Friday, 30 November 2012

Lightbringer 011

Chapter Nine

Highway Train

The next day started late for Turner and Kim. They had crashed on Sam’s clandestine couches after their musical conversation had run into the early morning hours. It was not until the late afternoon that they went back the hotel. They got stuck in the rush hour paying the cabbie mostly for swearing while immobile. They arrived there as the soon sun was painting the sky crimson. The first star had appeared above heralding the approaching night.

“There you are!” Cray had been sitting in the hotel lobby seemingly lost in thought. The moment he saw them enter he got up walking towards them in long strides. “I started to worry after you missed breakfast and lunch. Are you OK? You are OK, right?”

“Yes Cray.” Turner said. “There is nothing wrong. We just got carried away yesterday evening. Which by the way is a good thing because that means that we have a drummer turning us into a functional band.” Turner turned towards Sam, “This here is Samantha Freeman.” he said.

“Call me Sam.” she said shaking Cray’s hand. “So your Billy Cray. I’ve heard a lot a bout you and I’m looking forward to hear you play.”

“You heard about me? Er… wow… right… I guess we’ll have a lot of time to listen to our music now I guess. Pleasure to meet you.” after a short pause he added: “please call me Will or Cray. I hate being called Billy.” he’s smile twitched a bit.

“Sure thing Cray.” Sam said. Slightly amused that Cray appeared more nervous of meeting her than she of him.

“D.C. in his room?” asked Turner.

“No.” Cray’s smile stabilising, growing into a wide grin. “He’s getting the bus.”

Kim whistled in appreciation.

“You’ve got a bus?” said Turner.

“Bus?” asked Sam.

“While you two were out and about to recruit our latest memeber… erm… Sam. We went right into the mission of getting us a tour bus. Well maybe not the very instant you left. There was also a bit of drinking involved. But nothing wild. Deeply social occasion. We were tossing around some ideas. It took us a while but we quickly got the ball rolling. The bar has wireless LAN, so combining the pleasure with the research was easy.”

“Right.” said Turner.

“Turns out that there isn’t anyone specialising in tour buses. At least not in the net. We were going through a couple of options. But then we remembered where we were. And while we may not be walking legends like you Turner, we do have friends in the scene. So we rang up a few people, they called friends of friends. Shit like that. And then shazaam! We got a number of a dude that might be able to help us.”

“A dude?”

“Yep. Older even than you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean.” asked Turner who remembered that even to the older band members like Cray and Sam he was still ancient. He didn’t feel ancient. His body might be getting creaky, but his soul was still young and fresh.

“I’m sorry Turner. It was not meant like that. You’re not old, old. Right? You are more of seasoned? Grown? Full of wisdom?” Cray was getting nervous again as his words did not improve Turner’s mood. “At least you’ve still got all your hair.” he was grasping at straws now.

“You were talking about the bus dude.” said Sam, she was standing a bit back from the other three observing the group. She hoped her little prod would bring the conversation back on track.

“Right. Old dude. Like in he was even around when you were young. Which is kind of great. Right” Cray said.

“Experience is important. You are right Cray.” said Turner who was now starting to feel more sorry for Cray than for himself. “So who is he?”

“Now listen to this. Most of his life he wasn’t a chauffeur, but a roadie. So that’s puts us into two birds with a stone category. He is a veteran of many tours, has seen generations of bands coming and going and the best part is, because he is feeling that he is getting to old for this shit, he built himself a bus. One big double-decker extra length monster of a bus. When he retired he bought a big old machine. Wanting to turn it into his dream home on wheels. Turns out he still dreams of music. So there he is sitting on that monster which feels kind of pointless without a band.”

“And we just happen to be the first band that comes knocking at his door?” said Kim doubt rolling over her features.

“No. It gets even better.” Cray was no visibly excited. “He was open to the idea to go on tour once again, but so far he has told every band that came knocking at his door to fuck off. Not one of them was good enough for him. We were almost blown off ourselves!” he said as if it was the most amazing thing in the world.

“But we got the bus?” asked Turner.

“We got the bus.” beamed Cray.


“Because of you, man.”

“Me?” Turner had not seen that one coming.

“Yep. He remembers you Turner. He remembers you from the time when you were and I am quoting here: ‘a motherfucking rock god’. The idea that you have returned from oblivion to form a new band and kick some sense into the scene today got the man all excited. So as you had not come back we decided to split up. D.C. went to the old man to bring the bus, while I waited here for you to come back. “

* * *

The roadie did look nothing like Turner had imagined him. He had played through many variations in his mind but none had come up with what he saw. The man was probably 70 years old. He had long silver hair, a face full of deep fault lines and crevices, his muddy brown eyes had gone a bit watery with age. But he was built like what brick houses dreamt of becoming when they grew up. 6’5” tall, mostly bulging muscles, with lightly tanned skinned that had an impressive collection of scars. He looked like a man who had not simply lived live, but had walked right through it. As he had introduced him self his deep voice rumbled through the room like a rock slide, shaking the people in the room and bewildering the elephants in the local zoo.

