h2>Dating : Upload: Part 1
Katie woke up with a strange numbness. Her body felt weak, and the thought of getting up was nauseous. However, today was graduation. It was supposed to be a day of celebrations and happiness. This day had been coming for 18 years, and yet Katie was never able to hype up the excitement everyone expected her to have. Nonetheless, Katie got out of bed and decided to face the day with a smile, whether she forced it or not.
Walking downstairs, Katie was greeted with the casual “Good Morning!” by her parents. They had breakfast prepared on the table.
“Today’s the day!” Mom beamed.
“You excited, kiddo?” Dad asked, pulling a seat back for her.
“Tired is more like it,” she admitted, taking her seat in front of perfectly scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. It really was a special occasion to be granted such an expensive meal. Katie didn’t waste a second to start stuffing her face. She may never taste food like this again.
“How’s the food?” Mom asked, peeping over Katie’s shoulder.
“Excellent, thank you.” Katie’s words were muffled behind a full mouth.
There was some movement behind her, and suddenly a package was dropped just behind her plate.
“Congratulations!” Mom and Dad cheered.
Katie wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and stared intently at the small, neatly wrapped gift. Such delicacies were rare, and Katie could feel tears welling in her eyes.
“You didn’t have to get me anything,” Katie said softly, reaching for the package. The wrapping paper was a crimson, shiny red with a white bow on top. It didn’t feel heavier than the fork on her plate.
“Open it, darling,” Dad whispered.
Carefully, Katie began to peel the wrapping paper, trying her best not to rip it. Inside was a cute, black plastic box. Katie could see her reflection on the surface: small nose, soft bone structure, brown eyes and hair, and the set of full lips. These were all compliments of her mother. Dad was responsible for the freckles across her nose and cheeks.
Katie opened the box to find a solid-state drive sitting on a fluffy satin pillow.
“It’s 50 terabytes.” Mom explained.
Katie just stared at the small item in the box. It was unbelievable. Her family was wealthy, but this was over the budget for usual gifts. This box was worth more than she has ever held before, possibly more than her entire life.
“You’re Dad and I have been saving up for this moment for a long time,” Mom began. “We never told you because we knew you would tell us to put the money towards something else.”
“We wanted to remind me how special a day like today is. You’ll finally be fully integrated into this community, into society. You can’t do it without the proper equipment.”
Katie lifted the drive into her hands. It weighed close to nothing. This was truly a gem to be handled carefully. “This is more storage than I’ll ever need.”
“Hush.” Mom scolded. “You’re not done growing. You’ll need everything you can get, and with more space, you can always do more.”
“Thank you. This is amazing. Truly, I mean it.”
“Go ahead and leave it here for now,” Dad instructed. “Go to Graduation, and then you’ll be ready to try it out tonight.”
Katie suddenly felt stunned. “We are doing it tonight? There is no vacation time first or a day of rest?”
“Don’t sound so down about it,” Mom chided. “This is an amazing moment of your life. You’re a grown woman now. It’s time.”
Katie felt a nauseous feeling creep into her stomach. There wasn’t as much time left as she expected.
“Done with your food?” Mom asked. “If so, go ahead and get ready for your big day. I already chose your outfit last night. It should be on your desk.”
Mom and Dad cleaned up while Katie went back upstairs and took a shower. Like Mom said, on the desk, there was a soft-blue, open-back dress that ties a bow at the small of the back. She also laid out a white, jeweled necklace, a thick bracelet, and a pair of wedges that has white lace trimming. Katie wore this outfit a few other times in her life, including her last birthday, her last high school dance, and even on her college tour. Mom didn’t like ugly and messy things, so Katie always had to look her best, meaning even putting her hair up nicely and wearing makeup.
Last, Katie put in her contacts. These were not contacts to improve vision: Katie’s eyes were near perfect. It was required by law 30 years ago for any citizen of the US to wear these contacts anytime they went out of the house. They were used to record all daily activities, access different database sources, and to be tracked. No one trusted us to explore freely anymore.
“It’s almost 8. You need to be outside in 6 minutes.” Mom’s voice echoed in my room.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” Katie replied, taking a last long look in the mirror. The girl she saw wasn’t the same person that she woke up us. This was a creation of society. That’s all she was ever meant to be.
Katie grabbed her gown, cords, and board as she walked back downstairs. When she reached the bottom, there was a sudden flash of light.
“Can we not?” Katie sighed.
“This is a beautiful moment, and we don’t always get to see you dolled up like this,” Dad said, followed by another flash.
“You’ve done a wonderful job on your eyebrows today, Katie. They look so full and slick.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Katie said, hiding her groan as much as possible.
“Alright, it’s time for you to get out there!” Dad announced, opening the front door. “We’ll see you cross that stage, and then we’ll celebrate before tonight.”
“Sounds good. I’ll see you both later?” Katie asked before stepping out the door.
“Of course.” Mom replied.
“Congratulations.” They both said.
At that, Katie gave a small smile and then walked out the door.
