для читателей старше 18 лет
For the first time in his life, he won a lottery and became one of the first people to participate the game with a full immersion. That mean, money and unique technology. Correspondents are eager to interview with him. He is famous!
The game, bright colors, all feelings are as close to reality as possible.
New technologies are beckoning, but is everything as magnificent as it is written in advertising?
“Dogonyalki’ (“Game of Tag’)
INTERVIEW WITH DISAPPEARED GODS
A country estate in the Crimea is a daydream. Fresh air, beautiful views, far from the highways and fifteen minutes way to the sea, but if you have your own beach, then it is not just a daydream, it is a cosmos.
Maria was riding in a white taxi and could not calm down, the landscapes were marvellous, she felt so comfortable, and the reason was the person, who invited her.
When the call was received by the editorial office, it was answered by the editor-in-chief himself, he flew out of the office like a scooter and ran to the director
As she was explained later, the customer was very important, so important, that for seven years till now he had been offered a million for an interview, and according to rumors, even more. All the news companies of the world were hunting for him, trying to bribe his servants or shop sellers, where, it is also rumored, he made purchases.
But for all the seven years there were no results.
And now his personal secretary called and invited a young and unknown journalist to stay with him for three days.
All the turmoil began immediately, the chief palmed off a long and horrible list of questions:
“These questions are obligatory. You should ask everything!”
Also, it was obligatory to take photos of everything possible, besides the master of the estate himself. The chief hinted that for the photos containing embarrassing moments, for example, drunken or naked master of the estate, she would receive an advance in office and an increase in the salary. And if she succeeds in capturing a photo of a completely obscene nature, of cussing or blathering person, then she will become his personal deputy with all the respective consequences.
Masha did not like this “jaundice’, she was not comfortable with all this dirt. She, of course, promised to do everything possible for one hundred percent, but she was disgusted.
The car was driving along a straight road, poplars and cherries were growing on the roadside. Quite a strange combination of roadside trees. But then she imagined how splendid it was in the spring: pink cherry blossoms and white fluff of poplars.
When the taxi turned, the three-storeyed building arose in front of her, like a video. The white building, drowning in the greenery of trees and braided with ivy.
There were no high fences. So strange that paparazzi could not take photos of anything. When the taxi arrived and stopped, a man opened the door and helped her to get out. Pretty pleasant appearance, in light breeches and a summer white shirt in fashion this summer. She supposed him to be the master, but soon it became clear that he was something like a butler named Vladimir Antonovich. He invited her to enter the house. And told that he would cope with her luggage himself.
She climbed the stairs and, passing by the columns, went inside a huge hall, and it seemed that all the walls were glassy.
Light-coloured parquet floor, minimum of furniture. In fact, nothing special, light-coloured walls without pictures, a suspended oval fireplace perhaps, could be considered the only decoration, but it was summer and it was not burning.
Then she heard laughter, joyful voices and went to the sound.
Walking along a rather narrow and long corridor, she had to go down a small staircase, and she got into a place, which could be a veranda or a dining room. It was very light, a lot of greenery in pots, big white sofas and a variety of armchairs and pouffes.
A lot of people were sitting on the sofas and playing something. She was not seen at once. But when she was noticed, she immediately became the center of attention.
Everyone was silent and looked at her.
All of them were very beautiful and young, it was evident that they were rich. And then the idea flashed upon her: she knows them all! Everyone living on the planet knows them! It’s really them!
“Well, why are you all, like predators staring at the poor girl?” — said a young girl having light-colored curls, wearing a blue dress.
“Do not be shy, come in.” She got up and walked to meet Maria. “Forgive us our awkwardness and hostility; you are the first guest for a long time.”
They went into the inward space of the room, and she was placed in a very deep armchair. Her bright country dress with a small flower print came to the place, and at least now Masha sighed with relief. Everyone was wearing light and casual, simple outfits of shorts and T-shirts, long skirts and even Hawaiian shirts. All present were millionaires and billionaires.
“Now we shall finish and then ask you, Maria, to join us. How do you think? Do you know how to play “Mafia’? — said the “person of the most importance’, whom she had to photograph while pooping. She was embarrassed by this thought.
“I can play ‘Mafia’”.
