Chapter 1 – Turbo Rapper
By Paul du Preez
Through December and January I’ll be serializing this YA novella. Enjoy! (Its available in stores right now – scroll down to the ‘announcements’ panel for retailer links.)
Eeugh, it’s hot!
London basked in beaming summer and Jordan did his best to chill, perched on the boundary wall, drumming his heels, watching the Dalston Lane traffic growl by.
The house-door behind him squeaked open and big-sister Lela stepped out with one of her hair-dressing clients in tow. Jordan twisted, sneaked a peek out the corner of his eye.
He tasted bile. Not because he didn’t want Simone to go, but because he felt so, like…zero.
More Lela’s friend than a client.
Jordan pretended to be engrossed, watching traffic. But the back of his neck tingled. Burned – like it was trying to bud eyes. On stalks. Evolution in overdrive.
“Lela, thank you sooo much,” twittered Simone. “My hair and that v-dress just mesh. It’s amazing! You are sooo talented.”
“Yeah, girl. It’s happening.” laughed Lela.
Jordan found himself turning. Irresistibly.
He had to look.
The Augmented Reality glasses Jordan wore connected him to the internet: they added a layer of digital information to whatever he was looking at – bus routes, social media tags, whatever. And virtual dress – virtual design overlayed on real-world clothing – was big and bigger.
Simone wore fairy wings. Butterflies haloed her, flitting in and out of sight at the boundary of the v-effect. And her hair – Jordan had to look really hard to spot where her natural hair ended and her virtual hair began – her hair was an ash-blond bob that seamlessly flowed into a sparkling shower of jeweled rain that vanished as it hit the sun-parched pavement.
“How’s K-lil?” asked Simone.
“K-lil? Yeah, he’s doing good,” replied Lela.
“His crew’s very lucky to have you as their stylist,” said Simone, fishing.
“Oh, baby, you know, me and K-lil is more than just a professional thing.”
“That’s wonderful. You deserve all the happiness that comes your way.”
“He’s opening for ToxiCity at the Hackney Ice Pick this Friday. That’s right, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Good exposure. Maybe I’ll connect that angel-investor – for my virtual couture house.”
“Oh, that will be wonderful,” gushed Simone. “Lela, tell me, when you do the crew’s hair, what…”
‘Veilz’, his holo-track was trending. Jordan had it on his PPC – his portable personal computer (his hand twitched, but stilled short of the gesture that would call up the virtual DJ controls). K-lil had his own crew – East London East, or Eealz as the local yards called them. He was a Q-Rapper– a Qawwali-Rapper – who rapped about Love and The Divine Heartbreak. He was half Pakistani, half Jamaican. A bit like Jordan’s dad, except – his mom told him – his dad was all Jamaican (that’s about all he knew about him). And his dad had given him a helmet of nappy hair that he wanted to get turboed – a twisting beehive style fading to a swirl-patterned undercut (like K-lil’s) that echoed the turbans of far-eastern Q-Rappers. He was going to get it done when the summer holiday started – if he could dodge getting it cropped before then. His class teacher had pulled him up on school hair-regs only yesterday.
“…so even though K-lil’s fans don’t use alcohol – well, mostly – they’re still keeping the no-under-eighteen restriction. Because he’s just the opener for ToxiCity, and the owner of the Ice Pick wants to make money selling alcohol. So I can’t get in, unless…” Breathless, Simone launched herself. “Can I be your assistant on Friday? Then you can get me in backstage. Please…please.”
Lela nodded grudgingly.
“Ooh, thank you,” squealed Simone, jumping.
Crump, thought Jordan. No ways will big-sister get me in. He didn’t dare ask K-lil, not yet. And trying to get in front-of-house would be no good either: ticket sales and admissions were linked to biometric scanners.
Being fifteen was waste.
But Simone had worked it – and she was only a year older. He tasted bile. Not because he didn’t want Simone to go, but because he felt so, like…zero.
Actually, it wasn’t fair. He wanted to be a rapper. More than anything. He really needed to go – would crush skulls to do it!
“Crump!” he muttered.
Life was sooo not fair! It hadn’t given him anything.
And a long, skinny body and a BIG imagination – which was not always cool. Because…
But, instead of being negative, Jordan believed in putting a positive spin on things. As much as possible. Imagination is what’s going to make people take me seriously. Things are going to change: I’m gonna be a rap-star – Grime-dub, Zeph-house… whatever. But, Q-Rap for grapp-zapping sure!
“…you can try the variations: it does something with snowflakes; and there’s a routine called ‘cherry blossom shower’. They’re not all gonna work so well with your cut and colour like ‘diamond rain.’ It’s only off-the-shelf software. And…” Lela slipped into patois, “so di ting set.”
“Ooh Lela, but you’re wonderful…”
“Need my own couture house, girl!”
Jordan imagined himself on stage, in the spotlight, Simone gazing up at him from the front row, blue eyes wide. He cocked the cordless mic to his lips and dropped rhymes, riding the beat: drum kit kicking, bass line booming.
‘Baby, baby, baby blond
Baby, baby, baby, c’mon
Shimmy that magic wand’ (Jordan liked that one.)
‘Make me a prince’
‘Baby, baby, baby blond
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby…’
Simone and Lela had stopped talking.
They were looking at him.
He was vocalising out loud.
“Baby, baby, baby…” he tried to pretend that he was humming along with a track on his ear buds, swinging his arms with the beat, trey cool.
“Your music is off,” said Lela, pronouncing verdict, eyebrows arching above the rims of her Minnie Mouse AR glasses.
Jordan was thankful for his caramel complexion. It went some ways towards hiding his blush – which was probably luminous in the dark, going by the burn in his ears.
“Jordan,” admonished Lela, “Where’s Liam and de men-dem? Go spend time with people your age.”
Jordan didn’t move. His mouth hung open.
Lela’s expression softened: “You rapping baby? ‘C’mon stand up and let me and Simone hear it.” And turning to Simone, “He drops rhymes you know.”
Simone by Paul du Preez
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Will & Jordan: Cyberhunt is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are the product of Paul du Preez’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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