Every time the beat dropped the colors in the room flashed anew. A moronic smile hit my face as the weight in my chest began to rise.
Higher and higher.
I looked at Skrimp as his eyes were widening manically.
Dag hated the kool-aid. He hated losing control. But he wasn’t here.
What was one thing no neural wiring could give you?
I screamed out into the storm of sound and nothing happened. Higher! The crowd was pulsing, pushing us at its edges back towards the end of the room.
Under the vaulted ceilings of the theater, the three of us threw our solo cups up. The kool-aid was taking, I knew. I knew because I suddenly started to forget everything else but one thing.
“I’m feelin’ good!” I howled. “WATCH ME!” I threw my arms all the way up, stretching out. “WALLY?!”
His brow was furrowed, standing beside me, staring over-focused on the open air.
“Hey!” I beamed at him but he didn’t react. “What you seeing, man?!” He was watching one of the pyramids of chairs in the room’s corner. I pointed. “That?!”
He was transfixed. I laughed at him.
My eyes were drawn to my extended hand. The metal wobbled, specks of light flashing across the surface as the stage spotlights moved around me.
My vision was wavering. The scale of things was off. People were tilting, the periphery of the bodily crush around us shrinking away.
I laughed harder.
Wally grabbed my arm. His lips moved and it smelled like lime.
Hold up. I shook my lids, head heavy. “What?!”
“Why are you yelling!?” Skrimp demanded, visage wiggling.
“What!?” I had heard him. I cackled.
Wally leaned in close to my ear. “I see an angel,” he said.
“Where!?” I craned to see over the crowd. The pyramid of seats was only partially visible. I thought I could see something, but I had no idea what it was. “Wew lad, it’s a celestial wheel of winged foci!” I thought for a moment. “…Did you hear how good that sounded!?”
“It’s an angel,” he insisted, reverently.
“I CAN ROLL WITH THAT.”
Let’s have a look!
I pushed through the crowd towards the chairs, leaving the others behind me. Wally called for me to wait as he caught up.
Didn’t take me more than a second to draw near and see it.
Sitting on the fabric of the seat was an old wind up walking robot. It was blue, a coil running over its head, wind key in its back and grimace on its face. This was the past’s future.
“It’s so bright,” I said. “Ha! Look! It’s got the key!” I started cranking.
Each crank turned the room on its head. Everything fell into synchronicity with the twist, the crowd and music, and I cranked even faster.
Wally crashed into my back, grabbing for the robot. “No!” he screamed.
I instinctively kept it away from him. Everything a reflex. But I didn’t fight hard. When he had gotten a hold, he yanked it away from me.
Wally clutched it to his chest, colliding with a stranger as he backed up.
I couldn’t stop laughing.
“…W-Wally.” I reached out to him but he recoiled.
My cheeks hurt.
He was starting to panic, crowd closed in around him. I lurched forward and grabbed him by the collar. I hauled him up, keeping him from crumpling.
“Look!” he yelled, pushing the toy into my face.
It breathed, “What progressive sights we have to show you.”
I thrust my head away, outstretching my arms. The eyes of the plastic lit white. Suddenly, the Orpheum walls exploded outward. The boundaries of the room became limitless.
Towering teddy bears emerged from the ichor of the dark vault, looming over. Their frayed brown fur and black stitches bulged. The stuffing was alive and squirming, button eyes spilling out a flood of rats.
I let go of Wally and stumbled back into the pile of chairs.
My eyes screwed shut. I pressed my palms into them, head swimming.
“Fuck!” I cursed.
It has to pass.
Just don’t look.
But I was looking at the writhing dark.
My mother was over me like a pale moon in the daylight sky. I was small, I knew by the size of the world. I was down among the clean grass.
The looming branches of the oak which scattered the sun above pulled my gaze. Mother flew under its limbs, drifting in a weightless heavenly dance, dipping low to recapture my eye with a smile.
Everything was right in only the way a phantasm could be. Like remembering the future, only… something dreadful.
I knew her face.
There was a narrative in my mind, half-formed.
Something about that fucking cat.
I slowly retracted my hands, that awful rattling sound barely perceptible. Like a low and constant ringing in my ears.
The world was still off, strange, but the walls were standing, the music playing, the crowd screaming, surging. Wally had run off, I knew, clutching his robot. I scowled.
So many people were in my way and I needed air.
I pushed out and through, moving to the back of the hall until the music began to dim. I didn’t care if Wally followed.
The only thing I could think was that I couldn’t think straight.
One thing after another. And I had needed this.
Of all the days. Fuck me. I had never reacted this badly before. Now my luck played on the front of my mind as if to make me think of karma. What bullshit had I done and forgotten?
I had only wasted my time.
I crouched and breathed deep, trying to focus. I was too high for this shit.
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