As Sam hovers inches away, Mark picks Sean up and carefully lays him down
across his couch being sure to be gentle with Sean’s head. Chica pushes her
nose under Sean’s hand. “No, no, no, Chica. We’re going to let him sleep for a
little while, ok?” Mark pets the dog’s head carefully. “We’ve got to make sure
he stays safe.”
Nate closes his eyes against the roaring crowd and smirks, nodding his head
along with the beat of the music as his fingers play along almost without him
even thinking about it. It’s amazing how accurate the experience is, the guitar’s
neck in one hand, his pick in the other, and his voice echoing out above him.
All the fans in the crowd expect nothing less than a nearly life-like emersion.
And Nate knows how to deliver.
The concert is nearly over when he starts to feel it, that needling
sensation in his brain. It starts out as a pinprick pain and grows like an
icicle through his skull until his knees nearly buckle underneath his own
weight, and he’s forced to cut the performance short.
He waves to the fans and trips off-stage before throwing up the contents of
his stomach behind the curtains. The other performers swarm around him, and the
heat of being under the lights and all the extra bodies makes Nate’s head swim
even more than it was before.
“Back up! Give him some air!”
It feels like his brain is exploding over and over, and when Nate closes his
eyes, he’s ejected from the emersion with a jolt. His Tube hisses as it floods
with extra oxygen, a failsafe in case a consumer tries to use the product for
extended periods of time and starts to pass out. When Nate finally stumbles out
of the Tube, he’s rubbing his eyes, and the colors that spark in the darkness
seem to form into the faces of the crowds. He’ll be getting a call from Mando
soon about cutting their stream short without warning, but right now, Nate just
wants to lay down.
Just as Nate assumed, however, as soon as he hits the couch in his office at
YouTube his phone starts to ring, but it’s not Mando. “Heard your show didn’t
end too well today. Want to tell me about it?”
“Mat…” Nate bites the inside of his cheek until he tastes blood. “How are
Through the phone Nate can hear Mat’s sarcasm. “Oh, I’m fine, but I think the
real question is, how are you, Nate?”
The pain in Nate’s head sparks again, and he’s forced to shut his eyes
against the onslaught of images that flash in his vision. “’m fine.”
“You’re lying,” Mat says, sounding genuinely worried now. “We talked about
this. If you start to get the headaches again, let me run a few tests, just to
make sure that this stuff is really safe.”
Nate shrugs. “You’re the one who’s all chummy with Corporate. They said it’s
just an adjustment thing.” Nate reaches over and punches the button on the wall
that turns off the lights and closes the shutters.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about…” Mat’s voice drops off.
“What’d you say?” Nate’s voice comes out slurred, almost as if he’s drunk.
Frankly, he wishes he were drunk at this point if it would make this headache
go away. Yeah, that’s an idea…
“Please, just come down to the lab and let me run a few diagnostics on your
neural cam and do a quick brain scan…”
Nate bites his cheek again as the headache pierces through his head like
lightning. It’s getting worse, not better, and he starts to consider taking Mat
up on his offer. But the labs, Corporate, all the red-tape gives Nate a bad
feeling, like something’s wrong. Like he’s not entirely safe when he’s down
going out” or “I’ll be down in a second.”
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