Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Talent

The studio waited, white and stark and empty.

So quiet.  So still and clean and pure.  Utterly untouched.

The lighting still soft, at forty percent.

Almost there.

Just meters away, Sol paced around the control room, checking over shoulders of the techs as they muttered into their mikes, looking at the array of screens...archaic, but high-function...that showed every angle of the new, improved studio.

He ran a hand through his thinning hair, feeling the sheen of sweat gathering on his scalp, the rush of blood in his ears.  Nervous?  Sol?  He can’t get nervous, he’s the king of the world, and yet here he was rocking back and forth on his heels, his weight shifting anxiously across the perfect soles of his buttercream leather Ferragamos.

C’mon.  He breathed in, breathed out, centering himself.  Gotta stay focused, gotta be on your game, this is all the damn marbles.  Again.


It was Tran, materializing like out of nowhere, man, almost spooky how she just could sneak up on you like that.  Her eyes locked on his, dark and focused as a leopard’s in her round flat face.

“Yeah.  Whaddaya got?”  Sol barked out his genial Jersey rasp, always more than slightly overloud, enough to startle the uninitiated.  Tran didn’t even blink.

He wasn’t sure if she ever blinked.

“All cams at 100%.  Initial run showed three point two percent of units suboptimal, but techs got on it, and we’re good to go.  Studio’s scrubbed, sterilized, absolutely bio-clean, everything per contract.  We’re tight and ready.”


“Everything at W.O.T.  No bandwidth issues, all subsidiaries reporting.  Pre-shows lighting up on schedule.  Between pre-shows, retrospectives, and C-level tuber-chatter, we’re already up to thirty seven point three five of total North American traffic.  On track to exceed projections.”

“How’s our girl doing?”

“‘She’s ready.”

So close.  So close.  The door to the dressing room was still closed, sealed nice and tight.  Wasn’t quite time for the star to appear.

It was all flowing as Sol had requested, and there was no way the studio was going to say no.  Not to him.  Not when it came to Tyler Smith-Kim.  What TySK needed, TySK got.

Whatever we need, babe, you give us whatever we need, Sol had said to the prim NetViews exec over a three milligram lunch, and boy, had she delivered.   And the good girls and boys at NetViews had got on it, because that was their damn job, and bam.

There it was.  Just as he wanted, upgraded and retrofitted and cutting edge.  The room, a perfect blank slate.  Visually, utterly empty.  Fifty meters by fifty meters by fifty meters, a perfect cube.  The interior, spotless.  The floors, pressure and heat sensitive, capable of providing weight-and-mass sim data down to microgram levels.

The cams were everywhere, invisible, embedded in the walls and floors, six hundred maxdef dot-cams, each capable of IR and UV, and giving resolutions four powers of magnitude higher than human vision.   That was one hundred and twenty seven percent improved over the last product cycle, and baby, that created some seriously profitable synergies.

You wanted to drill down to the mites that feasted on TySK’s sloughing skin cells?  Optimized!  Maximal!  Sales of Granulia 3.2, the must-have software package that let you get down to nanoscale TySKvid?  Never been better.

Hell, he’d never thought that’d take off like it had, but the grrls down in pre-marketing knew their stuff.  There were over forty seven successfully monetized mitecam sub-toobs on NOWee dedicated to that whole process.

Watch their tiny jaws!  Nom Nom Nom!   Laugh along with the DookieTwins NOW-award winning toob-commentary!  Watch for hours as mite leavings dried on the surface of her body, and were caught up and carried on the air currents of the studio.  Bid on individual motes...each utterly unique...as they were drawn towards the harvesting filters for packaging and distribution to collectors!

The market for blockchain-certified TySK MiteDrops had been super hot last year, with futures showing significant potential for growth in the coming fiscal quarter.  Sure, some analysts argued that there was real danger of a MiteDrop bubble, but analyst predictions of a per-unit ceiling at 1500ISK had underestimated the enthusiasm of the market and the limits on supply.

Sol still wished he’d done more than low-risk that part of his portfolio, but hell.  You can’t win ‘em all.

And with the new product dropping, heh...dropping...that enthusiasm was now running at a fever pitch.

