writing chapter 6.4
Nathan closed the B’stro D L’te, wishing the team had been closer so he could hear them, but as he was settling down at a table to do his homework, Kurt stopped by to have a few words, and Nathan got to see the first version of Kurt’s haptic glove, with almost invisible clips on his fingertips and a rubber band around his wrist, and tiny wires running over the back of his hand. Kurt demonstrated before he left, his fingers twitching a message that scrolled across his glasses. Nathan was so impressed he didn’t notice Fairy blowing him a kiss as she got up to run after Kurt.
Then he watched Josh and Anomia sit and stare at their tablets for a long time, looking like a public art installation. They were still breathing, and their eyes were open, and they were holding onto their tablets, but they might as well have been asleep. He walked around their table, cleaning off a small pile of drink cups and food boxes, and peered at their tablets, which were running screensavers.
He pointed them out to Caroline when she came skulking thru on her rounds. He’d seen them come out of their trance a few minutes before, say a few words to each other, and lapse into immobility again. Nathan repeated something he’d heard Anomia say. “I think she gets lost in there.”
Caroline gawked. “Spooky. They must be really fucked up, ya think?” She rubbed her hands together, staring at Anomia’s frozen back.
Nathan shrugged. “She says strange things have been happening since…this all started,” he fudged, not wanting to gossip.
“Since their vision, you mean?” Caroline acted like she knew all about it. “Brain damage from drug abuse, that’s how I see it.”
“It’s made her more sensitive, not zoned out. It’s affecting her thinking.” He peered at her, concerned. “I think she’s worried about it.”
“We should go do something to them while they’re catatonic,” Caroline suggested, smirking at Nathan. But he turned back to his homework, and she decided to shadow Kurt instead.
However, Kurt was barreling thru the hamster tunnels toward the subway, with Fairy fluttering around trying to keep up, and getting hopelessly distracted in the other food court. Caroline began limping and decided she’d rather be following a girl anyway.
Kurt hardly noticed Fairy trying to catch his attention as he skirted afternoon foot traffic in the corridors. He was hard at work on the game engine’s core functionality – in this case, the feedback controls Anomia just asked for. He was always adjusting the kernel to accommodate new demands from the team. Fixing bugs and adding features. It was easy, but it took up a lot of his time, and he was more interested in working on the game interface now. Something Nathan said had given him a new idea.
If Fairy had been following Kurt at this point, she would have run right into him. He stopped dead in his tracks to ask the kernel to deal with the temperature thing for Anomia, his hand working madly by his side. Random pedestrians gave him wary looks as they swerved around him. He looked haggard and nervous, because he wasn’t sleeping well. Because whenever he was asleep he was sleep-programming.
Kurt was sick of sleeping. Not that, exactly; he was sick of waking up. He was sick of wasting half of every day returning to full functionality. His mind developed from an infantile state into the adult Kurt one twitching synapse at a time, as he relearned the same lessons every day. Oh yeah, don’t bring the lighter so close to the mustache. Duh, turn the key clockwise in the ignition. Woah, that’s me in the mirror, how’d I get so old?
He only completed the transformation into competent, moderately well adjusted Kurt after several hours of grumpy moping, a cup of coffee in one hand and a burning cigarette in the other, staring at a spot corresponding to his fingers on the keyboard. During this initial reboot, it was as if he was wearing an upper body cast. If his hands were in his lap, then he was hunched over half-suffocating into the folds of his hairy chest. If he was sitting up, then his arms were bent at the elbow, sticking straight out in front of him, palms down and fingers curled like a typist. When he woke in the night, his back was arched and his hands were in the air, his arms bent at the elbow, his fingers scrabbling at the sky like some demented rabbit.
Kurt wanted to cut the torture of coming to full consciousness wherever possible, and decided to eliminate sleep altogether. He was searching for a state of perpetual insomnia. The perfect vicious circle. The right mix of drugs and nutrients to keep him awake and alert without depleting any of a number of vital levels. Something to keep him up and high-functioning for long periods of time (provigil), supported by substances to keep him awake in a pinch (caffeine and decongestants), and when that was no longer workable, some steroids and sleepytime gobyebye opiates to suppressed slow wave sleep and REM, and parasomniaids like ambien and propranolol to enable sleep-programming, a productive use of otherwise wasted downtime. This reset his physical body, while leaving him unrested and drowsy during the day, as well as giving him insomnia at night. Under this regimen, staying up for forty hours was nothing. If he could tweak it right, he should be able to stay up for a month at a time, only nodding off for short, precisely timed baths of sleep, with a good amnesiac to blank out the nightmares that came howling down his mind the moment his eyes were shut.
