The year was irrelevant, ADAM had deemed it so for the society it now oversaw.
An observer from the past would be forgiven in not recognising their own planet. Our pollution epidemic was no longer a concern, it was an accepted facet of life. The World Corporations oversaw the task once held by governments and counties - the 1% were finally in control of 99% of the world’s resources.
Aphex was a Consumer, class Beta-Minus. Both his body and clothes were battered and bruised, but he took little notice. The sky above was a perpetual shade of dark grey as the cold November wind tore through the megalopolis. On the floor next to his left arm lay a discarded xCOKE interface syringe, amidst other discarded bioelectronical junk and debris. He lay motionless under the bridge, surrounded by trash, seated against a pillar. Small spasms of muscle activity jerked his otherwise static limbs. Mouth agape, his pale green eyes twitched as they strained to focus into the distance, experiencing a world that was not a part of physical reality.
Overhead, above the bridge, the sounds of the Overwatch grew louder. ADAM had gained access past the minimal cerebral defence the xCOKE dealer had installed and proceeded to download the data raw from his brain. Seconds later the man collapsed dead on the street, mid-walk, blood seeping from his ears. ADAM processed the information and gave Overwatch a new directive.
Internally Aphex’s brain sighed in relief. The synapses were reenergised - his thoughts became sharp and focued. The natural, sluggish thinking his brain cell’s DNA had been encoded to produce retreated to the background, waiting for the xCOKE drug to assimilate out of his system.
For a brief moment, Aphex relished in the awareness of his own consciousness.
A moment after that, he was gone from under the bridge, sprinting past the concrete walls and the dry canal riverbed.
Behind him, the sounds of the Overwatch grew louder as the machine extrapolated the probabilities of his new location.
His footsteps echoed in the hollow canal as he drew heavy breaths. Surges of thoughts raced though Aphex’s brain as it desperately attempted establishing a connection to the Aethernet.
-You might not die this time.