Tomorrow-The Day That never comes

When the next day never comes but a war is taking place in the future how are you supposed to end it?
Recruited to the organisation F.A.I.T, Harriet (Harri) becomes part of the team who uses the advanced technology to plug in to the future to uncover the truth behind the war and to find a way stop it before it has even begun.
The confusion she finds clogging her mind when she wakes instantly causes a stir amongst the leaders but is soon pushed aside.
Harri's inquisitively soon gets her into trouble she is not aware of. Constantly pushing boundaries and breaking the rules she ends up getting further than they ever have before.
But it's not all good news. Harri discovers much more than she set out to uncover and things go from bad to worse as secrets are uncovered.
'It's no longer a secret if everyone knows'

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4. Chapter Three

"Heard you had a freak out in there when you came round from being filled in" Opening the door had triggered a voice which I had not been expecting and therefore made me jump.
            "Apparently it doesn't fill you in on everything" I responded turning my head to face the voice. I already saw from the corner of my eye who is was: Alex, my partner.
            "Doesn't tell you the future only what we already know" He started walking and I followed although I walked beside him not behind.
            "Of course I freaked out, that whole memory chip thing" I said going back to what was previously said.
            "Yeah there was default with yours, but you are all fixed now right?"
            "I never needed fixing it was the memory chip that malfunctioned"
            "Alright, but they fixed it so no problem"
            "Yeah, I guess but what wasn't supposed to happen then? I mean if I freaked out because of a malfunction with my memory chip what happens to people who have one that works?"
            "We don't freak out"
            "I'm serious, why didn't you freak out did you not see what that thing showed you? The stuff it made you understand even though you have never seen it before" I couldn't understand.
            "The memory chip just stores any information that we need to know about F.A.I.T. " He sounded confused by what I had said.
            "Yeah but it all came to me, I saw everything"
            "You see nothing. You wake up and you just know everything about F.A.I.T and you know it's because of the memory they implanted, but you don't see anything" He explained it to me but that is not what happened to me. I think I had just found out what a malfunctioning memory chip did. I remembered being shown, being told everything but Alex didn't. I pressed no further for answers because I didn't think I would get anywhere with him and I certainly did not want to be put to sleep again, which was bound to happen if they knew I still remembered seeing it all, they would try and fix the chip again and I didn't not want that. So I kept quiet.
            "So where to first!" I asked slightly changing the subject.
            "What?" He turned to look at me with a confused look on his face.
            "You know, the tour. Welcome to F.A.I.T. You show me where we eat, where we sleep, introduce me to everyone?" I continued.
            "You don't need an introduction or a tour you've seen it all, you know where everything is, what everything is, you know who everyone is. The memory chip does that"
            "I mean sure, I've seen it all in my head, but I haven't sent this place, I have never spoken to these people before" I argued my point.
            "There really was something wrong with your memory chip" Alex flashed his cheeky smile again.
            "I thought that was all fixed now?"
            "That's what they said" He was only joking but maybe the previous result of the malfunction couldn't be corrected.
            "So there really isn't a quick show around, you don't even show me to my room?"
            "No we get straight on with it. You don't need a tour or any introductions. No 'hi how are you'. We haven't got time for that. There is a war going on, there is no need to waste time if there is a way to show us as soon as we arrive. That is why they give us the memory chip" What he was saying made sense.
            "Get straight on with it?" I questioned.
            "Yeah, we are going to the plug in, we don't waste time here at F.A.I.T."
            "Straight in to the future?" I was surprised how fast things went here even though I should have guessed.
            "How are you not excited, I thought you would be more excited. You are about to go into the future. We are here to try and stop the war before it has even begun. Now that is cool, right? Not many people can say that they are plugged into the future" He just kept smiling as he talked and I could see the excitement on his face although he had done this before. He was like a kid in a toy shop.
            "I didn't even know there was a war going on until the memory chip activated"
            "Yeah but don't you feel like you have always been a part of this?" I couldn't tell him the truth, I couldn't tell him I felt like a the new kid at school. I remembered being shown everything and it didn't sound like he or anybody else did. Maybe the default in the memory chip messed up with the way I was supposed to accept everything I was told and shown. If only it had gone right, then I would behave the way everyone else did the way I was supposed to. Instead I had all these questions that I knew the answer to but maybe that's what made it worse. A few hours ago I had no idea there was even a war going on, that this organisation even existed and now I was a part of it and knew everything about it.
