Written by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Directed by: Takeshi Koike
This story uses exaggerated perspective and distortion for its animation style, and does not use any CGI.
The story begins with narration explaining that only exceptional humans become aware of the Matrix on their own (without help from redpill hackers). This would be people who have "a rare degree of intuition, sensitivity, and a questioning nature." However, "some attain this wisdom through wholly different means."
Dan Davis is a sprinter running the 100-meter dash. As the race starts, we get flashbacks of Dan's coach warning him to cancel the race. Dan refuses because he wishes to set a world record that nobody will ever break. In his previous race, he set a new record of 8.99 seconds, but his medal was revoked when he tested positive for drug use. People have said that nobody will ever break his record, and he is determined to prove them wrong since his positive drug test was most likely rigged by machines who don't want people rejecting the Matrix because of seeing such an unbelievable sprint. (Keep in mind that the current world record, as of 2006, is 9.77 seconds, by Jamaica's Asafa Powell.)
During the race, Dan's muscles begin to overload. Agents realize that Dan is beginning to wake up from the Matrix, and they try to catch him by stopping time and taking over other runners. Dan even overcomes the stopping of time, and his tendons break. Despite broken tendons, the agents fail to catch him, and he finishes the race in 8.72 seconds, collapsing at the end. Dan wakes up from the Matrix, and a machine shocks him and plugs him back into the Matrix.
A few days later, Dan is in a wheelchair in a coma-like state, and an agent is watching nearby, communicating confidently to other agents that Dan will never walk again. Even though Dan is disabled in the Matrix, he gets up out of the wheelchair (breaking his leg braces) muttering the word "free". He manages to walk a few paces before falling down, apparently breaking the rules of the Matrix yet again, perhaps waking himself up in the real world again (all that is shown is his collapse to the floor).
As this story's narrator explains in the beginning, most people who wake themselves up from the Matrix do so by purely intellectual means. Dan does it by what might be called "brute force" - exerting his own muscles to the point where it starts to defy boundaries for human movement within the Matrix.
While Kid's Story shows us an example of the only documented case of self substantiation (waking up from the Matrix without the help of a red pill), this story shows us an "undocumented" example. We know from the conversation between the Oracle and the Architect at the end of M3 that "the others" (the ones who want out) will be freed. Dan would be an example of a person who would have been freed under the new Matrix version 7.0, but under Matrix ver. 6.0 he is forced to remain in the Matrix even though he clearly wants out. In version 6.0, he would only be able to escape if he swallowed a red pill.
In Conversations: Neo & Architect, we learn that a little over one percent reject the Matrix. Most of these people probably do not reject the reality of the Matrix to such a degree that it causes them to wake up like Dan, or like the Kid in Kid's Story. But all of these people will be allowed to go free in the new Matrix (ver. 7.0) if they choose.
Dan would represent the ultimate example of Morpheus's reference to living in the Matrix with "a splinter in your mind". With Dan and others who wake themselves up from the Matrix, it is probably more like living with "a two-by-four up the ass".
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