She was a God. A Goddess. All powerful. However one wished to phrase it. The omni-powerful being that was Lain Iwakura.
A girl in junior high, only fourteen, with all the power she could desire. But all the power in the Wired would not save her from herself.
She remembered getting introduced to the Wired by the subtle push from her father, as computer-centered as he was. She'd gotten her own state of the art computer. The glowing screens illuminating her dark room, the floor much like a pond due to the cooling systems.
She remembered her father, her mother, her sister Mika, that boy Taro and his friends. She remembered the kiss Taro had given her. But that was insignificant now. She remembered her family leaving her. Her father saying goodbye....
She remembered the Cyberia night club. The people, the lights. The shooting.
Everyone is connected.
That's what she'd said. It was true, after all. Everyone was always connected.
And yet here she was. Alone. She felt connected to no one. Where had they all gone?
She wished only to have everything back to the way it was. The way things were supposed to be. Back before she discovered what the Wired really was, back before she realized what power she really had, what influence she had on other people's lives, how much control she had...over everything.
The house was empty. The streets silent. Desolate. Barren.
She was alone in her room. The multiple computer screens glowed, now seeming brighter in the emptyness of her lonely existence. "Alice...."
Alice. Her only real friend, before everything was reset. She'd loved her, but now she was gone. Lain had wished to keep Alice with her. Where had everyone gone?
Standing up from her bed, Lain went to the computer and sat down. "Navi, connect me to the Wired."
Navi did not respond. The screen glowed, symbols flying here and there, awaiting command. "Connect to the Wired," she repeated, her voice a monotone sound of loneliness.
Navi did not respond. Lain stood and went to the window. No one. Had she really done this? Had she really gotten rid of everyone? How could she?
"Lain, wake up." A voice? No, she was imagining it.
She had to be imagining it. The sound. It wasn't real.
"Wake up, sleepy-head."
It couldn't be real, but...
Lain's eyes drifted open. The desolate world of isolation vanished from before her, and the bright light of her room, early afternoon, made her squint her eyes.
"We've been calling you," the voice said. Lain recognized it now. It was Alice.
"Why haven't you answered? We've been waiting for you at Shibuya. Did you forget?" Alice asked, sounding both worried and happy.
"Alice?" Lain sat up, unsure of whether or not she was hallucinating.
"Yeah, Lain? Are you feeling okay? You look sad." Alice was kneeling beside her next to the bed, wondering what was going on in her friend's mind.
"Was it really all...a dream? Is everyone...here?" Lain asked, looking at Alice with a confused yet hopeful expression.
"What are you talking about? I don't know what kind of dream you had, though it sounds more like a nightmare. Of course everyone's here. Why wouldn't they be?"
Lain sat for a moment, silent. Her Navi was still sitting in the corner of the room, screens glowing, only a few of the several she would have in the future, which would cause her room to transform into the pond of darkness it would ultimately be.
"Well I'll let you get ready, then. I'll meet you outside. Juri and Reika came with me, they're waiting, too. Hurry up, though, we don't want to miss any sales." She smiled and left the room, shutting the door behind her.
Lain listened to her footsteps fade. Again, everything was quiet. Had it really been a dream? Had she just imagined erasing everyone from known existence?
Or was it...a premonition of things to come?
She stepped out of her room three minutes later, dressed to go out with friends. Her parents were talking in the kitchen, and although she said goodbye to them, they did not answer. Mika was out with her boyfriend, and was no where to be seen.
Lain opened the door and found Alice, Juri, and Reika waiting, just as Alice had said they would be. "Ready to go?" she said, smiling.
Lain nodded. The world was as it was. People outside, walking the streets, cars going by, lights changing color. But how did she know this wasn't another dream?
Was she really here? Right now?
As they walked down the street, the sun's light began to darken. Everything around her became dark, darker. She blinked, and again was alone in her room.
"No, Alice!" was all she could utter before her friend's image faded from view completely.
She stood and looked out her window. No one. She checked her computer. Navi was unresponsive, again. The loneliness began to set in once more. Alone. Here, she was connected to no one. Where "here" was she didn't know. But she wanted to leave here. Here was lonely, dark, pure desolation.
She closed her eyes, wanting so badly to have things the way they were supposed to be. As her eyes closed, unconscious eyes opened. The world was as it was again. People outside, walking the streets, cars going by, lights changing color. As it was with Alice. When they went to Shibuya, she remembered that.
And it was like this before, too. When she went with Alice, Juri, and Reika to Cyberia.
When they went to school together, texted in class, made plans after school.
When they out to Shibuya to grab something to eat, window shop together.
And the time before that, when they'd stayed after school so Alice could ask one of her teachers for an assignment she'd missed from being sick for a day. Gathering the assignment had taken longer than Lain would've expected, but she was nonetheless happy when her friend emerged from the classroom, looking happy to see her, as always.
Lain opened her eyes. She peered at the time on the computer screen. Four hours had passed. And she was still here. In desolation and emptyness.
Those were memories. No, dreams. Dreams of memories. Dreams that kept coming back. Dreams that kept coming back, kept haunting her, tricking her every time. Tricking her, making her think one of these times, the dream would be real, it would become reality. Things would be normal again.
But she was alone. Connected to no one but herself. The Wired did not exist in this strange, lonely place. Why? Where had everyone gone?
Where was Alice?
"I'm right here, silly," Alice's voice chimed, and Lain turned to look to her right. In a flash, they were standing on a sidewalk near Cyberia, just the two of them, the entrance to the club lit up by street lights and the half moon above.
"Alice," was all she could mutter before she was lead inside, music pounding in her ears immediately. The crowd of people dancing, among other things, enveloped them. They made their way to a table and talked for awhile. The two of them. Friends.
At no point did Lain feel sadness in this dream. She didn't know it was a dream. Not yet. But when she awoke again, she would know. It would hit her like a brick. None of this was real. She would not connect with Alice, her friends, her family, ever again. She would be back in desolate emptyness, the void of darkness. Connected to...no one. A God, a Goddess, all powerful, but still alone.
"Everyone is connected," Lain said with a small smile, and was once again surrounded by darkness. Her eyes were open now. The Navi's screens had woken her, their brightness peircing her dream. "No, it isn't true," she said sadly, knowing it was a dream. All of it was a dream. She wished there was a God of this world. This horrible, dark place. The Wired wouldn't help her here.
"Everyone is connected."
"Everyone is connected."
She wanted it to be so. She wanted to live outside her dreams. But she was bound here.
"Of course we're all connected," Alice said, sitting beside her on the bed. "Are you coming with us, Lain?"
Another hallucination. Another "dream." Lain nodded, and was absorbed once again in her mind's greatest joy. A world where everyone was connected.