November 18, 2016
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I stepped over piles of twisted metal, pushed past crumbling stone walls, and climbed up three flights of stairs until I reached a rusted green door. Shoving the door open with my shoulder, I walked into the hangar-sized warehouse. I clutched a backpack in my sweaty palms, paying careful attention to where I stepped. I then set my backpack onto the floor, groping the wall for the panel release. When I pushed on the direct center of the wall near the door, I heard a click- and the panel opened.
Inside was a dusty touch screen panel, which was dark and scratched. I rustled around in my backpack until I found the object I was looking for: an external battery pack. This was an experimental pack, it hummed and glowed. Circular and heavy, the battery trilled as I gingerly placed it on the glass. The battery adhered to the panel, and I used my sleeve to clean off the display.
Suddenly, the screen lit up and began to access the drive in my backpack.
The computer began to display a list of holo-programs that were available to me, programs that I handpicked from the Library’s server. I selected the first program on the list, titled simply, “New York”. As soon as I made my selection, the battery’s pulsating light grew dim and the touch screen panel became brighter. The entire warehouse was bathed in a harsh glow as the emitters situated throughout the warehouse powered on. The space became warm, then hot, and blistering until at once it became cool.
I hadn’t even realized that I closed my eyes until I opened them. What greeted me was jolting, but, then again, I could never get used to the transition. Massive, fully intact skyscrapers lined a busy street. I was standing on a sidewalk-a sidewalk that was free of cracks and debris. I turned around, only to come face-to-face with a young girl. Her mouth moved, but no sound came out. In fact, the “city” was dead silent. I reached out and put my hand on a nearby lamppost, and as soon as I touched it, all sound became apparent.
“...lost. Do you need any help finding where you wanted to go?” Suddenly, I heard her voice, the cars, the other pedestrians-- even pigeons perched on a nearby windowsill.  I was elated… it seemed so real! The city was intact, there were real people, and I was even wearing clothing that fit me. I hugged the girl, who was still talking to me. If only she could understand!
“I think you’re cute too, but maybe you should take me for a cup of coffee first?” The girl giggled as I quickly let go of her.
“I..uh...don’t know where midtown is. Could you take me there?” I croaked as I stuck my hands in my pockets.
“Of course I could take you there!” She said. “But I’d need something in return. Perhaps a Lunch date?” The girl gazed at me, and I was suddenly overcome with happiness. A girl wanted me! Midtown could wait, I decided.
“On second thought, Coffee sounds great. Do you know a place?” I then searched my pockets. To my surprise, in my pocket was a rather thick wallet and a Car transceiver. I turned to the street and placed my thumb on the transceiver, and the car nearest to me chirped. The doors swung open and I turned back to the girl.
“Hey, do you want me to drive you…” I started, but the girl was nowhere in sight. In fact, the sky began to darken and the city buzz vanished. The sidewalk faded away, revealing the cracked concrete. The buildings nearest to me disappeared, and the horizon morphed into sheet metal walls. I dropped an inch as the sidewalk fully disappeared, with my clothes turning back into rags. My pockets became lighter as the wallet and transceiver disappeared, and my loafers became boots. The only thing I could hear was a faint beeping, which came from the input panel across the room..
I ran over, hoping to somehow reestablish the program. When I reached the screen, I noticed the battery was dark and the display read “insufficient power”... that is, until the screen flickered and turned dark. I smacked the display, dislodging the battery, having it fall to the floor. I then kicked the battery as hard as I could and ran to the door.
I kicked the door open and ran outside, only to be met with a view of the real New York. Unlike the facsimile I previously enjoyed, the real New York was a husk-- what wasn't burned or destroyed had withered away. I clutched my head,a sudden migraine striking me.
“Caution”, my watch beeped, “radiation reaching critical levels. Find safety immediately”. I pushed back my sleeve and raised my wrist to my mouth.
“Direct me to the the nearest Starbucks”, I commanded, “I’m late for a date”.

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