[Read part 1 here]
Dylan had no idea where he had gotten the guitar from.
He was polishing a 1953 Gibson Super 400 C Acoustic Arch top. He ran the cloth across the headstock, down the black ebony fret board to the pearloid pick guard and ending in the metal tailpiece. His eyes took in the faint scratch marks on the brown sunburst finish as the evening light glinted off the gold plated frets. It was old, this guitar, and yet...
Satisfied, he began carefully tuning the guitar by ear, listening hard to make sure that each string was at the right frequency. He strummed a few chords, humming to himself. Somehow it just didn't sound right.
"You're doing it all wrong." said a low voice in his ears. Dylan stopped mid-strum. Slowly, he took his hands off the fret board and rested them on the neck. A gust of wind blew across the room, sending a slow shiver down his spine
With a faint squeak, the pegs incredibly began to turn themselves. He watched as the bridge readjusted and the brass strings stretched themselves to an unfamiliar combination. He could feel a strange hum, somehow just outside his range of hearing.
He tentatively ran his pick across the strings. A rich, multi-hued metallic tone emanated from the guitar, unlike anything he had ever heard before. He strummed again and again, enraptured by the sound. Each note hung in the air with a distinct clarity.
Then he began to play. He had no idea where the melody came from (and how he had managed to get good enough to play something so intricate). Something told him he had played this before. Or that he was going to play this again. His hands flew across the fret board, gathering in speed, performing complex bends and slides that he would never have dreamed of being able to do before. The initial surprise gave way to acceptance as he let his fingers weave the music.
After what seemed like forever, he slowed down and stopped. The last strums echoed across the room. He felt a deep warmth inside him, a sensation of absolute calm like he had never felt before. There was a faint buzzing in his ears in tune with the vibration of the strings which resonated across the space. On and on...
He looked down at the guitar. Instead of dying away, the reverb was inexplicably getting louder.
He took his hands off the body. Still the echoes went on, doubling on themselves, increasing in intensity. A searing pain flared in his chest. Feeling a vague sense of panic, he set the guitar on the ground and backed away. He tried covering his ears as the wave of sound crashed around him. It was now punctuated by a harsh, grating metallic screech that sounded in rhythmic intervals while steadily oscillating in pitch. His last thought as he lay curled up on the ground feeling his sanity gave way was that it sounded oddly like laughter.
Dylan woke up with a start. His ears still rung, he was surprised that they weren't bleeding. His shirt was slicked with sweat. He was burning up. Sunlight streamed in through the dirty windows. He stumbled across the floor littered with cigarettes, cheetos packets and cd cases. Sid Vicious, Steve Vai and Eddy Van Halen glared down from their posters on the walls.
He staggered up into the bathroom, peeled off his shirt and turned on the shower. He suppressed a shriek as the water stung his skin. Wincing he looked in the mirror. There was a red weal at the centre of his chest about 2 inches long. The skin around it was raw and sore, as if it had been burned onto him. Where the hell did that come from?
He finished showering, threw some clothes on and ran out onto the hall, swearing as he scraped his leg against the door. His mom had already left for her job at the diner. He stuffed some cereal in his mouth and ran down to the mart.
It was 20 past 10 when he made it in. Maybe no one would notice if he was really quiet.
"There you are!"
He stifled a groan as he turned around. Katy Miller - the bane of his existence.
What he could see of her pasty face was obscured by her a flop of hair covering her forehead and thick rimmed glasses. Her "Manager" badge was clipped to a lumpy black sweater that hid most of her large body.
"You're late again." She announced in her trademark nasal whine.
He mumbled something about exploding amps and mysterious scars.
She eyed him up and down as if he was something half eaten and moldy that she had found at the back of her refrigerator.
"Check the entire inventory for aisles 3 & 4. And it's your day to clean out the toilets."
Rolling his eyes, he hurried to the employee's room at the back.
After he had put on his disgusting yellow "Sal's Supermarket" shirt, he smoothened his hair and jammed his red "Sal's Supermarket" cap onto his head. He paused to check his reflection in on the mirror. A wave of depression washed over him.
Music was the only thing that made him feel remotely alive. A guidance counselor at school had once diagnosed him with DP/DR, ADHD and dyslexia. It was as if fate didn't even want to give him a chance. Now here he was, without a high school diploma, living with his mom, working at the local supermarket making $8 an hour, screwing up audition after audition, desperately hoping for something to work.
So much for the rock and roll dream.