When it was Adrian’s turn in the round of introductions, the man paused. “Oh. My. God!” he said his deep bass moving into the upper baritone scale. “It’s you.” the man out his plate sized hand in front of his mouth, obviously fretting. “It is such an honour to meet you sir. I know this sounds silly but I am a huge fan of you. I’ve been collecting your records since your Critical Chain Gang Reaction days!” Turner winced. That had been the name of his first pre-soul sale. The memory returned instantly to him as the man in front of him said the words. With the memories also came deep embarrassment. “Right through the later days of Vintage Innovation. I was devastated when there were no new albums. For years I have kept my eyes open, hoping beyond hope that you’d still be touring the states. And here you are! Right in front of me!” the giant’s eye were now brimming with tears, one of them breaking lose as he blinked rolling down the canyons of his face.

What the fuck am I supposed to do? Adrian the man asked himself. Turner the rock star on a mission felt right at home. He placed one hand on the mans arm while shaking his hand. “It is a great pleasure to meet you. Please stop the ‘sir’ nonsense my name is Adrian.” he smiled his most winning smile. Kim rolled her eyes, D.C. was trying out his minimalist ‘what the fuck’ face, Cray was shaking his head repressing a chuckle and Sam was in her neutral observer mode.

“McLean. Darius McLean. It is such an honour…” it took Darius an enormous amount of will power to say: “…Adrian.” one the word was out he started to beam like a xenon arc-lamp.

“No Darius, can I call you Darius?” Kim groaned at this point which, Darius seemed to not notice though, both Cray and D.C. now were working very hard at not chuckling inspecting the walls with renewed interest.

“Of course si… Adrian. Darius is fine.”

“Glad to hear that. Darius it is us who are honoured, I heard that you had dismissed all other bands before us.” Darius was now turning a deep red. “We are all incredibly happy that you decided to give us a chance. You are taking a big risk here. We are newly formed. We haven’t even played all together yet. So thank you from all of us that you came all the way here to give us a chance. We really appreciate it.” the old mountain of a roadie was now working hard to keep his dignity. There was now a second tear tumbling down his face, his lip quivering.

Turner looked at the others who were fighting to subdue their giggles. “Right?” Turner tried to calm the others down. The could not see the big man or his reaction. Having them laugh out loud would be a disaster. Kim was stepping forward her face foretelling the arrival of a wave of sarcasm. When she saw the face of the old man, her expression changed instantly. First there was surprise with a bit of shock, quickly followed by her features softening. Her smile was now warm and welcoming. She put her hand on Darius’s left shoulder. “You sir, are our mother fucking saviour.” as she said that she slapped his shoulder a couple times. She looked at Turner indicating with her eyes, that he’d now better leave the picture for a moment. Turner moved over to Sam. Cray had picked up on the situation once he saw Kim’s reaction, he approached working with Kim of getting a proper conversation going. He Darius when he started talking about how he’d like to see the bus Darius had constructed, as he had soldered his favourite keyboard together himself. Kim joined telling her about her hand carved bass and soon the three of them were having an animated conversation.

“Well played chief.” Sam said.

Turner shrugged. “Back in the day I used to meet thousands of people like that. Never in such strange circumstances though.”

“You did well. A bit stilted but for that guy it was discovering that Santa Claus was real all along and that he had been a good boy. Many others would have either behaved like pricks or would have lodged their feet so hard into their mouths they would have fused with their faces.”

“Thanks. And that was a really disturbing image.”

“Kind of amusing though.” said Sam her deadpan moving ever so slightly to hint at a smile.

* * *

Half an hour later they were back on the rooftop restaurant of the Hotel sitting at their special round table drinking to their two new additions. Kim had developed a complicated three drink cooling system, that kept both her hands cool while allowing her to drink from a central mother-drink through a straw. Her antics allowed the two new comers to ease into the group as everyone agreed that Kim had her ‘special’ moments.

From there the conversation flowed naturally back and forth. First the were talking about their quest, followed by Turner and Kim telling the others about their jam with Sam. As the night went on Darius shocked and delighted with his roadie stories. They soon discovered that you just had to give the veteran just one keyword to get an outrageous story from the old man. After they had eaten they had drinks while Darius had them in stitches with his stories.