Up and down the street, Katie could see the hundred other kids all stepping out of there door. Most of them were younger and wore their school uniforms, and a handful was like her with gorgeous outfits and caps and gowns. Those individuals, at least the ones Katie could see, all were beaming with pride and joy. These were the ones that Katie envied — why could she be as excited as them?
One by one, each person stepped onto their sidewalk and started towards the street. Down to Katie’s right, a bus was crawling its way towards each home. As per routine, each student would wait until the bus was exactly one home away from their house. Then, they would walk to the street as the bus passed. Simply, the students would step onto the bus on either side through the open doors as it crawled by. Once each student was properly on board, everyone would be transported to their designated schools.
It was also regulations for each student to sit on the bus with their age group and gender. Katie always sat next to a girl named Sophia. She was a year younger than her, yet she was the smartest girl Katie’s ever met. Sophia was given the opportunity to graduate a few years ago, but she wanted the opportunity to learn as much as she could. After taking every class the school had to offer, Sophia felt ready to move on to the next chapter. She was wearing a yellow, floral dress with flats, and she carried far more cords than Katie did.
“Good morning, Kat!” Sophia greeted, scooting over in her seat to let Katie sit. Although Katie didn’t prefer that nickname, she couldn’t ever get Sophia to call her otherwise.
Sophia was a nice girl, and Katie liked her just fine. In fact, she may be the only friend Katie has outside of school. Katie just thought Sophia was too nice, almost in a disingenuous way. A lot of the kids Katie knew were like that. It was a personality that Katie always tried to mimic but could never truly achieve.
“Are you excited?” Sophia exclaimed, jumping slightly in her seat.
“I guess. We just get our names called and walk across a stage, and hear a speech about the next chapter of our lives.”
Another thing about Sophia — she knew Katie didn’t have the same energy as others. Though, Sophia never judged her or tried to force a change. Sophia accepted Katie’s true state of emotions, and she treated her like anyone else while she was at it. This contributed to her being too nice — most anyone would scold Katie or disapprove of her for not being chipper and dainty.
“Not that, Silly! We get uploaded tonight!” Sophia exclaimed, giggling like a young girl.
The sound of upload made Katie’s stomach lurch. Luckily, nothing came out, but the uncomfortable feeling made Katie want to just lie down and forget this day.
“I can’t believe this is finally happening!” She continued. “It feels like forever has passed before we got to this moment. I can just imagine being a part of a large interface where we work together to create solutions to world problems and develop new technology. What if we discover new medicine to get rid of cancer?”
“We’ve already got medicine for cancer.” Katie groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers.
“I know, but we could make it better. What if we were able to destroy cancer completely instead of just stop the growth of cells? We’ve learned so much, and I’m sure we’ll learn more. How much did you get?”
Sophia laughed again and leaned in closer. “Storage of course. From what I’ve heard from everyone else, it’s a tradition to get a drive when you graduate. My parents gave me mine this morning — 10 terabytes! With that, I heard you start with a house and numerous opportunities. I’m going to be living the dream! Maybe I’ll be able to raise a child as well one day.”
Katie couldn’t look Sophia in the eye. 10 terabytes were a fantastic amount, but her 50-terabyte gift now seemed even more excessive than it should. Sophia has been talking about this moment forever, and now that Katie was receiving more for not putting in half the amount of work or emotional investment didn’t seem fair.
“So, how much did you get?” Sophia pushed.
“I…haven’t gotten mine yet,” Katie lied. “I’m sorry, I was just so shocked with what you got. That’s outstanding, Sophia.” She tried her best to seem excited for Sophia.
“Thank you. I am quite proud of my achievement.”
There was a moment of silence as they went to school. Because Katie and the other seniors were graduating, they weren’t being dropped off at the high school. The bus needed to stop by it to drop off of the other students, but the rest would be going to a college stadium an hour away.
“It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in this world,” Sophia said, looking out the window at the students who were about to begin their normal school schedule day.
“What do you mean?” Katie asked, not fully paying attention.
“With our technological advances,” Sophia began. “Compared to where we were as a civilization a century and a half ago, this world has changed dramatically. Did you know that people drove vehicles? We even did long-distance communication through these handheld devices called cellphones.”
Katie was in history many times. Teachers always took a week to goad about the advancement of technology and communication since the early 2000s. They showed pictures of phones, text messages, and even devices called televisions and computers. Other than that, they mostly focused on wars, business-orientated presidents, peace, charity, and resolution through laws and bills. They never mentioned anything about driving vehicles though.
“How did you find out about man-driven vehicles?” Katie asked, suddenly a little more interested.
“There was an awesome video I found in the historical database. I can send you a link.” Sophia closed her eyes, and her body fell slightly limp. A moment later, she opens her eyes and smiles. “You should get it in a minute. It’s thirty minutes, but that makes for a nice travel nap. It goes all the way from the first phone to our contacts to the upload.”