Time passed for Kurt in a different way than it passes for ordinary mortals. His liberal history of drug use, his growing mental connection to the quantum kernel, and the intricacies of his own warped mind, meant that weeks went by like corn popping, the chain of events getting all jumbled together in his memory. Sometimes time ran backwards. Sometimes shit plopped into existence at inappropriate moments, did its thing, and then disappeared, with him being the only one who noticed.
At the moment, a notification was going off in the upper left corner of his visual field, and might have been doing so for a long time. Incoming mail. Kurt’s aesthetic sense sucked, so it was a white blinking led light on the rim of his glasses (prototype headset). Kurt couldn’t care less about aesthetics, and ignored the team’s scornful remarks about the tablet. Let them pretty it up if they wanted; as long as it worked, he was fine with ductape.
The light signaled a message from Fairy. It made him nervous when Fairy tried to contact him. He could never tell if she was going to be annoyingly businesslike, or come on to him. Once she sent him a nude picture of herself. This time it was a request for an updated list of game assets. He ignored it. That was something the kernel kept up with. She shouldn’t trouble her pretty little head with details, he thought briefly, turning his attention back to his work.
Fairy thumbed the message to all team members while sitting in her car in front of her apartment. Hers was one of 30 apartments in an old wooden building behind the shops of Little Five Points, a voluntary staging area for prison and rehab. She got out of her car, avoiding the needles and used rubbers as she climbed a grassy side path up the hill to the front steps.
She jiggled and kicked open the front door. The hall was painted dirty cream and smudged at waist level all along its length. The hardwood floors creaked, and shot splinters into bare feet (Fairy was wearing stilettos). A bare fluorescent bulb stuttered and hummed in the ceiling. She grabbed her mail and went thru it briefly as she walked the twisting hall to her apartment.
Fairy’s mail – a shut off notice on the electricity, an overdue on the gas, 3 credit cards, all maxed out, an overdraft notice from the bank. Tax bill. Not even going to open that one up. She paused, realizing she would have to take cash to a bill-paying place for the lights, real soon now. She dumped it all in the trash, and fished around for her keys, not sure if she’d put them back in her bag or her pocket, or if maybe she was clutching them in her other hand. The key stuck in the lock, as always, and Fairy had to plead with it to turn, but it came on the third try, and she opened the door and entered her dark and cozy apartment, where the warm fragrance of the cat box surrounded her like incense.
Her apartment was small but adorable, the windows painted shut by hundreds of coats of paint and covered with red velvet drapes, and smoothly worn hardwood floors everywhere but the kitchen and bathroom, which had original black and white linoleum. The bathroom’s ancient fixtures were now back in high fashion, except for being shabby and chipped. There was a one-ass kitchen with new appliances from the ’80s, and a thin dining table in the hall that you had to squeeze past to get to the bathroom and the tiny living room that had a sleeping loft built awkwardly into the corner, covered with haremlike tent curtains.
The apartment’s main features were cuteness and price, plus convenience to the corner liquor store and the pizza joint (and the ATM, several bars and restaurants, the vintage clothing shop, the pipe and bong emporium, the tattoo parlor, and the health food co-op). The parking area between the apartment building and the back of the shops was amicably shared by homeless drunks, homeless hippies, working drug dealers, panhandlers, conmen, thieves, and addicts, all of whom knew each other’s names and various scams, and good naturedly alerted one another to particularly fresh tourists from Alpharetta as they came gawking down the sidewalk.
She fed her cats, checking for signs of edible human food in the kitchen, then changed into something more comfortable (her satin Marilyn Monroe bathrobe) and checked her Facebook page, on a hunch. Not her personal page, but her professional BDSM page, where her screename was Invokation of Nightmares (“You ask for it, you’ll get it”). She discovered that she had a date waiting, a guy she actually enjoyed picking on. Which was great, because she didn’t know how she was going to eat otherwise.
Her plans for the evening had involved work on the game – the pesky asset inventory that nobody wanted to complete. With fresh meat waiting to be scourged, all she had time for was a followup email while she changed into her work gear and ran out to the car.
