A Special Day

Barry woke up at exactly 7 am with the warmth of sunlight on his face. Today was April 2nd, 2030. His 18th birthday. 18 brings the usual appeals: gambling, tobacco products, and alcohol. However, the real forbidden fruit – the thing that keeps him awake at night and dances tantalizingly in his head – is access. Specifically, access to The Network.

They see everything...

The Network is only used by adults. Decades ago when it was first invented, the government supposedly recognized the danger it posed and seized it for its own control. It was too hard to keep The Network safe from terrorists, who had become particularly skilled at hacking it. Once hacked into The Network, the terrorists could do whatever they wanted. They had unlimited access to some of the highest levels of the United States government. They were able to set off false alarms, manipulate emails, and worse. Barry’s father told him that during one particularly bad incident, the terrorists had come within seconds of launching nuclear missiles and triggering a world war. And this, according to his father, is why the Restrictions and the Great Firewall are in place.

The government says the Restrictions are not a censorship. They are not designed to limit freedom of speech, or to restrict the actions of Americans. Rather, they are designed to be safeguards that keep bad people and harmful information out. They are the government’s way of protecting its citizens. Or so it claims. Everyone knows deep down that The Network is heavily monitored by the government, and that one has to be careful of what sorts of activities they are doing while using it. This is a subtle, unspoken thing.

Under the guidelines of the Restrictions, access of The Network by anyone under the age of 18 is strictly forbidden. In general, The Network is only really supposed to be used by government officials and researchers, like Barry’s parents. Adults who get these jobs are hand selected to receive extra training in College, and are among the select few who are allowed to contact other countries. But Barry has heard stories; rumors about illegal access points, workarounds, and loopholes still manage to carry some weight in the halls of the Academy.

Intriguing right? Click to keep going...