Later that evening when Turner returned from a short stop at the toilet he paused for a moment before joining his band. He was leaning against a wall in the half shade looking at the illuminated table where they were sitting. It was now deepest night. All was dark around it, their table a small island of warm light in a sea of darkness. He felt a strange sensation, like his insides were being pulled together. It took him a while to remember that this was how in a past so far away that it might have happened in another reality he had felt when he knew that his band had come together. For a moment he thought that this memory had also been one that had been kept by the Devil. That was not true though. This was a memory he had lost on his own. With his actual band. The now faceless group of people touring through the grotty bar’s of Louisiana tyring to make a living. With the people with whom he had attempted to keep this fire going for so long, he had lost this feeling.

Adrian shivered. The people around that table suddenly looked so far away. How did he fit into that group anyway? He had not done anything to get this going. The mission, the quest as the others now referred to it, was given him by the Devil. The musicians he had sought out had all ended in disasters. Only after The Critic had given him his list did he even have a fucking clue who to look for. Maybe this was it. Adrian Turner’s time had come and gone a long time ago. He had found all these people brought them together and now that they were united they had turned into a band. They did not need him anymore. D.C. could play the guitar. Both Sam and Cray were great singers, who would have thought, and Kim was a decent shouter with a lot of potential.

It was getting a bit chilly. Adrian thought that this was the time to fade into the night. His job here was done.

“Hey chief!” Sam shouted. “What the fuck are you doing over there?!”

“Yeah Adrian, move your ass over here. You look like psycho standing there!” D.C. was now drunk enough to shift into his extrovert persona.

Adrian smiled and walked back into the light.

Back at the table the discussion had become focused on the next obstacle on their quest.

“Before we can even dream of booking a gig, we should get a rehearsal room, don’t you think.” D.C. said.

“Well that should not be that hard. There’s bound to be tons of them around here.” said Cray.

“Also since we have Lord Coke over there,” said Kim nodding towards Turner “as our patron money should not be much of a problem.”

“I’m not sure it’ll be that easy. We’ll need a big one.” said D.C. leading to a moment of complete silence at the table before everyone burst out laughing.

“Oh for fuck’s sake.” said D.C.

“So you need a big one for fuck’s sake?” Kim asked failing hard at staying serious. “That clears that up then.”

After that it took a while until the conversation got back on track.

“I don’t see how arguing over the rehearsal room helps solving our problem.” Cray said “Could be we find the right one first thing tomorrow, could be we don’t. But sitting here talking about it certainly won’t change that. We now have a rather good idea what it should look like. So maybe we should wait with the details until tomorrow?”

“No need to wait.” said Darius. He had not voiced any opinion during this debate. “’cause uncle Darius has just the place for you.”

Now he had everyones attention.

“Why didn’t you just say so?” Kim asked.

“I just did.”


“Well, I needed to know what you all were looking for. Then I had to go through all the options. Now I know.”

“So where’s that place of yours?” Turner asked.

“That’s a surprise. I’ll drive you there tomorrow.”

“Surprise?” asked D.C.

“Just find it in your heart to trust me. By the way dose anyone of you here have a drivers license for trucks?”

“I do.” said Cray.

“So do I.” said Sam.

Darius looked pleasantly surprised. “That is very good. It’ll save us a lot of trouble.”

“It will?” asked Kim.

Darius smiled the lines of his face underlining it. “Another surprise.”

“I hate surprises.” said Kim crestfallen.

* * *

“Is that thing even legal?” asked D.C. pointing at the steel monster in front of him.

“Who gives a fuck? It’s awesome!” said Kim.

“What is that even supposed to be?” asked D.C.

“This ladies and gentlemen is Jörmungandr.” said Darius swelling with pride turning his already large frame into a temptation for adventurous alpinists.

“That clears it up then…” said Cray.

“In what dimension would that be considered tour bus?” asked Sam.

“Australia.” said Darius. If at all possible the people around him now looked even more confused.

“Is any of this going to make sense at any point?” asked Turner.

