The vibrant, tumbling melody of Dan Coolidge’s guitar chords echoed throughout the auditorium to a thundering cascade of cheers and applause. On
cue, a brilliant blue beam lit up the stage like radiant moonlight, highlighting the shimmering pearl jumpsuits of Alyssa Jennings and Janelle Sparks
as they sang the opening notes to No More Second Chances.
In that wonderful moment, the sound of their vocal chords blended together into
perfect notes which hovered in space above the fans, levitating them, before the energizing rhythm of Skylar DeSilva’s electric synthesizer shot
through the air, followed by the heart-pounding, inescapable beat of the drums, courtesy Tyrone Clearwater.
Krystal reached out to the stage in adoration, her palms open, as if to beckon her idol closer. To touch Janelle only once would last a lifetime -
well worth the harsh words, severe restrictions, and broken bonds of trust that might come from her willful disobedience. Any such worries were dashed
from her mind as Janelle and Alyssa made their way to the edge of the stage, their microphones in hand, golden hair spilling over their shoulders,
belting out the lyrics of the chorus with voices so powerful Krystal wondered if all of Securia could hear them.
Suddenly, there she was, her arm outstretched to connect with the legion of screaming admirers. Krystal would not miss this chance, this opportunity
for which she’d waited a lifetime(or at least it seemed that way), and so she reached up with both hands to grasp Janelle’s arm, to feel the
glowing fabric of her sleeve, to touch this embodiment of freedom itself. As she did so her fingers slid effortlessly through flesh and bone, muscle
and polyester, the contact a mere illusion of twenty-first century video technology.
“Wait, I can’t find my ticket Krystal, I can’t find my ticket Are you listening?” Her foray into the magical world of the Millennium Five
music video was cut short as she felt the plastic holo-visor pulled from her face. In an instant the auditorium vanished, replaced by a pair of dull,
aluminum warehouses and the lush, overgrown lawn in front of the concert field. Sarah glared at her in frustration.
“You gave it to Anthony. Today, at school. Don’t you remember?”
“No, I didn’t ” Sarah looked toward the front of the line leading into the concert, and then shot back toward Krystal with an expression of
alarm. “Why would I give him my ticket?”
“Here, put these on.” Krystal placed the holo-visor over Sarah’s eyes and handed her the black data glove. “I’ve been recording all day.
Just go to main menu and select the ten-to-eleven a.m. block.”
“Uh-hu,” Sarah said, securing the Velcro data glove strap. After making a few quick motions with her wrist, she said “Oh, okay, I see it. Oh
my god ”
“See? You wrote your number on the back of the ticket, and handed it to him during break.”
“OH MY GOD ”
“Didn’t he say he would be here?” Krystal asked.
“We’re talking about Anthony
Standing on her toes, Krystal gazed over the heads of hundreds of excited teenagers who stood in line up ahead, filing one by one past the ticket
booth and security gate. Her beige blouse clung to her body, damp and sticky. She and Sarah had taken the bus after school only to stand and melt
under the blazing Texas sun for the past three hours. More than once a vendor had made his way down the line offering cold sodas and ice slushies, but
Krystal’s younger brother’s silence had come at a steep price, and her allowance was now spent except for a couple of Homeland credits – nearly
worthless in the present inflation crisis.
She wiped the sweat from her brow, tried to forget the dryness of her throat and aching sensation of thirst that tugged at her. Now the line was
moving again, and Sarah had no ticket. What a dingbat,
Krystal thought. Boys couldn’t be trusted.
“This thing is sooo cool ” Sarah said while scrolling through the video selections, her wrist flicking this way and that. “I asked for one of
these last Christmas, and all I got was a stupid pair of roller blades.” She tore the data glove free and handed it back. “By the way, you had a
call. I think it went to video-mail.”
Krystal slipped the data glove onto her fingers, took the holo-visor from Sarah and, after brushing aside her dark, straight hair, placed it over
her eyes. In see-thru mode it was like a pair ordinary sunglasses, and through the lens she watched a crimson body-armor clad State Policeman stroll
past, his face hidden behind his darkened helmet visor, truncheon gripped firmly in hand. Amazing,
Krystal thought. Only a year ago such a
concert would have been unthinkable; the Council of Ethics would have dismissed the idea entirely, followed by the usual diatribe about protecting
young minds from corruptive, indecent influences and such. What a crock.
