The beat pulsed through muscles, sinews, and gray matter, flowing not so much through the air as through consciousness itself, wave upon wave of beauty, hope, sorrow, and euphoria bathing more than the ears of those in attendance. Sweat mixed with tears and untold pheromones to entice and enflame, to summon forth energy from tired souls and breathe into them anew. From outside, none could understand just how the heart of the downtown truly birthed its name, hidden inside a brick-and-mortar corner down some faraway alley, far from the CCTVs of the New City. But within the synaesthetic warmth and glow, there was no place so near to life, so alive and living, as natural as the soundscapes bursting forth from a system as much made of human voices, sung and unsung, as it was speakers and amps.
Nat had never seen, nor heard, nor felt anything like it. Awestruck, she made her way through the undulating bodies, each footfall as light and graceful as the subtle melody coyly playing inside her. Fading from her mind were the fears of being an outsider, a newcomer, a stranger in this sonic realm, embraced so readily by the rhythm and drawn to its source. Weaving and bobbing between each waveform given human shape, Nat found herself moving more and more with the throbbing bass, each limb nervously, then confidently, adding flare and style to the composition of her journey ever forward. Soon, even she, the tiny, awkward girl from a ramshackle flat and no luck, slipped into the collective being calling the dance floor its home, letting go of all that had led her here, to this very moment, becoming so much more than one lonely soul amid countless others.
Yet, in the strangest of ways, this transcendent sensuality only emboldened her, empowering her as an affirmation of all of her hopes and dreams, made all the more striking by how seamlessly they intertwined with the harmony exhaled and translated into movement by all around her. Shyness melted away at the touch of another's hand, and though Nat and she never touched more than once, cradled in the rhythm as they were, Nat felt that neither of them must've felt so much like they were making love, blushing and smiling and letting laughter mingle with the beat. Somehow, Nat knew, they'd meet again, amber ringlets, freckles, and all, in some far-off place that had no New City reek or cracked pipes, forever joined in the song that filled the spaces only between them. Maybe once Nat could find her way out, her muse, her calling...
The beat dropped, as a momentary stillness swallowed the once vibrant, vivacious organism upon the floor, none daring to profane the peacefulness with the slightest gasp. All, Nat included, froze, straddling the line between Sleep and his dueling cousin, only to be reborn as one with the music's return. Still mesmerized by what mind, what spirit could be there whose hands could give birth to the life all around her, Nat shimmied, strode, and slid ever closer toward the fount, turning only to catch the eye or smile of what she hoped would be her future still watching, maybe even hoping for Nat to return. As the pulsing sound moved faster and faster, however, Nat soon found herself propelled to the very front of the dance floor, her limbs darting and body gyrating faster than she thought possible, her determination to find the night's maestro only growing with each successive heartbeat.
Finally, she found herself, soaked in sweat and absent a hoodie once tied around her waist, before the very source. Barely elevated above the cold concrete of the stage stood a rig that knew no equal, deck upon deck of high-grade equipment that looked more at home in deep orbit than hidden in the back alleys of New City. Yet, amidst the turntables, the boards, and the twin towers breathing the song of life into the air, stood only one slender figure, moving too fast for Nat to make out under the deejay's own hood, and far, far too skillfully for her to even want to try. Records and synths made noises that she had never known with just the merest touch of the digital conductor's hand: each scratch or keystroke, a caress of lovers once parted; each sample, a fond memory inspiring a new dream; every flip and loop, a tender blending into one-another as to create not a song, but a child. Gloved fingers, slender as her own, glided over keys, dials, and buttons the likes of which Nat had never seen before, yet no doubt created such beauty and, yes, love that so inspired the very life force flowing through them all.
So lost in her admiration that she failed to notice just how far she'd been leaning in to get a closer look. For the span of a single breath, the deejay seemed to catch Nat's glance, buried though any face was in the oddly blue hood, just long enough to let slip the slightest of scratches out of time and place. Though jarring for only the most sensitive of those gathered, it only became apparent to Nat just how disastrous such a mistake could be when such an empath, so finely attuned to each and every piece of aural input, and so large to cultivate a stronger sort of momentum, fell out of step and collided with the much smaller pixie, sending her flying onto the stage.
Flipping over the rig, the slender master of soundscapes barely caught her before she could lose her balance any further and fall into the rig. With a mortified gasp, Nat quickly felt a wave of panic rise within her, only to subside at once at the reassuringly gentle, yet firm grip upon her shoulder. Taking a breath, she bashfully smiled at her rescuer, only to then catch a glimpse at a single long finger, extended over where a mouth should have been, in a gesture all too familiar with anyone who'd ever been a child of mischievous intentions.
For there, under the hood, was the simple rectangular shape of a speaker, who quietly intoned the words that would change Nat's life, the only fitting words to the song that kept this heart of New City alive:
“Can you keep a secret?”