“I was on tour with one of the greater gods of British rock, back in the seventies. We were driving through the outback because the band thought it would be a great adventure to not take the plan but drive through the outback instead. That shit ended with us stranded in the desert, with no settlement closer than two hundred miles. We almost died there. The way that place looked no one would have ever found our bodies. But in the end we were saved by a pair of house cats as huge as lions who saved our skins and led us to a tribe of Aborigines who nursed us back to health. But that was when shit started to get really strange…” Darius paused for a moment. “Where was I?” everyone else pointed towards the infinite machine in front of them. “Oh yes. Jörmungandr! So we were driving down one of those endless roads. The ones that stretch from horizon to horizon in an seemingly endless wasteland when it happened. I sat there looking out of the window, wondering if that was how the whole world would look like after World War III. We passed a truck. Which in itself would have been the most exciting thing that had happened in three days. But that thing was enormous. It had one trailer stuck to the next. It took is a fucking eternity to overtake it. Since that day I’ve been dreaming of taking that road train idea and turning it into a tour-bus. And well there it is.” he said making a ‘tadaa’ motion with his hands.

Sam tilted her head, squinting a little. “Yeah. Now that you say it I can almost see it now.”

They were standing in front of what looked like a complicated multi dimensional bus crash. There was a over long double decker bus with two articulations in the back, but it was connected to more buses of different types that were coiling around it. Some of the double deckers appeared to have been made out of two different vehicles.

“Right now it’s three independent vehicles.” said Darius, “Two of them with trailers. So there is enough space or all of you and a lot of equipment. You also said that you think you might want to recruit more people. There is still plenty of room left. The three main towing machines can be connected into one super-large train. But that’s not road legal in many places…”

“No shit.” said Kim under her voice.

“…apart from that the super train is a real pain in cities. That’s what it is split up. Right now one is enough but with Cray and Sam as drivers we can take all three of them. Right then. All aboard! Time to get you to your new rehearsal room.”

It took some more shooing on Darius side to get his shell shocked colleagues moving. Half an hour later they were on their way. Darius’s home and workshop was outside the city, so they left in the ‘super train’ configuration consisting of all three busses and their trailers linked together into a 250 feet abomination. After a while the others got used to sitting inside of Jörmungandr. It was rather comfortable inside. There were leather seats and a bar for one. Another reason for them relaxing was that from the inside it looked a lot more normal. Only when the drove around stretched out curves and the could see the other end of the bus out of the window did the original apprehension reappear.

They drove for hours along the coast, leaving the city far behind. When ever someone asked Darius where the fuck they were going he just told them to be patient.

At long last the Jörmungandr slowed, turning a sharp corner into a narrow dirty road. This was again cause for excitement for some. Although by now people had leaned to cope in their own way.
Adrian was focused on his Devil’s Luck. Even if they should get into a horrible accident with their mobile train crash they would be OK. Kim had decided that if death had not come to them yet it was obviously not the time to worry about it and had returned to her former calm. Sam calmed herself by listening to the rhythms of the machine and those of the road, slowly starting to trust the strange machine. Cray was now inspecting the construction of the mega-bus losing him self in the engineering details. Only D.C. was still freaking out.

The trundled down the winding road back towards the coast. It took them almost another hour to reach a small natural harbour enclosed by crescent shaped cliffs. The forest grew right down to the sea level giving way to a large beach covered with fine white sand giving way to an ocean of blue waves crowned with white foam.

“Here we are.” Darius declared.

“This is our rehearsal room?” asked Turner.

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Breathtakingly so. I only see a few small problems.”

“You mean the lack of rooms and electricity?” said Darius ruining Turner’s sarcastic quip.

“That was what I was going to mention yes.”

“Look around you. What do you see Adrian, tell me.”

“A beach. Far from civilisation.”

“What else?”


“God your slow.” said Darius. “Jörmungandr is also very much here.”

“Right.” Turner said. “Oh.” he added. “Oooooh.” He turned to Darius. “Tell me how much power do the engines of your ‘bus’ produce.”

“I’m glad you asked. Enough to power four or five full size houses and there’s enough diesel in the tanks, that it’ll take five days to get to the point where we have to go back to a gas station. If we don’t go crazy the fuel can last us for two weeks. Before you ask, I have spare stacks, microphones, cables. What ever you need its here.”

“I’m impressed.”

“But wait, there is more!”

“Six steak knives?” guessed Turner.

“Actually there are twelve but that’s not it. I have one last trick up my sleeve.” Darius set the bus slowly back in motion. He drove slowly in a vary sharp curve pulling levers while doing so. THis had the effect that the front of Jörmungandr moved while its tail end remained where it was. Slowly the bus formed a circle leaving a gap only a few feet wide between the front and the back bumper.

“Jörmungandr is also a mobile stage.” Darius said grinning.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lightbringer 010

Chapter Eight
Percussion in the light

The train ride to their next destination took a few days. They were filled with animated conversation about what direction to take the band in. Sometimes the arguments got rather heated, sometimes it was just Kim and D.C. having one of their usual discourses. Adrian had to calm Cray who became nervous when the two had ago to each other.