Not that the old product was any less desirable.  It had been twelve months since TSigh! had blown the doors off the industry.  Two hundred trillion ISK at opening, more VR subs than ever in history.

A full year, and the chatter hadn’t come close to diminishing.

Hell, as Sol had told the board at the annual convention two weeks ago, even the performance of TySKlassic had never been stronger.  Using the synergy generated at launch, the plans for updeffing the old TySK VR onto VerReal had reignited the fanbase, bringing a new gen into play, and the fanboyzandgrrls had already generated nearly seventy five thousand new vids rearguing the merits of product that was over a decade old.

The impacts on the broader market were even more significant.  The big tech boys were up nearly seventeen percent, as the higher visual refinement of primary, secondary, and tertiary feeds made upgrading consumer grade viewrigs pretty much a requirement.

And pharma?  Wow.  It was nuts, with sales of the new formulations of NausYex Plus and Spinaway exceeding even the most optimistic fantasies of the pitchmen.

Sure, stabilizing and augmenting the VR experience with the recommended dose of Synethesiar had seemed enough three product cycles ago.  But that was forever.  Forever.  And the seven point two percent of potential market lost to residual dizziness and nausea was biting into growth.  NausYex and Spinaway cut that by seventy five percent, and when you layered in the collateral sales of anti-anxiety meds to deal with the side effects, it was just profit all the way down.

All.  The. Way.  Down.


And all of this, from her genius, her brilliance, her idea.  His girl.

Seven short years ago, they’d been number three, back in the day, man, when Lil’ NasteE dominated the industry.  Back in the day when there was an industry outside of TySK-affiliated holdings.  Before TySK was the DOW, the bluest of blue-chips, the beating heart of the entertainment economy.  Total market valuation, as of close yesterday?  It exceeded the GDP of all but four nation states.

Sure, there’d been other players back then.  But their loops and tracks had gotten incestuous, the industry was stagnating, there wasn’t a single damn new idea out there.  PornCore?  Old news.  Cuttersynth?  There was only so much you could sample the sound of a blade opening flesh.  And people talking about people, critiquing the critiques of the critiques?  It just got..old.  It’d been done.

There was nothing new.

Traffic was down.  People were bored.  Nothing exciting, just one artist sampling the samples of a mashup of other artists, an endless recursion, art devouring itself.

And then Tyler, Tyler herself had called a meeting.  Just him.  Alone in his office.  And she had said...he had the recordings…”I have an idea.”

He’d coughed.  Tyler had always been hard-core, totally dedicated, relentless.  Of all the talent he represented in thirty years in the industry, she was the only one who’d ever really freaked him out.  She was always five steps ahead of him, always hungry and questing and willing to do things that, well, he’d thought he was cynical and had seen everything.  He’d thought nothing could surprise him.  Man.  But she did.  Every time.

If Tyler Smith-Kim had an idea, it was going to be a thing.

She’d popped up a CAD program on her flat, whisked it over to him, showed him the schematics she’d worked on herself.  He’d skimmed her proposal, watched the sims, and...Jesus.

“Babe, Tyler, I love you, babe, you know that.  But you can’t do this.  This is…” and he’d coughed again and stammered, Jesus, Sol himself coughing and stammering.  “...this is crazy.  You’ll...it’ll…”

“Can’t?  Of course I can.  It’s the only way,” she’d said, through her perfect cam-ready lips.  “I’ve pre-signed the permissions.  Legal’s already been over it.  It’ll work.”

“You can just take a break.  Maybe spend some time in zero gee.  We can afford the station again, just away from everything, you know we can totally swing the launch fees, and if…”

She didn’t say a damn thing.  Just looked at him, her symmetrical blue/green eyes fixed on his.  Held him, for a long time, until he was forced to look away.

“You work for me, Sol.”

His voice, a submissive rumble.   “For how long?  How long would you do this?”

And she had smiled.

“Read the contracts, Sol.  As long as it brings it in, babe. As long as it brings it in. ”

So they built the Black Box.  Hermetically sealed, atmospherically controlled.  No inputs.  Nothing.  No light.  No sound.  Total darkness.  Just her mind, alone with itself.  Nutrients and fluids.  Bedding.   A toilet.  Everything padded.

