Skyshell is miraculously still in active work but will be in the back burner for the rest of the month. What a surprise. So I present to you the first bit of Lightbringer were a man is on a mission from Satan to save music.
Adrian Turner had met the devil twice. The first time was in the eighties during the rise of the sons of metal. He had sold his soul because being a good musician simply wasn’t god enough. Back then he could feel the energy surrounding him, he could taste it in the air, it was a time of growth, a time of great potential. He was already part of it, but he wanted, no he needed to be centre stage, gleaming in the limelight. And he did.
The second time he met the devil Adrian had to go and search for him. This was during the nineties at the time where grunge was killed by its children. He had all a rock star would have ever want, fame, girls, money, but by then he had realised that that wasn’t really what kept him going. He did not live for the drugs and the sex, as awesome as they were, no he lived for the rock’n’roll. So he went back to the crossroads and challenged the devil to a duel. They faced off against each other guitar in hand and Adrian won.
In the years that followed his fame declined until one day he was just one of many obscure rock musicians that all but the most hardcore fans had forgotten about. When he appeared with his band to play in some dingy old club those who still had vague recollections of him were surprised that he was still alive. But Adrian did usually did not mind. He got to tour with his gang, he got to lose himself in his music almost every night and more often than not he even got paid for it. Life was acceptable.
Tonight was less acceptable. He was walking through a hot humid Louisiana night, dreaming of air condition with only an empty petrol can and a million mosquitoes for company. The air carried the smell of damp decay from the swamp surrounding him. It went well with his foul mood. The tour bus had run out of the gas smack in the middle of fucking nowhere. Exactly at that point where it was equally far away from any type of civilisation in either direction. At first everyone had remained calm. Accusations were carefully packaged in friendly sarcasm before being passed around. Who had been responsible for filling the tank? Who had not noticed that the tank was fucking empty? And why the fuck did the fucking driver not notice that the needle was humping the pin on the empty side? And why exactly was it the drivers fucking fault all of the fucking sudden, when he had not had a fucking drink to be able to fucking drive them through the fucking night, while they where fucking sleeping? Passive aggression had only flung a few exploratory barbs at allegedly innocent bystanders when they noticed that the petrol cans were all empty. All five of them. So passive aggression was kicked out by open hostilities.
It was at that point that Adrian had volunteered to go out, walk back to the petrol station and fill one of the cans. In his opinion the sooner he was out of that fucking kindergarten the better. Let them behind and keep fighting while he was out in the air, having a nice midnight walk enjoying the atmosphere. Also who knew, maybe his surrounding could spark some inspiration and he could turn his aggression into a new song.
His aggression turned into being hot and miserable. How far could that petrol station be? He could have sworn that they had passed one not all to long ago. Between the swampy darkness and the dim streetlights it had been an explosion of colour and billboards. Surely he should at least see its glow illuminating the sky in front of him. But there was only darkness and the faint illumination of a shabby little crossroads ahead. They had passed a crossroads? He was still trying to remember when exactly that had been and how far it was from that godforsaken petrol station when he heard someone playing a slow old fashioned blues on a guitar. “Oh crap.” He thought.
The devil sat on a rickety wooden chair tilting slowly back and forth in the rhythm of the music. Adrian could never remember how the devil looked like but just glancing at him he instantly recognised him. He looked like an old man with eyes sparkling with youth. No like a young man almost still a kid with eyes older than time. No he looked like someone who was neither old nor young. Somehow he looked like all of that at once.
“I don’t owe you anything anymore!” Adrian croaked. He tried to sound confident but his confidence was crushed by the fear that somehow he had been tricked by Old Nick and that he had now come to collect what he was due.
“And a good evening to you too Melvin.” said Satan. “I have to say that I am a bit disappointed by your lack of manners. You could at least show some respect.”
“Good evening Lucifer.” Adrian said and summoning all of his willpower added, “And don’t call me Melvin. Please?”
“It’s your true name.”
“No. It’s the name my parents inflicted on me.” the devil might have come to drag him to Hell but he would not let him take his dignity, what was left of it, by calling him by his birth name. He had been born Melvin Watson a name that still made his blood curdle, but he had become Adrian Turner. He had earned that name and not even Satan was going to take that from him. He hoped.