Farther up the line, the policeman stopped to ask a young couple for identification as the words MESSAGE SAVED flashed before Krystal’s eyes in
bold red font. She folded the visor and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans, an uneasy sensation stirring in her stomach. They knew.
“Did you check the message?” Sarah asked while looking across the lawn to the parking lot in search of Anthony.
“No way. You know what that’s
Sarah rolled her eyes. “What’s the deal with your parents anyway? It’s The Millennium Five, for crying out loud. They’re about as tame as it
gets. Not like some of the other bands from over The Line. You know - the cool ones?”
Krystal didn’t answer. The Millennium Five were
the coolest band as far as she was concerned. The first band from across The Line to
perform a concert in her lifetime, and Sarah had lost her ticket. Biting her lip, her fists balled in anger, she turned toward Sarah, but the sight of
a familiar long-haired teenager in a black Houston Tornados t-shirt caught her attention. “Look who’s here.” Krystal said.
“Anthony ” Sarah exclaimed. “You’ve got my ticket, right?” He handed her the slip of paper that displayed a barcode, above which read:
Allegiance Entertainment presents: Millennium Five On the Line – ADMIT 1. “Yes ” she squealed, jumping up and down like a hyperactive ten-year
old. “Yes, yes, yes ”
A second, taller boy with sandy-blonde hair and a slushie in his hand stood next to Anthony, elbowing him in the ribs. “Oh yeah, I almost
forgot,” Anthony said. “This is my friend Benjamin. Benjamin, this is Krystal.”
“Hey,” Anthony’s friend said, holding out his hand with a grin. Krystal shook it, smiling in return. “Pleased to meet you.” Benjamin held
out his slushie, and she gratefully accepted the cold, refreshing, grape flavored drink. After taking a couple of long, slow draws through the straw,
she tried to hand it back to him.
“That’s ok. Keep it. Looks like you need it more than I do. Besides, I heard they’ve got concession stands inside.”
“Thanks. So, um, how did you guys get here? Do you have your own car?”
Benjamin smiled and shook his head, amused by the question. “I wish I did I rode with Anthony, but only after arguing with my folks for a couple
of hours. They didn’t want me to go, but when I told them I was going with Anthony and
his parents...well, our folks have known each other
Krystal cast her eyes about the lawn. “Where are th...” Her question was interrupted by a wail; someone near the head of the line – a teenage
girl, cried out as a State Policeman cuffed her wrists.
“Drugs, probably,” Benjamin whispered. “The news said to expect random searches.”
Krystal shuddered, wondering if the girl was over fourteen. If so, she’d be tried within the hour. The system worked fast.
“Where are they?” Krystal asked, continuing their conversation.
“Anthony’s parents. You said you rode with Anthony and his parents, remember?”
“They just dropped us off,” Benjamin said. “They hate Millennium Five.”
Krystal eyes focused on Benjamin. “Your Mom and Dad probably thought they were attending
He grinned. “What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.”
Krystal smiled. He was
kind of cute. And clever. Maybe Sarah’s idea of inviting Anthony hadn’t been so dumb after all. “Good
thinking,” she remarked.
“Yeah, but if they’d really put their foot down, I wouldn’t have come. I can always watch Millennium Five on the Safenet.”
“No way At least, not for me. They’re my favorite group.”
“Then it’s a good thing your folks were okay with it. Going to the concert, I mean.”
“Yeah,” Krystal replied, lowering her eyes a bit.
Anthony, who’d spent the last few minutes whispering something into Sarah’s ear and causing her to giggle uncontrollably, turned and said,
“Everyone got their tickets?” Krystal pulled hers from her back pocket. They had finally arrived at the ticket booth.
“Now step over to the retina scan,” said the blue-suited attendant after taking their tickets and handing back the stubs. “When it flashes
green, you can go through the turnstile. One at a time, please.” Krystal approached the black plastic eyepiece that jutted from the wall of the
booth, and hesitated. Once scanned, her presence at the concert would be a matter of public record, undeniable, and available to anyone: the
government, her school, her parents.
She glanced past the turnstile at the concert field – an enormous, makeshift standing-room-only arena enclosed on all sides by a chain link fence.
What she saw and heard made her pulse quicken: upon the eight-foot high stage at the far end, roadies had finished setting up drums, microphones,
smoke generators, and were beginning sound checks. She pulled back her hair and leaned forward into the eyepiece. Within seconds, the flashing red
light inside changed to a green glow. No going back now.
edit on 20-5-2013 by Flatwoods because: (no reason given)