Volume 2, Issue 1, January 31, 2007|
© 2007 Cile Bailey
|Any Given Shadow|
by Justin Stanchfield
Music pulsed in waves, balanced upon crystal points embedded in the walls Light refracted in rainbow spears that spilled across the floor. Dancers swayed to the undulating bass. They were locked as tightly to the rhythm as the tiny moon upon which the ballroom stood was locked to the cold, dead world far below. Jon Coffin struggled to keep up with the rest of the band. The ragga was unlike anything he had played before, and his guitar sounded a discordant counterpoint to the other players. It had been too long, ages since he had felt the tipsy euphoria of playing with other musicians. As the drums neared another zenith, he played a descending series of arpeggios, C into A minor into open G, and then let the strings feedback until the music became a wall of force.
On the floor, the dancers circled each other, duelists daring each other to touch, each pressing to reveal their partner without unmasking themselves. The optic fields around their bodies flared. The mad auroras caressed their torsos as they spun in ever tighter circles As the dancers swung past the low stage, only sweat-soaked musk of aroused bodies and stale alcohol confirmed they were flesh and blood and not a company of gods. A tall blonde woman pirouetted past so close to Jon that he felt the breeze from her hair as she swung her head in exaggerated arcs. Out of habit, he tipped his head down and tried to catch a glimpse of the person beneath the computer- enhanced facade.
"It won't work."
Startled, Jon stepped back from the edge of the stage.
Kimmy Torneau, the violinist, grinned, her black eyes bright with amusement. She leaned close to his ear. "If you're trying to see through their cute suits, forget it. This ain't no high school prom. There's enough processor power out there to keep this station alive for years."
"So I've noticed," Jon said. Unlike the cheap field generators sold by the millions in every city and habitat across the solar system, the equipment on the floor tonight was seamless, the illusion complete. The music shifted again, modulating from C into B flat before it collapsed into a frenetic congregation of single note runs.
Again, Kimmy leaned close. "Watch the guy next to the column out the corner of your eye."
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