I waited for him to start. Between us was a drummer. He too looked unearthly, inhuman. He clicked his sticks together 4 times and without warning Lucifer started. “Caught Somewhere in Time” jammed into the amp. The wicked guitar solo opening rang in perfect time. The drummer keeping up without effort. It was almost as if the body at the set was only meant for this one thing. His limbs moved and he didn’t even seem to watch where they hit. Like a puppet to the whims of Lucifer, he played. The robot, and his controller. I watched in awe as they made no mistakes, not a single strum out of place or beat out of time. They played the entirety of the song. Towards the end Lucifer jammed alone as the drummer stopped. Then I felt something.
As Lucifer jammed a solo ending something invaded my mind. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it felt like a pressure. Another presence sat there, idle. Like a sick voyeur it just sat there waiting. I didn’t know what for. My mind raced, panic welled in me and then it went to music. Calm serenity took me as I felt Annabelle’s weight in my hands. She wanted me to win. The Prince of Lies had opened with a very strong Iron Maiden song. He’d played it well. Perfect by all technical accounts. But there was a weakness. I centered myself and thought of “The Trooper.” As soon as the thought entered my head the voyeur caught it, and ran. I blinked and looked at the drummer. He was looking directly at me, past my eyes, into my soul. He nodded. For a moment I felt something from him, but it was gone.
Just as the last cord of Lucifer hit the amp. The drummer tapped his sticks to the new tempo of my song and the three of us, the drummer, Annabelle, and I opened like a canon in the basement. The insanely difficult opening of the song sang through Anabelle with her voice adding flavor to the music. She was vintage, perfect, character. I played with all the passion I had, and she translated it directly to the humbucker pickups. I gave it my all, my fingers flew through the progressions, the modulations. The tempo perfect by the undead hands of the drummer. Something in me told me he was more than a damned soul. Something happens when you play with someone like this, you mix. I could feel the darkness of him flow into my soul. I was worried he’d stain me, mark me as damned but I didn’t seem to feel it or any fatigue. I was able to keep up through the entire song. It was the best I’d ever played. When I finished, I looked at Lucifer, he nodded. He slowly raised his hand. The crowd grew silent, I didn’t even notice they’d been dancing along. His fingers fell to the Dusk Tiger and Hotel California sang from the darkside.
The low notes of the Dusk Tiger was complete, reverberating, destruction as it washed over me. The telepathic connection to the drummer was lost. It vacated my mind for the dark one as he played. The guitar solo had some of the best soul ever found in music. He played it slow, deliberate, beyond tender. Like the loving embrace of an affair, he held the Dusk Tiger close and played like the master he was. When he opened his mouth to sing, I noticed he had a microphone. It was on his leather jacket. I looked around and saw a microphone behind me for singing. I hadn’t even thought about vocals. I wasn’t the best at it either. On the other side, you might swear Don Henley himself was on stage. I was going to lose. I couldn’t sing. I turned back towards Lucifer and watched him rip into the midsection of the song. I started to panic. The pure calm Annabelle was giving me wasn’t enough anymore. I had to find something. Do something. My mind searched for a song that might not require singing. On the spot and racing I couldn’t think of anything. I could feel the mind of the drummer start to knock at the front of my consciousness. He seemed larger this time. A bigger presence invaded my mind. I put my hand to my temple, and held firm against the pain. Then something familiar came through the connection. I looked up, forcing my eyes open and then turning to look behind me. Braidy had gotten on stage, and grabbed the microphone on its pole. She’d grabbed a spare bass guitar. She stood there looking at me, her eyes were looking through mine, deep into my soul. I could feel her in my mind. Her presence was bigger, warmer, alive. Just as I felt the drummer come back to my head, she sent one song across our connection. I smiled and sent the drummer one word. “Barracuda.”