The new shows came onto the Stream last night, the ones we’d been waiting for: they were the haptic matrices with the full-immersion updates and the nasal cues. Javi had considered buying them, but since they were on the underweb 20 minutes after the official sites and his wallet had been emptied again by the latest currency update (Thanks, Malia,) he just ripped them into his comm.

Javi was an Oculus man: Rift was for hipsters and noobs and splitting up the company was the ony good thing the American Union had done in the last few years. The code was available for everyone (who knew anything about anything;) he had even contributed some tweaks to the newest roster of The Yeah! Boys. They were his little sister’s favorite group, but the Cute One had gotten rather glitchy lately. All the virtual groups were fully rebooted every five years to appeal to the new generation of 12-year-old girls, but bugs were bugs and they snuck in no mater how well the AI was trained.

That was just an exercise for Javi, though. Certainly not his type of music. All of his friends were obsessed with Panegyric, the new electro-epileptic group; they said that after the peak-seizures, they felt reborn. Javi liked the old stuff, though. Not only was he was born in the wrong decade, he was sure he was the first teenager to ever feel that way.

Javi plugged his helmet into his comm on the second try, faintly laughing as he did: his grandfather had told him that even back when tech was binary (seriously: binary!) everyone put the jack in the wrong way up the first time. It was the older model, but he had tricked it out to his own specs: boosting the infra-bass, tightening the seals so it didn’t go flying off when he jumped in fear during the scary-shares he loved, and sticking the  vintage Stealie to the front.

“Where is that goddamn–” he muttered as rummaged around in drawer for the synthpuffer. He wanted to experience the show, really get into it, and had ripped the code for A the previous night. The ‘puffer matched the time of the show so he would peak at the end of each set and then sober up in time for dinner. After three seconds (so much slower than the new versions,) it beeped and he took a long drag of the vapor, feeling mildly nauseated as usual.

“Hi, HAL,” Javi said. he had named his system after some fictional comm from a movie his uncle had made him watch once. The thing had gone crazy and tried to kill everyone; Javi thought that was funny. He also liked that none of his friends got the reference.

“Good afternoon, Javi.”

“Gimme the new file. 10/2/72. Full world.”

“I have it. Loading. Done. Should I lock the doors?”

Javi was starting to feel the A coming up his spine and hoped HAL wouldn’t see the shark grin on his face. One time, he had grabbed some buggy M and HAL mistook his slackened jaw for Bell’s Palsy and shut down the program in the middle of a song. No getting around the Three Laws, but Javi had become good at lying to his comm, even though he felt weirdly guilty when he did. It always made him wonder whether it was lying to him.

“Put the Do Not Disturb sign up, please. Run show.”

Javi had read in the notes that this was a general seating file, so he hopped on the treader. He always liked to take a step back. The helmet tightened around his shaved head.

The lights went down and Javi went high-stepping on the treader, dancing into the virtual town.