“peeps, its VITAL i get your updated list of assets by FRIDAY. don’t know if i mentioned before – that includes UUID. Peace, F”
Josh made an annoyed noise from the passenger seat. Anomia glanced over at him as she cruised the parking lot at ghetto Kroger for a space. “It’s Fairy again, bugging us about the asset database.” He opened the attached spreadsheet as they were getting out of the car, and walked around the grocery store filling it in with a bunch of made up stuff. Then he sent it back with a savage grin on his face. Anomia thought to chide him, but let it go. She was trying to remember what she’d completed recently, but it was all a blur.
“Did Snake get another tablet?” She asked Josh at the checkout. Josh laughed and grabbed the magazine with the half-naked girl on the cover. “Get this, Kurt gave him an iphone with the kernel installed on it.”
She shrugged, loading the groceries onto the belt. “He wanted one, didn’t he? Does it work?”
He paged thru the magazine absently. “The back was scratched, but otherwise it’s fine. He says Kurt’s going out of his way to dis him. He was pretty mad about it.” He’d gone on about what a mistake it was to insult the team’s marketing genius.
She fished her wallet out and hoped the total wasn’t too high. “Yeah, well, don’t lose your custom equipment, huh?”
Snake drove home from a meeting. He was always very careful that he wasn’t being followed. He had a condo, an anonymous townhouse in a gated community in tony Buckhead where nobody knew anybody else. He drove unseen into his one-car garage, and was safe from prying eyes thereafter, with privacy blinds on all the never-opened windows.
Inside it was pretty vacant. Hardly any furniture, no plants, no animals. There was a well-worn path from garage door to stairs thru an empty kitchen and an unlit hall and a gloomy livingroom. Upstairs, he used one bedroom as his office, the bookshelves revealing an interest in black magic and the occult, but also winning friends and influencing people, making it rich in real estate, illuminati conspiracies and alien abductions, body language and psychology. Another bedroom was always locked with a padlock. Snake didn’t go in, didn’t even think about it as he went past the hall bathroom and into his bedroom.
The bed was kingsize with a leopard print bedcover, and African spears and shields were displayed on the walls. There was a thick alpaca skin on the floor and smelly candles and incense burners on the side table. The lights were red, and too low to actually make out the corners of the room. There were no books in his bedroom, but an inhome theater with all the trimmings.
There were cameras all over the house and grounds that he could watch with a wave of his remote. He could watch himself in his bedroom. He had all the equipment to make his own porn. But no woman had ever been there, nor man, neither. Not even animals, to be honest. It wasn’t so much a preference issue, but one of security. Snake didn’t want anybody to get to know him. If he wanted sex, he had anonymous ways of getting it. He didn’t want a relationship. He was too cool, dangerous, and important for that. He wanted a series of conquests and pleasant memories with zero calories and no aftertaste.
He ate something random from the freezer, and then worked silently, lit only by the screen of his iphone. Finally he opened Fairy’s email. Asset counts. Her tone offended him, so he deleted Fairy’s spreadsheet and blocked her email address.
He was supposed to be working on animating characters, but he spent his evening looking at what the others were working on, criticizing them with a self-righteous enthusiasm he tried to restrain whenever he was around them. He opened up the level editor and had a look at the carnival level. It was okay, but not as cool as Skyrim. It was just computer graphics, after all, even tho the others seemed convinced it was real. All he saw was vertexes and gray placeholder textures.
A few days later, Snake met Josh at the pub. Snake was late, of course; he was out playing with the big boys and had to take care of some business. Josh was deep into his work. Snake sat down beside him and noticed his beer was flat. “Hey, man, you going to drink that? It looks like it’s been sitting there all day.”
Josh made no response. He was staring into the display, moving his stylus up and down slowly, adjusting a minute detail at high magnification. Then another. Finally, satisfied, he saved his work, put the stylus down, and reached for his beer. Only then did he notice Snake sitting next to him, studying his face.
“Tell me, do you have these spells a lot?”
“What are you talking about?” He drank the rest of his beer in one pull. “Wow, I’ve got to pee.”
“I’m talking about you sitting there for almost an hour, with your hands twitching and your eyes blank. I sat here and tried to get your attention forever. Even the barman was worried.”
Josh looked around. The pub was full of office types drowning their corporate sorrows. It was dark outside. He checked the time. “No wonder I’ve got to pee,” he said, and got up.
“What were you doing?” Snake asked him.
