Chapter 1

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Click. Vibrations snaked through Amara's arm, drumming through her body and stirring her awake. Fingering a loop of onyx hair from her mouth, she blinked until the world came into focus. Unfortunately, the incessant alarm would simply keep going until it sensed she was upright. With a puff, she lifted herself and leaned into her knees. Turning her wrist up, she inaccurately tapped the center until the implanted microchip buzzed to let her know it was done.

"Today is the ninth of June, 2030," chimed the digital voice in Amara's head.

Every day began with that click. Then a perky alarm. And the fricking date.

As if she couldn't check it herself or didn't remember it from the last few thousand times. Putting it out of her mind, she lightly massaged her wrist and tried to keep it from registering her touch. Of course, she didn't feel ready for the day, but it didn't feel much like her choice.

Standing up, she grabbed her smart glasses from the nightstand and skulked across the room to brew some coffee. Pressing small buttons along the hinge of her specs, the lenses woke up to project holographic data around the kitchen. Her eyes quickly adjusted to the layer of augmented data that overlaid her world.

Digitized names of appliances hovered over their power buttons, selectable operations were listed behind them, and tiny sounds buzzed inside the glasses' miniature computing device. The lenses themselves began with a cooler tint that let her eyes adjust to daybreak. As they did, the specs would gradually change and become clear as glass. Fortunately, it was a nice contrast to the incessant alarm that felt the need to stab her awake.

Before she realized it, she was in front of the coffee maker. Waving her hand over the power button, the machine asked if she wanted her typical blend as it projected the words: Moon Cloud. With a comforting smile, Amara tapped yes and listened as the usual, quiet mechanisms worked together in the coffee maker.

The tick–tack–tum of the maker caused a beat to drift into her mind and her fingers absentmindedly drummed to it. It reminded her of trickling droplets. Ones that fell from a leaf and broke against a metal pipe.

As the rhythm passed through her, she glanced across the kitchen to the bed. It was on a raised platform with a bow window, but the small bedroom and wide kitchen were conjoined as one room. From beyond the glass, daylight started to seep through the hanging plants that swayed around the edges of the window. They framed the glass with bright leaves, scarlet trains, and violet links of flower petals.

The sunlight caused her smart glasses to take on a darker tint, washing out their vibrant shades. That was what they were supposed to do, but it always bugged her a little. Shaking her head, she closed her eyes to focus on the colors and noise. Dancing through her mind, it melded into something like synthwave jazz and pictures of neon roses.

Amara relished in those first couple daydreams each morning.

With an inward sigh, she made a circle on her wrist that signaled feedback in her microchip. Connecting with her glasses, the chip projected a digital ring of options before her. Notifications added roman numerals to the appropriate glowing icons. Those personalization features were great. In a circular assembly, her messages, emails, calls, calendar, news, games, and other apps waited for her input.

Amara absentmindedly smirked at the lack of notifications from work and skipped over her messages for now. It was too early to chat with anyone. She soon rotated her digital ring over to the Cyber-Revolution News, which might as well have been world news.

Opening up the latest newsfeed started a video that fed audio directly into her inner earring. The headline read: "Facegoo and Boggle's Second Team-Up". Sitting on the nightstand was the product of the two tech giants' last cooperative project.

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