“Holly, is there any place around here to pick up food?”
It took Erika Halliday a while to respond. Normally a gregarious soul, she was a gifted reader of the social and emotional spaces around her, and could catch even the unlikeliest of conversational forays like a pro outfielder catching the laziest of fly balls. But when she was in the middle of working, her plane of focus narrowed, and everything outside that plane blurred into the foreground or the background.
At that moment, Halliday was not in the present. She was in the future, looking at the world through an impressionist lens, seeing the space not as it was, but packed with a shifting darkness of moving bodies. Out of the darkness, cascading pools of light created existence in the void, revealing the world of Party to the observer in nonlinear flashes and associations. Stylizing the world into shapes and colors that in the light of day were only aspirational, she worked a magic that inverted perception. Through logic, sequencing, and contextual color arrangement, she made shadows cast people, and sent them dancing into the negative spaces between things.
Tonight, she was close to getting everything exactly as it was in her mind’s eye. But there were only a few hours left. Finally, Anna’s words penetrated her mental space. She lifted her eyes from the board and turned, resplendent in a white-vinyl reinterpretation of Kaneda’s biker outfit from Akira, complete with the capsule logo on the back and accented by red piping and red wraparound shades.
“Let me guess,” she sighed, sliding the shades down a bit so that she could deliver a properly dramatic eye-roll. “You’re feeling guilty that you didn’t make dinner for all your Lost Children, right?”
Anna shrugged guiltily and stretched her long limbs, feet coming perilously close to a nest of cables. Holly flinched internally, but the stretch finished without dire mishap. “It’s more that I said that I would, and I didn’t. But really, they don’t eat real food unless I put it in front of them. They live on convenience store crap. I think a few of them have blocks of government cheese and vodka where their kidneys should be.”