The devil just shrugged. “As you wish. . . Adrian.” he stopped tilting his chair and his blues became slightly more modern. “Now, please, relax. Come take a seat.” he motioned with his head to another wooden chair which Adrian had not noticed until now standing not from from the one where the devil sat. “Don’t worry. You don’t owe me anything. You won your soul back fair and square.” the devil changed for a moment the tune he was playing turning it for a moment to the melody Adrian had played to win back his soul. “See? I remember. I always honour my deals. No hard feelings. OK? Now sit. We need to talk.”
Adrian sat down, facing the devil. His nerves calming rapidly. If he wanted the devil could speak in the most soothing of voices. “So if you don’t want my soul, then. . .?”
“I want you to do me a favour.”
“What?!” Adrian almost fell from his chair.
“A favour. I need you to do something for me.”
“No.” Adrian said. He did not even have to think about it. “No. No no. Nonononono.” he added for emphasis. “No.” waging a finger now just to be sure.
“You don’t even know what I am going to ask of you.” the devil said.
“Whatever it is it can’t be good.” Adrian said. “So: no.”
“Adrian. Shut up.” the devils words left no room for objections. “Adrian I need you to go out into the world and save music.”
“Save. . . music?” this Adrian had to admit was a rather unexpected request, he had been expecting more firstborns or virgins. “What from?”
“From dying Adrian. Music is slowly decaying, turning into sound and I can’t have that.”
“No.” Adrian said with brows raised, “I still don’t get you.”
“Look at the world Adrian. Listen to the way the music is evolving. Don’t you notice something? What do you think of music these days?”
“Well mostly its shit. But that’s pretty much normal isn’t it? I’m 50 years now, so it’s pretty much normal that I think that music these days is shit, right?”
“Not in this case. They way things go is that new music appears and you think its shit because it’s not the music you like, or because it is obviously stealing from a far superior original piece which all those horrible young people would know if they actually listened to real music. Let me ask you this. What exactly is wrong with the new music?”
“I don’t know.” Adrian shrugged, “It’s mostly tedious insubstatial pap that doesn’t do anything. You know? It does not even try to be anything.”
The devil nodded. “Now tell me are there any bands, new bands, that turn children into evil murderers and will surely usher the decline of modern civilisation and decency?”
“Sure.” Adrian paused and thought for a moment. “Wait. No. Not really. All the bands that I can think of are older than shit and the newer ones. They are so formulaic. It’s a bit like the colouring book version of evil. You know? Like My-First-Evil-Rebellious-Band. With a friendly web-shop and shit where you can buy all your rebel clothes and other rebel merch.”
“See?” the devil was now all arched eyebrows. “The magic is slowly fading away.”
“Come on. That’s bullshit. There is enough good stuff still floating around. Many new bands. New music. What with computers and the Internet and all. I had to work for months to be able to buy my first proper amp and finding the right people for the right band was a giant pain in the ass. Now you can emulate your amp on a lap top and search the net for like minded people.”
“You are right. That is all very nice but it does not change the central problem. People either get caught in the predigested crap they are served or flee into their little musical ghettos. And while that is happening the magic, the thing that makes music special, the inspires people, that makes them go mad, the soul, it is fading.”
“I think maybe you are getting a bit old?”
For a moment the devil stopped playing his guitar the music gave way to an oppressive suffocating silence. “I”, Satan said, “am beyond old. I was created before time was made. I was the Light that stood apart from the Darkness. I know it is a bit hard for you as a mortal with your tiny, tiny life to understand but trust me, I have an eye for longterm developments. And I am telling you, if we don’t act, if you do not act, music will die.” as the devil stopped talking the silence became overwhelming.
Adrian moved uneasily on his chair. The chair made a sound but the sound was missing something. He began to feel miserable overcome by a feeling of emptiness. Something had been taken from him that he had been so integral to his life that he had not even known that it was there.
