A Zap of Illuminating Cyan

By Saniah, Year 9

Written as part of A User's Guide to a Pandemic

With a zap of illuminating cyan Astrid’s cognitive implants summoned a platinum-glazed automobile; levitating, luminous and in all its glory. As she got in her mind immersed itself in a nostalgic bubblegum melody, its rhythm oozing an overwhelming sweetness like confectionary. The air around Astrid was infused with an aromatic mist of industrial candy cane, accompanying the grapefruit-tinged tangerine sky. A crooked asphalt trail lay ahead of her, scattered with bushes of wild freesia on either side. Extending her arm, engraved with several radiant hieroglyphics, she attempted to graze the delicate freesias. Confusion darkened Astrid’s features. She stared blankly at her palm and then back at the freesia. Her hands mindlessly wandered through and beyond the bush. She exerted all her focus on that single flower, pinpointing its exact location in her cognitive implants, trying once again. When her mind registered that no sensation could be felt Astrid fell face-first on the cold, hard marble floor of the institute.

When Astrid had opened her eyes, her vision was a hazy kaleidoscope. Neon hues of harsh purple and green splashed around in her head. With a buzz her implants cleared out the acidic trance her mind had lost itself in. Astrid saw that a swarm of droids had gathered around her, eyeing her down as if she were a feeble prey at the mercy of a predator. Without a second glance Astrid sprinted back to her room, shakily wiping the tears that had put her vision into disarray. Astrid hated the feeling of being looked down upon, especially by those that had caused the destruction of everything she had ever cherished.  A shrilling alarm went off at the back of Astrid’s mind, shooting needle-like daggers through her spine. Flickering red came into view, accompanied by a robotic voice. 

‘Alert, alert! Human in distress sensed! Please take your Happiness pill.’

Astrid chuckled and numbly retrieved a circular pill, which was adorned with the luminous hieroglyphics that were embedded in the roots of her arm. With a weary push she inserted it into the back of her head. Astrid’s eyes rolled back as she adjusted her implants. Her mind now engulfed in a static recording of her mother and Sen, who endearingly gazed at her and told her tales of how the world used to be, before the droids took over.

Sharp knocks echoed from the front door. Astrid was sure it was the droids, and she was prepared to tackle the consequences for being human. With a drowsy click of the knob, Astrid let out an unintentional gasp, the hairs of her neck prickling upwards. It was Sen. His piercing emerald eyes gazed into Astrid’s, so intensely it was as if he looked at her for any longer his irises would bore holes into Astrid’s soul. A shock of relief flooded through Astrid’s body, her eyes welling up with tears of remembrance, and pain. She hesitated before speaking.

‘Sen, where were you?’ Curtly, Sen silenced her with a press of a button sending an electrifying surge to her mind. Astrid spasmed uncontrollably her heartbeat quickening to a fraction of a second as if her insides were to burst any time. With a look of unfamiliar malice, Sen started to speak. ‘Ma’am, you have used your Reality Conjurer, as well as Happiness Pill more than the designated amount this week. I’m afraid you will have to stand trial in front of the council tonight.’

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