Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 185,422,742 Issue: 497 | 3rd day of Relaxing, Y13
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The 404: Part Five


by fuzzymonkey31

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The stage was empty except for two drumsets and a keyboard, some amps, lots of cords and a few guitar stands.

     Then there walked on twin white Grundos, wearing white shirts with "404" in red printed on them. Then came a small green Scorchio, wearing a similar shirt and large sunglasses, followed by an extremely cheerful—in a desperate way—a white Usul, wearing the shirt, plus a pleated black skirt. After them came a gothic Flotsam who had a bass slung 'round her shoulder, and a shadow Ixi wearing red and black plaid leggings along with her shirt. Finally, I stumbled out. A silly, pink, male Grundo, clutching my drumsticks tightly, and wearing a baggy grey jacket over my shirt.

     I peered out quickly into the audience. Sloth had moved, thank Fyora—well, not that she helped, but you know what I mean—and everyone had eventually sat down. It looked pretty full.

     As I sat down, I heard Vic and Pen stumbling through the intro. It went on and on, painfully, and miserably. As they bumbled on, I let my mind wander, and was suddenly struck by inspiration in the form of Sloth waving to me (yes, weird, I know). I began to write out lyrics in my head. If we ever get through this alive, I thought, This might be our next big hit!

     Suddenly, out of the corner of reality, something must've hit Loris.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     People sometimes say that you just get this smash of oddly placed inspiration—perhaps from another dimension—and you suddenly realize who you are. I think this is what happened with Loris.

     She suddenly leapt forward, grabbed Pen's mic, and screamed—quite impressively, really—"You ready to rock, Kreludor?!"

     Everyone in the cafe was stunned, but somehow, in their soul, they knew how to respond:

     "Yes!" I could distinctly hear Sloth's voice separate from the other concert-comers, but after all, he's a loud person.

     "I can't hear you!" screamed Loris. Of course she could, but it was the obligatory next step in the whole play that somehow we knew by heart. I think it just comes naturally to show-people.

     "Yes!!" the people shouted again, this time so loudly they drowned out even Sloth's distinctive shout.

     "Then let's rock!" screamed Loris, and threw the mic off the stage at the floor. The crowd went wild. Pen and Vic were horrified, but Uuvie was barely ruffled. She let rip with an amazing guitar riff like none you've ever heard before, and the guitar sang—or, more accurately, screamed operatically—beneath her touch.

     Vic and Pen leapt back into the world of the show, found their footing, and we began to play 'Perfect Loss'.

     Uuvie began it, singing with a clear bell tone, but with a hint of gravel, like the bell hadn't been cleaned for a good, long time:

     "With hair of ebony, skin like mist

     Her heart is pure, but her soul is twisted

     Her eyes are portals into the dark of the world

     But they're lovely black and gold, and she's a lovely girl"

     Terrence had finally worked that couplet into a song. I was so proud of him when he did it.

     Vic and Pen took turns further describing this lady, then I got the chorus. Somehow, for some reason, they gave me a solo on the chorus.

     "Don't scream in the Dark, it'll just disappear

     And don't cry or be frightened; they live off your fear

     We've all got to go when the night gets too deep

     And some nights you're just too tired to ever sleep

     Don't sob or moan, don't turn and toss

     This is not your choice and she is the perfect loss..."

     – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     On and on we played, each song with more passion, until we came to the final song, which was quiet and soft, to lull the audience into a peaceful state of mind before they went back home and crashed into their beds.

     Uuvie and I sang a glorious harmony:

     "Don't cry, darling, don't cry, dear

     The rain has left its young on the ground

     Until the sun bids them farewell

     The dew drops shall glisten all around

     And the moon will let her children play

     In the open fields and the wild moor

     While the rain will wait for her children to come

     Dashing back home to her cloudy door..."

     There was a pretty piano solo, a few more verses and chorus, a couple more solos, then it faded out.