“You are too modest for a journalist,” said the man, with a swarthy skin and curly hair. He drank the coca from the jar and nodded the residue through the straw.
“Serb, do not embarrass the girl.”
“Okay, Gray’, — he smiled and sat down in his place.
The game began. The girl, who met Masha, was the show presenter. All the rest were participants.
Forty minutes later, Masha completely forgot why she was there and that everything happening was to be memorized and recorded. She laughed heartily, and it turned out that the players slightly changed the game. There it was necessary to invent the most ridiculous arguments to confirm the fact that you are not mafia, and the most absurd ones to evidence that the opponent is in fact mafia.
All participants were very familiar with each other and very light-hearted; this created quite a family atmosphere.
Then they all played, and although Masha did not get a significant role in the game, she laughed heartily.
Then there was a delicious lunch of seafood and a light dessert with wine.
She looked at them and could not believe that all these people have been in the tabloids for more than five years, they make millions of young people envy. They are just people, not gods, as everyone thinks. She relaxed and sincerely smiled.
When everyone drifted away in the house and in the garden, the person of the “most importance’ invited her to stroll in the park.
“Tell me, Maria, but honestly, what did your terrible chief butcher concoct?”
She took out a small recorder and turned it on.
They heard a crack in the beginning, and then the male voice began to screech, like a pig.
He listed the questions, swore, and repeated something about great luck.
“M-yeah. Turn it off, please. It’s unbearable. How do you work with him?”
“I have to.”
“None of us had been interviewed for all these years because all these years we did not stop conducting our ‘own game’. Now, when almost everything is over, we shall tell you our stories. That is why everyone has gathered here. And frankly speaking, I’m very glad about that. For a long time, we did not get together so easily. I suggest we go to the arbor with you, a little later tea and cakes will be brought there.”
“Ok’, — Masha did not stop smiling. The garden was beautiful and very large. It turned out that on the land plot there were three more enormous houses, almost palaces, these were houses for the guests and one orphanage. Literally, the orphanage, there was a private school and a kindergarten where the orphans and children of the landlords lived and studied. Further, there was a stable, and even further, closer to the sea; there was a complex with sauna and swimming pool.
After talking about the estate, they reached the arbor. The one-and-a-half-storey construction looked as if it was sewn from the lace and had a domed shape; the arbor was buried in roses. There was a pond nearby with willows on its shore. Ducks were swimming in the water. The garden was really large.
They entered and settled in the comfortable rocking chairs.
“Tell me, Sergey Nikolayevich, how did it all start?”
“If you take the history of the emergence of our entire empire and online game, it started before my birth. My father will tell you this.” — he smiled.
“But where would you like to start then?”
“I’ll start, perhaps, with an interview, almost the same as ours. Though it was broadcasted to the whole world, and I did not think then that I would be engaged into all this.”
“Before I turn on the recording, tell me, why did you decide to tell me all about it and why did you choose particularly me?”
“Why? We all intend to be frank with you as much as possible, and, believe me, we still face a deadly danger. The time for a winning stroke has finally come. Now, when we already have children and we need a quiet life, the inhabitants of the Earth should know the truth.”
“Yet you have not answered another question: why me?”
“This question will be answered by another participant of this story. Now I will try to tell you how I remember it. Then everyone who wants will speak, except for those who are not alive anymore. We are giving you our vision of what is happening. You’ll choose the format of the publication. It can be a series of articles or a biographic book. Even if you manage to convey even a third of the story, it will surely be a sensation. I’m sorry, someone is calling me.”
He got up and left the arbor. She noticed that he is using the new model of AQUA FONNI.
He finished the conversation and returned.
“I am sorry, my brother has arrived, his studies in Japan have come completed, and he is going to stay with us.” When there is the time for the full view, you will also talk to him.
So where did I stop? And, yes, I wanted to start telling you from the moment when Alexey Kim gave his famous interview.
“Do you want to start with the man who ruined the life of your parents?”
“I’ll start the story with the one man, who the most of us all deserve the title of hero and anti-hero at the same time.” And honestly, I’m sorry that you are treating him so negatively. But he will explain everything to you later himself.
“Is he really here, too?”
NEWSPAPER ON INTERCOM PORTAL
Geneva: the last meeting in the framework of negotiations on AOUA FLASH technology.
