Citizen: A Matrix Story

I.

Bright blue sky.

Sun glaring through perfectly formed clouds of pure fluff.

He looks down at the busy street below – people and cars looking like scampering ants.

He looks up and sees a building across him and sees someone standing on the rooftop: A hazy figure of what seems to be a tall, dark man.

He feels the wind rapidly blowing at his face and through his fingertips.

Everything is a clear yet, a blur.

He is unsure if he is falling or flying.

He then hears a deep voice say, “Believe.”

He wakes up in a cold sweat.


It’s morning and it seems he has once again woken 11 minutes earlier than his alarm clock’s set time.

He’s been having the same dream for months, and every night the dream feels even more real than it was the night before.

He’s awake with an incomprehensible feeling that he’s still dreaming.

He sits up feeling confused and uneasy while he mentally questions his senses.

He walks toward his bathroom and passes a bulletin board filled with newspaper clippings.

A few noticeable headlines on the clippings read:

Who is Morpheus?

IRS Admits Computer Systems Hacked

White House Vows to Crack Down on Cyber Terrorist Group

Flying Man in Black Sighted by Pilot

Dressed in apparent office attire, he sits in front of his computer while eating a bowl of cereal.

On his computer screen, he views a private IRC chat room for hackers.

“The Matrix” displays as the chat room name.

SCREEN

AGENT44: I heard Morpheus has been on this board.

BATTTMAN: Morpheus doesn’t exist. The Matrix is just an advertising gimmick for a new game.

I4IWIZ: All I want to know is Trinity a girl?

JANDUFF: 87% of all women online are really men.

DRGU4RD: The Matrix is a euphemism for the government.

BATTTMAN: No, the Matrix is the system controlling our lives.

I4IWIZ: You mean facebook.

BATTTMAN: I mean PlayStation.

IRONPHREAK: ALL HAIL PLAYSTATION!!!

“Fucking idiots don’t know shit.” Says Rick while reading the ongoing conversation.

He finishes his cereal and puts out his cigarette.

Just when he is about to disconnect, an anonymous message slices onto the screen.

Do you want to know what the Matrix is, Zen?

Rick is frozen as he reads his hacker name mentioned.

BATTTMAN: Who said that?

AGENT44: Who’s Zen?

DESTR0YER: This is a private board.

Help the widow.

“What the hell?” Rick mutters.

IRONPHREAK: It’s Morpheus!!!

AGENT44: Identify yourself.

Knock, knock, Zen.

A chill runs down Rick’s spine.

Someone suddenly knocks on his door and he almost jumps out of his chair.
Rick turns off his computer monitor and looks through the peephole to see who’s at his front door. He sees an old lady – his next-door neighbor, Mrs. Santiago. He opens the door.

“Hi, Mrs. Santiago.”

“Good morning, Rick.”

“Everything all right?”

“I was wondering if you could help me carry my luggage down?”

“I’m uh, kinda in the middle of something.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to bother you. I’m just silly… still getting used to doing more physical things on my own ever since Mr. Santiago passed away.”

Help the widow, he suddenly thought.

“It’s okay, I’ll just call the landlord to come up and –”

“Y’know actually… sure Mrs. Santiago. I need to leave for work anyway.”

“Bless you, son.”

“Let me just grab my bag.”

Outside their apartment building.

“Where to, Mrs. Santiago?”

“To the train station. But I can just grab a taxi right here.”

Rick hails a cab.

While placing Mrs. Santiago’s luggage into the trunk, a passerby bumps into him.

“Excuse me.” Says a mysterious-looking, short-haired woman in sunglasses, dressed in a black leather outfit.

“Thank you, Rick!” Says Mrs. Santiago while she gets into the taxi and closes the door.

“No worries.”

As the taxi drives off, he looks back to the direction where the curious woman in black was walking but doesn’t see her. He shrugs and proceeds to walk to the bus stop.

At the bus stop, he routinely buys a pack of cigarettes and a tabloid from the newsstand.

The bus arrives.

On the bus, Rick reads his tabloid news – which he personally finds more reliable than that of traditional newspapers.

He skims through the pages of cliché tabloid articles: Celebrity scandals, crime reports, and other over-the-top stories.

He’s well aware of how most of the tabloid prints are fabricated but once in a while, there would be a catching story that he would find believable – like one particular article on today’s issue:

Missing Man Possessed by FBI Ghost.

The article tells of how a middle-aged, delivery man blacks out during his daily route and wakes up days later in another state with no recollection of how he got there. The man believed he was possessed by an FBI ghost, claiming that seconds before he blacked out, he saw his reflection on his delivery truck’s side mirror to be that of a man dressed in a black suit – complete with sunglasses and an earpiece.
Rick tears out the article, folds it and stuffs it in his bag pocket.

He looks around and observes the other passengers on the bus. Suited men talking on their mobile phones, freshly made-up career women, teenagers looking too sleepy to go to school, senior citizens with their market bags. There is nothing unusual about the people around him yet he feels like an alien in his own land.

He looks out the window.

He’s known the roads and buildings they’re driving by for years yet everything he’s been seeing lately has been beginning to feel like he’s seeing them for the first time.

He looks up to see how the day is nice and sunny with its clear skies – just like the weatherman on T.V. predicted. A sunny day should lighten one’s mood yet, he can’t help but feel a sense of discomfort with the accuracy of the weather forecast.

CONTINUE TO Volume II

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