It looked like I might be in the bathroom at Club Manic, but it was tough to know for sure. I mean, there was no mistaking Manic’s bathroom—red lit like the waiting rooms in hell; white subway tiled walls with dark grout, graffitied in kanji; narrow enough to make a cave diver feel claustrophobic; muffled bass notes like hearing your pulse in your ears. The real question was if I was here now. Or ever.
You know that feeling when you wake up from a dream and say, oh, that was just a dream? I don’t have that. Not anymore.
Sometimes I just get lost in a memory. Can’t tell the difference. Makes it hard to function. Maybe impossible. I don’t know. All I can do is treat the moment I’m experiencing like it’s real, like it matters. Like I can have an effect on the outcome. Otherwise, what’s the point?
The mirror’s cracked. Looked like someone’s punched it. I checked my knuckles. Wasn’t me. Ducked down a little to get a look at my face in an unbroken wedge. Nothing otherworldly. Age appropriate, I think. Yeah, this could be the now. Couldn’t remember what I was doing though. Might as well take a leak while I was there.
I zipped up my ripped jeans and checked my pockets. Nothing but a couple loose capsule pills. Hard to tell their color in the lighting, but I could see they were full of little beads. There was an N in a triangle printed next to the number 30. Fuck it. I swallowed them both.
Someone kicked the door in and burst through like a charging rhino. Didn’t have to charge very far. I felt a hand around my throat as I was pushed hard against the wall. I barely got a look at the guy—he wasted no time going to town on my face with his free hand—but he was at least a head taller than me, and probably twice my weight without a spoonful of fat in his whole body. He might have been shouting at me, but my ears were ringing and the open door let the music pour in like a river over a dam.
I tried to stay present. Truly, I did. But my motivation to stick around was literally being beaten out of me. My mind went to another time, another place.
It looked like I might be on a street corner in Anarch Metro, but it was tough to know for sure. I mean, there’s no mistaking any other city with Anarch—so many walkways between the crooked towers you couldn’t see the sky; conflicting smells from various fires, smoked meat and burning diesel; shouts that came from everywhere as they echoed off canyons of steel and glass and mortar; a million uncovered windows, the city’s business on full display. The real question was if I was here now. Or ever.