On Saturday in Geneva, negotiations continued between the heads of states and representatives of Art. soul Holding group.
UN Special Representative Ratan Tata is coordinating the negotiations.
On Saturday, as well as on Friday, there will be only one session of negotiations, as specified by the UN.
This meeting will be the last one in the second round of negotiations in Geneva devoted to the situation in concern with the use of this technology in space, medicine, military development.
TVCENTER, STUDIO №9, 3:45 P.M, AUGUST 13
Evening talk show on Channel Three:
“Today, we will tell our viewers about the new technologies that blew up the whole world. As you have already guessed, it’s about AOUA FLASH. But we are interested in the question of AOUA Robe.”
Will the real world be changed by the new virtual reality of Ouiet running? Now we will review the story about this breakthrough, and then the creator of the future and the main genius of the corporation Art. soul Holding group, Alexey Kim will be present in our studio.
On the screen of the TV, the popular TV show presenter Lana Martin was talking. She was a bright, mobile, miniature blonde with an idealized appearance, golden moving tattoos of a super-model of the middle of 2057.
“The ambitious project of the international company Art. soul Holding group worth sixty billion dollars for the development and implementation of the first technological system of software, information, genetic, energy carrier automation.”
“So, now we meet our guest Alexey Kim!”
The audience began to applaud, whistle. He went up to Lana, took her hand and kissed.
“Alexey, you are so gallant.”
Her thoughts fluttered. “Wow, he is so handsome, I like brunets!” She would like to look closer at this young successful engineer, a hero who has changed the lives of millions of people.
In the studio came a young man of about thirty, of medium height, wearing gray trousers and a white shirt without a tie.
“Lana, you are so adorable. I could not resist (smiles).”
“So, the viewers and we have been waiting for more than six months. Do not torment, tell us, what technology of the future has overtaken us in the present.”
She even leaned forward a little from impatience. The apples of her eyes were dilated, deep breathing could show impatience, and such a rapid heartbeat could indicate that this woman very carefully concealed her real age.
Alexey felt all this in two seconds. He smiled. New opportunities not only gave him a young body but also improved it. Now he is almost perfect. Could he have imagined at the dawn of his career that this cute popular foolish thing would interview him? He could not, but now she even gives the glad eye to him.
“Lana, you’re right, as always!” Rumors about such discoveries have been online for a year and a half already. But, in fact, only this year, in January, representatives of the company Art. soul Holding group have publicly announced the development of an innovative medium AO.
His cold eyes examined the situation, eagerly absorbing the information. Lana noticed this for a second, and the cold sweat appeared on her skin. “What’s going on?” — She thought.
“Alexey, what does this medium give? What does it look like? After all, the amount of sixty billion dollars, as you should agree, is just impressive enough!”
“I’ll just show you, and you’ll understand everything.” Put your phone on the table, please.
She jerked her new crystallized, looking very fragile phone, onto the metal cover of the table.
The phone almost merged with the table, only a flashing green allowed to mark the place where the phone was lying.
“As far as I can see, you did not have time to give your phone a color, did you?”
“Oh please, I just love cleanliness, and in this way, it looks like a piece of ice. Don’t you think so?”
The whole audience and viewers were at the peak of their anticipation, they even forgot to breathe. In the studio, in the homes in front of the TVs, people who watched the broadcast online held their breath.
The director on his PC screen viewed the number of people, who watch the show, increasing in geometric progression every second. MeTeo Company hasn’t seen such a rating for the whole history of television: three and a half billion users simultaneously watched every movement of the only one person. And it was Alexey Kim.
He enjoyed the moment, feeling the weight of his glory with every inch of his skin.
“Lana, you know perfectly well that your phone is the latest development. The most purchased model. And believe me, this, — pointing to the phone — is a history. But this, — reached for his pocket — will be a new century of the mankind.”
On the table appeared a black, polished hemisphere, round, having the size of a coin.
“What is it?!” — Lana falsettoed unexpectedly, even for herself.
Alexei touched the sphere with his finger. And for all who saw this, it seemed like the sphere was made of water. Then he pulled the sphere to the right. And then it took the shape of an absolutely transparent “puddle’.
