Both of you. Now.”
I ran upstairs to my room, my phone still rapidly buzzing in my pocket. I reached for my computer, the screen reading, “System Error, Files Transferred”. My heart stopped and dropped in my chest. I frantically tapped on the screen, trying to reverse the damage that had already been done. The original message disappeared. My heart, beating out of my chest seconds before, suddenly stopped. I froze, staring blankly at the screen. A new message had appeared. The system was giving me another option. Would you like to: Clear Memory Card? My eyes darted back to my window, the horrified faces and ear piercing screams still filling the city as entire lives were displayed on the billboards for everyone to see. I shuddered, turning back to my computer. The horror that was my once perfect city grew louder, as my phone continued to blow up with texts that I couldn’t get myself to check. I hesitated, my hand shaking as I reached towards the screen. Memory Card Erased. My eyes shot open, my body suddenly aware of an echoing of screaming voices flooding through my windows. How strange, I wonder what all of the fuss is about.