Turner was pleased with how things were turning out, there was a lot of creative potential in the air with new ideas flying constantly flying around. In the evening the group retreated to one of their cabins where they would attempt to bring the ideas they had accumulated over the day to life.

The only strange thing that happened in their way south was that Turner had developed a strange obsession with cereals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner always saw him with at least one new type of cereal which he then proceeded to eat with the utmost care, much to the amusement of his companions.

When they arrived at their destination the Sun was still the sole ruler of the the immaculate blue sky. It shone with the casual professionalism of someone who had been doing something impressively difficult for so long that it appeared to be effortless to a casual observer. Shone on everything man, animal, plant or structure with equal force making everything under its gaze bow down before its brilliance. Humans were huddling in their air conditioned hide outs. Animals had sought shelter in shadows, the more cunning among them inside the human dwellings. While the plants and buildings had to sit it out daydreaming about the night.

Kim’s first reaction to the outside weather was trying to return to the train. It took some effort from Adrian and D.C. to make her stay. “To hot.” was the only thing she said, the heat sapping her energy. The cool air in the cab did not help with her mood either. Arriving at the hotel she was the first to go to her room leaving the others behind telling them not to bother her until it was dark.

Turner had taken Lucifer’s lesson to heart, while still on their way he had changed their reservations from a sensible to a abundantly comfortable hotel. It was not a palace of luxury it did however boast big bright rooms with splendid room service. More importantly it was also located at a spot of high strategic value as it was near their next target as well as several potential venues for their first concert.
Getting the drummer would complete the core of their band allowing them to establish an identity as a group. After that was done, with everyone ‘getting it’ they could then go on to add more people if the need should arise. Adrian had been part of to many failed projects where egos had clashed horribly or where the ideas what the project was about were fundamentally incompatible. This could of course still happen with Kim, D.C., Cray and the drummer but so far things were looking good. Things would become difficult soon enough without the help of inner band conflicts.

As the sun sunk under the waves of the Pacific ocean in a spectacle of light leaving a warm afterglow in the sky, the city slowly woke from its dormancy. As the labours of the day faded into the dark, the bleached face of the city began to shine with its own light, from a million sources in a rainbow of colour. The heat was replaced by a warm ocean breeze bringing the smell of the sea as well as the fragrance of flowers in full bloom. The austere clothes of work the humans had been wearing during the day were shed in the twilight to be replaced by their more colourful attire of leisure.

They were all sitting around a large round wooden table, that after days in a train looked to them large enough to become an independent city state. The were sitting in the hotels rooftop restaurant, that gave them a breathtaking view of the city, its lights stretching to the horizon in every direction apart from the east where there was a sharp cut to the almost dark of the Pacific. D.C. and Cray sat in front of bottles of beer so cold that they were covered in tiny droplets of water. Kim and Adrian had chosen cocktails. Adrian had a straightforward Harvey Wallbanger, while Kim was sitting in front of a fruit crowned Mai-Tai so large that a primitive tribe would have confused it with the statue of an idol representing debauchery and fertility. She had asked for the largest cocktail they had.

“I need something big and cold to hold on to.” she said as she noted the quizzical looks from the others.

“You still think its too hot?” Cray asked.

“It is still not cold enough it makes my hands and feet feel warm. I hate that!” she had her hands wrapped around her giant rotund cocktail glass making her look like an alcoholic fortune teller.

“You could try wearing something other than those combat boots you are constantly wearing for a start.” Cray suggested. At this point D.C. looked directly at Cray shaking his head minutely.

“What would you suggest? Sandals?” Kim asked.

“That would be a start.” Cray said. D.C. turned away hiding his face in his hand.

“Fuck you. Sandals look like shit. Also have you ever tried the female version of sandals? The are as ugly as the male counterparts with the added bonus of being horrible feet disfiguring pain machines.”

“Not all of them.” Cray said taken aback by Kim’s unexpected fulminant reaction.

“Oh so you are now suddenly an expert on womens sandals are you?”

“No. Not really. But still there are rather normal ones that don’t look much different from the male ones.” Cray said more surprised than frightened.

“Which brings us back to the looking like shit part. Also have you ever had a stone stuch under your foot in a fucking sandal? It happens all the fucking time. I prefer boots. They are comfortable and you can run in them.”

“I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend you.”

“It’s OK. It is a bit of a sore point for me” to this D.C. nodded vigorously, “I can see you from the corner of my eye D.C.§ the nodding instantly stopped. “Besides even when I am barefoot, in this weather I still get horribly warm feet, so I can have at least nice and comfy boots.”

