On the third day in the seventh month of the fourteenth year in the year of our world, A.P (After Paper), the worldwide power grid failed. The comet, dubbed Helios, passed by the earth too closely and triggered the cascade failure event. On that fateful day, backup generators were employed, but after six weeks, all backup power ran out.
The digital world man had created almost perished.
Now disconnected from their digital interfaces, people wandered in the streets, looking for direction. Blue-helmeted United Nations peace officers were deployed globally.
"What is happening?" Kaden approached a peace officer. "When will the power be restored?"
"STOP! Do NOT come any closer!"
"Chill, dude. I was just wondering."
Just then, an older lady touched Kaden's arm and led him into a nearby alleyway. "I have the answers you seek."
"What? Who are you?"
"My name is Trinity. I need you to follow me."
"I suppose. I ain't got nothin' else to do."
Trinity led Kaden down the alley to a staircase, replete with rusty railings and ancient concrete stairs. She tapped on the door twice, then three times, then twice again.
There was a response knock of four taps.
Trinity said one word, "Shalom." The door opened with a metal-on-metal squeak.
Kenna appeared. "Trinity! You found another potential follower?"
"I did. His name is Kaden. I observed him questioning a peace officer, which directly violates the One World prime directive: One shall not question the UN. The UN is supreme. The UN knows and controls all."
"Whoa, who, wait a sec here ladies! What are you talking all this mumbo-jumbo about? Prime directive and programming and what-all..."
"Do you want to answer him this time? It is your turn, by-the-way."
"Okay, you're right." Trinity answered with a sigh. "I'll take this one for the team."
"You're the best." Kenna winked.
"Yeah, okay... Kaden?"
"Please step with me into the conference room to the right."
"Where did you get the lights?"
"All in time, all in time, young man. First, let me explain: you are part of the generation that came after the millenials-we've been calling you the digitals."
"I like that."
"First a history lesson. Fourteen years ago, you were only a year old. In the year zero, A.P. was the year when all paper on the earth was banned. In the name of saving trees, all existing paper was burned, and all paper manufacturers and printers were destroyed. All books were torched. It was a very sad time for the older generations who remembered having books-especially paper Bibles. Nothing was in writing on paper. Everything went digital on the grid."
"I'm sorry... This is all a bit too much to take in all-at-once. I'm only asking because you really seem like a nice older lady, but what is paper?"
"Here... let me show you, rather than try to explain it." Trinity pulled out a piece of yellowing copy machine paper from a drawer in a nearby desk, and slid it across the conference room table to Kaden.
"This is paper?" Kaden picked it up, and rubbed it between his thumbs and fingers. "It's so...strange. It's so..."
"Yes, that's the word. It's one of the ten banned words. It's tough for me to even think it, much less say it. But what's the point of having paper? Being connected digitally is way better."
"When's it's working, right? But what about when it's not working?"
"You got a point."
"Here, let me show you." Trinity grabbed a pen from the drawer.
"Whoa-is that some kind of weapon?"
"No, no-it's a pen. A pen is a tool we use to write on paper. Here, like this." Trinity pulled the paper back to her side of the table and carefully wrote her name in all capital letters.
"TRINITY! That's really awesome. Can I try?"
"Sure. You hold the pen this way, between your thumb and fingers... kind of like how you were holding the paper earlier. Then, let it glide following the letter you see in your mind."
Kaden tried it. "Ha! This is awesome."
"You're doing great for the first time. Try writing your name again."
Kaden confessed as he carefully wrote out his name. "I never thought I'd actually see a piece of paper, much less a pen."
"Please explain. Go on."
"I found some old forbidden paper and pen YouTube videos and watched them. I was curious."
"That's why we chose you."
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