“Editing the level, of course,” Josh said, and disappeared into the crowd. It felt like he was on stilts.
While he was gone, Snake tried to pull up the menu on Josh’s tablet, but the screensaver continued to rain code until he returned and brushed his fingers over the surface. “I see you’ve changed your screen,” Snake observed.
Josh looked puzzled. “No I didn’t, that’s how it was when I got it.”
“Huh. Mine’s the red computer eye from 2001. It’s not animated that I can tell. Do you think he picked them out himself?”
“Who? Don’t look at me, go ask Kurt.”
“Right, as if he ever returned emails.” Snake picked up Josh’s tablet, which immediately went to screensaver again. He turned it over and examined the edges, then ran his thumbnail under the edge of the screen and showed Josh something sticky. “Look, it’s leaking. See this gunk? It’s that gel stuff that expands to make the keyboard. It’s oozing out. It’s probably radioactive, and you’ve got it all over your hands.” He looked sideways at Josh, sighed, and dropped the tablet back on the table. “As defective as they are, I’ve got to have a proper tablet,” he complained. “I can’t do my work on this tiny little screen he’s making me use.” He worked himself up slightly. “It’s getting ridiculous. It’s all Kurt’s fault.”
“What is?” Josh was puzzled.
“If he’d supplied me with adequate tools, everything would be fine.”
“What, you lost your iphone? It broke?”
“It was knocked out of my hand.” There proceeded Snake’s involved tale involving the weather, a bus stop, hostile passengers, and a blind bus driver. “A thousand bits of plastic lay scattered on the ground,” he finished sadly.
Anomia got home after a particularly grueling day at the office (fending off the pressure to stay until 10 (11:45) on a vital project they’d left until the last minute). There were dishes piled up in the sink, an overfull trashcan, half a container of milk on the counter. And the dog had peed on the floor because Josh neglected to let her out when he got home.
Because he didn’t technically live there, she was always somehow not supposed to ask him to do any of the work that obviously needed to be done. Normally she just went ahead and did it herself, hoping he’d notice someday, feel guilty, and pitch in. It was easier to do it all than to get into repeated discussions about why he should give a fuck.
They’d been together long enough for the shine to wear off. She loved him deeply, from the moment he first backed into her at the video store, and turned to sling an arm around her so she wouldn’t fall. She loved his warmth and his moral support, and appreciated the things he did for her. Because in the early days he was so careful to please her, all gifts and favors. At first he wouldn’t let her lift a finger, as if she might shatter under pressure.
But after a couple of years, he turned out to be not quite as bright as a lightbulb, and she wasn’t the helpless thing he thought she was, and at times she found his attention cloying and restrictive, and he found her to be a bitch. But he was still trading on how much he loved her and all the things he’d done for her, even tho there was nothing coming back from him lately. Now that he was hanging around Snake, he was actually kind of insulting, swaggering and demanding, as if it were his apartment and she was the one keeping her toothbrush there and never lifting a finger.
He’d been all but moved in since they started on the project six months or so ago. And she still paid all the bills and bought his beer and probably cigarettes, now that she thought about it. The ones he’d been sneaking after telling her he’d quit. She could sense it, even tho he denied it. She could feel it, could feel him edging away emotionally from the subject, hiding like a little kid. But she kept giving him the benefit of the doubt, denying her own insights because she could very well be wrong. The possibility of which he stressed heavily during every one of their discussions about why he couldn’t give a fuck.
Anomia trudged up the stairs to where Josh was lying on the bed playing World of Warcraft on the largest cheap flatscreen TV she could afford. “I already called for Chinese,” he announced, blasting the hell out of an opposing position. “General Chao‘s for you, right? No MSG.”
He looked like he wanted praise for his thoughtfulness, but Anomia counted up the bill in her head, plus tip, and decided she’d have to put it on the credit card, which was getting close to its limit. She suggested a home cooked meal, but they both knew she wasn’t serious. She’d be serious when she brought home the groceries and cooked the food, and then cleaned up after it. Until then it was a choice between going out, delivery, takeover, and frozen.
He continued to play his videogame while she put away her things and changed her clothes. He patted the bed next to him and inched over so she could sit down, still firing away at enemies onscreen.
She opened her tablet and started working on the game, laying out yet another background panorama to let the kernel tweak by itself. She was still spending time on the backgrounds, which she continued to find repetitive and boring precisely because the kernel did all the work. Even tho the whole process was impossibly fast and efficient using Kurt’s quantum tablet, she sighed in frustration and futility every time she tweaked a texture, and took her only pleasure in overriding perfectly good presets just to be doing something different.