“Fair enough.” Cray said. “You have your principles and you stick to them. I respect that. A lot. Cheers” he said rasing a toast with his beer bottle to her.

After they had dinner they decided how to go on. One of the main problems was now transportation. While trains had been a comfortable way to get from one place to the other, they had reached their limit of practicability with Cray’s keyboards and those were just the most portable models Cray had. With drums it would become impossible.

“We need a tour bus. Plain and simple.” Turner said.

“Reasonable. Do you knew where to get one?” D.C. asked.

“No fucking clue. Which is why we are going to split up. Me and Kim are going to the drummer, while you and Cray do some basic research to find out where we can get a nice big tour bus for us.”

“Why us?” asked D.C. exchanging confused looks with Cray. “I know nothing about busses. You?”

“They are a part of public transport?” said Cray.

“Kim are you an expert on tour busses and where to get them?”

“Nope. I always imagined that they magically appear once you are part of a successful band. The only thing that ever came close to one was the big old van that we used to borrow from D.C.s uncle.” she said.

“Neither do I.” said Turner.

“Didn’t you said that you were like this rock star once?” D.C. asked.


“So should you not be some kind of expert? At least compared to us?”

“Not really.” said Turner “During my early years we were driving around in a second hand VW mini-bus which comes close to your van situation and then like Kim said with the success came the bus.”

“So why don’t we just play a gig or two. Soon our fame will spread and the bus will come.” said Cray. What followed was silence and three pair of eyes looking at him gauging his level of insanity. “That,” Cray said “was a joke. Irony. We do that up in the north. You should try it some time. It’s good for you.”

“Right.” said Turner. “The main reason why Kim and I are going to meet our drummer designate is because Kim here is the bassist. She’ll have to work the closest with the drums. She needs to feel out the new candidate. I need her expert opinion. I have to go because… well because this is pretty much my baby at the moment. Or does anyone of you do the talking? D.C.? Cray?”

D.C. shook his head.

“I get your point.” said Cray.

“Good. You don’t need to make a bus appear by magic just get an idea of what is out there. The price is not that important, but the space is.”

“And the driver.” said Cray.

“And the driver.” agreed Turner.

“Let’s go.” said Kim.

D.C. and Cray retreated to the bar in the hotels lobby to do some research on the net. Turner hoped that they wouldn’t get totally hammered while ‘working’ on it. While he and Kim packed in their instruments, getting ready to catch a cab.

Before they saw the house, they felt the drums. When their conscious minds noticed, it was to late, the rhythm had caught them. Kim was tapping her finger, Turner nodding his head ever so slightly to the beat waxing and waning in the air, getting constantly louder. At first Turner was surprised that none of the neighbours were complaining. The few people he saw outside walking along the streets did not seem to mind. The few glimpses he caught of those in their houses seemed equally unimpressed by the sound. Turner marvelled for a while at the neighbourhood that got music at such a basic level that they did not mind the resident drummer going wild on the skins of her drums. Slowly it came to his attention that he was moving head with the rhythm, as he realised this he also saw that everyone else around him was moving to its beat. It was not that the people around him did not mind the drums. They were under their control.

“Do you see what I’m seeing?” Turner asked Kim.

“You mean how everyone is a slave to the beat?”


“I noticed…”


“Don’t know. Maybe two blocks ago?”


“I’m a bass girl. We notice this things. Remember? We are what links that raw beat you hear to the melodies guys like you produce.” Kim smiled. There was a small carefully measured amount of smugness involved.

As the cab turned around the corner the house of the drummer came into view. A strange very squat, very quadratic house. Beneath a broad mesh of thick corroded iron rods, were walls of stacked flat pieces of brown rock. The whole massive building was pulsing gently in the beat the slow beat they were hearing. It looked like all the heavy stones within their heavy iron cage were put into place to contain the massive sound surges that were hammered out from its core.

“That. Looks like a winner to me.” said Kim.

Turner just nodded. With the beat. Annoying.

The cab drove of in perfect time to the drums, shifted just at the right moment, only to add emphasis to the next beat as it sped up. Turner was beginning to wonder if it was really the beat that was controlling everything or whether they simply reflected what was going on around them. That was silly normal world did not have a rhythm. Even if it did it certainly was not as virulent and smooth as the one that was saturating the air around him.

“Are you coming?” asked Kim who had reached the door of the rock cube house, while Turner had been lost in thoughts standing on the sidewalk. He focused back on the present marching towards the entrance. He got distracted again before he had covered half the distance, there was something he was forgetting, wasn’t there. He turned around, looking back trying to remember.

“Adrian?” Kim again.


“Come to the door?”

