Vertical Reality

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Hi! My name is Lorena Ivanković and I’m currently attending third grade in XV. Gymnasium in Zagreb, Croatia. I live with my parents and a younger brother. During the years of my education, I realized I’m more skilled with words than numbers. I enjoy writing, reading books, listening to music, as well as dancing. I like spending time at the seaside, the sea is my never-ending inspiration. Social media is a part of my daily life. Since our life has drastically changed due to the COVID pandemic, meeting with my friends and family is the thing I miss the most. I’m determined to go to university, but I haven’t set my mind clear about the direction. I would like to learn more languages, travel and learn about different cultures in the future.

The unstoppable flow of time brings with it a series of radical changes, the reflection of which is clearly visible in everyday life, and man is still searching for the meaning of existence and his place under the Sun.

“Already?” I growled sleepily at the wake-up call and stumbled awkwardly out of my capsule. Putting on my favorite bioskin uniform, I headed to the unit where my mom greeted me with a smile and breakfast — a flake-flavored protein bar. She’s working in the field of genetic engineering, and her team recently discovered a substance that slows down the aging of the tissue. Who knows, it might stop aging completely! Dad was sitting on the other side of the multifunctional table engrossed in reading the news on the hologram. He took a sip of the antibacterial drink and took off his virtual glasses. “Unbelievable! They lost again!” In addition to being a big fan of flying-trackers, he is involved in the development of robotic technology. Currently engaged in a secret Government project to completely unite the human mind with a computer, it would be the pinnacle of artificial intelligence that scientists have been dreaming of for the last century. Just as the V8EG, a home robot programmed by Dad, began disinfecting the housing unit, Mom answered the call by adjusting her smart bracelet — it was my aunt. She and uncle recently chose the look of their future child in the lab, but my mother does not like such gene manipulation at all, so she calls her unborn nephew “Di-di”, a designer baby. Just when I suggested to my parents that we change our holiday destination this summer because we have been flying in the solar system for years, my mother anxiously interrupted me: “Where is your brother? Is he still in the capsule?” As she grumbled that brother had overslept the alarm again, I put on a smart jacket and took a snack programmed from my personal nutrition database. My high school is located in our skyscraper 212 floors below, but today we have extracurricular classes. We go to the site of the excavation of the capsule that was buried exactly on this day, in 2020. A school aircraft would meet us at the north exit, but Dad insisted on escorting me. Although I assured him that there was no cause for concern, I was glad he was with me as I began to feel uneasy. Today, for the first time in my life, I will be walking on Earth. Our skyscraper of a thousand floors has been my whole world to this day and everything I knew, with occasional flights, mostly to Mars. In addition to millions of apartments, it houses offices, hospitals, schools, shops, cinemas, theaters, swimming pools and virtual reality arcades. The addition eco- in the name was given for its self-sustainability through renewable energy sources, solar panels and noiseless windmills. Food is grown on hundreds of floors and all produced waste is recycled. Countless CCTV cameras keep our peace and security, crime no longer exists, but people are unhappy because great surveillance invades human privacy and threatens freedom. On the way to the north exit, Dad started my favorite topic about grades. Promising him, with a sour smile, that I would study diligently for the final astronomy exam, he whispered in my ear that he had already booked four tickets for the Milky Way cruise, which aroused special enthusiasm in me. Seeing the craft, he slapped his forehead and muttered that before work he still had to adjust an object with a 3D printer that the drone had delivered to him with a mistake, winked at me and disappeared into the crowd. With a panicked look, I searched for my friend Zex and recognized his pointed ears in the crowd. He recently moved from our neighboring Proxima Centauri system because his parents are engaged in galactic diplomacy so he often changes residence. Fortunately, communication between species is no longer a problem. Through the aircraft window, I watched a forest of eco-skyscrapers interconnected by floating paths. Each has an alley of luminous trees that absorb solar energy during the day and illuminate the paths at night. Fascinated by the beautiful views, I enjoyed the harmonious mismatch of pristine nature and pure technology. The craft landed on a vast meadow where a large number of curious people had already gathered. The environment was predominantly green, with a lot of unusual shades, unfamiliar odors and irregular shapes. It is hard to believe that only 100 years ago a school was located here and that life took place exclusively on Earth. As soon as the hologram of the Minister of Education appeared, there was complete silence. After a brief welcome, she continued: “Exactly 100 years ago, professors and students gathered here, as we are today, and buried the time capsule believing that in this way they would make contact with people from the future and bring them closer to their daily lives, as well as entrust fantasies and dreams.” A time capsule is on display on the improvised stage, and all extracted items are presented on a large monitor. Without words and eyes wide open, we observed strange artifacts. The whole experience was magical, as if we had peeked into the past and inhaled one part of it. I looked carefully at each item displayed, of strange design and simple functions. There were newspaper articles about the coronavirus, we looked at the mask that people wore on their faces as protection. Still, I was the most impressed by the book. The dusty, dilapidated cover kept deep thoughts for a century. As such, they no longer exist. There has been no direct contact between the reader and the book for a long time. When I returned home in the evening, our housing unit seemed more cramped than usual. I was thinking about a life that used to be green, horizontal, a bit chaotic and dangerous, but today it is perfectly arranged, gray, vertical and less intimate. Before going to bed, I observed the unfathomable celestial space where the first and brightest stars began to shyly reveal themselves. They say that the future is written in the stars, but did they predict exactly this future? Although they have been gone for thousands of years, their light at night illuminates the streets of our Megacity and inspires a new generation of people whose task is to make the future no less bright than their brilliance.