Katrina Lowe's winning article in the 2016 Young Writers Competition

Envisioning a dystopian future, Katrina Lowe, 14, winner of the Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writers Competition 2016, expresses her concerns about our growing reliance on technology.

Skylinn was excited it was Valentine’s Day 2046 and she had just spoken to her friends on the new Valentine’s Day app. She had received 17 unopened holograms and a box full of Jupiter-grown chocolates.

“Open first hologram,” she commanded her personal device. The hologram shot out of her device and her pixelated friend was inches away from her. It was unclear what her friend was trying to say as the hologram started to flick and glitch. Skylinn had never encountered a fault like this before. Clueless, she just sat there and stared at it, hoping the automatic corrector would fix it. One hour passed – nothing happened.

Skylinn directed her hover-board towards her bed. Whack! She fell face forward onto the floor as her hover-board did not activate, nor move. Her knee was bleeding but still she sat there waiting for something to happen. Two hours passed – nothing happened. She tried getting up but could not, as blood was dripping down her knee like honey. Skylinn did not know what this feeling was as tears began to well in her eyes. Grabbing anything sturdy she dragged herself closer to her bed. Slowly she raised one leg up, then the other and pushed upwards to a standing-like position. Skylinn felt another new feeling – she stood up all by herself. She sat there on her bed reflecting on this remarkable accomplishment.

Night occurred and it was time for Skylinn to attend school. She hooked herself up to her device and waited for the Education app to load. Three hours passed – nothing happened. Skylinn could not help but scream at the top of her lungs, then water started dripping out of her eyes. She was experiencing another new feeling but this time she could not control it. Today was the day she needed the Education app the most. Her knee was still bleeding and the Medical app was also not working. It felt like it was the end of Skylinn’s life.

It was like leaving a poor, defenceless baby fawn in the middle of the wild African savannah, except the fawn would likely have a better chance of surviving.

Desperate for answers

As the morning light arrived, a commotion could be heard below Skylinn’s accommodation, which forced her to open a window for the very first time. Skylinn could not believe her eyes; there were people outside. They were not holograms or machines but real living people, and they all seemed to be experiencing the same feeling as Skylinn. The crowd was uproarious, with everyone desperate for answers – answers on the failure, the struggles and the chaos.

A strong commanding voice was heard from above. “Settle down, settle down everyone please.” It was the Purveyor of Technology, Leader of the People, standing on top of a podium. All eyes were on him as everyone waited breathlessly for answers.

“Well, good day, my fellow citizens. As you might be aware we appear to be having slight complications. The explanation for this is yet to be confirmed, however, it seems a solarburst has taken place. This solarburst has caused all technology to fail.” The chatter amongst the crowd rose, as did their confusion.

“I know many of you are worried, as you should be, because technology has been essential in our everyday lives. It might be hard to believe but picture this. Food, school, transportation, socialising, medicine... these are all gone and there is unfortunately nothing we, I, can do about it. I am no longer responsible for any of you, as you decided to go ‘all in’. You chose to rely solely on technology, and now this is what you must face.” He turned his back on everyone and walked away.

It was silent; nobody knew what to do, so they just stood there waiting. Four hours passed – nothing happened.

Is there another way?

Skylinn felt another sudden pain but this time in her stomach. She could feel her stomach walls rubbing against each other, in search of food. Her saliva turned into a thick paste, from the dryness in her throat. Her accommodation started to get chilly, her lips gradually turning a blueish purple colour.

If only the History app would work, she could then explore and learn how to survive. She activated her device and pressed the screen, naively hoping the app would work this time. ‘Failed to load.’ Skylinn was desperate, tapping the screen harder each time: ‘Failed to load… failed to load… failed to load’. Finally she stopped, desperately in need of a plan B. She pressed her fingernails deep into her scalp until it hurt… an idea came to her.

The idea caused her to have a sudden overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Skylinn paced back and forth, like a caged tiger. There were so many concerns filling her consciousness.

‘Is it worth reaching out for somebody’s help? Can’t I just stay here? Is there another way? Would people actually care? What would they say? How would this be fixed? Could asking for help make it worse?’

The more Skylinn’s thoughts raced through her head, the more her stomach cramped. The physical pain outweighed her mental anguish; she would have to act. She would have to venture out, out into the unknown. Her courage began to build, her mental strength increasing exponentially in relation to the physical pain she felt.

Reaching for the door, her hand shaking, her knees weak, Skylinn pushed the handle down and took her first step out.

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