“I’m bored,” the young one whispered. The whine came through as he continued. “We’ve been doing this for three hours; I want to do something interesting. Come on, we do this every day.”
“It’s important to be as capable as possible,” responded the calm one. Going over the Disbelief repertoire yet again had been his idea, as ever, but Ed had conceded quickly to this genius conception. “Whenever we’re required to perform we want to both look, sound and seem not only cognitive, but also, by comparison, incomparable.”
There was a moment of silence before the young one continued, “You use too many big words,
” he whined. “You should say stuff easier. Can’t we do something else? Do we have any sweets left? How about jam? I like jam if there’s no Haribo.
“You’re going to rot our teeth,” the calm one told him. “You have to take responsibility for all of us when you start eating all of your treats and sweets. You can’t shake off the blame when we are the ones brushing the teeth.”
“But I really like sweets.”
Ed brought his improvised Thrillseeking solo to a close with one last bend to his highest B note. He had been playing for a long time, and the young one could certainly do with some attention now. The young one missed his friends, so Ed was beginning to feel the same trying to burst out of him. Moreover, he could feel the calm one trying to instil in him the responsibility of perfection. Nevertheless, Ed was in charge here, so three hours of work was enough for now.
It was silent when he stopped. The curtains were closed, blocking out the little light that came from the dull street lamp outside. Due to this, the room itself was pitch black. He couldn’t see anything that he owned, or where his fingers were on the fretboard, but that was alright. He could feel the room around him. He could tell where his bed was, and even the exact fret that each of his fingers had chosen to position themselves on. The wood led his actions, taking him smoothly and consistently forwards into something that Paul, Jace and Adam would certainly enjoy. Then again, they typically enjoyed everything that he came out with.
“Where do you think they are?” asked the young one. Ed knew instinctively who was being referred to. “Do you think they miss me?”
“Us you mean,” corrected the calm one, “and I’m sure that they do. They always seem very glad to see us.”
“Like we complete their pathetic paths,” added the loud one. There were a few moments of quiet while fear shot through the young one, causing Ed’s hand to shake ever so slightly, but he maintained control.
“Well the band does have four members,” the calm one countered quite smoothly. “We can likely find them in one of many different places. Where do you think that it would be best to start?”
The words of the calm one spread a feeling of safety, forcing the induction of fear from the loud one to retreat. It was because of this that the young one felt more than confident enough to speak. “Roadkill,” he suggested in something of a sing song voice, “Indy’s, Fuse, Mountford Hall?”
“All fine drinking establishments in their own way, but we do have to consider current circumstances,” the calm one instructed. Ed could feel the young one taking in the lesson as it was given to him. “Paul is in something of a less welcome regard by the rest of them. I’m aware that we can see his perspective, but we can also see theirs. Paul did make a mistake, we just need to make the point of making sure that everybody comes back together happily.”
“We should rip his spine out through his throat for lying to us,” offered the loud one. Insidious tendrils of anger began to creep through his mind, seizing Ed’s body in the name of the loud one. “I despise liars,” he continued. “Their depleted sense of honour is adequate to earn them removal.”
“You can not make that distinction my brother, as much as you may wish to,” replied the calm one, like a parent addressing a wayward child. This led to a rush of white hot fury running through Ed, but he kept his face as still as possible so that the change would not be betrayed. Thankfully, it passed quickly. “We have to consider that Jace and Adam have their own differences as well, so it could easily be difficult to find any of them. Which would be the most obvious one to trace?”
“Well, Paul has his room, but Adam’s boring and spends a lot of time at home when he’s not with us,” explained the young one, as though reading off a list of Adam relative facts. “Jace is wherever they have alcomahol, but that’s a lot of places. We should go and see Ally; she gives us caramel when she sees us so we like her.”
“Ah, yes, Miss Steadman,” began the loud one with something of a maniacal laugh underneath his words. “You’re right in that; we like her very much. She is a delicious creature. If only you weren’t such a despicable waste of breath little Finn, you might actually stand a chance of getting a taste of such a creature. You should let me out. I would have her in moments and ruin her forever. I promise nothing though; they like it to hurt. I might even hide the scars from that frail little waste of a body that you insist on carrying me around in.”
“Leave it be brother, you are not helping anybody,” the calm one said over him, effectively silencing what Ed knew would result in a torrent of abuse. “You’re still sitting in darkness with a guitar on your knee Edgar. It likely is a very good idea to wander out and socialise a little. The little one could benefit from some attention and I shall find some way to occupy myself. Also, Mr Taylor could definitely use a little affection from somebody, so it is our responsibility to make sure that he is not being too unkind to himself.”