“See? Or better: hear?” the Devil’s voice was warm and melodious. “Once the magic is gone the world will lose something incredibly precious and I cannot let that happen.” the devil started playing his guitar again, his blues filling the crossroads with its warm melancholy tones.
“But why? Why would you do that? You of all people?” Adrian asked.
“Do what save music?”
“Because I am Lucifer.”
“That is exactly what I am talking about. You are the Devil, Satan, the Lord of Flies, Father of Sin and Temptation. Should you not be happy if music is gone?”
“And with what pray tell should I tempt the young into sin with then?” the devil snorted. “I really had expected a bit more from you Adrian. Of all people. I gave you a big boost to your skills so that you could become big rock star and then you improved yourself so much that you surpassed my gift and won your soul back. I am the Lightbringer, Adrian, I have do have a mission down here and that is to kindle light in darkness. But that’s another story really. The important thing is will you help me?”
“Why not you?” the Lucifer answered with the patience of a being older than time. “I made a list. You are on top of it.”
“You had to ask. If it makes you feel any better, I chose you because you still have a special spark. Your love for music runs deep in your soul. You get music on a fundamental, spiritual level. Which is why I think that you can help me.”
“Right. OK. Hmmm… so… let’s assume I agree, what am I supposed to do?”
“That is up to you really. Go out there, find people who have worked so long and so hard on their craft that they live music instead of just playing it. Find them. Do something. Fan the flames.”
“You do realise that my rock star years are over and with them also my rock star money?”
“You do realise that I am Lucifer and can bestow upon you my favours and gifts?”
“I’m not selling my soul again.”
Lucifer smiled a surprisingly warm smile. “And I would not take it even if I could. Your soul is far beyond my reach now don’t worry. You do make a good point though. You will have to pay a price. I am very sorry but these are the rules, I can’t favour you above other people without you having to give something in exchange.”
“So instead of my soul what are you going to take?” Adrian was feeling suddenly very nervous again.
“It’ll cost you your memories.”
Adrian opened his mouth but he could not think of anything to say, his thoughts were fighting each other in his head trying to get out, so he decided to close his mouth again.
“Not all of them of course. You will remember who you are. Most of your life. The important stuff. But you will lose memories that are precious to you. The names, people, tunes. You will retain general knowledge over the things that are important but many details will be gone. You will forget your band and they will for get you.”
“Don’t panic. You’ll be gone for a while it is better for you and your band that you do not remember each other. Once you have succeeded in your mission you will get your memories back and everything will be fine.”
“And if I don’t succeed in my mission?”
“Then you not remembering them will be a small mercy.”
Adrian Turner woke up in his large outrageous hotel bed, drenched in cold sweat still feeling the receding terror of a half remembered nightmare receding. Something with swamps. Or endless walks. Or busses? Buses? Really? Turner could not remember when he last had taken any form of public transport. Right now he could not even remember how he got into his bed. Fucking nightmare.
He got up walking to the bathroom. The suit he had crashed in was so expansive and hip that had not to worry about stubbing his toe on anything. The room had so much style that it needed a lot of space to fit it all in. The bathroom itself was less palatial, instead it was incredibly pragmatic, everything just the right distance. This was a bathroom that meant business. Turner tried to hate the interior design but failed. Somehow the suite pulled it off were so many others failed and looked like the usual northern American money instead of taste style.
He looked into the bathroom mirror and was… pleasantly surprised actually. While he was not young anymore, age had etched his face into a more weathered variation of his younger form. His eyes were a bit beady, but held a mischievous glint in them that had no right to be there after just falling out of bed. Fully clothed. Was he drunk? He did not feel drunk. Or hungover. Or drugged. He was probably just getting old. He washed his face with warm water, to get rid of the clingy sweat and to relax a bit. He looked at himself again. The eyes were now their normal size again. Now open and piercing. His hear was a mess, but in a roguish way.
“I’ll be damned.” he said impressed by his own reflection. People might not recognised him anymore on the street but he certainly had retained his super star nature. He smiled to himself and walked back into the bedroom. He was about to undress and go to sleep again when he remembered that he had come here for a reason. It was actually good that he had woken up. He was looking for a man.
He grabbed his heavy vintage leather jacket and left the suite.