            "Yeah, yeah, you're right. I do feel like I have always known but always being a part of this is something that is still sinking in. I guess it's that memory chip malfunction" I replied.
            "So the plug in" Alex said after a few moments of silence. "You never go in without me, everyone always goes in pairs. We aren't really in the future so nothing can hurt us but we always plug in twos and I've got to show you around"
            "I thought you didn't 'show me around'" I said.
            "Not of F.A.I.T but the future is the only thing around here that changes. Everyone not in F.A.I.T is stuck living the last day before the first day of the war again and again. They are stuck in a loop but us, we get to go into the future, each day is different for us"
            As I walked down the corridor with Alex everything looked so familiar and I knew why it just felt strange to recognise something I hadn't actually seen before. People walked past us without giving me a second glance. It was like they already knew who I was just like I knew who they all were.
            "So you said we don't need introductions but how do people know who I am?" I asked.
            "The memory chip updates. The information goes onto a hard drive and it reaches everybody. Kind of like a big wireless server" He replied.
            "Right"
            It seemed quite a walk to get where we needed to be, F.A.I.T was huge but I already knew that. We did soon arrive at a door to the plug in room. To the left of the door was a small screen and a key pad. Alex places his hand in the screen which hummed for a while before beeping and a green light lit up to replace the red one. I wasn't too sure what the keypad was for as the biometric system was enough to let us both in. I didn't need to scan my hand separately as the door stayed open long enough for me to walk in behind him.
            Although I had been shown it all before there was nothing like seeing it with my own eyes. The room was so science fiction with the addition of a hospital like appearance with the bland walls and clean colours everywhere. Beds like pods into which we would slip and become almost comatose. Our bodies would lay lifeless and our minds run crazy as it controlled the avatar in the future world. They were all rowed up next to each other and each lay at an almost 45 degree angle from vertical rather than completely flat. Screens behind them and wires attached ready for us to complete the circuit, ready to send us into the future.
            Some beds were already occupied and the occupants lay very still and very quiet while their minds raced and all they saw was action. Soon I knew this would be me and I was excited, I was so excited. All I wanted to see it for myself, to see it with my own eyes. A huge smile was spread across my face and Alex had obviously turned around and noticed.
            "Hey, there we go. Finally a flash of excitement on your face"
            "It's like the excitement has just creeped up on me and slapped me in the face" I flashed him a fake smile but he returned it with one of genuine happiness.
            I was excited now because I was annoyed with being shown, being told what was happening or what we do, I want to see, I wanted to feel, I wanted to experience it all for real.
On the far side of the room I could see L standing next to A.
            "I didn't think you would stick around and wait for us" Alex called out as we walked over to the two of them.
            "I like to make sure that all of our new recruits have a comfortable first plug in" L replied and she gestured with a thrust of her chin towards the four people laying in the beds. The four people consisted of two newbies like myself and their partners.
            "No matter how late they are" Alex joked but I felt the need to defend myself.
            "It wasn't exactly my fault I was put to sleep several times, once which came very much as a surprise"
            "And may I say how nice it is to see you up and awake" I wasn't quite sure whether she was completely joking or not.
            "I'm glad to be so" I replied.
            "I'm here to see everything goes well and I know you know everything about the plug in and have seen it all but there is nothing like experiencing something for yourself" L totally understood. She got that to experience something was more than just seeing it or being told about it. Watching a movie that was set in Florida was different going there yourself. Seeing an advert for a theme park was not the same as riding the roller coaster.
            "Whenever you are ready" A held out her arm, gesturing towards one of the beds. I hesitantly lowered myself back until I felt my head rest upon the small but soft head rest. Alex laid into the one next to me with far more ease. It was weird laying at such an odd angle but I wasn't to feel that for much longer.
            "Being your first time you may feel a little strange going in and coming out, so we don't put you in for long just long enough for you to test the waters. We gradual build up how long you are in for until you can almost be in there for as long as you like" A said as she started doing something with the wires.
            "Almost, as in there is actually a limit?" I questioned.
            "Yes, we don't want people in there for ages, only hours rather than days"
            "What's that one for?" I asked her as I spotted the few green tubes in a separate cabinet.
            "What?"
            "The green one, what's that used for?" And there I was thinking I had all the answers.
            "That one puts you in completely. Everyone in the future can see you, you become as much of a part of that world as they are" she explained.
            "Where as the blue one puts you half in so that only members of F.A.I.T can see you"
            "Exactly"
            "So has anybody used the green?"
            "No"