At this point she shouldn’t be messing with the antarctic backgrounds, but she had very little interest in the carnival level because it wasn’t quantum. It was her mostly unconscious way of protesting the boys’ decision to dumb down the game.
Josh had come to her one day. “Nobody’s really clear on the Carneytown level. Why do we have it again?”
She looked at him blankly, then shook her head. “It was a compromise, remember? We decided that starting with quantum physics was too much, and that we had to do intro levels. Where we explain classical physics and relativity?”
Now it was his turn to shake his head. “But why do we have to do that? What’s wrong with starting right where we did in our own game?”
“Because we need remedial levels,” she repeated. “Because people don’t even understand classical physics.”
“But why do they have to? It’s not like they’re going to use it when they grow up, is it?” He got that from Snake.
“I’m tearing my hair out,” Anomia said to Josh. “I’ve been trying to keep as much of the things we learned in our game as I can, but they keep getting taken out. They’re not unnecessary. They’re not timewasters, they’re not distractions from the game. They’re essential knowledge.”
“Well, some people don’t happen to agree with you,” Josh told her. “Is it only your game, or is it all of ours?” She mumbled a reply. “So we get a say too, and we say go for playability.”
“There’s that word again.”
“We’ve got to lose the technical stuff, it’s that simple.”
“Look, Snake has been fighting me every step of the way. You were there with me in our vision, you know what we’re supposed to do.”
“Yeah, but sweetie, Snake’s right. Our target demographic doesn’t play educational games.”
“But it’ll all be disguised,” she said, exasperated. “They won’t know it’s educational.”
“Then why do it that way?”
“Why not just make it a shootemup, isn’t that what you’re trying to say?” she bristled.
“And what would be wrong with that?”
“Don’t say it. I know. No violence.”
They both sighed.
She selected a carnival asset. She liked doing the ground, which on the midway was mud and grass, and she particularly enjoyed draping cobwebs and layers of dust in unusable corners of the interiors. But the kernel anticipated that now, and all she had to do was build the set to a certain state, and the cobwebs would start to grow.
Right now she was working in the arcade, doing an art pass on the Break-a-Plate game. Picking the pattern for the china, to be precise. She chose delft, going with a Dutch theme for the booth, and before she spelled out the word in the search field, the kernel had gone out and indexed 5 million images of delft china, displaying an array of Anomia’s likely choices. Which she couldn’t argue with. She sighed and picked an absolutely wonderful pattern. Which would be endlessly customizable once the game was released, anyway; at least, that was the plan. Specifying the size of the plate, its fragility, and its condition, she assigned it a unique identifying number, saved it, and closed the file. She signed again and picked the next asset – a throwing hammer.
Vaguely annoyed, she checked her email. There was a new one from Fairy, wanting their updated list of assets.
“The kernel keeps track of assets,” Josh complained when she told him, pausing between battles. “What’s she need them for?”
Anomia shrugged. “The kernel may know, but we don’t have a clue.”
“But why do we need to know?”
“So she knows we’re doing our work, I guess.”
Josh killed another boss and gore exploded all over the screen. “Are we getting paid?”
“She wants to make sure we’re not slacking off on our commitment.”
“Really,” he said, changing weapons for the next battle.
“She’s just trying to help.”
The boss appeared, and his protest died, “Grrr mumble.” He blasted the boss with everything he had.
“What’s happening with Snake’s replacement iphone replacement tablet?”
“Josh laughed. “Kurt gave him a gameboy this time.”
She looked at him. “You’re not kidding, are you? Does it work?”
Josh shrugged. “Surprisingly, yes. It’s slow, of course.”
“Do you think Kurt’s doing it to punish him for breaking them?”
“Snake’s convinced, anyway” Josh answered. “He’s too humiliated to pull it out of his pocket.”
She sighed and frowned at her work. “Well, I guess it doesn’t much matter, because he’s not doing any work on the game.”
“He is too,” Josh protested. “He’s been animating characters like crazy.”
“Yeah, and they all move just like him. Anomia sighed again. “He’s overdone the ragdoll animation. I’ve tried to tell him he needs to make them move from their core so players can practice generating chi, but I don’t think he understands.”