Katie thanked Sophia and then sat for a moment deciding on what to do. The video seemed interesting, but there was something inside her that was uncomfortable with knowing.
Katie closed her eyes. The moment the world went dark, a world of technology lit inside of her mind. It was like looking at a monitor, just inside the individual mind. Katie went to her messages and saw a few people contacted her. There were her parents, saying congrats again, and another friend who wondered if she got to the bus on time. Her focus fell upon the video, and in seconds it was playing in her mind.
As the video played, Katie was surprised with sudden entertainment. It was an animated man who had a robot companion, and they were going through the history of technology together. The animation was cute and flattering. This was the first time Katie thought Sophia may actually know how to enjoy herself in all of the work she involves herself in.
The video began with Benjamin Franklin who discovered electricity in the 1700s and a funny skit of the kite experiment. Then, it jumped to 1876 where Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the patent for the first telephone. This continued in a timeline fashion before, going over the achievements of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and even Jeff Bezos. There were images of people driving in cars in large cities across the country — this must be the part Sophia was talking about. It continued forward through the evolution of cellular devices, including the first phone that flipped between a phone and a tablet, then the first phone to use holographic display between chats.
After some time, phones were finally integrated into part of the body. It became a chip in the arm that allowed people to unlock their phone by just holding it. This gave way for ultimate security, easy accessibility to apps, and even “pay-shake” — they paid for goods by shaking hands. However, there were a few problems with this development, so the government changed directions with phones and decided to go back to external devices.
It wasn’t until 2110, almost thirty years ago from today, that successors from the Apple brand came out with our current use of communication, The Contacts. Activated only by closing the eyes, people began communicating through simple thoughts and beliefs. Texting came from a focus on words and letters, and calls had to be requested before accepted on the external device. A few years ago, The Contacts came out with a new version where individuals could search the World Wide Web and watch videos while taking a nap like Katie was doing now. Calls could be accepted through these devices now, but a person still had to close their eyes to be on it. Katie preferred to just text for that reason. The narrator explained that these devices were still going through many revisions to create a completely hands-free experience, even while awake.
The last major development came 35 years ago in 2117. Scientists and inventors worked day and night to develop a way to completely integrate the human mind to a digital world. This would allow people to be connected to the real world instantaneously. There would be no need for sleeping and eating, which meant people could work, travel, and enjoy their life without ends. Communication and research would be at the tips of everyone’s fingers and then shared with the rest of the world just as fast. This was their way of solving hundreds of problems in the world quicker than through normal means. It would also pave the way for allowing everyone to visit the digital world. They called this Upload.
The narrator continued into the various uses of Upload, but Katie lost attention. She began thinking of the Upload process, as she has many times over the past five years when she found out that this was what her life was all for. Katie knew that it was supposed to be a paradise, the world you make it whenever you want it, but she didn’t like knowing that her life was already chosen when she was born. That was what this community was for — Katie was born in the life of the rich that got to go to the virtual world after graduation.
From what Katie knew, they waited until graduation to upload a person because the mind is almost fully developed and capable of being mature, full of knowledge, and can make sound choices. This ensured that there was room for growth in the virtual world. There were also safety precautions in place so that a child could get the chance to see the real world before leaving it entirely.
Though, Katie knew that the real world was a mess. School has proved that through the pictures of what the world was like today. Outside of their community, there were areas of trash piled miles high, violence, and people who couldn’t eat and wear nice clothes. That was what the virtual world was made to fix; it would give those less fortunate the opportunity to live easily and contribute to fixing the real world.
However, the technology was far too expensive for that right now. The government needs young, capable minds to continue research in a safe and protected environment so that they could research the possible ways to make this an accessible product for everyone. They compare it to the way that Tesla soon became the cheapest car by the means of constant research, or how younger generations finally developed cheaper substitutions for gas on all platforms. This was what Katie heard from her teachers who weren’t even physical humans.
In fact, there wasn’t a single adult in this community that wasn’t human. All of Katie’s teachers were from Upload. Buildings were built to give them electronic arms and devices to display criteria, grip, grade, and point. She never needed to go to stores or go out anywhere. Groceries and clothes were sent directly to her house, and there were strict regulations about when a child could leave their home, which was rarely. Therefore, Katie never knew if there were adults in other locations doing certain jobs in the city.
Then, of course, Katie has never seen her parents physically. They were uploaded either before or right after she was born — there was something about frozen eggs and sperms that allowed people to conceive even after they were uploaded. She’s seen a picture of them together, including a wedding and some date selfies, but Katie has never been able to hug her mother or father. They were also just robotic arms and features. At least their voices were able to come through. It made Katie feel somewhat connected to them.
Sophia began to shake Katie’s arm. “We’re here!”
Katie opened her eyes, ending the video, and looked out the window and saw the stadium. There were other busses also driving in that direction from the different districts. It was the only place big enough to hold all of the graduating students from across the city.
It dawned on Katie that this was the last adventure of their life. This would be the last time she would see physical people, the physical world, before her Upload.