This piece is an anonymous follow-up to Solo.
Today was the first day that he hadn’t checked in.
Every morning, as the purples and blues bloomed in the sky, I anxiously wait in front of the computer. The steaming mug of English Breakfast remains undisturbed until there is a ping, and then a second. He always sends me an update on his progress. The audio is choppy and it is never a live feed. It’s not that I need to know he’s okay – I’m constantly monitoring his biometric implants. Nevertheless, I am uneasy until I hear his voice.
By now, the sky outside was a pale blue. My mug of English Breakfast was fatigued and still. Above all, the silence of the machine before me was deafening. I don’t know for how long I sat there, agonizing in that moment. Too many scenarios flashed by in grotesque sequences until all sense of time passing was eventually lost. All that remained was just me, and that hateful machine. And I finally wept.
“Have you heard anything yet?”
I was having brunch with Kayla on the café terrace of the 17th floor of her workplace. The busy lives of Torontonians played out in the streets below amid the usual dust and clamour of the urban jungle.
“Alex… what if he…”
I reluctantly tore my gaze away from the young couple reuniting in a passionate kiss and regarded Kayla. She usually wore cute little outfits on our dates but today she was at work, and her attire smartly reflected the professional working woman that she was. It also made her words bear heavier, and solemn. Like a condemnation.
I forced a tight-lipped smile.
“He’s still alive. I know he’s alive because the biometric implants are still working. There was probably a sandstorm that made him lose signal but he’s fine. I know he is.”
“That’s good. As long as he’s alive…”
I could tell that she was mincing her words in an attempt to be mindful. Kayla was usually vibrantly opinionated. I appreciated that she cared but I was too emotionally exhausted from waiting up last night to express an appropriate response.
“I’ve got to go and you probably need to get back to work.”
I started to rise from the bistro table when my phone began to vibrate violently in my pocket. Sitting back down, panic overwhelmed me when I checked the screen. The notification was about Seth’s biometric implants.
The monitor was flashing red.