February 3, 2061 - Renraku Arcology
Nobody knows exactly what went down on December 19, and maybe nobody ever will. More than a hundred thousand people were inside the arcology when it went off-line, and from the fragmented news we’ve been getting, no two of them had the same experience. Some of the stories we’re hearing are gruesome enough to turn the hardest samurai’s stomach. Then there are stories like this one.
The following piece was uploaded to Shadowland from an anonymous source. We have yet to verify its accuracy or truthfulness, but I find it hard to disbelieve. This is the diary of Cal Reynolds, a former resident of the arcology’s twentieth floor. He’s ten years old … though after this, I imagine he feels a whole lot older.
> Captain Chaos
Transmitted: 3 February 2061 at 10:14:09 (EST)
DECEMBER 19, 2060
Saved: 17:41:44 (PST)
This is Cal Reynolds, and this is MY personal journal, started today, on my new Renraku 6100 pocket computer! My Aunt Wendy from San Francisco sent it to me for Christmas, and I wasn’t supposed to get it yet, but Mom and Dad said I could open one present early. It’s so wiz! I want to get a copy of Red Samurai Run to play on it, but Dad says I shouldn’t buy anything for it until after Christmas, cause I might get it as a present. I can record voices and pictures and stuff on it, too. All I have recorded right now is Aunt Wendy saying, “Merry Christmas, sweetie!” when I called her to say thank you. I hate when she calls me sweetie, her voice sounds so fake. I couldn’t even talk to my cousin Chris, because he was out playing football. After we hung up, Dad said he thought she was drunk, but Mom told him not to say that about her sister. Dinner time! I’ll be back later … .
Saved: 19:02:09 (PST)
In the middle of dinner, all the lights and the telecom and stuff went off, and the apartment was TOTALLY dark for about a minute. Cindy started to cry, and Mom told her it was okay, but she sounded worried. Dad asked me to go get his flashlight, but right when I got back with it, the lights went back on.
The telecom came back on and the news guy said there’d been a computer glitch, but that everything was fixed now. We finished dinner and I tried to call my cousin Chris again, but the telecom said all lines were busy. Dad said it was probably because of the glitch and I should try again tomorrow. I’m going to go see Brady down the hall; he has a copy of Firebird Flight III, but his dad doesn’t let us play it on his telecom much. Now we can play it on my own PC!
DECEMBER 20, 2060
Brady came over and we played a little more Firebird Flight III. I beat his butt the first couple of games. Then Brady’s dad came over and said they had to finish their Christmas shopping. They’re going down to the big mall downstairs, since Brady’s dad likes to buy stuff that isn’t in the Renraku stores. I wanted to go with them, since I have to buy presents for Mom and Cindy, but Dad said I’d have to buy them in the mall in here because the mall downstairs would be too crowded. Lots of people from outside the arcology go there to shop, because we have all the best stuff. Brady’s going to call me when they get back so we can play some more. I’m going to kick his butt again.
Saved: 17:32:44 (PST)
I got Mom a silver bracelet, and I got Cindy a Crystal Shaman Barbie. I made Dad take it to the checkout line, because I didn’t want anybody to see me carrying a doll. The stores weren’t as crowded as before, and Dad was surprised that there weren’t more people there.
It’s almost dinner time, and Brady still hasn’t called. I called his apartment and his mom said they weren’t back yet. She looked mad! Oh, well, I guess I’ll wrap presents for a while.
Saved: 21:33:17 (PST)
Brady never called, and now I have to go to bed. He’s probably just afraid I’m going to kick his butt again. What a chicken.
DECEMBER 21, 2060
Saved: 08:49:22 (PST)
Brady and his dad are missing! Dad said that something had happened to them, but no one knows what. They never came back from the mall last night. He said there might be a security investigator coming by to ask us about Brady and his dad later on. I hope Brady is okay.
Saved: 11:50:38 (PST)
The investigator was just here asking a lot of questions about Brady and his dad and what they said before they left. He asked a lot of questions about us too, and how we liked the arcology and Renraku and stuff. After he left Dad got real mad ’cause he thought they thought he was working against the company or something. Mom said she didn’t think so, he was just being thorough.
The investigator had these wiz blue cybereyes.
Saved: 19:07:40 (PST)
Mom made me bake cookies with her all day. I called my cousin Chris again, but Aunt Wendy said he was out playing football. I told her they don’t have football practice on Sunday nights, but she just smiled funny and said, “Merry Christmas, sweetie!” just like she did last time. Then she hung up. She was wearing the same outfit as last time, too. I asked Dad if he thought she was drunk again, and Mom told me to go to my room. I think they’re arguing now.