            "Why not?" I asked

            "It's too dangerous at the moment"
            "Then why have it?"
            "One day" A checked everything then reach for the end that went into my arm and completed the circuit. "Are you ready?" She looked up at me for the first time since I had asked about the green fluid.
            "Ready" I nodded and I lay my head back and relaxed just like I saw myself do. I felt the tube insert but it was more uncomfortable than painful and soon I couldn't feel anything as my mind drifted off into another world. It entered another me, like an avatar of myself in a futuristic game and I was a part of the other world, the future world. My future, a future I was here to try and save.
            A attached the wires from the screen behind me to my head.

            "Ready?" A asked as she held the end of the tube in her hand.

            "Sure" I replied and then she inserted the tube which was connected to the blue liquid into my arm. I began to feel myself slipping away but I knew where I was going to wake up.

 

I was back in the run down, war destroyed home in the future. This time I knew what was going to happen, if it was the same as the vision the memory chip showed. The loud blaring sound blasted through the air and evaporated the silence that hovered. The few people that were outside ran. Just like they had before. They left whatever it was they were doing and just ran. The siren was like a trigger but this time I knew what was coming from above.
            I felt someone pass through my body just like before and it felt just as strange as it had before. It was like I didn't exist and in this world I suppose I didn't.

            The wind picked up with such dramatic force. My hair was tied back but the loose strands went wild in the wind. Dust and dirt took off and spun about in the air like a panicked swarm of bees. I held my arm up to shield my face from what was thrown through the air. I was awaiting the arrival of the large aircraft and its delivery. Then I heard it. A deep whirling sound filled the air like it was all around. I looked up and through my half closed eyes I could see the large black aircraft vehicle approaching.

            The DREADs dropped from the bottom of the aircraft like I had seen them do before. Then they began wondering the streets and the citizens fled any where they could.  
            The defence was ready and the two teams, two sides of a war, one good one bad but which was which depended on who you were. Guns being fired erupted like a sudden storm and the defence did more than defend, they attacked those that had started the battle.
            "Hey, come on" Although I was expecting it still came as a surprise hearing his voice next to me. Then he took off and started running towards the aircraft.
            "What are you waiting for? Come on!" He span around and briefly ran backwards while shouting to me. He flashed a grin of excitement before spinning back around to face the way he was running.

            From now on what was happening was new and unexpected. For the first time since the memory chip activation I was longing for more information, I actually wanted to be shown more. I could feel my heart beating in my chest with excitement, something I hadn't felt since arriving.

            As well as Alex I could see four other people running toward the ropes. They were merely dots in the distance but they ran where no one else was running to and so I assumed they were fellow F.A.I.T recruits.

