The night before the Coachella set, Dr. Dre steps into his lab alone, for one final test of the hologram.
Dre’s lab is underground, expansive, cold, and florescent-lit, the lights glimmering on the stainless steel machinery and waxed concrete floors. Dre approaches the machine in the center of the lab, a low metal control panel covered in flickering lights and small buttons next to a tall glass tube.
“Boot up the hologram,” Dre murmurs to the machine.
“Of course, Doctor,” the machine says back in a soothing female voice.
The glass tube lights up bright blue. From the floor, the hologram rises, slowly, until Tupac’s muscled frame is standing, head down, in the tube.
Dre presses his hand to the glass.
“Yeeeeah,” the hologram says, lifting a microphone to his lips. “You know what the fuck this is. Whatup, Dre?”
“Whatup, Pac?” Dre whispers back, his hand tensing on the glass, as if he could press his hand through it, and maybe, somehow, feel the muscled shoulder of his friend one more time. “Sound off, computer.”
The hologram continues through the motions of the Coachella set, now silent. The humming of the machine echoes around the lab.
“It’s gonna be a good show tomorrow,” Dre says quietly.
The hologram scans the imagined crowd, and his eyes pass across Dre’s face, unseeing.
“We miss you, Pac,” Dre says. He lets his hands hang by his side. He closes his eyes and tries to remember it felt like to stand next to Tupac, the way his energy filled a room, the sharp bark of his laugh, the smell of his sweat after a show.
“I miss you.”