Station to Station

The train passed through Amersterdam, my headphones pounding the tunes of a past century’s long-dead music. They were corrupted files downloaded off an ancient database, audio that came through perfectly clear, the only flaw in being the gibberish file names that scrolled by the LED screen of my side box as a series of garbled characters. The names had been encrypted to avoid detection on the networks. Old files were considered dangerous, regardless of their content. I had been riding the trains as it passed from station to station; to my right we glided by a patch of post-apocalypse. It was a cityscape ruined and charred, looking like a fried circuit board that had been shelved and never repaired. Everything was covered in dust, dirt, and grit. The settled dust of ancient fallout had covered everything in thin layers. It vaguely reminded me of those old black and white movies.

The buildings and skyscrapers were collapsed and ruined, resting on top of other buildings and even more skyscrapers, making it look as though a giant had played dominos with them. Retrofitted chunks of old buildings had been turned into slipshod shelters and businesses that were capped with bent and twisted metal and crumbling pieces of concrete. All over the streets there were kiosks that had set up for the days business, some of them sold bioware chips v-pak upgrades, ‘softs and OS upgrades; some even proclaimed to have “newly developed AI” available for installation, but everyone who had a brain in their head knew that was a scam and had avoided those places. A fool who walked up my be jacked into some sort of new v-stim and fried right down to the last synapse. There were, after all, a lot of unemployed scientists who needed to further their research without the testing resources of most of the high-end corporate labs. It was not uncommon to plug in some new software into your v-pak or PAN only to have a DataStream the size of the Internet flood your head. The human brain could only take so much stimulus before shutting down. These people weren’t very good at setting limits to the amount of data they could unleash with their “revolutionary” technologies, without a cap it just become a flood that spread across the mind of the user like wildfire; amateurs.

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