Josh avoided her eyes and mumbled something. Snake understood very well, but thought the whole concept was nonsense and refused to go along with it. Snake made a big effort to model the avatar’s movements on his own, so the characters slouched, and were all left handed.
“It really does make sense this way,” she said while he fiddled with the label on his beer. “Spacetime effects, gravity waves, black holes, it’s all available to players on the Carneytown level, and they can use the physics of that level to change the experience of the players on the level below. They get to stand back and work with the whole of classical physics, and then move past it.”
Josh peeled the back label off and changed the subject. “What else do you do on the second level?”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t just adjust the rides for other people. You don’t only just pull levers and twist dials, do you?”
“No. Um. There are lots of roles. You can take tickets, and serve ice cream, and run around looking after things in the park, and administrate.” She paused, thinking. “You can be the trolley driver from the parking lot.” Josh made a face so she listed all the ones she could think of. “Service, construction, maintenance, accounts, personnel, cop, game master.”
“So, wait. On the second level there are all sorts of jobs, and you’re separate from the carnival level. You’re using the same space but in an overlay.”
“So how do you interact with the lower level?”
“Relativity. You sort of appear in the gaps of their world. Because everything’s relative, they don’t notice anything different on their level, but you see everything completely differently because you’re messing with the controls.”
“I’m not sure how that’s going to work. You’re in two places at once on the second level?”
I guess we could ask Kurt.”
“Yeah, his explanation will bore the pants off both of us, and we won’t understand a word. He probably doesn’t even know himself.”
“We’ll figure it out.”
The food came, and Anomia jumped at the sound of the bell. Josh put his game aside to eat, but Anomia worked right thru dinner, fiddling with the shorelines.
Anomia did a flyby of the outer islands. It felt so real. She was flying along under a pale sky, the sun low on the horizon. Below, a large duckling-shaped island lay on a sparkling sea, rocky and barren. Marie Byrd Island; they’d call it something else when the rides were set up. A spine of hills ran the length of it, and natural harbors were formed by the curve of the neck and the spread of the feet. She wanted to live there. She flew down to the surface. Individual rocks. She picked one up, hefted it in her hand, skipped it out onto the gently lapping waves. She’d never learned how to skip rocks – it sank like a stone.
She drew herself up into the air over the outer islands, and flew over the shallow sea toward the vast spine of the Transantarctic Mountains, which lined the continent like a wall. She flew low over the water to the base of the cliffs, then climbed over a mile to top them, straining and pulling to get over. The she was floating above the mountain peaks, and saw an inland waterway below, glinting placidly at the edge of a huge continent. She felt immense pride at the sight; it was something she made, hers. Her land, new and shiny, ready for history to come upon it.
“Come up here,” she was surprised to hear Josh say, and looked up to see him floating way above her in the sky. She zoomed up to meet him. They could see the entire archipelago.
From that distance it was just the right size for an amusement park. The carnival rides were visible at this distance, the arch and whorl of the roller coaster, the spindle of the tilt-a-whirl, the grand concourse of the hub. Where the details were still undecided or conflicted, the superstructures faded out or turned into something else halfway around. “We need to fix that,” Anomia said, pointing to where the roller coaster track went straight in to the side of a mountain. “Yeah,” Josh said, and pointed to an alternate section of track that ended in midair. “I guess we have to make some decisions.”
They floated down toward the surface, and the carnival level details grew indistinct, pixelated, and slowly resolved into the features of Carneytown, with its complex of buildings and grounds. They flew up and down, watching the overlay levels dissolve and resolve.
Then they spotted Kurt, infinitely far away from them on the surface of the skyglobe surrounding their game platform. They waved and he flew over. It only took a moment. “What are you doing here?” Josh asked. “I mean, how can you be in the gameworld? What are you actually doing?”
“Oh I’m adjusting the way the two carnival levels overlay the world mesh to help you figure out where the track should go.”
Anomia looked at him suspiciously. “But we were just talking about that.”
Kurt spread his hands around himself in a big arc. “And it comes out here,” he said, and flew off back to work.
“Oh,” Anomia said.
“It’s not mind reading,” he called back. “It’s everybody being on the same page.”
Back at home, in bed, Josh and Anomia sat glued to their tablets, catatonic. In the gameworld, they flew here and there at various scales, checking things out, talking to each other in their heads, working together with one purpose, entangled. When they woke the next morning, they were snuggled together like birds in a nest.