“This is the first stage of the setup, the moment when you get acquainted with your personal encoder AOUA FONNI looks this way’ (smiles).
On Lana’s face, a deep disappointment could be seen with the naked eye.
“And what happens next?” — she has already decided that she will be the first to interview a person whose technological innovation will appear a failure of the century.
“And then the user chooses a form convenient for him.”
With the elusive and so habitual movement Alexey pointed his finger at the “puddle,” and it took the shape of a familiar phone. AOUA FONNI lit up, and in front of TV presenter, Lana, appeared her own face, only of earlier years. It was a focused projection or nanoimage. And no matter from what side you looked at this face, it seemed that it was looking at you.
“You must forgive me; I have already chosen my avatar for the phone. And it’s YOU!”
“Hello! Alexey, you have a meeting in one hour and forty-five minutes. Your deputy called; there are several messages from the members of the group. Would you like to listen? I am also glad to tell that at the moment the viewing of this TV show on the Internet reached a record spectators number!”
“No, you do not need to play the records. It will be better if you show what you can do.”
“Yes, I will conduct a training course for the new user of AOUA FONNI; you need to say the codeword for opening information into general access.”
“What does it mean?” — Lana considered herself a professional in her business, she interviewed the heads of the states, but this upstart just left her open-mouthed, watching her image with a full copy of facial expressions and voice saying something.
“This is the avatar of my phone. It completely replaces the functions of any communicative devices. The owner of such a device can choose any avatar of a person, an animal, a thing or a fictitious character, clear only to him. It does not matter.”
All the time, while he was talking, the avatar of Lana blinked, smiled and waited for the code word.
The pale face of the TV presenter was filled with a sincere surprise, and she tried to examine the avatar with her large unbelieving eyes and even to touch it with her finger.
Alexey was at the peak of his nirvana. He is a winner, and this moment is only the beginning of a great victorious march, and nobody will hinder him. Nobody will be able to.
“After selecting the avatar, the phone is already starting to function at the level,” he pointed at Lana’s phone, — of yours, but only ten percent of what my AOUA FONNI has to offer.” A full review of the training lectures is required. This is a very entertaining moment, since each time the program is already being adjusted to its owner.
“But how can this phone ‘adjust’ to the owner? And where the SIM card and phone number are inserted into it?” — Lana, panting, began to shoot questions, afraid to miss something important.
“And now the most interesting thing: it does not have a phone number or a SIM card in your understanding. If you allow (he began to smile again), I will go back a little to the history of technology. The inventor Don Tallips and his colleague futurist Coutrenin Robert were right about that Gordon Moore’s law was wrong. And we, indeed, with the help of nanotechnology maximized not only the transfer of data but also the growth of transistors. Ahem. Our scientists from Art. soul Holding group, led by your faithful servant, made a breakthrough: we introduced nanorobots into ordinary drinking water. Thus, with the help of some of our secret technologies, we obtained the original crystallized substance.”
There was complete silence in the audience. Lana had no questions. She simply admired and at the same time was enraged about this arrogant genius.
And he kept talking:
“Water, indeed, is the carrier of information. But in order for me not to go into the jungle of scientific terms that are incomprehensible to everyone, I will describe the process. So, this technology allowed us to realize the following opportunities in mobile technologies. This phone really does not need to be charged, it does not have a battery, because it takes energy for work from completely different sources. It cannot be hacked or stolen. Since the owner with his first touch gives information about his DNA and RNA, this is the password for the entire information.”
“Forgive me for interrupting, Alexey, tell me, do you want to say that this phone does not need to be charged? How is this possible?”
“Yes, it is not necessary at all, it is charged from the sun, from the light of lamps, from the heat of your hand, from any sources of energy. And there are no restrictions in its use. To fix your broken AOUA FONNI, you need to put it in a bowl and pour water from a tap or bottle (laughs), and it will repair itself. This avatar replaces a lot of the most complicated applications: smart home, weather, Internet search engines, currency trading, moreover, at one touch it can indicate sugar in the blood, pressure and even milk tide for nursing mothers. Well, of course, all the settings are individual and absolutely secret, because there is no database in which you ‘put secrets’, all this is stored on this device. Access to which you define individually to each user, in addition to yourself.”