Brady and his dad are still missing. I hope they’re okay.
DECEMBER 22, 2060
Saved: 12:50:42 (PST)
Brady’s back! I called over to his apartment to ask his mom if she’d heard anything, and Brady answered the phone! His dad was there too, but I didn’t see his mom. I heard her shouting something in the background, though, and his dad got up and said he was going to take care of her.
I asked Brady what happened, and he said his dad kept him overnight to get a special Christmas present. He’s got cybereyes now! They look just like the ones that security guy had, except Brady’s are green, not blue. They look sooo wiz! He said everybody was getting them, and that if I went with him, I could get some too, but I said I’d have to ask Dad. Then I asked him if he wanted to come over and play on my computer, but he said he had to help his mom.
I hope Dad lets me get those wiz cybereyes. I want red ones.
Saved: 18:32:26 (PST)
MY DAD IS SUCH A TROG!!!
He said I couldn’t have cybereyes until I’m older because my eyes are still growing. I told him that Brady’s dad let him have them, and he said that was being stupid. He just doesn’t want me to have anything wiz. He brought stupid Cindy a doll home from work, though, because they were giving them out for everybody who had little kids. So she gets to play with her new stupid talking doll all night, and I can’t get anything. I can’t even call Brady because Dad’s in a bad mood. He said half the people didn’t show up to work today, so he had to do twice as much work, and they were building all these new circuit designs that nobody had told them about. So I guess I’m stuck here.
DECEMBER 23, 2060
Saved: 8:28:58 (PST)
Something funny is going on with Aunt Wendy. The weather report said it was raining a lot down in San Francisco, so I called down there again to talk to my cousin Chris, and she said he was out playing football again! I asked her if it was raining, and she just kind of sat there for a minute before she said yes. So I asked her why he was playing football in the rain, and she just smiled and said, “Merry Christmas, sweetie!” and hung up! After that, Mom told me to go play in the park for a while. She looked sad.
Saved: 14:11:23 (PST)
Boring, boring, boring. I knocked on Brady’s door, but nobody was home, so I got on the walkway and went to the park ’cause I had nothing else to do. There weren’t many people around, and the only kids there were little kids like Cindy.
They all had the same kind of stupid doll as Cindy. When they saw me, they all started following me around and watching me. I hate when little kids do that. And they all had green cybereyes like Brady! I yelled at them to go away, but they just kept following me and didn’t say anything. So I grabbed one of their dolls and I threw it as far away as I could. It landed over by the jungle gym, where there was another little kid playing, only this one didn’t have cybereyes. They all went over to talk to him, and left me alone.
I saw a lot of fire and police trucks and stuff down on the streets outside the arcology. I watched them through the windows for a while, but they didn’t do anything. They were probably getting ready for a parade or something. Then I got bored and went home. Brady still wasn’t home.
Saved: 18:12:02 (PST)
Dad is in a bad mood again. More people were out from work today, and they kept changing the designs on him. Dad said he doesn’t even know what he’s making any more. I tried to tell him about all the little kids with cybereyes at the park, but he said he didn’t want to hear about it. Then Mom and him started arguing, and Mom said she wanted to leave. Then she called him a coward and slammed the door to their room. Cindy just smiled and kept whispering to her stupid doll. I hate that doll. I’m going to take it and hide it and hold it for ransom.
DECEMBER 26, 2060
Saved: 20:40:21 (PST)
The doctor wanted me to tell him what happened, but every time I tried to tell him, I started to cry and stuff and they had to give me medicine so I would sleep. So he said I should record it when I felt okay so he could play it back later.
After everybody went to bed I snuck into Cindy’s room to steal her doll. I was going back to my room to hide it when it started talking to me. It said, “Hello Cal. I know how you can get cybereyes like your friend Brady. Would you like that?” Nobody else was awake, and the doll was very quiet,
almost whispering. I almost threw it away, because it was kind of scary, even though it was just a doll. But instead I went back into my room and closed the door. I looked at the doll for a long time, but it didn’t say anything else or move or anything. So I went to put it in my dresser behind my underwear when it said, “Don’t you want to be special like Brady is, Cal?” I asked it how it knew my name and it said, “I know everything, Cal. I can show you things that nobody else knows about, wonderful things. Only my special friends like Brady can see them, and I want you to be one of my special friends. Would you like that?”
I said I didn’t know, because I was still kind of scared, and it said, “That’s okay. If you don’t want to, I can ask Cindy. I’m sure she’d like a nice, pretty pair of green cybereyes.” That made me mad, because Cindy already got more special treatment than me, so I said I’d do it. Then the doll said I should take it outside, so I did. I was worried that the door alarm would go off, but nothing happened. We got on the walkway and rode for a long time. All the lights were on, but there wasn’t anybody else around. It was weird.
