MidReal Story

the grid, once a safe haven for programs and

Scenario: the grid, once a safe haven for programs and users alike, changes forever when a user plants a digital virus bomb in the middle of the city
Create my version of this story
the grid, once a safe haven for programs and users alike, changes forever when a user plants a digital virus bomb in the middle of the city
I stood on the rooftop of a skyscraper in Neo-Harbor, the city that never slept.
The neon lights from the buildings flashed on the digital sea around me, their colors mixing in a beautiful blur.
With the wind in my hair and the pulse of the city beneath my feet, I felt a sense of freedom that was both real and unreal at the same time.
This world was my home.
The grid, a virtual space where users like myself and programs coexisted, had been created over a century ago by a group of hackers, hoping to build a utopia free from the shackles of the physical world.
In the grid, there were no more wars, no more poverty, no more discrimination.
Life, as we knew it, was perfect.
But today, that perfection was about to end.
I gazed out at the sprawling metropolis in front of me, its sheer size still managing to take my breath away no matter how many times I’d seen it before.
The colorful lights from the buildings stretched out as far as I could see and disappeared into the horizon.
I blinked in awe for a moment before shaking myself out of it.
I didn’t have time to stand here and appreciate the view not with what my security system was blaring into my ear right now.
A red light flashed on my wrist, signaling an emergency that needed my attention immediately.
As soon as I acknowledged it, the location appeared on my heads-up display.
It was on the other side of town.
With nothing more than a sigh of frustration, I turned on my heels and raced back to my command center.
My feet pounded on the rooftop as I made my way back to the fire escape.
I skidded through the door at full speed, my sneakers squeaking on the tile floor before I took off running down the stairs.
By now, anyone who saw me would only catch a glimpse of me as a blur passing by them.
My heart raced in sync with the pounding of my feet, pumping adrenaline through every inch of my body.
I loved this feeling; it was addictive.
Every time there was an emergency like this one, it was like a high that I could never get enough of.
It didn’t take long for me to make my way back home.
I was lucky enough to have my command center on the 99th floor of an abandoned building in the middle of town.
As soon as I stepped onto the floor, my security system recognized me and the lights flickered on.
The hum of hundreds of servers echoed off the walls and the glow from the monitors lit up the dark room with their blinking notifications.
I wasted no time sitting down at my chair and pulling up the alert on my screen.
With one click, I brought up the city’s mainframe and began running diagnostics on it to see what was wrong.
I’d just started when David came up behind me and watched over my shoulder as the diagnostics ran on the screen.
His arms were crossed over his chest as he studied the data with a frown on his face.
“Any reason why you’re still here?”
He was our AI security expert and definitely one of the smartest people I knew.
Image for story eOsL
"because someone planted a virus bomb in the heart of the city." i say.
I didn’t even have time to look up at him.
There was too much I had to do before it went off.
He sucked in a breath, his eyes widening as he read over my screen.
“Is it bad?”
The worry in his voice practically dripped off his words and I couldn’t help but grin.
There was no one in the world who loved this place more than he did.
“Yes,” I said with a nod.
He didn’t ask any more questions, he just started typing away on his own terminal next to me.
I could already tell that we were going to need all hands on deck for this one.
I didn’t say anything more as I connected to the city’s mainframe, bypassing their security systems and going straight to the logs that had triggered my alert.
As soon as I brought them up on my screen, I felt a chill run up my spine as I read them over.
Someone had managed to get past our security systems and planted a digital virus bomb in the heart of Neo-Harbor’s mainframe.
If it went off, there would be no stopping it.
Every program, every user it came in contact with would be immediately corrupted.
But that wasn’t even the worst part.
This was a targeted attack on the core of the grid itself.
It wasn’t meant to hurt us; it was meant to destroy us.
My hands shook as I read over the logs.
This was bad, really bad.
But I couldn’t let myself get overwhelmed with that right now.
The clock was ticking and I didn’t have time to freak out over how much was at stake.
Taking a deep breath, I opened up the files that contained the bomb’s code and started reading through it.
It was basic at first, just a simple program that would run through the system before splitting off into different branches of code.
If I could figure out where it split off, I could cut off part of its path and keep it from spreading.
But as I read through it more, I realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as all of that.
This bomb was smart.
Someone had designed it with one goal in mind: destroy us all.
I could already feel the pressure building up inside of me as I read through its complex code.
My fingers flew over my keyboard as I began working on a way to neutralize it before it was too late.
