Chapter 24 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Unlike most clubs, which feature loud rock bands, the entertainment served up by the Saturn Cafe was exclusively instrumental electronic music. The proprietors had invested a huge amount of money in the Pit, stocking the sunken area of the floor with the very finest synthesizers and electronic keyboards that money could buy. This was one of the reasons for the exclusive nature of the Cafe. The performer, called a synthesist, sat in this hole, surrounded by equipment. His music flowed forth from numerous speakers that were inconspicuously positioned everywhere in the room. Altogether, the Cafe employed six synthesists full-time, though you might hear only one or two of them in any given evening.

The synthesist currently performing had been doing a complex tune with a heavy rhythmic beat, but it had degenerated into a jazzy, futuristic jam-session. The synthesist had clearly stopped following his sheet music and was experimenting, trying out several variations of a certain lilting melody, making it all up as he went along.

Paul said, "So where do we go now?"

"I think," said Dave, "That we should try their apartment again. It was a hot day, and it's a warm night. They might have gone for a swim. Perhaps by the time we get there, they'll be home again."

The others nodded and grunted in agreement. They knew that from time to time the Android Sisters enjoyed sneaking into a neighboring apartment building's swimming pool for some quick skinny-dipping. It was easy enough to do... The Four had done so many times themselves. It was simply a matter of waiting until a sufficiently late hour and then climbing the fence. The pool was poorly lit at night, and the building's nightwatchman rarely ventured forth from his post at the lobby desk.

The Four got up, deposited some money on the table, and left.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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