The memory of one million fifty thousand terabytes allows you to play with the settings (smiles).
“To say that I’m shocked is to say nothing.”
He takes the phone in his hands, the avatar disappears immediately.
“This is both a storage medium and a source of energy; we came to the conclusion that the technology of ‘chipping’ is outdated. There is no chip with information in it, it is a chip itself, there is no battery, because all energy is in all its constituent parts.”
It seemed for the viewers for a while that this TV-show is simply a practical joke.
“Perhaps, I will give a command about the beginning of publishing the information in the media and the beginning of PR-action and sales of this phone from tomorrow. So, the code word’ — the avatar came to, sparkled and smiled with a wide sincere smile, — “IIN number one, you’re free!”
At that moment, hundreds of thousands press releases, video tutorials and annotations to the phone were sent all over the world, to all postal addresses.
Alexey lightly pressed the screen and the avatar disappeared again. On the table were two transparent telephones, one seemed to be a child’s toy, the second was more massive and already obsolete. He touched the phone again, and it “gathered itself’ and again became a black hemisphere.
“How much will this phone cost?”
“Forty-five dollars.” Since our costs for this phone do not require expensive plastic, metal and other alloys.
The applause blew up the studio. Nobody expected such a low cost of a new toy.
“I prepared a surprise for you, Lana, and I’ll give you such a phone.” Only, please, do not make my picture an avatar of your phone, I’m not as beautiful as you! Your AOUA FONNI encoder is already waiting in your office.
Cries of favor and applause reappeared in the audience.
“Oh! I am very grateful to you! It will be very interesting.
Now my director tells me that we are still haven’t talked on the main topic — a game with full immersion and technology AOUA Robe. Would you tell us?” (Laughs.)
The audience burst out again with impatient applause.
“The game is called ‘Ouiet running’, or, as I call it, ‘run around quietly’, hehe. With full immersion, thanks to the AOUA Robe costume, our players are put into the future world with fantastic opportunities, adventures, stories, where the main goal of each player will be to find ‘The Eye of God’ and ‘The Hand of God.’ Anyone who finds them, regardless of the level, the chosen class, and is the first to bring them to the right place, will be the first winner and will receive one million dollars and five percent of our company shares.”
The game will start three months later. The first twenty lucky winners, who are lucky in the lottery, will get a free AOUA Robe and ten thousand dollars, a lot of opportunities in the development of the character, being the first in the passage of all possible assignments.
“Alexey, but isn’t this kind of games already developed in our world? This is not a novelty. What is different about your game?”
“The difference is that being completely in AOUA Robe, your body repeats all your actions in the game. If you learn to swim in the game, then in life you can then become a first-class swimmer. Your muscles are not only subject to atrophy, but, on the contrary, they acquire in the course of time maximum youth and elasticity.”
“So, you are going to say: if I do abs exercise and practice blows in the game, then in real life I will have an ideal figure?”
“How does this happen?”
VLADIVOSTOK, AUGUST 15, 2057
“Hurry up! Bunch of dead cockroaches! After forty minutes, the ship must already sail! If you won’t be in time, I’ll shove your heads in your a…..! Frozen herrings!”
In the port there was always windy, the difference was only in the level of trauma danger. In winter, it was worst of all: the frosts at night sometimes fell to minus thirty. Then we had to fight not only with the weight of the cargo but also with the risk to freeze ourselves the “quail’.
The principle is simple: came, completed work, got money, left. There are changing rooms, a dining room and a shower on the territory.
“Listen, taciturn, Vasilich is yelling at you! Come on, go ahead, man!” — said Cyril.
It was a mockery, because only Serega dragged boxes, all the other men had another smoke break.
“Haha! Yes, move, because we are tired! Ah-ha!” — local workers neighed.
Sergey did not care. He was used to ridicules of his “colleagues.”
He did not consider as necessary to answer them and go down to their level. He simply kept silent. These jokes were nothing in comparison with what happened three years ago.
Only Uncle Vasily remembers how, after the shift, he found a young boy, all beaten up, in blood.
Then, having earned five grand for a shift, Serega was happy, but not for long: the next guest workers quickly emptied his pockets, not forgetting to threaten that they would cut him if he were to complain.
“Lord, what is going on! Boy, are you alive?”
