• [First time writing a story in English. I’m not satisfied with it but still wanted to upload it. I guess almost nobody is gonna read it anyway. Keep in mind: THIS IS A COMPLETELY FICTIONAL STORY! I don’t condone violence in real life.]

    This was a hard day. One of those days… one of those days when you don’t know if there is gonna be a tomorrow – let alone a tomorrow worth living. There have been multiple incidents which I barely survived as a free person. Lucky for me nobody yet got a DNA sample of me – at least in a way they can be positive it can be traced back to me. Frequently changing the rest of the identity in a reliable way is possible, but not a cheap thing do to.
    Evading the pursuers has burned up my family’s complete heritage. Giving up my parent’s home a few years ago when I got into focus (again) as an adult was a hard but inevitable decision. You can call me Anis. It is not my real name – but my name doesn’t matter.
    When I was a child there was a thing called “democracy”. People elected parliaments and presidents and any form of government. Sounds crazy. But that is how it was. Gradually that system was replaced by something totalitarian. Elections stayed for a good while, but there was no choice because party A said and did the same as party B or C. Nobody wanted to hear that. They called anybody uttering warnings about permanent and surveillance all-over a lunatic. The more totalitarian the regime became, the more the majority was convinced that it had been this way since the beginning of time – and that it was more or less like blasphemy to question it. Even talking about it, saying the words “surveillance” or “totalitarian” or “regime” is enough to get arrested now.

    I developed some strategies to go undetected for some minutes if desperately needed. And the fortune my family owned was helpful as well. Some bribe money here and there gave me the possibility to access the infallible, inerrable databases DATA-MAIN and DATA-CONTROL with write permissions for a single minute. Such a onetime sub-root code is usually enough to change “reality” – or should I say how the reality has been recorded to the central computers. Officially such a thing does not exist. Even the admins of the two giant clusters do not have access rights to both systems. Both clusters control each other (which rules out any error) and nobody has access rights to both (which rules out manipulation). But it is not true. Of course not. How would anyone from the government adjust the recordings if needed?

    My family had been wealthy and I’m the last one in the family tree. And now I’m broke. No way to ever do that again. And I wasted my last sub-root code. Really. Wasted. It was avoidable. But I’m only human. A simple woman on the run for decades. At some point mistakes happen. What happened? I drank from a bottle of water, got some water into the airway and choked. It was already dark outside, and I thought I was alone – but that wasn’t true. There was a watchdog: middle rank. He heard me coughing. He approached smirking and said: “What do we have here? A clear case of ML! With that extreme cough I’ve no choice. You’ll get the treatment you need in hospital.” Then he grabbed this metal rod ending with the crown symbol and the letters ML which they use to mark people who had been caught coughing – by burning their skin. This is done to separate sick people from the healthy ones; to protect the health of the general public.

    The buzzing sound of the battery powered strong heating element in that rod gave me a surge of adrenaline. That man was about to end my life as I knew it. I would never, ever be free again. Trying to discuss this was a waste of time. Nobody would believe the coughing was caused by water instead of some pathogenic organism. And the burned marks of the crown and “ML” would never go away. In the first second it was clear: Me or him! Only one of us could survive freely. Not an easy thing. He was a lot bigger and stronger than me. In a direct confrontation he would have had the upper hand in two seconds. But the watchdogs are not used to any form of resistance. They expect anybody to just obey their orders. That is their weak point and it was my only chance. The metal was already glowing red from the heat. He was about to burn the skin on my forehead. And he enjoyed it. What a sadistic guy. His blatant sadism salved my conscience for what I was about to do. I was about to end a life. Not by physically killing the body of this man of course. If my plan worked we would switch roles.

    The only thing I could do to beat such a strong enemy was using a tiny pyrotechnic device containing magnesium powder and potassium perchlorate to stun him with the bright light. This thing is always readily available in my pants pocket. And it worked. The shock of being blinded gave me the chance to grab the rod. Without even thinking about it, I took it and burned his forehead “engraving” the crown and the ML into his skin forever. The pain made him helpless. Did he even know the meaning of the symbols he burned into so many innocent people? Did he even know how everything started? How “harmless” and “with good intention” it was at first? Doubt it. He cried in pain and anger and shouted “HELP!” into his pocket computer. In about two minutes other watchdogs would appear, search for me and torture me to death – if they felt like doing so.

    What could I do to prevent this? Adjust reality. “Nelly?” I said to my computer. Nelly is the most advanced AI system that can run locally and offline. Nobody knows of her existence. The group that built her is long dead. “I can hear you.” answered Nelly, “That was close, Anis. I can adjust the videos taken with cameras here in DATA-MAIN and DATA-CONTROL and make that man loose his watchdog rank. Once his former colleagues arrive they will arrest him instead of you. They will have no choice.”
    “Thank you, Nelly.” I said. She is just like a good friend. And the last friend I have. As far as a machine is able to come close to a human awareness. In addition to that nobody but an AI is able to adjust the database in a single minute. Since something like Nelly does not exist (nor do one-time sub-root codes) and DATA-MAIN and DATA-CONTROL are infallible, everything in the database is unquestionable by definition. Even trying to question the databases is reason enough to send someone into the nuthouse forever.

    Nelly changed the video data and removed any evidence from both databases that this man had ever been a watchdog. I ran away but only thirty meters behind some bushes. When his former colleagues arrived one of them called: “What happened Marco?” while getting out of the car. As soon as the two other watchdogs approached him, their pocket computers started an alarm sound. I pointed Nelly’s camera at the screens. She was able to read it to me despite the distance: “Counterfeit uniform, counterfeit ID, counterfeit…”
    “You are under arrest, Mr. nameless.” uttered the second of the newly arrived men.
    “Have you gone mad, Jeffrey??” screamed the guy on the floor that wanted to burn me. “That is not funny. That stupid bitch burned me with my own rod and got away. She can’t be far.”
    Both looked around. One of them must have seen me. Despite that he looked onto his screen and stated businesslike: “No woman has been in this place for two hours.”
    “Jeffrey!!” shouted the guy that looked so sadistic only minutes ago. More and more panic came into his voice. He finally understood that he attacked somebody more powerful than him. “We are friends since childhood! We drank a few beers together yesterday! You can’t do this to me!!
    “I don’t know you.” said Jeffrey and put handcuffs on him.

    Two minutes later they were gone. I was alone. Darkness and cold the only things around me. Nelly beeped. “He will describe your appearance. Somebody might actually look for you” she said. “I suggest you throw these clothes away and cut off your hair. You should also make a cut on your face which will leave a scar.”

    That was it. I got away. And I still know where to get another code but without any valuable belonging left, my contact person in the data processing center will rather sell me to the watchdogs than help me out. If anything like that happens again… I’m doomed. For now I got away.
    Scott_pilgrim, E1ite007, IC_ and 3 others like this.

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