“Yes. At once. There was just something…”

“Something?” asked Kim slowly getting tired of all the question marks.

“Adrian. Dude. We are here to talk to the drummer. Who, if I do say so myself, sounds fucking awesome. According to a Mr. Turner, you might know him, old dude, rocker, bat shit crazy, is our motherfucking top priority. So move your ass over here so that we can get this over with.”

Turner walked towards Kim. At least he tried to. The closer he got to the cube though, the more harder his body moved in unexpected ways.

“Or,” Kim said “I ring the bell while you break-dance in the background. That way we’ll look like a pair of Disco Mormons. I bet that’ll totally impress our candidate.”

“I can’t” said Turner straining against the rhythm, “move past,” instead of moving forward he stepped to the side, “the beat.” and shuffled a few steps back.

Kim rolled her eyes. “And you are supposed to be our leader…” she said walking towards Turner, grabbing his arm and dragging him towards the door.

“There we are.” she said. “Now grooving along is perfectly fine but please no more Michael Jackson shit, OK?”

“How… Why… You just walked?”

“Bassist power. You just wait for the right moment, then you move with groove. As long as you’re in the pocket there’s no problem.”

“That totally doesn’t answer my question.” Turner said. He directed all his attention to the bell, which in this case was not a button but a heavy metal chain ending in a polished chrome grip. It took some effort to grab hold of it. He followed Kim’s vague revelations, planning in advance his moves so that he could time them with the beat. That the sound was now so powerful that it was slowly pushing him away from the house didn’t make it easier. It took a few unnecessary flourishes, but he grabbed hold of the chain yanking it down with one dramatic gesture.
What followed was the crash of a gong the size of the Arecibo radio telescope.

The sound of the gong wiped out all other sounds. As its reverberations died down it left behind a deep silence that was slowly filled by the sounds of the night city. The beat though was gone.

The door opened revealing a tall woman in sweatpants and a over sized t-shit.

“What do you want.” she came right to the point.

“Hi. I’m Adrian Turner and this over here is Kim Cochran. We’d like to…”

“I don’t want it.” said the woman starting to close the door.

“We don’t sell anything.” said Turner.

“I’m also deeply not into your religion.” the door was almost closed now.

“Do we look like Jehovah’s witnesses?” asked an incredulous Turner.

The door had almost fallen shut leaving only a small gap through which a bit of light escaped casting a bright line unto the the dark patio in front of the cube rock house. “So why are you bothering me?”

“We’re here to talk music, sister.” said Kim.

The door opened up a tiny bit, enough so that a miffed eye could peer out at them. Fixing Kim. “Why should I care? Who the fuck are you to call me sister?”

“Because we are looking for a drummer and you might be good enough to join us,” Kim replied “and I call you sister because you are a drummer and I’m a bass girl.”

The looked away losing itself in thought for a moment. “Would that not make us cousins?” It then went right back to Kim spearing a glance right through her. “And what the fuck do you mean by ‘might be good enough’ to join you?” The door now opened wide again revealing the woman who now stood before them with her hands resting on her hips. “I never even heard of you fuckers before.”

“See and that is why we are here.” said Turner taking advantage of the opening that had just appeared, “So you can actually hear us. Us with our music. We could go around sending letters, talking to agents. Shit like that. Gets us nowhere. Without hearing us play that is pretty much pointless, right? So here we are. We came all the way here from the far north, just because someone told us that we would find a fucking amazing drummer right here.” Turner let that sink in for a moment. “Now if you let us in we can play a few notes. Should we not mesh it’ll be clear pretty much instantly. In that case we are gone. No questions asked, no hard feelings. In case that we do have some common ground we can talk, see were it goes…”

The woman in the door looked at them for a while. Her expression of irritation was gone. Instead she appeared to be thinking it over. Turner had to admit that he was pleasantly surprised. Compared to the others this was an unheard of level of reason. He nervously glanced over to Kim in case she had read his mind. Kim just stood there with a visionary look on her face that would have made the statues of generals and presidents envious. Despite her tempestuous temperament Kim had a black belt in striking a pose. As had D.C. Turner was starting to notice a pattern. He also noticed that he was starting to drift of in his mind. The woman was still thinking, pretty much ignoring them both.

The woman exhaled. “Why not. You came all the way to my house after all, so the least that I can do is listen to the voice of your tunes.”

As she let them in she shook their hands introducing her self. “Hi, I’m Sam.”