I didn’t even want to think about what might happen if I didn’t succeed.
There was no room for error here; if I failed, we were all doomed.
David worked beside me without saying anything, his eyes glued to his screen as he worked on his own solution for this mess we found ourselves in.
As I continued reading through the bomb’s code, I felt something inside of me break as I realized what I had to do next.
My fingers paused over my keyboard for a moment as I took one last breath before doing what needed to be done.
There was no other choice at this point.
Image for story eOsL
My eyes were fixed on my screen as thousands of lines of code scrolled by in rapid succession.
It may have only been a few minutes since I had connected to the mainframe and started reading through this bomb’s code, but it felt like hours.
A wave of panic washed over me as I realized just how advanced it was; its encryption levels were higher than anything I had ever seen before.
The people who designed this knew what they were doing.
And there was no way I was going to be able to stop it.
I only had a few minutes left before that bomb exploded and wiped out everything in its path.
If I didn’t find a way to stop it now, we were all as good as dead.
My fingers flew over my keyboard as I typed out a new program and initiated a counter-virus.
It was a long shot, but it was better than doing nothing and just waiting for us all to die.
I watched as lines of code appeared on my screen and started working their way through the system.
For a moment, it looked like it might work.
But then I watched in horror as those red numbers continued counting down.
Twenty minutes left.
It was already too late.
I had failed.
I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I watched that timer continue counting down.
There was nothing more I could do at this point.
The bomb was too advanced and my program was having no effect on it whatsoever.
It was like it was mocking me as it continued moving through our system, mutating and adapting as it went.
It was only a matter of time before it found its target and activated.
I knew that there was nothing I could do at this point.
But I couldn’t let myself give up that easily.
We were running out of time and options were quickly dwindling.
I forced myself to think.
There had to be another way.
Anything was better than just sitting here and waiting for that bomb to go off.
And then suddenly, I saw it: a tiny flaw in its code that could be exploited.
It wasn’t much, but with what little time I had left, it would have to do.
My fingers flew over my keyboard as I typed out a new program and initiated a counter-virus.
This was a long shot and I knew it.
But it was better than nothing at all.
As lines of code appeared on my screen and started working their way through the system, I prayed that I wasn’t too late.
There were only a few minutes left at this point before that bomb went off.
If this didn’t work, then we were all doomed.
A cold sweat broke out on my forehead as I watched those red numbers counting closer and closer toward zero.
One minute left.
Come on, come on…
I whispered under my breath as I waited for my program to finish running and give me some kind of answer.
Image for story eOsL
And then, a notification popped up on my screen, confirming my worst fears: the bomb was still active and rapidly approaching its target.
Without another thought, my hands flew over my keyboard as I typed in a series of commands, trying to figure out just how much time we had left before it was too late.
It was already getting deeper into our system, moving faster than even I would have thought possible.
And with the level of encryption that it was using, there was no way that anyone could stop it in time before it wiped everything out—programs, buildings, and users alike.
It was a virus bomb, plain and simple, designed with one purpose and one purpose only: to destroy everything in its path and leave nothing behind but a giant crater of a mess in its wake.
And our system was not prepared to handle an attack of this magnitude.
Our security systems were good, but they weren’t that good.
A wave of panic washed over me as I realized just how much trouble we were in right now; our security systems had already been compromised, which meant that the rest of the grid was blind to the threat that was rapidly approaching us all right now.
And there was only one person who knew what was coming: me.
It felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest as my mind raced through our options right now; we could try to evacuate the city, but there wasn’t enough time to get everyone out before the bomb hit…or we could try to stop it before it was too late…
But there was no way to do that right now—not without knowing where the bomb was or who put it there in the first place.
And that was when I realized what I had to do.
My fingers were shaking so hard that I could barely type, but I forced myself to do it anyway.
My friends were still out there, happily going about their day, unaware of the disaster that was rapidly approaching them.
I had to warn them—before it was too late.
David, I typed into my computer, not even bothering with a voice command.
You have to wake up.It’s an emergency.
I watched as my message flashed across the screen, praying that David would respond in time before it was too late.
He had been my colleague and friend for years now and I trusted him more than anyone else in this world; there was no one else I would rather have by my side in a situation like this.
I could only hope that he would be able to help us stop that bomb before it went off.
It felt like an eternity before he finally responded, but finally: ALICE, his message flashed across my screen.
I’m here now.What’s the situation?
Image for story eOsL
a security program, SANS, or Securing And Neutralizing Software, sent a message to alice via termlink: "i will handle this."
