Download Complete

A Cyberpunk Short Story by Sam Borek

Download Complete

by Sam Borek

In a future where everyone is constantly connected online, what would happen if one person decided to question convention?



For the first time, I see stars. I don’t mean the stars that they project into the sky to make you think that you’re seeing stars. But real, physical stars. I also see Earth, the place that, until recently, I had called home. This is the first day that I have opened my eyes and not seen the time, date, and a small box in the corner of my field of vision, that, if I blinked at it, would open an operating system that also, until recently, was my whole world. Let me tell you how it all began. The year is now 3500 AD. I am 16 years old today. While I sit here, on my little asteroid of shame, I think about how, back home, nothing is any different than how I left it. Nobody has changed their self-absorbed ways. No one listened. So this is how my life began.

16 years ago, an operating system was downloaded into my head. When I was born, it was part of me. With it, an entire world of information was quite literally, within the blink of an eye. With my own personal operating system, I could access the internet, talk, text, and video chat my friends, listen to music, play games, and buy things, all in my head. When I blinked at the little box in the corner of my eye, the real world was consumed by the virtual one. Everyone else in the world was exactly like me. They all had operating systems and they all were addicted to tomorrow. I was no exception. I would spend hours upon hours each day, with my eyes filled with the internet. And this is exactly what I was doing when my friend crashed the car we were flying directly into a concrete pillar.

I was 10 years old and flying around with my friend Bill. We called him Phantom just because he was just so quiet, all the time. But let me tell you, when he wanted to, he could be very loud. This was demonstrated by the defining yell of “JUMP!!!” that I heard from my left as I felt the car plummeting to the ground.

I kicked open the door and hurled myself out into Earth’s atmosphere. Luckily we both had parachutes embedded into the backs of our jackets for this exact reason. Because of overpopulation and such, the people of Earth ran out of room to build. The solution to this dilemma was to build up. We floated down to street-level and trudged home in silence. Once I got home, I started to think. If my idiot friend hadn’t been looking at his OS with one eye, and trying to drive with the other, we wouldn’t have had to waste our time telling our parents about the whole thing. Or maybe he just shouldn’t have had his OS up at all! But that’s a stupid idea, why would anyone not want the internet, even for a short period of time? For whatever reason, I began to have a pounding headache. It felt like my head was being crushed by a hydraulic press. It was just like- I had just slammed my head into a brick wall. I stumbled into my bed and tried to sleep. That night, I didn’t get one minute of sleep. So at about 2 in the morning I opened my eyes to the internet and let the pain get lost in the endless stream of digital society.

Skip forward two years and my outlook on life was no different than when I was 10. But all of this changed in the course of two hours. I was sitting in my room with my brother. We were playing a game together through our operating systems. After about a half an hour of Max’s lasers destroying my ship, I decided to call it quits. Max left and I just sat there for a while. Not on the internet, just sitting, thinking. I thought about how our whole world is within our heads and how we have shaped modern society to be so self-centered. Everyone I know, my friends, my family, pretty much everyone in the world is completely consumed by what they see on the internet. I think about what life would be like without my operating system. I didn’t get very far with that one because at the time, it was the most depressing thing I have ever even imagined. Living without the internet? Why would anyone want to subject themselves to such torture? And so the days went on, for another 2 and a half years I had faith. For another 2 and a half years, I was a kid. Those thoughts that I had had years ago got pushed to the back of my mind, but they were still there, unconsciously waiting to resurface.

I remember one day in March this past year when I was eating dinner with my family. It was so quiet in the room. Everyone, it seemed, except for me, was zoned out, focusing on the virtual space in front of them. And it was at that moment that I realized that I couldn’t go on like this any longer. So I told them, “Hey, I was just wondering, if there was any way to delete a person’s OS?
Why do you want to know?“, my mother replied.
No reason, I was just curious.” No one else had even heard me.
Well, actually I don’t know. I had never thought about that before.
I stayed up all night trying to figure out if deleting an operating system was even possible. I found absolutely nothing. All of it was just speculations and theories that had no actual facts. I finally decided to call it quits and fell asleep at around 3:00 in the morning.

The next day, I met up with some friends at the mall. We wandered around aimlessly for a while then decided to just go back to my house and play some video games. In the middle of a game I brought up the question I had asked my family last night. “Do you guys think it’s possible to get an operating system out of someone’s head?

Axel, that is literally the dumbest question I have ever heard,” said Hunter.

Yeah, that’s literally the most obvious question ever,” Austin agreed.

Alright! alright! so I take it that’s a NO?

Nope,” said Jeremy. We kept playing our game for another hour or so until, one by one, my friends went home.

That night I found what I was looking for. There was a way out. Over the next month or so I tried, time and time again, to convince myself that this was a good idea. To prepare myself to tell my family and friends that I was deleting my OS, whether they liked it or not. And now, when I’m writing all this down, I wonder why. Why did I do it? It wasn’t just me being rebellious. I was sick and tired of the way things were. I was sick of everyone being so consumed by their own little world that they don’t even talk anymore. And that our own leaders are so concerned about their image in the media that they don’t recognize America’s problems.

Two days ago, I told them. Telling my friends was easy. All they did was walk away in disgust. They didn’t want to be associated with “that crazy kid who deleted his OS.” Telling my family was harder. My brother couldn’t care less. But my parents just stared at me with their mouths open. Having an OS has been such a part of society for so long that anyone without it would be perceived as less than human. And that’s exactly what my parents did. My father pointed at me, then to the door, and I left.

The next day, I took all the money I owned and went to the doctor’s office. I told them that I wanted my operating system out, that I couldn’t live with it any longer. They obliged. The last thing I heard before the anesthesia put me to sleep was, “prepare the shuttle.”

When I woke up, I was on an asteroid, millions of miles away from home. “This must be one of those places they send murderers and terrorists. The asteroid had gravity, and a man-made atmosphere. There was a house on the asteroid, and a farm with livestock, vegetables, and wheat for bread. I was completely, and utterly alone. This brings us to where I am now, sitting inside the house, writing this story. So that if, in thousands of years, something, or someone finds it, they will know what the human race has become. They will know, about the operating system.

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