Explosions and protests in the market didn't scare Ebony. But, the conniption of Haji's eyes -- pupils rolling like spilled marbles -- left her mouth dry. She murmured words he ignored as his limbs spasmed until his body scooched to the floor.
Moments passed. Haji's eyes focused on Ebony. "No net."
She wasn't wired like him. Haji had the full immersive subscription. She searched for Al Jazeera's digi-avatar, but the janky ghost had disappeared from the corners of her vision. "Isn't possible."
Haji leaned against Ebony as he stumbled to the door. "The president fears us."
"Impossible." Ebony adjusted her hijab's drape. "The academics proved like-protests are mere feel-good symbolism and subject to flash crowds."
"Theory can't rule our passions, our fears."
"Maybe it's a glitch."
Haji pointed at LED billboards blinking with random noise. "No net."
Out of hundreds of net providers, she knew at least one of the billboards should have worked. "What do we do?" Ebony felt lost even if she didn't need the digi-avatars. She couldn't imagine Haji's pain.
"We add our skin to the game. We join them." Together they stumbled towards the market.