Vasily tried to stifle a bunch of dirty rags.
Mmm, it hurts … — and the boy’s head jerked back.
“He seems to be alive. But if he dies, then there will be a lot of problems, the only thing we need is to deal with cops, f..” — thought Vasily Dmitrievich.
“Well, he’s alive! Let’s go, to my place, you’ll drink, you’ll wash yourself, rotten barracudas.”
Uncle Vasya then dragged a lean boy to himself, made him drink vodka, made him wash up and put him to sleep. For the first time after drinking alcohol, Serega quickly passed out.
All this was he remembered again. Sighing heavily, he picked up the bale and headed for the car.
“Sergey, are you dreaming? Come on, come on, tempo-tempo!” — Cyril did not stop.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” — everyone croaked again. But when they saw Vasilich coming out again from the booth, they tossed cigarette butts and lined up in a row to carry the load. This old man could leave them without payment.
“Sergey! Come on over here!” — And again disappeared in the belly of the “blue-rusty whale’.
“I’m coming!” — quickly dragging the next bale to the truck, Sergey wiped his hands with a rag and went into the almost blue trailer.
For three years, almost every night, he carried a variety of cargoes, there was no one who could withstand such loads for so long.
But he did not have much choice. His dirty, patched overall he figured as a uniform of superhero. This way it was easier to carry all the shit that was going on in the port.
The door of the trailer creaked and he went inside. Yes, nothing has changed here in three years. The same perfect order, everything in its place: the table near the window and the bench on the side, two chairs and an electric kettle, boiling water.
“I wonder if he ever turns it off?” thought Serega.
“Come in, sit down, I have to talk to you.”
There was one thing Sergei realized: you’d better not play jokes on Uncle Vasya,
and if he has to talk to you, it is always on the matter.
“Listen, you should not appear in the port in the next three months,” — Vasily Dmitrievich raised his tanned wrinkled hand and stopped Serega. — “Stop, stop, I’m aware of your position.”
The jumped guy slowly sat back on the stool.
“But you understand that we will have checks here. The Japanese smuggle contraband, the big dough is paid on top, and we suffer. Do you want some tea? According to a special recipe!”
“No, no, I will not have tea. Heck! What shall I do?” — he did not expect such a bummer, and especially not now. — “Heck! Heck!”
Sergey inclined his head, already thinking about what kind of work he could find to combine with the university.
“Do not swear in my presence. I have decided to give you an advance for these three months of idle time, but keep in mind, then you will work it all off. Here, there are three hundred and twenty thousand that is less than what you earn, but at least something. Your grandfather, probably, needs to change the wheelchair. Besides, you will have a rest, it is summer after all, and you here all days long.”
That’s what was stunning for Sergey: no one gave him money — that’s right, in advance, or you can say, just like that!
“It’s now past five, so take the money and get out, then the GRU, Alpha-shmalfa and other fun-loving guys, checking guest workers, and just at six am sharp, will begin, f….”
“Vasily Dmitrievich, thank you!” — They shook hands firmly. — “I’ll call you in about three months!”
“Yes, yes, call. If the brains of the old walrus will not be completely withered.”
Vasily looked at the back of a young, healthy guy and was surprised: in three years almost everyday loads made a bulldog of a puppy. Only his eyes remained puppy like. Having spat, the chief went about his business. He began to prepare tea — according to a special recipe of “navy seals’.
Before leaving, he went to the shower, washed himself, changed his clothes, folded his uniform in a bag and closed it in the locker. The key was dangling on a bunch, as well as a special pass to the dock.
“What’s to be done now? — He thought. — I’m already used to this place, to the smell of the port, to the ships.”
Work in the dock as a loader was regarded as one of the most dangerous. But they paid well and the schedule was free. He had to get up at three-twenty am, prepare breakfast for his little brother and a paralyzed grandfather.
Then go through the Golden Bridge to the port. There, for four hours, he worked his butt off, sometimes tearing himself up or under an icy rain. Then he went to the Far Eastern Federal University. After he managed to win a grant in the school and three years of payment in this university, he entered without hesitation. Our education is our everything! After all, he could not always be a docker in the port.
“It’s decided, I’ll go to the university, especially if I go by sunbus, I’ll have time to get some sleep.”