     We paused, our bodies vibrating with adrenaline. Then, from the back of the audience, there came a holler and a cheer, and great loud clapping. I saw the silhouette of the most ridiculous hairstyle this side of the universe against the bright lights, and I thanked my lucky stars I have a boss who likes poetical rock-and-roll.

     Then everyone else leapt to their feet, clapping wildly, whistling, shouting, screaming some of our names (mostly Uuvie, though) and even some stomping of feet.

     Then a cry came up from the back of "encore". We froze. We had eleven songs; we'd played eleven songs. What now?

     "Encore!!" screamed the crowd. Far too much of the crowd to deny them what they wanted.

     "I–" I began, mouthing the words to my band-mates. "I might have something."

     They shrugged, and all agreed that whatever I had was probably fine. But I couldn't play any instrument besides the drum, so I had no idea what to do.

     But we had no time to do anything. No practice time. We couldn't very well tell the audience to wait half an hour for me to teach this new song to my band-mates. I'd have to sing it a cappella, and if at all possible, they might be able to figure it out by the second verse, and join in.

     I stepped forward, my eyes bulged, and I belted out the words that'd been germinating in my mind since we had gotten here:

     "Don't grab for a better life, if

     you lose your head in the entire process

     Don't fall for me and my cheap

     and my cheap flattery and my cheap

     Low flung compliments

     Thrown so hard that they leave dents"

     It had a sort or cheerful insanity about it. Mostly in a major key, but with dissonance strung throughout it. Too bad I couldn't play the guitar, I thought.

     But, remarkably, Loris was catching on, and was giving a beat. And, somehow, Xion was adding a bass line to it.

     We were a real band. Making it up together as we go along. I never would have thought it possible.

     I continued:

     "The show gotta go on

     Or, in this case

     Start in the first place

     Don't let it flag or fall

     Drag or drawl

     Keep it up or beat it down?

     You will never keep us down!"

     Pen and Vic came in with a rocking guitar duet—quite to my shock—and it was perfect. The crowd went wild. But I had no more, to be honest. Those were all I had come up with. Or, perhaps there had been more, but it had sailed away before I had a chance to remember it.

     So we just did some weirdly inserted humming—y'know, 'falala' and 'doo-doo-dah' sort of stuff—and ended it with:

     "Keep it up or beat it down!

     You will never keep us down!"

     They screamed. They loved us.

     We all grinned and waved, ecstasy lifting us high. Lifting me high. Well, actually, it was Loris and Terrence lifting me on their shoulders. The crowd didn't know we improv'd that last number. I don't suppose it really mattered; they loved it enough already.

     – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     I slumped in a cushy chair and smiled dreamily. Sloth and the band were sitting nearby, talking. They were getting to know him and, to their surprise, getting to like him.

     Only Terrence sat beside me.

     "That was really, honestly, superb and massively impressive improv. work, Bif," he praised me, and I could see the respect burn bright in his eyes.

     "Thank you, buddy," I said, smiling wearily. "But I'd really love to have a bed right now."

     "Oh, you'll get one! But for now, just bask in the glow of your immense and worthy success."

     Silence.

     "Where did you get the idea for that song?" Terrence finally asked. He gave me a pressing look, begging for the answer.

     "It just came to me. It all made sense when I made it up," I said, but it wasn't entirely truthful.

     It had really come from working for Sloth and my philosophy; Don't try and get to be too big of a flishy for your pond, don't be too easily flattered, and don't give up, because there's a glory in sticking it out, weirdly enough.

     And I had just put it into a rhyme. Easy as pie. Or rather cheesecake. Much tastier, cheesecake. I'd rather it be cheesecake than pie. Pie is rarely as good as cheesecake.

     And I fell asleep in that chair, and dreamed of being a rock star.

     Except I had the stupidest, tri-spike hair-don't, and was wearing a black robe with a red "404" on the front.

     But oh well. Not all dreams work out the way you expect.

     And at least I wasn't wearing a jellybean dress! (well, not yet...)

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» The 404: Part One
» The 404: Part Two
» The 404: Part Three
» The 404: Part Four



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