Fiction

The Chromatic Graft Part 2

a continuing Ariel Moxie EP

Ariel Moxie jolted awake in a fit of rage. Her heart jackhammered against her rib cage and her nails dug into her palms. It had been months since her last attack and she wasn’t expecting one now, not with the peace she’d felt the last few days.

Desperation shot her hand to her right ear lobe. She clicked in the back of the speaker in her plug and ‘Rumble’ blasted in the small room. After spinning the dial on the underside to turn down the volume, she held her left lobe for three seconds until the harps played. Salvation was close because ‘Maelstrom’s Lullaby’ played. Her thumb found the right volume.

The two channels of the song played separately at the outer edges of her mind. Deep breaths, she told herself. She filled her diaphragm and slowly blew it out her nose, focusing on the music and trying to calm herself. Deep breaths. Too bad she couldn’t deal with the rage like she dealt with pain. It held on, wouldn’t let her just shake it off. The sounds moved in space, came together at the center of her brain and brought her mind into focus. Now that she had regained control, Ariel’s heartbeat slowed, harmonizing to the music. She released her mind, let it search deeper for the calm in the storm on its own. It brought her down further, thankfully to a happy thought. The Bassline had been drifting on the open water, the waves lightly bobbing the stern up and down. They had stopped to catch lunch. A fish was on the onboard grill sprinkled with capers. Ariel and Nick danced in the warm sunlight.

‘Freestyle’ played. They were several feet apart. Nick was shuffling his feet but soon he was hop-steppin’ to the left and to the right. Ariel opened her large mouth and laughed, clapping her hands to spur him on. He bopped his head forwards and back, pivoted around in circles, making his way towards her. She wrapped her hands around his neck, her fingers interlocking at the scruff of his hair. His hands went to her hips. They shimmied back and forth, their eyes smiling into the others. He pulled her close and raspberry’d her cheek.

Ariel giggled at the time and heard it echo in her room now.

She pushed off his chest. Nick grabbed her hand, held it over her head and pirouetted her away. She turned on her music and found her selection. The transmitters in their plugs shook hands, sending data back and forth. The two sets of speakers pulsed and the tracks fused together. The composition combined into ‘Freestyle Rumble’. The electronic system Ariel had created combined with Nick’s musical compositions allowed them to anticipate the other; that was a crucial product of its design. Nick knew Ariel’s moves and Ariel knew Nick’s. They were in sync. Ariel weaved in and out, moving her arms to the rhythm. Nick skated backwards, opening his palm to her in acknowledgement. Ariel danced. Nick grooved. The sun shone. The fish burned.

Gradually, the memory and then the melody receded from Ariel’s mind. She fell asleep with Lullaby hanging in the room and didn’t notice the slight constricting sensation running down her arms.

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Fiction

The Chromatic Graft Part 1

a Nick Beat EP

Nick Beat lounged on the edge of the second story fire escape, his black wing-tipped shoe dangling into the space above the small alley, lost in the embrace of the music. The guitars of ‘The Piston Falcons’ bounced off the low-rent industrial Japanese buildings, letting their geometry create a chaotically reflected soundtrack to the electricity in the night air. The skylanes above were buzzing with flyers, the running lights on their undercarriage streaking a pastiche of neon blues and yellows across the sky. All his weight propped up by his left arm, he started flicking his foot when the guitars burst into drums. ‘Falcons’ was executing on one of the functions Nick had designed it for: he was getting pumped for the task ahead.

From his place on the darkened rail, Nick had a clear angle through the window of the small office across the alley, his eyes solely on the cabinet prominently in its frame. A balding man sat at a tidy desk and Nick watched him slip a large wad of money into a bank deposit bag and put it and a stack of paper in a briefcase he lifted from the floor. Checking his watch, the man stood, singled out a key on the ring, grabbed the case and his coat, and walked out the door.

When it shut, Nick started tapping his finger, each beat landing exactly one second apart. Thirty eight taps later, another door at the base of the building opened and the moneyman stepped through. He passed a pile of black shiny trash bags on his way out to the street.

Nick hopped over the railing and slid down the drain running to the ground. He gathered the trash bags underneath the window and wedged the pistol he’d been keeping at his beltline underneath.

Beat was ready. He walked around to the entrance as ‘The Piston Falcons’ entered its last period, his steps hitting bap bap bap babap bap, bap bap bap babap bap, bap bap bap babap bap and rapped on the unmarked metal door with the back of his knuckle clack clack clack clacklack clack. He stood there a second before realizing what he’d done. He clicked the back of the plug in his right earlobe and the music from the speaker in the front cut. For the first time since Nick Beat strut in, silence settled over the alley.

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