It was the music that woke me up. A pulsing melody, intense and urgent, born from the depths of someone's writhing soul. It washed over me in waves. It made me whole, it made me aware. I felt it sucking me in, calling to me, as much as I was pulling it towards me.
Binding my scattered energies across the ether, it dragged me into the realm of consciousness. I plummeted downward, my energy suffusing the air as I found myself rushing to the earth on a surge of electricity.
I landed on the tower, high above the earth, beholding the sea of lights in front of me. An avalanche of impressions crashed into me as I hovered over the city of grit and dirt; the birthplace of grunge, the proving ground where some dreams had burst into life and others had died in anonymity.
I plunged into the chaos below me, following the music. I blazed through familiar streets, catching glimpses of familiar places from decades ago.
I passed the Croc, now renovated into a glass and steel trap. I tore past the sea of people by Chop Suey, catching faint reverberations from within. I wove through Seattle seeing old glories and new rages, drinking in the scent of human rage, desire, passion and death. The forgotten echoes from the past stayed with me as I left the city behind.
I went further on passing a large rainforest to the east of Seattle. The smell of cedar wood soaked through the air as I soared across a long open highway. I swooped lower to the ground as I gradually neared a small settlement nestled beyond the forest. Silence greeted me as I flew past a past a large billboard, scattering dust and branches in my wake.
Rushing through the wide streets peppered with dark, quiet houses, I was drawn to a two storey stone structure at the upper west end of the town. Green neon lights flashed at the entrance as I passed through the giant double doors at the front.
I followed the sound waves through a semi gothic foyer into a staging area. It was silent and dark, a faint smell of stale beer in the air. Bits of trash lay around on the well worn hardwood floor. Light reflected off the steel bar stools on the right, illuminating a large wall filled with posters, guitars and other rock memorabilia
Low tables and couches were scattered around, arranged in a rough semi circle. At the centre of the room, raised seven feet above the ground was a podium. A drum kit stood alone at the centre, thrown into sharp relief by the harsh lighting overhead.
The very air tingled with echoes from the recent past the low undertone of pounding rhythm, the wrenching wail of highly strung guitars, the heady exhilaration of hundreds of people lost in the rapture of screaming melody...
I liked it. The place had... potential.
I burst through the back wall of the stage causing a shower of sparks from the lone spotlight overhead, emerging in a maze of narrow corridors stacked with rows and rows of boxes. I flew through long dark hallways, to a room at the very end of the building, growing hungrier by the minute as I converged on my quarry.
I tore through the doorway, my energies crackling through the air. There, in the centre of the dark room, it called to me, like a beacon. Flashing red, green and gold, pulsing in rhythm with me, the source of the waves. I rushed into it, becoming one.
Dylan Sawyer paused half way through his solo and frowned at his amp. The beat up second hand Marshall was emitting intermittent crackling noises. He thought the cap job he had done last week had taken care of the motor boating problem on his old amp.
Great. Just before the audition.
He let his fretting drop and walked slowly to the window. The back window of the Styx's storage room looked out onto a disused alleyway, a service road connecting the back entrances of the establishments in the area. He watched as a large rodent scrabbled through the overflowing trashcans on the opposite side of the street. The low vibration emanating from the adjacent transformer travelled across the road, making the glass pane shudder imperceptibly.
The Styx was the one of the few venues in Redwood which hosted rock musicians. Over the years, it had become singularly known for the amazing beer and the good musical tastes of its patrons. Dylan's friendship with the host Joe allowed him a few extra perks such as the occasional free drinks and more importantly, the use of the empty storage room at the back for practice sessions.
For over a month now, Dylan had been spending every single minute of his free time in here, practicing for the Red Crunch audition. He had no idea why he was even attempting this, given his track record. Sure, he thought he was making progress. Sometimes, when he was noodling around he came up with some pretty awesome sounding riffs, like just now, before the amp went nuts. He had their songs down perfectly but somewhere in the back of his head he knew exactly how this was going to turn out. The thought was not encouraging.
A movement across the road caught his attention. A particularly strong gust of wind had knocked over the trash cans, spewing their contents across the road. Bits of paper and packaging material swept past the window to land on the centre of the alleyway. They began to swirl around in expanding circles, seemingly caught in an air current.
Intrigued, Dylan stepped closer to the window, his hand pressed against the pane. A shudder ran through the glass as the wind intensified. He was suddenly blinded by a bright flash of light reflecting off the window. He spun around to stare across the empty room. There was dead silence broken only by the spluttering from the amp.
He felt a strange tingling course through his body. Without warning, the intermittent chugging of the amp changed to an even high pitched whine, inexplicably getting louder by the second. Suddenly the orange fluorescent lamp above seemed too bright. He squinted at it, becoming aware of a sharp pain in his head.
He clapped his hands over his ears as the screeching from the amp reached an ear splitting high. It abruptly cut off as the lamp exploded over his head in a shower of sparks. Glass shards rained around him.
Dylan felt an intense wave of nausea hit him. His stomach turned, his legs turned to rubber and his throat constricted. He doubled over and puked on the floor. Groaning, he blinked the sweat out of his eyes. His head swam. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see a blurry orange afterimage all around him as if he was on fire.
He shut his eyes, waiting for the nausea to pass. He straightened up, wiping his mouth. The air smelled strange, like burning rubber. He pulled off the back cover of the now silent, smoking amp. It was fried. He hoped he hadn't blown any fuses in the Styx's electrical system. Joe would kill him.
He hurriedly found a broom and swept up the wreckage of the lamp, shoving it discreetly behind the door. He strapped his Ibanez back into its case and paused to stare at the now useless amp. He kicked it, knocking it over on its side as he strode out of the room.
He walked back the four blocks to his house, running over the solo in his head, his fingers moving involuntarily in the air. He stole across the lawn and quietly climbed in through the window, so as to avoiding waking anyone. The dizziness hit him again and he barely managed to crawl into his bed before he passed out.