My name is Madison Walker and my father went missing in the Isolation. With personnel and resources scarce, the automated police force refuse to look into his disappearance. I am the only person searching for the truth. I work at a data reconstruction center to put myself through school. I decided to continue my father’s work and reconstruct the events leading to the Isolation. It wasn’t long after I declared my thesis, I received a virtual construct in the Phatasm, an expertly rendered bar within the Isolation. I assumed it was malware until it revealed a journal with my father’s handwriting on the cover. I believe my father was near explaining what caused the east coast of the Free Republic to become a quarantine zone and perhaps the source of the Technological Corruption. I also suspect, my father was not alone.

Whispers in the Dark

Whispers in the Dark

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I shouldn’t have complained about the walking. The pain in my feet had been annoying, but it was nothing compared to the agony of waiting. I continued touching the inhibitor, ensuring it hadn’t somehow slipped off. In a bunker underneath a farmhouse, it was impossible to tell the passage of time. Despite the clock giving away the minutes passing by, I believed it lied. As hours seemed to pass, only a quarter of an hour. Lilith didn’t speak. For the casual onlooker, it’d...

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An Alternative History

An Alternative History

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ The moment the sun set, I found myself shivering. One would think walking one foot in front of the other wouldn’t be a tedious exercise. However, miles had passed, and the sun had assigned itself the role of killer. Even Lilith sweat. But unlike her, I didn’t do in a way that looked warrior-esque. My drenched body appeared more like a wet dog. How long could I blame her being a Child of Nostradamus for the grace in which she endured? “Here,” she pointed to an empty...

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One Soul – The Cost of Surviving

One Soul – The Cost of Surviving

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ One hundred and forty miles. I couldn’t fathom walking that distance. But staring at the sign for Route 20, I knew I had to keep moving. Lilith estimated it’d take five days, four if we pushed ourselves. I didn’t want to speak up, but I think she overestimated my abilities. In Chicago, I considered walking more than a few blocks, a perilous journey. I never thought I’d reach a day where I missed public transportation. What I wouldn’t give for the L right now. The day...

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Wearing the Skin of a Child

Wearing the Skin of a Child

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Tampons. I know historians reading this journal will think, “Why does she feel the need to discuss hygiene products?” But let’s be honest, nobody discusses the minutia when on the run. The shower worked, even if the water ran a delightful red color from the rust. But the real score had been tampons. Going on the run might be fighting for survival from killer robots or breaking into uncharted lands, but the actual struggles are in the details. At no point in my brilliant...

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Lies are Written by the Victors

Lies are Written by the Victors

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ The Outlands were no different than the Free Republic. I don’t know why, but I imagined that the barrier separating them would mark the change in foliage, roads, or something. But here we were, inspecting cars, looking for something that might still have enough juice to go. “We’re not going to find a solar car on this side,” I said. “The barrier went up before they built the photocells into the frame. We might find one that uses electricity, but I can’t imagine that the...

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Swifter than Sentries

Swifter than Sentries

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ The fence stood forty feet tall, towering along the landscape, dividing here from there. I don’t know what I expected to find, but with wires tightly drawn between mammoth pylons, this was not it. I expected solid cement with armed guards roaming along the ground. For a barrier that kept mankind from entering the Outlands, it was less than impressive. “I expected, more.” Lilith leaned against the RV, eyeing the fence that made me think there must be something I wasn’t...

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Wishes For Falling Stars

Wishes For Falling Stars

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ The stars crashed into the atmosphere in a flash of light. It started as one, then two, and now it looked as if angels skipped stones across the sky. Atop the RV, I couldn’t help but feel insignificant in the endless depths of space. In Chicago, the lights at night drowned out all but the brightest stars. Here, parked in the middle of a field away from the road, I tried to imagine the number I’d have to count to account for each one. I imagined there were thousands if not...

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Flight From Synthetic City

Flight From Synthetic City

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I needed to escape Detroit. My knuckles banged against the frame of the car, staying low as if I could hide from from infrared cameras. I didn’t know much about cars. I couldn’t tell you the make or model from any company, or which were considered classy. Four wheels and the ability to go forward, what more did I need to know? I did know that gasoline became useless after sitting stagnant for too long. How? My father was full of useless wisdom. I almost broke into a...

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He Sees – A Miracle from Nostradamus

He Sees – A Miracle from Nostradamus

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Lilith held a cushion from the couch, the corner of it consumed by fire. She wasted no time using it to light the drapes before wedging it into the sofa. In the kitchen she had torn the stove off the wall. I didn’t need to know her plan; I knew we would be blown to pieces if we didn’t get outside. “It’ll disorient their thermal scanners. Out the back.” She admired her handiwork before nudging me into the kitchen. I didn’t need to be told a second time. I dropped the...

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Nightmares of Machines

Nightmares of Machines

Detroit, an industrial wasteland. We raised walls to bury the mistakes of New York, but I had to wonder if our attention would be better served here. The houses had long since been abandoned as families sought air not filled with cancerous smog. Mankind created this disease, but worse than that, we stood by, benefactors to a limb we’d one day need to amputate. The infection started in the factories and the sludge pushes its way down the streets like a dark spiderweb. Once a haven for working...