AUGUST 14, 2057, 20:15, OFFICE OF THE RECTOR OF FEFU
The new office was dim, and only one lamp burned at the rector’s desk, the main light was turned off. There was a smell of new furniture, paint, expensive cognac and cigar.
In the huge chair sat a gray-haired man and looked at one spot. In the ashtray, the Cuban cigar was almost completely decayed. He played with a glass of cognac but did not rush to drink it.
“And why did I agree to this fucking grant from these monsters? Now, I practically work for them, sit and wait for orders from Moscow, and not from the Ministry of Education, but from a private company. How angry it makes me! F….ing Art. soul Holding group’.
The sharp sound of the stationary phone made him wince.
“Mikhail Vladimirovich, you have a direct conference with Moscow in a minute’, — said a very young secretary.
“All right, put them through.”
“Finally, well, let’s go.”
After the conversation, he felt a little relieved, the tension that pulled his nerves into a ball all day, let go. Now he can take a vacation and go for a week with his wife to the country house. There, they with his neighbor Oleg Gennadievich will fish on a boat. There is a blissful silence and peace. Without an overseer in the face of the world corporation. Which, like a malevolent chain dog, follows his every step, gesture, word.
He called for his car and driver. At such a time in the city, there were no traffic jams, and he came in twenty-five minutes, rejoiced and in the best mood, he embraced and kissed his wife. And he announced his intentions to go away for a week or two to the Baikal country house.
AUGUST 15, 2057, 10:20, SUKHANOV STREET, 8, MAIN BUILDING OF FEFU
All the students gathered around the building. There was such noise and hubbub that it was audible for a couple of blocks. An outsider, watching what was happening, most likely would immediately be worried and called the police. But this did not happen, all ordinary passers-by were aware of what was going on, and terribly envied the students of this institution.
Sergey went to the building in the hope of receiving a schedule and finding out the scheme of payment for tuition, since this year the grant was to end.
“What the…” — he thought, hearing the screaming and whistling.
Then a familiar car blinked into the lights. From the window of the new white Range Rover, the redheaded Roma Babitsky stared a homely, skinny, intelligent Jewish boy from a respectable, and therefore wealthy, Jewish family.
“Serega, hi! Have you already received your ticket?” Shouted Roma.
“Lottery one!!!” — grinned the guy.
“… — the guy opened his mouth in surprise.”
“So you don’t know? Ah, well, yes, you do not get in touch! Get in the car, I will tell you smart things’, — said Roma copying a Caucasian accent.
Serega crossed the road, opened the door of the car and flew into the new cabin of the very expensive car.
“What did you hear about the new super game with full immersion into the Virtual Reality, Ouiet Running?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about now, Roma, stop shilly-shally, tell me already what the ticket is and what is an Ouiet Running is?”
“Oh, oh, my ears wilt from your accent!” — he grimaced.
“Rum, do not f… with me!”
“Ok, while you, our proud bird, unload the wagons.”
“Planes, for all I care. So, while you are doing god knows what, the world moves on. It just jumps, damn it!”
And the red-headed Jewish Roma began to tell:
“Today there has been a message for all students — a gathering for a general meeting. To which you did not come. And there was our Rector, the same one that owes my dad a tone of money.”
“Roma, I had enough of your sh…, what is the ticket for and what is happening?”
“Do not interrupt me, so, our Rector gathered everyone in the hall and said that only our university will be awarded Lottery tickets from the company Art. soul Holding group for free. It just happens so, that they are launching a new on-line game Ouiet Running in three months. But, before the official launch, they are looking for twenty gamers that will be the first to test how it works. Everything that will happen in the game will be broadcasted around the world! Each winner of the lottery will receive ten grand, a per-unit AOUA Robe worth five grand and ninety days for the maximum development of the character.”
“I’m surprised as well, like you said. Oh, I went through an Internet today. In word, they say that it will be possible to use virtual money to pay for services in the real life! It’s like if you order something on the internet, you can pay by the points from the game, and the company then covers everything and is the garrant of the deal.”
“Is this real? Delirium of some sort, it seems like a set-up!”
