"Apocashitstorm Tour, day 5. The Grey Swarms opened for Turtlesmash the night I OD'd here - or so the police report said, anyway. I was fifteen years old. When I woke in the hospital two days later, your face was the first thing I saw."
Bashar Mati


"Hi Ma,

I don't remember anything about the concert - the bands, the music, the crowd. I was too throttled on Skydive and Snake that night to distinguish the thunder of bashcore from the roar of blood in my head. And then I ran across a pusher who was selling Razorwing for eight bucks a tab.

That's right - Razorwing. A certain designer stimulant named after a certain late '30s fighter craft that our family had a certain unpleasant association with.

So I declined the offer. Heeded the ominous portent and got the hell out of there - right?

Or maybe what I did was buy four tabs and take them all at once.

Yeah. Did that.

According to the police report, I went berserk and attacked the pusher, then set fire to his stash, and then went after the security drones that showed up. I didn't get far. The drones put 50,000 volts through me, which wouldn't have been such a big deal if my heart hadn't already been hammering along at triple time. The shock flat-out killed me. The med-bots came fast as they could, but the first glitched out and the second got hung up in the crowd, so I was dead for almost two minutes. And even after they revived me, my condition was touch and go on account of all the substances sloshing through my veins.

When I came out of the coma, your face was the first thing I saw. You'd been crying. Your makeup was smudged, dark lines down your cheeks.

When our eyes met, I expected you start yelling. And weak as I was, I was ready to yell back. Not even a coma could break my defiance.

But you didn't yell. You quietly asked Wyatt to wait in the hall, then pushed your chair right up to the edge of my bed and took my hand.

I wanted to jerk my hand back, but I couldn't.

It wasn't the strength of your grip that stopped me, but the warmth of your hand. The gentleness with which you took mine.

When you spoke, your voice was quiet, just above a whisper. "When I lost your baba seven years ago, you were my only reason to go on living." Your gaze lifted to the medical equipment surrounding us, the tubes and blinking lights. You shook your head. "Why do you live like no one loves you? Don't you realize that if you die, all my hopes and dreams, and all the hopes and dreams of your father, die with you?"

You reached and touched my hair, and like a thunder-crack, I broke. Or maybe I was just snapping back together. I lay there, sobbing, for what I felt like years. The whole time, you never took your hand away, and I didn't, either.

The next day I agreed to go into treatment. I wish I could say I never picked up again, but as we both know, that's not exactly how things turned out.
―Bashar Mati




  1. This location was determined by the name of this vantage point, the location near Denver, and the striking appearance and similarity between the images.
Vantage Points
Set 1 Air Combat Academy - Colorado Springs - Explorer Museum - Bridal Veil Falls
Set 2 Eagle Canyon - Monument Valley - Bryce Orbital - Lake Powell
Set 3 Faro Automated Solutions - King's Peak - Sterling-Malkeet Amphitheater - Denver Stadium