            I scanned the area one more time, taking it all in this time. I wasn't being shown an image, I wasn't watching a movie, I was now living it, experiencing it. I could see it all, I could look at what I wanted to look at, I could do what I wanted to do. I was properly in control now.
I took in the shattered world around me. People terrified, dispersing in all directions, screaming. Parents lifted those of their children small enough to carry and grabbed the hands of those who weren't. Seeing the faces of yelling children, tears streaming down their fear filled faces hit like I had just ran into a brick wall. One child clung onto his mothers t-shirt, the idea of ever letting go never crossing his mind. His knuckles white from holding as tight as his little hands possibly could. An elderly man tried his best to run but his footsteps had grown clumsy with age. His frail legs already feeling the strain of every step. He moved no faster than a healthy man walking.
            I took a step forward thinking I could help, but a second person running through me brought me to the realisation that there was nothing I could do to help him, to help anyone. To everybody around me I wasn't even there. It wasn't happening, they couldn't even see me but it was still a site that would take some getting used to and I knew this was going to happen. This was the future, this is what I had to look forward to.
            "Harri, hurry up!" The shouting shocked me out of my trance. My attention snapped to the direction of the voice which I knew to belonged to Alex. "You're going to miss the wires" He himself was hanging from one of the wires that had dropped to lower the attack which was now rising back into the aircraft with a new delivery.
            I was expected to join him and the others hanging from wires. Not really what I had in mind for the first day.
            "Come on!" He yelled for me again because the mode of transport to the big bird in the sky was disappearing. All wires were now above the ground and I didn't have long to grab on.
I looked around one last time before eyeing up my target. Letting out a deep breath I began placing one foot in front of the other, gaining speed with each one until I couldn't run any faster. I ran heavy as I was no athlete and I felt every thud of my feet travel up my legs. With each pounding step the wires raised higher and higher and soon they would be out of reach. I had to reach them within the next few seconds or the lowest one would be gone from my reach and I would be stuck down here by myself, without my partner.
            Trying to push myself harder and faster but not sure whether my efforts were useless or not. The last black life line was getting closer yet further away and I couldn't be sure which one was happening faster. I pushed off with my back foot and threw my body through the air towards it hoping that my leap would get me to my destination. I plunged my hands forward ready to grip and hang on. Then I felt the thick, cold, hard wire in my palms and I knew I had made it. Just.
            My dramatic release of air in relief was premature. My legs flailed about in the air desperately trying to find more wire to rest on but none remained. I had grabbed hold of the last metre or so of wire meaning I was relying solely on my hands to keep me attached and it gave me no space to slip down even a little bit. The open bottom of the aircraft looked too small, too far away and I wasn't sure if I could last until we arrived.
            Panicking was the worst thing I could do but I couldn't stop my heart from beating as fast as it did, I couldn't control the beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I couldn't dry my clammy hands for a better grip. My hands slipped down the wire fast and dramatically. My heart pounded faster, my breathing became more erratic. My arms were stretched above my head clinging on for my life and the end of the wire hung in my face.
            Looking down was a mistake. My stomach turned. If I fell there was no getting up. I knew I wasn't going to die if I did fall because I wasn't really living. The idea of falling still terrified me though as I was yet to know what I could feel.
            Almost as soon as I had looked down I looked straight back up and saw Alex disappearing into the aircraft. Would I be seeing him up there or would the next time I see him be back in reality?
            I was no athlete, I didn't work out so trying to pull myself further up the wire was a pointless attempt but I felt the need to try. I let go with my right hand but only briefly as I soon regained contact by placing it sharply if a little aggressively above my left hand. The wire shook as I lurched upwards and I slipped further down than I had been before my attempt to climb higher and I couldn't stop the small scream that escaped my mouth.
            My grip was so tight that my knuckles turned white but my grip was not secure. The sweat on my clammy hairs made it difficult to get a proper grip. Holding on much longer would not be easy with hands like this never mind climbing. I felt I had no choice but to try and dry my hands. Panic ran threw me as the idea came into my mind. My left hand came away from the wire as I let go and the strain gained for my right arm as I hung on with one hand. I rubbed my hand over my clothes. Desperately trying to rid my hand of the grip decreasing sweat. My panicked, rushed and clumsy movement shook my body and my one remaining hand slid down the wire.
            Eyes wide with fear as what remained of the long stretch of wire rose up without me. The sharp, coarse end scratched my palm as it finally slipped away. My fingertips caught the frazzled wisps of the wire as I desperately tried to grab on to what wasn't there. My left arm shot up in a desperation. Thinking that maybe my other hand could grab onto what the right hand couldn't. There was nothing. Nothing but air. Air that rushed past me as I fell. The stillness of it broken by my rapid decent. It whipped around me, sending my hair and clothes into a frenzy.