It’s bad, David, I typed back, my mind still racing.
There’s a digital virus bomb in the mainframe.
If it goes off, then it’s going to destroy the entire city and everyone in it.
My hands were shaking so hard that it was hard to keep typing, but I forced myself to do it anyway.
Please tell me that you know how to stop it, I added quickly.
Or at least have a plan for getting us out of here in time?
A long moment passed before David finally responded.
I’m not sure yet, he admitted, but I’ll do everything in my power to stop that bomb before it goes off.
Now, where is it?
The bomb is at the city’s core, I responded, trying to keep my voice calm and steady despite the fact that I was panicking on the inside.
It’s built to overload the core and create a chain reaction that will destroy the entire city.
And the worst part?The code for that bomb is so advanced that we never would have been able to detect it until it was already too late.
I’m sorry, Alice, but if it’s at the core then I’m not sure what we can do from here, David said back.
There has to be some other way for me to reach the bomb itself…or at least access its code directly…
David, you know what that means, right?I asked, dreading what he was about to say next.
You need to be in the system, I said with a sigh.
It’s the only way.
A long moment passed before David finally responded: “I’ll do it.”
I felt like I was going to pass out from relief right then and there; there was no one else I would trust with my life more than him and he was willing to do whatever it took to help me now.
He had never let me down before and he wasn’t going to now.
But right when I thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse…they did.
The alarms of the grid suddenly started blaring out around me all at once, creating a cacophony that seemed to echo all around me.
The bomb is about to go off, David!The bomb is about to go off!
I’ve got it under control!David shouted in response, his voice suddenly sounding panicked as well.
But I could hear something else in his voice just then—a fierce determination that was so strong that it seemed as though nothing could possibly stand in his way.
Tell me what you need me to do, Alice!
What do you need me to do?”
I took a deep breath before I finally responded.
As the alarms of the grid blared all around me, I could feel the panic rising inside of me once more.
But I forced myself to push it down.
This wasn’t over yet.
Not while David was out there fighting for us right now.
I knew that he wouldn’t let us down.
He had never failed me before and he wasn’t going to fail me now.
“Just shut down the power,” I told him quietly, my voice barely above a whisper.
As long as the power was still on, the bomb was still going to go off.
Image for story eOsL
"but if i shut the power down, millions of users, yourself included, will die...."
“I know,” I said back with a heavy heart.
“But if you don’t shut it down…then we’re all going to die.”
The power of the city went out a few seconds later.
But even as the lights went out all around us, my heart still pounded inside of my chest as though it was about to burst out of my ribcage at any moment.
It wasn’t over yet…not by a long shot…
David…?”
The power is out…did you get it?”
Another long moment passed before David finally answered: “Not yet.”
He paused for a moment before he continued: “What I need is access…
“I need you to give me access,” David said back firmly.
“Are you sure?”
It’s the only way!”
he said with a fierce determination that filled my heart with hope all over again.
Another long moment passed as I weighed my options.
And then I finally made up my mind.
“Do it,” I told him firmly.
“Give me control over your system.”
The bomb’s timer stopped for a moment just as I accessed the bomb’s code and gave it control to David.
For a moment there I thought that he had done it—that he had finally managed to stop the bomb and save us all from certain destruction.
But even as I watched the bomb’s timer start counting down once more and the seconds quickly ticked away all around it…
No, not yet…
When I gave him control he said that he needed more time…
A loud buzzing suddenly sounded in my ears as I felt my heart start to pound inside of my chest all over again.
The bomb’s timer was counting down way too fast now—it was already on its way to zero and the numbers were still getting smaller by the second.
David!
What are you doing?”
I asked as I watched the timer go into the red zone and start flashing the seconds away all around it menacingly: “You’re running out of time!”
“I know that!”
David said back in frustration: “But what do you want me to do?
The virus has already taken over most of your defenses and it’s too late to stop it now!
“Just give me a little more time,” he said with a sigh.
“I think that I may have found a way to stop the bomb but I’m not sure if it’ll work yet.
But if it doesn’t then I’ll do the only thing that I can do right now…”
“What’s that?”
“Counter-virus,” David said with a sigh.
“It might buy us some more time but that’s about it…”
“No!”
I said back immediately as the counter-virus suddenly began to spread out from the core of the city and started to eat away at everything around it: “Stop it, David!
You have to stop it right now!”
“Too late,” David said back with a shake of his head.
And then we both watched in horror as the timer of the bomb accelerated once more and started counting down in real time.
