First, it's the alarm. Annabelle's eyes opening to stare at the undecorated beige walls.
There's a quick shower that lasts precisely fifteen minutes.
Then, the sound of Protein-D Flakes (a cereal brand--developed and sold by StarPoint--that promises to give you half your daily dose of Vitamin D and the recommended breakfast serving of protein) hitting the plastic bowl; followed by the crunching of each synthetic bite.
Then, the sound of her toothbrush swishing across her teeth. A second alarm goes off to let her know it's almost time to plug in for work.
Some days, she doesn't even bother dressing for work. What's the point when StarPoint doesn't see the difference between her changing into a pair of sweats and a t-shirt from her plain beige pajama set?
Finally, she's sitting at her large L-shaped StarPoint desk, sliding her index finger across the finger scanner that unlocks her StarPoint manufactured computer. Once she's logged in with a cup of water within easy reach, Annabelle places the small, circular cortical node to her temple, pressing her index finger to the small DNA reader there on the outside. Her eyes filled with the virtual world. It was funny how they made it seem much like the outside world used to. Annabelle was greeted with clear blue skies, her average looking avatar standing on the virtual sidewalk. She always loaded on the street, not bothering to pay the bitcoin required so that she could load directly into locations. She enjoyed taking the short walk to the StarPoint's virtual building, passing the other avatars on her way to work. There was always the same elderly man sitting on a bench with his newspaper unfolded as he skimmed through the news. He waved to Annabelle every morning which was an excellent way to start the day when she was headed to a day of being yelled at by people with petty problems.
As she passed Mr. Shih this morning, the newspaper rippled, and the top story on the front of the paper changed. He gave her the customary wave, but Annabelle stopped to glance at the newspaper. The headline had caught her eye:
"You're going to be late," he told her.
"Right," she murmured, continuing her walk. "Have a good day, Mr. Shih."
"You, too," he called back.
Back in the real world, Annabelle's fingers moved across her holographic keyboard. A menu extended in front of her avatar and used that to purchase a copy of the virtual newspaper. While skimming through the frustratingly short article, Annabelle reached StarPoint. Her employee ID, embedded in her avatar's code lets her through the doors of the building where she is stopped by bumping into a very tall, armored avatar. It does neither of them any harm, but she still apologizes before glancing around at the surprisingly crowded lobby. It looks like no employees were being allowed to their desks.
At the very front of the crowd, the entrance to the rest of the building is blocked off and behind it, white space. Someone had paused the code, either temporarily or permanently, preventing anyone from accessing the rest of the StarPoint building.
Despite starting like most mornings, today was a very different morning.