Every outside influence, gone.  Every stream and loop and meme, shut down.  Just her, Tyler Smith-Kim, alone with her genius.  After six months, the door would open, and she’d hit the studio, and it’d be like nothing else.  Nothing but her genius.

He’d figured it’d be six months.  She’d come out, it’d crash, and she’d be out.  Great stunt, babe, he’d say.  Way to get to number two, he’d say.

But she was right.  Damn, but she was right.

It’d been seven years.  Fourteen product drops, not a stunt at all, but an event.  Not even “an event,” not any more.  It was the event.  Nothing like it, ever.

Release One had been the biggest thing ever.  Just straight to the top of pretty much every damn thing.  The wild tonalities of her singing, totally like nothing else, nothing ever.  Oh, you could hear the influences, sure, from Classical, Jazz, Afrobeat, Throat singing, Jesus, just everything.  But it came together new, finally something really new.

The bored, jaded world forgot everything else.

Lil’ NasteE?  Her next seven tracks were just resampled from Release One.  It was all TySK.  She was it.  She was all media, all the time.

And when TySK returned to the Black Box after twenty four hours of dropping track after track?  When that door closed on her voice at crescendo, holding that impossible note, and the world gasped?  The stage was set for more.

Six more months, and every month, the buildup increased.  Marketing and pre-marketing kept driving the wave, until pretty much nothing else mattered.  It was the biggest thing.

DayTwo?  DayTwo was where he was sure it would end.  Twelve months in total isolation, and when that door opened?  She didn’t sing.  Just, well, she just talked.  More croaked, really.  And crawled around.  And wept.  And begged for it to end.

Four days, she screamed and clawed at the walls of the studio, until her fingers left bloody tracks on the whiteness of the walls.  It was hard to watch, but damn, everybody was watching.  And sampling.  And oversampling.

When she crawled, sobbing so hard she was shaking, back into the Box?  Hell, that was hard on Sol.  On the whole team.  But a contract is a contract.

And DayTwo was bigger than ever.   Made Release One look like some tweener toobing for the first time.  Watching.  Arguing.  Making music and talking about music.  There was talk of legislation, of criminal charges, but their friends on K Street made sure that all went away.

It just grew, and grew, and grew.

And every time, every product drop was different.

TSigh! was just that one sound, that shuddering utterance that came from her as she crawled into the studio.  But it was enough, because it was unique and it was TySK, it could be slowed and modded and shifted and tuned.  And critiquing.

 And critiquing the critiques of the critiques, in the same endless meta-masturbation.

It was what people did.  But hell, did it make money.

The bruises that patterned her arms and back, turned into a thousand silkscreens.  The mites.  The speculation.  That missing right ring finger?  Man.  Yeah.  That was a trend for a month or two.  And the…


Tran, again, breaking him from his reverie.

“We’re thirty seconds from live.”

Sol blinked, pulled himself together.  The control room, looking at him.

“Alright, people.”  Here, the terse but confident speech, what was expected.  “You know what’s at stake.  But you’re the best, the best in the business, because TySK is the damn business.  Are we gonna make this happen?”

The response, not adequate, because they knew he’d say

“Seriously, are we gonna make some damn money today?”

And they roared, as a broad toothed grin split his flat red face.

And the countdown continued, echoed across a billion screens, as countless eyes waited for the door to open and the curtain to rise.

It was bright.

That was the word for the pain.  Bright. Light light

Brightlightbrightlightbright, pressing into her eyes light, blink, blink, how did you keep them closed, she didn’t remember didn’t remember

It hurt.  The light hurt.  And it made all of her friends go away.  Dishy clattered about, her sweet smooth roundess no longer a comfort, the soft ssssh of her voice as you rubbed her belly meaningless.

Nipple, oh nipple, who gurgled away her thirst, so generous and soft and big in the dark.  The light made her small and dead.

Mr. Hole who ate the gurf that came from her, and who screamed back her own stenchvoice when she cried out the sads and the rage?  No big welcome.  No big.  Welcome.  He was gone

And the light yawned and howled its hungry nothing at her

And it wouldn’t leave her


Not until she gave it what it wanted wanted her so she

Crawled into the hunger

wanted the


So she crawled into the hurt that


The Show.

Which Must