I put my shirt back on. Braidy looked up at me and her eyes were filled with concern. “Hey.” I said. “I’m not dead, its just a bruise. I’ll be ok.” She still looked concerned. “Mike, I don’t think that’s a bruise. I’ve never seen a bruise spread that fast. I could see it. Like the second hand on a clock, spreading on your back. And its just the top parts too. Like fingers, stretching over your skin. Its scary.” She was very worried. I shrugged. “Its all good.” I told her with a wink. Then I rested my hand on her shoulder. My base guitarist was at least being honest. I could appreciate that. “Who’s next?” The call came over the PA. The master player seemed to have defeated Gabby. She sat, tired and exhausted. “Who’s my next victim?” The masters voice called out with confidence. The weirdest things started happening then.
No one really moved. Everyone was captivated by what was going on up on stage. Gabby was sitting in the chair. Completely spent. The master turned from the microphone and grabbed Gabby’s guitar. It was a rather nice Fender Telecaster. I couldn’t tell much else before he lifted it up and slammed it on the ground. It shattered against the concrete stage. Gabby got up to protest but two of the people on the stage grabbed her. “If I have no challengers.” The master said. “Then The Show is going to be over.” Gabby struggled, but she was powerless against the larger bodies holding her. The master held up a ruined piece of fretboard. It had splintered to a point. He chuckled as he pointed it a Gabby. She sneered defiantly. “I’ll come back.” She said. He shook his head and then reached back to stab her with the makeshift weapon.
Braidy screamed. I yelled. “STOP!” In unison, every face turned to look at me. All the faces seemed to be of one mind. One will. The master looked at me and Braidy. It was as if a veil had been lifted. Not a single face showed any human compassion for what was going on. Not a single set of eyes had anything but black in them. I looked up at Gabrielle. She looked at me with desperation. She mouthed the words “I’m sorry” to us. Braidy was at my side. Holding on to my arm with a death grip. I felt her chest against my back and arm. Her heart was pounding. We were surrounded by demons. The purpose of my invite was clear now. Gabby needed backup. She’d heard me play and if she lost tonight she needed someone to take her place. Maybe it was a callous move, but if I could save her, I’d deal with it then. I knew what I had to do.
I took a gulp. “I’ll defeat you.” I said. My voice was calm, collected, and had all the confidence I could muster. The master laughed. “You?” he said. Then he looked at Gabby. “Seems your vanquish has been postponed. Gabrielle.” He said her name in a weird way. As if it had a special meaning. The guys holding her let her go but she didn’t make to run. She waited for me to get up on stage. I made my way without intrusion or obstruction. The crowd parted as if controlled. Braidy didn’t let go of my arm. I wasn’t going to make her either. She was my best friend and we were in this together. We got to the stage. Gabby moved to the back of it and picked up the pieces of her ruined guitar. One of the demons looked at Braidy. “Challengers only.” He said. She didn’t want to let me go. “It will be ok Braidy. I promise.” She started to let me go but then she kissed me. To my surprise her lips felt soft, warm, and amazing. She conveyed a lot into that act, and I couldn’t deny something was there, something that I should have seen before. She blushed looking up at me. “Just, well. For luck.” Still a little shocked but with more confidence, I got up on stage. I was going to get us out of here.
“Whats your name kid?” I eyed the man on stage with me. “Micheal. Whats yours.” The man looked at me in a new expression. I couldn’t tell what it was. It was as if my name had taken him back a step. He recovered quickly though. With a smirk he answered. “Lucifer.”