ENTRY 57893__3764 : PRIORITY 1 ADMIN : DR ALEXANDER GROMOV :
The signal from the Neural-Zombies started to fade, they must have all burned up in my awesome firewall having been drawn into it like moths to the flame.
The signal strength bars vanished one by one and a new menu popped up, flickering:
"YOU MIGHT BE EXPERIENCING SLOWER SERVICE THAN USUAL.
GRID NETWORK SIGNAL INTERRUPTION DETECTED.
DEX-M BROADCASTERS VERSION 22.9 ARE CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE IN YOUR LOCATION.
RECEIVER INCOMPATIBILITY DETECTED.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN OUR UPGRADED WORLDWIDE NETWORK?
DOWNLOAD ANNET VERSION 9583.1 NOW!"
"No thanks" I said, blinking the window away.
Resting my weight on a walking stick I smiled.
I got away! Hah! Too easy! Temporary safety at last!
With a deafening roar, something smashed into the ground behind me.
A cloud of heat and burning dust kicked me in the back, throwing me forward.
I rolled and tumbled down piles of rubble, nearly breaking my neck.
Looking behind me, I saw a wall of fire, encased in jagged framework of twisted metal.
The skyscraper! It fell this close? G-Damn it!
Stupid stupid stupid.
I mentally kicked myself again and again.
For someone who's supposed to be an expert at handling mental calculations and complex thought processes thinking ahead of the competition, I've certainly screwed myself over.
In order to avoid the army of the meandering Neural-ghouls I moved in irregular paths across the dead city between ruined structures. It seems that my path has taken me far closer to the skyscraper (that I've set on fire) than what I've originally planned.
The plan was to get away from the burning skyscraper, not end up so close to it that it almost fell onto me.
The metal framework on the bottom floors of the flaming skyscraper must have melted quite thoroughly from the fire as to make it collapse length-wise behind me.
I crawled away from the heat of the fire, coughing sporadically and shaking.
My body ached and my throat burned.
A new menu blinked in my right eye.
"HOT? THIRSTY? TRY THE NEW FLAVOR OF H 2-O NOW WITH TWO PERCENT MORE HYDROGEN FOR A MOAR EXTREME HYDRATION!"
An artistic render of a cute cumulus cloud appeared in my left eye, rainwater pouring from it into a glass pitcher.
Sparkling, blue water stirred in the pitcher.
The cloud started to dance happily, making googly eyes at me.
The ridiculous advert wasn't helping my situation. My throat now felt even more dry and scratchy.
"Close all windows! Terminate neural connection" I whispered.
"NEURAL CONNECTION CANNOT BE TERMINATED"
"What? R/admin control/ terminate neural connection!"
"FUNCTION UNAVAILABLE TO HOST DUE TO ADMIN-PRESERVATION PRIORITY PROTOCOL ONE.
TERMINATING NEURAL CONNECTION AT THIS TIME WILL DEACTIVATE 42% OF YOUR BRAIN CELLS.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL SERVICE PROVIDER FOR FURTHER DETAIL."
I flailed in horror.
The little animated cloud focused its beady blue eyes at me.
"GOOD TOMORROW, MY LOVE" It spoke in the voice of Annie.
"I HEARD YOU WERE THIRSTY"
I jumped up, screaming.
Emerging from the cloud of dust and smoke I found myself standing on a street filled with antiquated 20th century cars.
In panic I accidentally blinked on one of them and as I did so, my right eye was flooded with the following information:
FORD F-250. HIPSTER EDITION.
BACKWARDS-COMPATIBLE GAS COMBUSTION MODEL.
SELF-DRIVING FUNCTION UNAVAILABLE.
APPROACH WITH CAUTION.
CARS LIKE IT ARE SOMETIMES FOUND ON STREET LEVELS OF DISTRICTS HOUSING THE DISADVANTAGED/UN-CONNECTABLE POPULATION.
THE UNCONNECTABLE OFTEN OPERATE THIS TYPES OF VEHICLE AS A FORM OF PROTEST AGAINST THE NEURAL GRID.
WARNING: SUCH VEHICLE IS 49% MORE LIKELY TO RUN YOU OVER, AS ITS OPERATORS ARE GENERALLY IMPAIRED BY MENTAL IMPERFECTIONS SUCH AS NEED TO SLEEP AND GENERIC HUMAN EMOTIONS.
NOTICE: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INITIATE NEURAL CONVERSATION WITH VEHICLE. IT DOES NOT SPEAK.
THIS VEHICLE IS NOT ANNET-COMPATIBLE AND THEREFORE WILL NOT RESPOND NOR WISH YOU "A MOST WONDERFUL TOMORROW".
ALSO, IT WILL NOT DRIVE YOU TO A SPECIFIED DESTINATION ON DEMAND.
I shoved the annoying window away with a hand gesture.
Out of nowhere, sudden, strong wind picked up, blowing most of the dust off me.
The happy little animated cloud in my left eye smiled slily, uttering:
"LIQUID INTAKE IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF HUMAN BREAKFAST!"
A trio of blue lights pierced the dim fog ahead. The eyes of Annie were focused upon me.
The street shook.
A roaring wall of water came into view. It picked up antiquated cars with ease, smashing them against each other with unrelenting fury.
I dashed backwards and instantly felt the warmth of the flames on my spine.
I've gotten myself into a corner this time, with no visible avenues of escape.
Water roared in front.
Fire crackled behind.
"No no no" I whimpered.
The animated cloud in my eye playfully twirled, winking at me.
First four frames made with help of Shuo Zhou: http://tnounsy.deviantart.com
31st August 2013