“Can we sing him a really nice song?” asked the young one hopefully.
“Edgar doesn’t talk if you recall,” replied the calm one. The disappointment that came as a result was the same every single time. For some reason, the youngest of his three internal friends had a lot of trouble holding on to that fact.
Ed put his Stratocaster back onto the stand without looking for it. Everything in this room has a particular layout, order and symmetry, like the most beautiful of music. There was almost a rhythm to the room, and Ed was a single note to flow through it all. He didn’t have to see anything; he could simply feel everything from his guitar to his desk and back to his bed by the window and the shut curtains. He buttoned up his shirt smoothly as he made a little circuit dance around the room and then followed that up by making for the door.
“He’ll be at the Halls, right? Right?” inquired the young one eagerly, showing off his natural enthusiasm for being correct. The calm one sent him a wave of affection and acceptance in response, which brought the young one into a brief burst of song. He was always one to enjoy even the smallest of victories.
Ed left home behind him and wandered out towards the main streets. It was almost strange that nobody knew where he lived considering how close he was to the town centre. Perhaps it was always that he would be the last one of the group to leave, or would vanish without a trace in his own way and time. Often, the ones in his head called for it and he had to disappear before he lost control, but most of the time he maintained himself with relative ease. The loud one didn’t often care what happened around him, and the calm one generally kept him in line.
Abruptly, Ed missed a step, twisted his ankle and tripped all at once, bringing him crashing down to the pavement with a bang. In addition to the pain, he was hit by a feeling of immense satisfaction, but it was fairly obvious that that didn’t actually come from him. The laughter resonating around his head confirmed it. The loud one did not like being thought of as ‘in line’. This came as no real surprise. Ignoring the burning undercurrent coming from his ankle, Ed dragged himself back to his feet and continued to press onwards. Thankfully, nobody seemed to have noticed, though he wasn’t on any streets of importance, so that was no surprise.
Both the calm one and the loud one were thankfully quiet while he was walking. The young one was not, but he talked, laughed and sang quite happily most of the time. Ed had long since learned to phase out the noise, though he had always had trouble with the overly infectious smile. That just would not go away. He found himself marching to the rhythm that the young one’s song was setting. It was loud, boisterous and merry, which was just what Ed was happy to have running through him as he turned onto Smithdown Road and both heard and smelt the rush of vehicles running down it.
The sudden external noise halted the rhythm a little, but only because Ed couldn’t hear the young one’s outburst of pleasure. He soldiered on proudly, and, within moments, his inner child had lifted the volume to compensate. Ed could feel the annoyance of the loud one mounting, but he could also feel that the calm one was keeping a close eye after the earlier ‘accident’. It always seemed odd to him that something from inside his own head could make him feel so safe, but such was always the case.
Yep, that’s all I’m leaving you with.
It’s been a blast and an honour to write for all of you. You’ve all forced me to improve over the fifty weeks I’ve been doing this; UG’s first weekly fiction column. I’ve had people telling me I was writing it wrong from the beginning, I’ve had to face a deadline change purely because the management wanted another writer in my spot and god knows how much people have told me that I can’t write for shit, but it hasn’t stopped me, and here we are for it.
Thanks for sticking with it. I want everybody to leave a rating and a comment just this one time for me, because this is it. There will be no follow up from Disbelief. Should it be published, it will be available for purchase. If not, then you might see it again, but it will be at a price. I’ve put too much of my life into it.
In the meantime you can follow any of my other works that are currently available on UG. Life and Times; the UG story comes out every other Thursday. That one’s a little different. Or you could check my blogs, where I’m posting updates for Battleships (yesterday’s apocalypse) and An Aspiring Love (love for all the wrong reasons is still love). I’m planning to be back with some non-fiction in a couple of weeks. Practical Composition it will be called, and it will be an examination of making music rather than the usual factual lessons. Once that’s done, which will be after Christmas some time, I’ll be starting another, somewhat shorter, fiction series called ‘Lute’. It’s more comfortably in my own genre.
Please do rate and comment on this, the final piece of Disbelief on UG, as though it was the entire thing. What were your favourite bits? What were your least favourite bits? What characters did you hate and what situations didn’t you believe? What do you think is really going on with Ed? What do you think is really going on with Cooper? Does Paul get the girl? Should Jace get laid? You can help me by letting me know what’s on your mind.
This last piece was non-canon, which means that it will not be appearing in the novel. This bit’s just for you.
Thank you, as ever, for reading.
All work copyright Tom Colohue. All rights reserved.