“No, Serega, when thinking about it, it’s a trifle. Just think, one such ticket is worth a hundred bucks, and milliards of them printed for the whole, so to say, blue ball. Secondly, aquaRob is a purchase, maintenance, repair plus a subscriber’s fee for gaming. Already, they say that more than fifty million orders for them have been received, and in fact, they have not even launched the game. To avoid disturbances, in fact, and to warm up the interest, they invented this yobbo-lottery epic.”
“And what do you have to do with these tickets?”
“These tickets are also not very simple. As I saw, it’s a white plastic with a transparent circle. You need to unwrap the ticket, touch this circle, and he will either be red, and you shame the corpses, or, green, and you are the king of all the mermaids.”
“Have you taken the ticket already?”
“No, as I was saying, he Rector owes my dad money, so we have a VIP-appointment, in an hour we have to come to him ourselves. Sergey, did you eat breakfast today?”
“Then we’ll go to the pizzeria. (Laughs.) At the same time, I will tell you, my port and smelly friend, why do you need to play this game with your grandfather.”
“Believe me, my dad has already ordered aquaRobs for himself, my aunt and Sophie.”
“I’m not smelly!”
“You do not worry about that, Serega’, — Roma said, and for some reason stopped joking. And started the car.
AUGUST 15, 2057, 11:50, SUKHANOV STREET, 8 MAIN BUILDING OF FEFU RECTOR’S OFFICE
Today, from the very morning, a ticket machine was brought, older students and faculty staff unloaded it and divided into groups of lottery tickets. Each student got one ticket. Total five hundred and seventy thousand pieces or fifty-seven boxes.
All this time the Rector himself did not show up, he was preparing to speak at the meeting. He drank water and aspirin, but the headache continued to exhaust him with a cold alarm.
“It’s like there are no more problems for me, but running around like a little dog giving out tickets.” He looked at his ticket and sighed heavily. He did not want to participate in these games, win something. He had already visited for four months the group for those “who cannot stop gambling.”
The phone rang again in the office; the secretary seems to be too active today.
“Mikhail Vladimirovich, you have a meeting in the hall in ten minutes’, — she said.
“Yes, Marina. Thank you.” — Muted the sound: “I appointed it myself.” — Turned on the sound. “I am on my way.”
“How hard it is to go on vacation. I need to figure it out as soon as possible.”
The next two days, he passed on his business at the institute, then two more days he and his wife collected things and only on the fifth day finally left far away from the news and all these new gadgets.
In the pizzeria near the university, there was a special charm. Many freshmen worked there and the pretty girls from the Faculty of Oriental Studies were going to drink chocolate.
The guys placed the order and were waiting for pizza and burgers.
They sat down at a table near the window. It seemed that everyone was thinking his own thoughts. Sergey was in a confused state of mind and had no idea where to search for the new job.
He had no intent to work for Roma’s father in a stuffy office or as an errand-boy for the miserable crumbs of “student’ wages. So he was sitting, sorting out all the possible options, and still could not take any decision.
“You are in sorrow, my friend, as far as I see!” — Roma said, sipping an eerie green energy drink.
For a moment it seemed like that was the redheaded gnome drinking herbal potion.
“How can you drink this stuff? It’s made of oil!”
“If you judge by the price, then you’re right. But oil never caused me to be allergic, even when taken intravenously. Hehe.”
“So, tell me about ‘AKVUA ROBE’.”
“Serega, you’ll drive me insane with your accent.”
“Well, I did not live in London.”
A nice waitress brought drinks and hot sandwiches.
“Pizza will be ready in twelve minutes’, — she said, placing everything on the table.
When she left, the two boys watched her go and everyone came to the idea that the uniform was, of course, too short, but it only added a healthy appetite.
“Listen, Roma, what about the robe?”
“Finish chewing, and then talk!”
“What did you want to tell about the robes?”
“Ah, well, at last, you’ve got to the point. This is a unique system of healing for any organism. I told you, the rumours started from the top. All the presidents, the heads of banks and others, had bought AQUA Robe long ago.”
Roma bit off the sandwich and closed his eyes. “Yes, in Russia food is definitely tastier. Not as tasteless as in England and not as spicy as in India.” Having washed his food down with his energy cocktail, he sighed and continued. All this time he watched his only friend “not because of Daddy’s money’ eating bread greedily, wiping the sauce from the plate.