The smoke filled the room like a take from an antique poltergeist movie. The shapes formed and unformed different images. His mind summoned forth air-elementals out of the thick yellow mist. He could make out a number of different substances being burnt. Various synthetic herbs and other less savoury means of intoxicating the brain adding to the ghostly cocktail that permeated the air. A lesbian couple in the corner was even smoking a vintage brand of Marlboro from the previous century. They were dressed in pin-stripe suits and had their hair shaved or bundled up underneath black hats. They looked like two gay kids out of an old gangster simstim or extras from ancient movies of the same genre. He wondered if he was actually creating the elementals or just noticing them. A giant rampant hamster, a Thor-like hammer, stylized Buddha puff and a Bio-Technica emblem hovering above all of them.
He checked the derm on his forearm. Its hexagonal shape made him feel safe that he was not going to have to endure this pedantic semi-reality for long. There were only two pinprick-sized LEDs still lit from the twelve.
It was kicking in.
"Come to me baby, take me away... to the Netherfields... tra ta taaa"; the song by Valenteen echoed in his head, the actual lyrics evading the fish hook of memory enough to reduce the rest of the song to a vague hum.
One dot off, one dot to go.
He turned away from the scene of sluggish mists and faced the black polished egg in front of him. He watched the credit chip being inserted by his finger, almost alien to him by now, in the slot to the right of the seat. The distant alien fingers picked up the eye piece and trodes from the panel that opened to his left and placed them over his head.
DIRECT OR SIMULATED CONNECTION ?
He punched the DIRECT hologram that ebbed in front of him.
The seat moved into the egg. He plugged himself into the jack on the inside of the seat panel, checked that the plug in his left wrist was secure, sat back and took a deep breath. it was going to be the first time he was on Braindance and Simstim together. Some of his mates had done it and they all seemed impressed by the experience but couldn’t remember or explain how, apart from Jerk who just increased his twitching frequency and smiled more
Please check connection
. . .
. . . .
. . . . .
The mist thickened and swirled, more and more shapes forming and dissipating more rapidly and then it thinned out.
He stepped into the theatre.
He touched his chest. It was soft and full. Checked his hands. Perfect. He would have picked himself up. He hoped the face had come out well. It had taken him twelve weeks to finish this persona to the last detail. He had taken the basic model from a holomodel of T. Guzzi for the skin and figure and Iona Belova for the face structure. Sheer perfection. The woman of his dreams was real.
Even better- He was the woman of his dreams.
The theatre was alive. Alive with people, alive with paintings and sculptures. Gold, bronze and copper cast figures, cherubs, masks and other paraphernalia; a blend of the Renaissance and the baroque with a touch of gothic. The cherubs started moving; turning their heads, smiling at him and frowning. Crying faces and happy face intermingled. The sad ones put on the oversized masks and danced around the columns. When he moved his gaze away from them they scuttled back to their place and then began moving again. The people around him shifted constantly. Their faces at one time his grandmother at another adorned in grotesque Venetian masks. Nothing was stable apart from the performance of the stage.
It seemed vaguely familiar. A large group of cloaked figures were surrounding a naked girl with full tits almost as big as his. The play was almost at an end. That was weird cause as far as he was concerned he had just walked in the door. He couldn’t remember anything
apart from the shifting sculptures, moving paintings and metamorphosising crowd. When he focused on the stage action, the audience ceased its shifting and the cherubs and other carvings writhed even more on the periphery of his vision.
A more prominent figure, also in black but wearing a stained white chemise stood closer to the audience singing in a penetrating soprano tone. The voice faded into the orchestra and the orchestra faded into nothing. One of the cloaked figures looked at him directly.
The cherubs froze.
In fact the whole seen froze for what seemed to be eternity.
Arched eyebrows, slightly hooked nose and wide grin.
And then; a cloak.
The action fast forwarded. He clutched the side of his seat. The woman next to him looked at him with a face of double chinned irritation. He felt his insides shifting down then up into his throat. The figures covered the female in black like a whirling velvet carpet. The singing soprano spread his hands and gave his back to the audience. The action slowed again when the cloaked figures broke their convergence and filed out of the stage. The black hood turned again and stared it him.
All froze again; jerking like a bad movie reel.
Then fast forwarded. - He hurried out of the theatre looking fixedly at his feet. One heeled shoe after the other down the carpeted steps. Cobblestones brown grey, black white and brown moved in quick succession. A mosaic of earthy colours to -
Mist shrouded the scene again whisping and curling round his feet, caressing him. Little cherubs of whiteness adorning the lean legs.
He looked up. The Charles Bridge extended in front of him in all its glory. High walls and elongated statues, growing longer still now. Grey bishops saluting, overseeing kings and jealous queens of Prague's ancient past there- watching him.
Robartes was there, as he had designed him. Tall lean and clothed in the dark high fashion of the time. Triangular hat turns round and -
Mist freezes over -
Grin and arched eyebrows again.
Inane laughter echoed around the river. Robartes leapt over the bridge-
But the splash never came.
The yellow mist filled his vision again. The derm had exhausted its effects. He half expected the scene to freeze again. The music seeped through again. From the harmonious blending orchestra to the metallic computerized sound of Skullogram.
Cold sweat ran down his forehead as he saw the smiling face again in his mind's eye.