“Pleasure to meet you Sam…” said Turner his voice trailing of as he saw the inside of the house. While he was looking around he could hear that Kim had reacted in quite a similar way. The cube was mostly hollow. One big giant room two stories high. Entering the house there was a wall at the right hand side, which made it look like the front door opened into an ordinary corridor. It wasn’t a corridor at all. There was no wall to the left the room simply expanded into a large kitchen area which expanded into a… it wasn’t a living room really. The room beyond lay slightly below the entrance level. Its large open space was filled with an extensive collection of percussion instruments. Steel drums, congas, bongos, timpani, snares, toms, bass drums, xylophones, marimbas, bells, including their international siblings and variants. It was no living room, it was something found in the strange intersection were museums, temples and adventure play grounds met.
Everything else apart from the kitchen was hidden behind walls crammed into the right hand corner of the house and onto a little balcony that covered half of the kitchen.

And then there was the ceiling. It looked almost black yet Turner was sure that he could see tiny lights floating within its darkness. It took him a moment to realise that the dark ceiling was actually reflecting light back into the room, making the warm indirect light illuminating the house ripple.

“That” said Kim “is a swimming pool?” her observation broke down into a question.

“Isn’t it mega cool?” Sam said, “That roof cost almost as much as the rest of the house and the grounds it stands on but it was totally worth it. During the day it’s even better. Not much of a swimming pool though. That’s two feet of water up there. Enough to turn light into pure magic, but not enough to dim it to much. Or ruin me financially.”

“You play in a band?” Kim asked.

“Nope. Left the last one years ago. Have never found anyone interesting enough to keep my attention for long. So now I mostly explore percussion here and work as a session musician to pay the bills. Want a beer?”

“A beer would be nice.” said Turner.

“Sure thing.” said Kim.

Sam walked over to the kitchen. It was now rather obvious why this part of the house was not isolated away as the others were. She opened the door of one of her fridges, she had three, taking out three bottles of beer.

“She’s got a beer fridge.” Kim breathed. Turning to Adrian she added with round eyes: “Can we keep her?”

Turner smiled “I’ll see what I can do.”

It turned out that there was among other things a rather spacious couch hidden between all the percussive instruments. Sam indicated her visitors to have a seat while she sat down on a near by stool.

“Why me?” Sam asked.

“You come highly recommended.” said Turner

“Really? By who?”

“A friend of mine who is really hardcore into music.”

“Do I know him?”

“You will have heard of him. I was given your name by The Critic.”

“The Critic? For real?”

“Yes. Why so surprised?”

“You know, because it’s been years that I’ve been part of a proper band and back then I really wasn’t all that good. I was fine, I guess, but there are thousands of drummers who are fine. So he can only know me from my contract work, but that is just me professionally hitting the skins to give a rhythm to other peoples music.”

“The Critic has a tendency to listen really deep.” Turner said.

“What does that even mean?” asked Sam.

“Not sure. That guy is insane. So much so that the gibberish he says starts to make sense if you aren’t careful. He sees thing from a perspective that is very different to yours or mine, but that makes him see things that others miss. So far all of his recommendations have been spot on.”

“Who else did he recommend?”

“Kim over here. Her friend D.C. who is like a sound explorer on the guitar and a guy named William Cray who is what you get when you cross a mad scientist with a keyboarder.”

“You got Billy Cray?” Sam asked.

“You know him?” Turner was actually surprised. So far it looked that all the people in his group, himself included, were pretty much no-names.

“No. But I’ve heard of him. Incredibly tough guy. Rumour has it that he got pretty much the shortest end of the stick and then got the shit beaten out of him with it, all because he stuck to his synths. I’d love to hear him play.”

“That won’t be a problem.”

Kim had finished her beer. “Remember how we said we’d let the music do the talking? How about giving that a try?”

Sam nodded. “Right you are.” She necked the rest of her beer the looked around. “So how do you want to do this?”

“How about you pick your drum of choice, hammer out some beats and we’ll follow you from there?”

“Works for me.” Sam said. She lead them towards some amps that had, like the sofa, been hidden in plain sight. Turner and Kim plugged in their instruments. Checking their tuning before shifting their attention back to Sam who was now standing in front of a monolithic dinosaur of a drum with a diameter exceeding five feet, hanging suspended from a massive wooden scaffolding. Sam washolding two thick wooden sticks which under other circumstances might have been mistaken for some sort of kung-fu weapons.

After seeing this both Kim and Turner readjusted the volume on their amps. They would need all the push the power of electricity could give them.

Sam started with two beats, both punching right through everything in their way. Turner played a couple of quick notes decorating the space in between the beats. Kim slapped out a deep resonant roar adding tons of weight to the sound.

One hour later the three lay sprawled over the couch, clutching deep chilled bottles of beer.

“That was… amazing.”