Everyone now has a constant stream of information flowing into their heads. News, films, music, books. It's never-ending.
Ana has finally had enough.
She wants out.
She wants to stop the Stream.


5. Five

Mum, after greeting us, sits down to wait too.

Half past seven.

Quarter to eight.

Eight o'clock.

Tap, tap, tap.

It's half past eight when a doctor strides in. "The family of Tia Jeffries, please," he says, opening a side door and motioning for us to go in.

We file in and sit down. It's a cramped little office, stuffed with dust, towering piles of folders and clutter.

"Where is Tia?" Mum bursts out.

"My name," he says, looking unruffled, "is Doctor Kai Matthews. Tia Jeffries was taken ill earlier today - "

"We know that," I spit.

" - and her case is strictly confidential." He lowers his voice. "Tia's Stream failed."



"Failed?" I say.

"Her chip short-circuited," he says, "gave her a shock from within her brain and caused her to collapse."

"That can happen?" Emi squeaks, hand flying to her head.

"In the early days, it was common," Kai says. "But this is the first case we've had in over thirty years. We're replacing her chip now, and she should be right as rain in a few days."

He doesn't look old. Twenty-two, maybe. Five years older than me. Tall, slim, with an easy grace. Chiselled features, tan skin, ruffled black hair.

"So does that mean," I say, "that her Stream stopped?"


"Could that happen again, if it was triggered by, say, an electric shock externally?"

"I suppose so."

"If her chip wasn't replaced, would she have woken up naturally, her Stream not working?"

Kai narrows his eyes. "Ye-es," he says slowly, his voice tainted with suspicion.

I clam up.

Ideas are flooding into my head.

Along with the Literature Channel.

Lou raised her sword. "For justice!" she cried, and chopped off the dragon's head. And the dragon heard no more............

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