(Rob) the screen blinks to life

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Rob is watching videos from the TL on a screen he stole from one of the Conspirasans. He's still inside their house. He feels: not good. Weird. Different. Bad. Like he's losing track of time, or falling out of it. Or maybe stuck inside it. Like there are pieces of his TL missing. Every time he blinks he wonders how much later it is, how much time did he lose during that blink. Just a fraction of a second? Or has he been asleep for hours? It is impossible to tell.

He's not sure how long he's been at the Conspirasan house but he hasn't left since he's gotten here, and the pot of pink food in the kitchen is almost gone. They mentioned a system for making more and he explored the basement but he couldn't figure it out. Is that right? He has a vague memory of finding the basement, but no specific memories of exploring the basement. Or was that a dream. Or should he go again now, or should he try again later.

At first, after their coughing all stopped, he wasn't sure what to do. Leave, was his first instinct. But where? He still had no idea where John and Qannen were. That's when he realized he was surrounded by screens that no one was watching. He pulled one out of the hands of a random Conspirasan. He held it up but it did nothing. It was just a clear rectangle of plastic in his hands. It was like holding nothing. So different from the screens everyone used outside Wood2. He threw the screen on the ground and it skittered, whole, unbroken, across the floor. He pulled another from someone else's hands and it was the same - just a piece of plastic. Just invisible nothing no matter how tightly he held it.

Then he had the idea not to pull a screen out of someone's hands, but to grip it more tightly. He found another Conspirasan still holding his screen. He wrapped the man's hands more securely around the screen and it came to life. He could feel it throbbing as it exploding in color and sound. Now when he slipped it out of the man's hands it stayed on, and he could swipe, and scroll, and search.

He blinks and he's watching something called SendoPretendo. People get into cars and only sometimes end up where they want to go.

He blinks and there's an announcement that MultiDimensional Solace is offering limited edition ethically-sourced polymer protection chakras for the next 100 people who get 1000+ Likes on a video in which they rub any piece of jewelry by Tangential Glitter on their butts.

He blinks and the screen is off again. Through it he can see the dead bodies sprawled in every direction across the floor. He's sitting on Senatron's bed and he'll have to walk over them to leave. Senatron is lying at his feet, his hands open, screenless. Rob slides the screen into Senatron's hand, then wrests the man's fingers onto the screen, wrestling rigor mortis into the semblance of a grip. The screen blinks to life.

He blinks and there's two figures he recognizes: Qynka and Azelbeth. He saw them in the hallway of the apartment where he last saw Qannen and John. Qynka: dark skin and logic-defying curves wrapped in colors that would make eyes bleed anywhere outside this city. Azelbeth: not from this planet, very wide eyes set very far apart, a body like a mirage - pieces of her seemingly moving in and out of view as she moves towards or away from the camera.

They're getting married. The wedding is today.

He blinks and he's watching a show where a panel of people are speculating about whether Qannen will attend the wedding. There's video of Qannen shopping at a store called _bubblefate. John is next to her, following around the store. So that's where they are, and that's where they're going: a wedding.

He blinks and he's standing up. He's going to the wedding. It's time to find John and Qannen. It's time to raise awareness and finish this. The screen is off again. He'll need the screen in order to find the location of the wedding. He'll need Senatron's hand in case the screen turns off again. He walks atop the dead bodies to get to the kitchen. There are bodies everywhere, all through the house. They were coughing and coughing and then they just stopped, falling to the ground, one by one. He needs to find something sharp but they don't have knives here. He used to have a gun but he's not sure what happened to it. He'll find something sharp or jagged somewhere in the house, and one way or another the hand will come with him. He'll bring the screen and the hand that turns it on.

[end of Episode Four]


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