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The Daughter of Nostradamus

The Daughter of Nostradamus

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Fire consumed the boat. Tiny cracks and pops sounded until the flame caught the canister of gas. The explosion lit up the sky for a brief moment before water consumed the sinking ship. Lilith wanted our tracks covered, no proof that we ever made it to shore. She worried about those following us; I worried about those that lay ahead of us. No matter what direction we looked, we were being chased. We walked until morning, sticking to the side of the road. I watched the...

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Visions Into the Past

Visions Into the Past

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I hurled the last bit of food from my stomach. Choppy waters mixed with a permanent knot in my stomach proved I would never be a pirate, or in this case an international smuggler. Lilith sat in the captain’s chair, staring forward, unfazed by the turbulence. I sat up, pulling my hair into a poofy ponytail and wiped my face clean, making sure I hadn’t wretched all over my clothes. “Do you think they’re alive?” She didn’t turn around as she spoke, a trait that was steadily...

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A Debt Owed

A Debt Owed

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I am useless. Ask me debate corporate intrusion into Free Republic politics and I can fight like a champ. But ask me to make a stand against death machines sent to capture me, my feet turn to lead and fleeing becomes difficult. I can do nothing but gawk and pray to Nostradamus for divine intervention. There were no more angels left to protect mankind. Instead, we turned to monsters lurking in the night. “Francis, light ‘em up.” Did I hear Halo correctly? The cyborg meant...

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A Rendezvous with Old Friends

A Rendezvous with Old Friends

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Lilith hadn’t spoken since we left the tunnels. I wanted to ask her if she needed medical attention, but the moment I tried to gain ground and catch up, Pill-R stopped me by grabbing onto my hand. The short man shook his head, his unfortunate facial hair blowing up into his nose and mouth. She had just risked her life to save us, I could give her space for the moment. She’d earned it. The pier. Once a spectacle for tourists, filled with restaurants, arcades and even an...

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Men, Machinery & Mechs

Men, Machinery & Mechs

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Alarms traveled through the upgrades in Chicago's underworld. Alerts appeared in the eyes of the patrons and sirens must have sounded in the auditory enhancements. Lilith grabbed me by the hand, her grip far stronger than I anticipated. Pill-R gave her a nod and pointed to a metal hatch near the back of his vendor space. Later, Lilith explained he paid extra to be close to an escape. As we cleared tables filled with junk, he pulled a wire from one of his servers and slid...

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Compassion is a Warrior’s Trait

Compassion is a Warrior’s Trait

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Haven has a set of rules unlike anything in the surface world. There are guns on the hip of every patron, and while hands hover close by, sometimes even on the stock, they are never drawn. I would assume that money would reign supreme, but more often than not, I can hear the patrons discussing trade. Food serves as a currency in the city beneath Chicago. The rocket launcher from early is nearly a month worth of rations. I have to wonder if Haven exists to fill a need by...

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The Veil is Lifted: The Underbelly of Society

The Veil is Lifted: The Underbelly of Society

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Lillith is not an ideal travel companion. She leads and expects me to follow. I ask questions and she rolls her eyes. She is not entertained with my resistance. The woman isn’t hostile, but she is aggressive. She warned me the first night on the street, trust nobody. It seems as if she lives by this creed. Currently I am a nobody. There are areas of Chicago I’ve never set foot in, I expected to head there, perhaps to the west side. Between the gangs and the obscene crime,...

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Trust No One, Except Her

Trust No One, Except Her

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ By midday the church is busy. I spent the better part of an hour lurking across the plaza, watching the needy go in and out of the doors. It has one of the strongest community programs in the state. From a food kitchen to rehab, to spiritual guidance, they mend bodies and souls. There are moments when I feel in utter awe of how a religion barely two centuries old has managed to root itself in Chicago.  My shirt smells of damp and the hoodie I found in the basement has...

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Hiding Amongst the Damned

Hiding Amongst the Damned

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I can't stop thinking I should go home.  The sense of adventure vanished quickly. The first night I attempted to stay at a homeless shelter. Despite my clothes being freshly washed and looking well fed, I thought a shelter would be the fastest way to acclimate to my life on the run. In line with nearly a hundred folks much more in need than myself, I noted the woman admitting people had a device in her hand. Hand print scans are required to enter the shelter.  I slept on...

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A Fugitive on the Fringes

A Fugitive on the Fringes

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I have never broken the law. More than that, I have never been in trouble for anything other than childish mischief. My entire life has operated within societal expectations. I'm not sure if I should be proud of this, or disappointed I didn't push more boundaries as a teenager.  Today I broke the law. I planned on asking my Edward, my boss, for additional work that would by default grant me higher security clearance. When he called me to his corner office, I had almost...

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Chicago’s Chronicle of Blood

Chicago’s Chronicle of Blood

I once asked my father where babies come from. It's a question every kid asks, and for some reason, every parent lies. He responded with, "The stork of course." Most kids would have accepted the answer and moved along, but I had more questions. How much weight could a stork carry? What if the child was large? Where was the magical land of pre-diapered babies that these birds stole? And how did the storks know which people wanted babies from? The response didn't make sense, and I've never been...

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