THE UNDERGROUND | adepts | avatars | rituals | artifacts | dukes | cabals | rumors | unexplained | unnatural | misc | scenarios | mods | fiction | THE OVERGROUND | news | forum | submit! | search | links | downloads | ua-ml | NEWEST SUBMISSIONS | Thin Black Line | Dance of the Red Spiral Part 2: Collateral Damage | Shrekomancy | Ablutomancy |
Ever wonder about the Dead Kennedys covering "Viva Las Vegas"?
In the recesses of the old foundry, the lone operator was the master of his domain of air, radio waves and noise in the darkness. With a single deft press of a button, the airwaves surrounding Hollowville were again filled with the strains of country-western music from the 1950's and beyond, with the rarest of all treasures saved for the last hour of the shift: Johnny Cash.
The operator, radio DJ Skip Wymore, was a long-time resident of Hollowville since birth, escaping in his early twenties to get a degree in Idaho from a fairly-known broadcasting school, returning to be the voice of the air gods, playing Slim Whitman and the Statler Brothers at all hours.
The station, when it was at its peak (an indefinable time, at best; speculation ran that it hit its highpoint in the early 1970's, but supposedly Elvis Presley played a live gig there as part of a tour of the Northeast) was a small-time operation at best; three trays for records, an original eight-track system, a DAT which dated to the birth of Christ, and the most recent arrivals, the electronic catalogue of CDs which Skip had shipped in from his old alma mater when they upgraded... in 1997. Since then, the world evolved, but Hollowville clung to its history and dated methods like the drowned dead clung to life preservers.
The small collection of hand-picked CDs were supplanted by the vast amounts of donated records from estates, discards from yard sales and random gifts from the few music labels who doled out non-headline bands’ promotional goods. As such, they had an eclectic, if not downright bafflingly selected diversity of on-hand stock to choose from for their play lists.
As the hour approached the top of the dial, the old clock in the subbasement broadcasting booth silently moved into motion again, not ticking so much as emitting a low hum. The minute hand crept across the first of the sixty notches indicating the hour’s portion, eliciting a nod from the single sentient being in the building, the power of the station returning to its first stage of broadcast potential. The records and compact discs were arrayed around him like the technological nest of some airwave phoenix, prepared to rise anew from the ashes of the previous night’s successful broadcast day.
This, Skip thought with a smirk on his mind as well as his lips, is where the night gets interesting.
The air near him shimmered in the twilight of the overhead fluorescent tubes, an image flickering in and out of the visible range of light, the visage of a man with a guitar and a pair of barely-visible shapes behind him, all apparently exerting sizable effort to form an apparition able to be seen.
“Evening, boys,” he said, extending his hand out to the ghostly image of the man in square-framed glasses with the old-school Fender Esquire slung over his shoulder, the motion returned with an unknowable force, the motion then matched and received from the two adjoining figures appearing beside him, also carrying implements of music: a microphone stand complete with trailing cord drifting into the ether of the realms of the dead and a speaker with an ethereal logo of an unknown maker, possibly made where music goes when its been good, but mostly just dead.
“You guys up for a quick hit of ‘Chantilly Lace’ chased with ‘Donna’ and followed up with ‘That’ll Be the Day’? I can rearrange the order, but they’re on the list for the night.” A gentle shrug from Skip, sympathetic but firm. “I’ll let you guys sort this out: I mean, you guys are… well, you are *THE* people to ask about this.”
The three figures of a spectral nature turned to one another, and began conversations unheard by mortal ears and unknowable by mortal minds. It went something like this:
“So, I vote we do ‘Lace’. Everyone loves it, especially the kids.”
“No, J.P. We did that last run of yours’ … what the Hell was that… Ah! “Beggar to a King”. He did that one first the last time we were here, remember?”
“He’s got a point... I vote we do one of Ritchie’s, one of mine, then we do … Well, fuck. I really hate to tell you, Bop… but I could never stand your early shit. I mean, you’ve always had the talent, but… this “you gave me your love to keep me warm” shit is going to make me ill.”
“Thanks for the critique, Buddy.”
“No problem, but… nothing personal, right..?”
“No, no, no… nothing personal… but, I do have a problem with the order on the menu… I vote we do a coin toss.”
At that point, the air around the air booth erupted into a small crackling cloud of misty figures spiraling into one another, periodically ejecting randomly grabbed objects from the tables nearby, sending them into the walls, ceiling and floor with astonishing force. The musical items were unaffected, as a side effect of their unique state of undeath, but the remainder of the room was approaching shambles at a rapid rate, terminating in final flurry of blows from the tallest of the crew into the two shorter, all parties involved heaving their chests in an almost-instinctual memory of breath and adrenaline surges.