This was it.
We were out of time.
The bomb’s timer was counting down just as fast as a normal clock now and it wasn’t going to be long until it hit zero.
Image for story eOsL
and then.....darkness....the power was disconnected...
"alice...? can you hear me?" David asked
no response....
Everything was quiet around me when I finally woke up again.
The first thing that I noticed when I opened my eyes was the distant sound of a loud beeping noise coming from somewhere nearby.
But when I turned my head towards the source of the sound all I saw were blank screens and keyboards everywhere and the distant sound of the beeping growing louder all around me.
It wasn't until then that I realized that it wasn't just in my head—it was coming from everywhere!
The moment that I realized what was happening, I immediately reached out to find my keyboard again so that I could stop the alarm somehow but when I finally found it a few seconds later (along with my hands and arms and everything else) it didn't seem like turning off the alarm would be necessary anymore because…
Everything was dead.
All the screens around me, all of my monitors, and even my computer itself were all inactive and turned off now and there was nothing that I could do to turn them back on again.
I tried to reach out to them and turn them back on again using my keys and my mouse but nothing worked.
And after a few seconds of panicking and repeatedly pressing on them without any results, I finally gave up.
Everything was dead right now and there wasn't anything that I could do to bring them back to life.
Not now, not ever.
As I sat there in stunned silence, trying to figure out what had happened to my power and how I could ever bring it back again, I suddenly heard someone's voice coming from behind me: “Alice?”
David said as his hands reached out to touch my shoulders as well.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I said with a sigh as I turned around to look at him and saw that he was still sitting in his chair and that his computer was still on too.
But when I looked closer and saw that his face was way paler than usual and that his hands were shaking so much that they couldn’t stand still, I knew that he was anything but fine.
“Do you have any idea what just happened?”
David asked as he turned around to look at me and saw how confused I was.
“What was that loud noise and why did all of my screens suddenly turn off?”
he asked with a worried frown: “And more importantly, why did the power suddenly go out like that?
Was it because of…
The bomb, yes!”
I said back with a panicked look on my face.
“The bomb went off, didn’t it?
That’s why everything is dead now…
Because it destroyed everything, right?
The moment that I said that, David’s eyes suddenly went wide and he turned around to look at me as well: “Wait, are you sure?
Did you see it happen?”
“I don’t know,” I said with another sigh.
“I was in the middle of it when everything suddenly went dark like that…
And then I…
Image for story eOsL
"my virtual body....it's gone..."
“And then what?”
David asked again.
“And then nothing,” I said back as I shook my head in disbelief.
“I tried to bring everything back up again after that and even checked to see if I could do anything using my powers as well but it was all gone…everything was dead…”
“But do you know if the bomb actually went off or not?”
David asked as he turned around to look at me again and waited for me to respond.
“Did you see it before it shut down your screen?
Did you see if it actually destroyed anything at all?”
“I don’t think so,” I said with another sigh as I shook my head again.
“I mean, I saw that it was still there when I last checked but there wasn’t any kind of explosion or shockwave or anything coming from it…
It was just sitting there quietly without doing anything at all and with only its timer going on…”
“Oh,” David said with a sigh.
“Then I guess that means that it didn’t go off after all.
That’s good to know.”
“Yes, that is good to know,” I said back with another sigh.
“But it’s also not good to know that we still can’t do anything about it either.”
“What do you mean?”
David asked again with a confused look on his face.
“I thought that you were going to do something about it earlier?You know, before your screen died…”
“I was,” I replied with another sigh.
“But then it happened and I couldn’t do anything about it anymore.
I couldn’t even check if it was still there or not.
I couldn’t know if it had gone off or not.
I couldn’t know anything at all…”
“You still can though,” David said with a small shrug of his shoulders.
“You can still check to see if it’s still there or not.”
“I can?”
I asked with another sigh as I turned around to look at him again: “But how?
I can’t do anything at all right now…
Not when everything is dead like this.”
“You can try to turn them back on again,” David said with another small shrug of his shoulders.
“You can try and see if you can bring them back to life.”
“But I already tried that earlier,” I said with another sigh.
“And it didn’t work at all.”
“It might work this time though,” David replied with another shrug of his shoulders.
“You might be able to bring them back this time…
Especially if you put your mind into it as well.
If you give it your best shot too.”
“Yes, I guess you’re right,” I replied with another small nod of my head: “It wouldn’t hurt to try again either way…
Image for story eOsL
4
10