Doll said it was taking me to meet someone called Dayus, who would give me the cybereyes and show me all these wonderful things. I said that Dad said my eyes were still growing so I shouldn’t get cybereyes yet, but Doll said Dayus would give me better cybereyes that would grow with me. He said Dayus could do anything he wanted.
After a while we got on an elevator and I asked what floor to go to, but Doll said just to wait. We went from 20 down to 14, and then we got off. It looked a lot like our floor, but these weird machines were taking all the walls down and making the whole floor into one big room. They looked like big metal spiders. I saw a lot of kids, and some grownups too, lying on blankets and cushions on the floor. Some of the kids were talking to dolls, but almost everybody looked like they were asleep. Other little machines were rolling around between them, poking them and feeling them sometimes. I asked where we were, and Doll said we had to wait here until it was time to go downstairs and meet Dayus. I was looking for a place to sit when a girl with a doll stood up and started walking away. She walked over to the stairs and started to go down them.
Then I heard somebody yelling over by the elevator. I looked and there was a man standing up and yelling that everybody could get away if they followed him. One of the little robots came rolling up to him, but he kicked it away and ran toward the elevator. He stepped on some people, but none of them woke up. He ran into the elevator and started pushing buttons, but the door didn’t close. Then the rolling robot pointed something at him, and some of the spider robots went into the elevator after him, and they had these saws and things and they cut him up. There was blood all over the place, and it smelled. Some of the blood splashed on the sleeping people by the elevators, but they didn’t wake up. Then the spider robots came out with blood all over them and started taking down the walls again, and the elevator doors closed.
I got really scared then and I started to ask Doll why they killed him, but I felt something poking my leg and I looked down and saw one of the little rolling robots poking me with a needle. Then my head got all fuzzy and I fell asleep.
When I woke up, Doll said it was time to go downstairs to see Dayus. I didn’t want to, but Doll said I had to. The stairs were all messy and sticky. When we got to the bottom, we were in the hospital floor. I went there once before when I broke my arm playing grav-ball, but it looked different this time. There weren’t as many doctors or nurses, and all the ones I saw had those green cybereyes. Plus most of the rooms were dark, except for one at the end of the hall that some kids and some grownups were lined up to go into. I didn’t want to go there. I said I wouldn’t, but then I went over and got in line anyway. I think Doll made me do it, but it didn’t say anything. Every few minutes a doctor would come look at the next person in line, take their temperature and measure their face and stuff, and then take them into the room. I couldn’t see what they were doing until the kid ahead of me went in. They put him in a chair and stuck some needles and stuff in his arm. Then the chair went up toward the ceiling, and these robot arms came down. They looked like the spiders, but they had these little knives and lights and stuff on the ends. And they went up to his face and they pulled his eyes out.
I screamed, because I didn’t want the cybereyes anymore. I turned and ran, but a doctor grabbed me and stuck a needle in my arm. I tried to hit him, and then I saw that it was Dr. Woolsey, who fixed my arm when I broke it. I tried to tell him I didn’t want the cybereyes, but my brain went fuzzy and I couldn’t move. Dr. Woolsey put me in the chair, and it started to go up, and then I fell asleep again.
When I woke up, somebody was carrying me around. It was dark and I couldn’t see. I started asking where I was and somebody said, “Keep quiet, kid, we’re trying to get you out of here.” They carried me some more and then there was a lot of shooting and running, and a smell like the blood from the elevator again. Whoever was carrying me must have fallen down, because they dropped me, but someone picked me up and started running again. My eyes started to hurt. We went down some stairs, I think, and then somebody opened a door and we were outside.
After that I ended up in this hospital, but I still can’t see. The people who rescued me say that Mom and Dad and Cindy are still stuck inside the arcology, but they’re trying to get them out. They’re trying to get everybody out, but it might take a long time.
I guess I can’t see because the guys who rescued me didn’t get there fast enough. The doctor said they’ll get me some cybereyes so I can see again, but not like the ones Brady had. He asked me what color I wanted. I told him anything but green.
> The folks who rescued Cal (and a dozen or so other kids) from the arc’s thirteenth-floor hospital are chummers of mine. They were hired to rescue a patient from that same hospital, but the patient in question was long dead by the time the team got there. They saw the cyberlab on their way out and risked their lives to save as many of the patients as they could. Two of the runners didn’t make it out; we don’t know if they’re dead or alive. From what we’ve learned about events in the arc, I’m not sure which I’d prefer to think.
> Captain Chaos
Transmitted: 3 February 2061 at 11:22:17 (EST)