            As I continued to fall it was as though I had lost control of my limbs. They flailed around while I plummeted inevitably to my death. Facing upwards meant I could not see how close or how far away I was from the ground. I could see that most of the wires had retreated back to where they had come from. My four companions already where they were supposed to be, where I should be. My partner up there too but if my eyes weren't deceiving me he was peering over the edge of the hole in the aircraft and looking down, watching me.
            The wires continued to rise until all of them were gone completely. The bottom of the aircraft began to shut while the aircraft itself began gaining height and veering to the right. Just before the bottom shut completely the face looking down became a figure as it dropped from the aircraft. He jumped. Alex had jumped out. That's if it was Alex. Within seconds of him abandoning ship the bottom door shut and the aircraft gain speed and took off. While his sacrifice should have settled me, as he would not have made such a foolish move if he didn't know how the game ended, it did nothing of the sort. I was now worried for him. He had jumped because I didn't make it and now I would have a guilty conscience.
            My heart continued to thud hard and fast inside my chest but I shut my eyes and braced for impact which would soon arrive. I hit the ground with such force my body rattled for the second I was still conscious. The moment that I blacked out I woke up. I gasped for air as I shot up, the wires attached to my head pulling me back. Going to remove them proved a struggle as a pulling in my arm stopped me. I pulled the needle that was supplying me with blue out of my arm which allowed me yank off the wires attached to me forehead and temples. I was free. My breathing was still erratic, taking short, sharp breaths as I pushed myself off the bed. I stumbled over the foot rests as I did but soon regained my balance although I staggered over to the nearest unit. I put my hands out for support as I leant against the glass unit. I started breathing more deeply, gulping up the air, cramming as much of it in my lungs as I could. My stomach turned and I felt nauseous. Then when I raised my hand to wipe my brow I noticed I was shaking. I gripped the cabinet again for support.
            "Harri? What happened?" I heard A's voice draw closer.
            I kept my head down with arms stretched out in front of me, each breath was an attempt to restore myself.
            "What went on in there, Harri? You've not had your full time yet" A was next to me now. She placed her hand on my back which sent shivers up my spine.
            "Harri!" It was Alex speaking this time. "Harri, are you ok?" They were both asking me questions but I wasn't ready to answer.
            "It's not unusual to feel weak or nauseous after the first plug in, leaving this world and only partially living in another puts the body through a strange experience. It won't take long to feel normal again" A began explaining but I sensed she was merely pausing as I heard her footsteps get quieter before they got louder again. "But this will help" She continued and she held a small plastic pot, like a shot glass filled with pale purple liquid, under my face so I would see it. I took it from her without hesitation wanting anything that would settle my stomach.
            "Alex what happened in there?" She turned her attention to Alex which I was grateful for. They would get more from each other than they would from me.
            "Stood too long taking in the view, gorgeous as it is, so she missed the wires, grabbing on only at the last minute so eventually she slipped down and fell off. Plummeted to her death so I bravely and heroically jumped out of the aircraft to join her back here" Alex had a way of taking the dramatic event that had my heart pounding and turning it into the plot of a Disney movie or a comedy sketch show.
            "Really?"
            "Yeah"
            "Ok, ok, I get it I screwed up. Won't happen again, next time run straight for the wires. Got it" I said standing up. Whatever that medicine was it was working. My stomach had settled a bit and I had stopped shaking.
            "That would be great if you could" Alex slapped me on the back as he spoke.
            "Stop it Alex, anything can happen in there and being her partner you should have made sure she made it up there" A spoke up for me.
            "I told her several times to grab for the wire" He defended himself.
            "Well next time stay with her" A responded.
            "Yes sir" Alex joked as he snapped his feet together and raised a hand to salute.
            "So, do we go straight back in?" I asked. I was keen to right my wrong now that I was feeling better.
            "After what just happened? No!" Alex was not so keen.
            "But I thought the whole reason we are here is so we can be there?" I questioned.
            "Correct it is, but you just went through a forced wake up on your first plug in so you are not ready to go straight back in" A was on Alex's side this time.
            "Ok so what next?"
            "Why don't you show Harri the main room, for real?" A suggested. Adding 'for real' because I had of course already seen every part of F.A.I.T thanks to the memory chip.
            "Follow me" Alex began walking and I followed him once more like a lost sheep even though I was not lost, I knew where we were going and I knew how to get there.

 

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