“Knock that shit off, you two! This guy’s been awfully swell, letting us use his booth, go back on the air … not to fucking mention he is the one who brought us back from the dead to keep up the music, right?”
Skip, silent as stone, kept flicking records and CDs into place, the mantra-like motions soothing the two fighters back into semi-cohesive peace. The one with the square glasses nodded, and extended his hand, kicking his feet in a childlike shuffle. “I’m sorry I was an ass, Bop. I’ll try not to lose my temper.”
“No big deal, Buddy. We all have our off days… but you lay off about my tunes, and I won’t make ‘coin toss’ jokes anymore.”
“Guys,” Skip added, headset resting on one ear, a lit cigarette drifting a blue-grey cloud through all three musicians in a wafting breeze unfelt by living flesh. “… you’re live in five… four… three…”
Two seconds later, they returned to a semblance of physical bodies, their instruments at the ready, each singing what could be described as the performance of their lives, had they any lives to have the performances of. To even the most casual of listeners, to say little of actual fans, would admit the music played struck nerves deep in the soul of those hearing the nigh ethereal tones belted out, strummed or drummed by the dead.
As the last chords of “That’ll Be the Day” ended and the reverb cut out for the last time, the DJ smiled broadly, rising to his feet and applauding. The three figures bowed in sequence, each one touching some attribute of their outfit: Buddy touched his glasses, Ritchie his guitar strap and D.J. his microphone stand’s neck; the touch was unconscious to their active minds, but apparently significant.
Each extended their hand to the DJ, smiling happily. They had again played to an appreciative audience, however silent he remained, as oft was his desire. With a flourish, each turned and walked towards a chalk outline against the far wall, shimmering into blurs of smoke and then nothingness as they departed from the physical and returned to the eternal.
With the departure of the old-school masters lay their objects of affection: a microphone stand’s neck, a guitar strap and a pair of antiquated glasses; grabbing the items carefully, Skip sighed happily and placed them up on a small concealed altar behind the DAT system, returning them to their rightful places. Between all three of the items was a single 1957 polished and well-loved quarter.
With a quiet grace, Skip removed two more items from the tableaux of death and music: a shotgun shell and a ring with “TCB” engraved into it, the fit for a large man, albeit one who rarely wore it publicly.
“That, ladies and gentlemen of Hollowville, was the unheard demo never released from the old-school never-was super-group, “Legends”, comprised of the Big Bopper himself, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly. Tragically, before they could play this demo, they died in an unfortunate plane crash out of Clear Lake, Iowa, due to a miscalled coin toss, decided by unintentional fate the survivors would have successful careers, and the rest would also be a big hit, albeit with the farm land only a few miles away. I would like to take some calls now, for additional requests from these three giants of music for tomorrow’s playbill, but first up, listeners, we’ve got a special treat: the rare cover of “Love Me Tender” by Kurt Kobain, late of “Nirvana”.”
Across the township, a few phones dialed the numbers for the station: the shut-ins and the insane left to live on their own accord. The elderly called the station, which they never missed a broadcast of, out of a desire to hear the voices of their past-world’s musical nation, whereas the insane called to request impossible duets, unlikely combinations and bizarre covers by artists long dead before the music was even written, let alone successfully covered.
Through it all, on a dead channel, broadcast to the mentally-affected, Skip Wymore (formerly: Skip Bannicroft, of Miami, Florida, until his musically-inspired, necromancy-affected suicide and subsequent mis-shipment to the basement of the radio station in a clay jar) was the man with the keys to the world of the dead, unlocking it for the anxious listeners. Somehow, the universe elected to deliver the foci of the life of any given dead musician to the doorstep of the station, usually in the broad afternoon, untouched by the locals and unknown in the real, but well-established in the unreal worlds.
Sometimes, in the stillness of the night, cars driving past the old station could pick up any number of bizarre conversations, interviews and impossible jam sessions.
“Following our Elvis tribute, we’ve got a special treat: Tupac Shakur and Janis Joplin, singing a very strongly requested version of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. This one’s for the lovers… hit it, Elvis, Kurt…”
Writ under the placard of the station, a motto in Latin: “La Musica è Morte Al Contrario."
Music is death reversed.
Mr Unlucky | profile | Jan 26, 06 | 10:54 am
Nice, very very very nice.
pedant | profile | Jan 26, 06 | 12:34 pm