Tour: Day Nine

Sunday, May 31, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Still Stranded, New Mexico

Can you believe it? The mechanic won’t work on our bus today! Apparently his god thinks some days are better than others, and Sundays aren’t for working. He’s the only mechanic in this miserable village, and Ricky says even if there were other mechanics, they wouldn’t be working either.

Just look at this place!

Humans are a very strange species. How can they live like this?

Ricky is mad. He says cancelling gigs is bad for our publicity, and what Bo is getting up to with some of the rural livestock is even worse. Vic has taken to hanging around the local cemetery, our werewolf Calvin has been seen going native with a pack of local coyotes, and Nevin just sits around looking at all the dust and sighing a lot. None of us is quite sure what Lazaro has been doing, but there are rumors, and they aren’t pretty.

I’m fed up with this situation. I’ve requested a meeting with my legal counsel to see if there’s a loophole to the “no magic” part of the contract. I know I can’t repair the bus by magic, but can I inspire the human mechanic to get off his butt and fix it? This is an important question and I intend to get an answer before this morning is over.

Tour: Day Eight

Saturday, May 30, 2009 reviews (Comments): 2
Stranded in New Mexico

I’m afraid we’ve encountered a new difficulty.

We’re stranded south of Albuquerque. The tour bus broke down and the “no magic” rule means none of us can fix it. We were able to get it towed to a small town nearby, but we’re really in quite a desolate place and we won’t be able to make our gig in Las Cruces tonight.

Ricky is very upset, and in fact the whole band is angry, but I’m not sure being negative is going to help matters. We’ll just have to hope the nice man at the auto shop can repair the bus quickly.

This has all been good for Bo, since everyone is too busy being worried about the tour bus to continue being angry at him for his party at the tramway last night. I’m not sure of the details, but it would appear that he and some of his new friends rode up and down the mountain several times, even though the tram was closed. They were caught by a security guard, who accused them of stealing the car and was mad that they had no clothes on. Bo pointed out that they hadn’t stolen the tram car because there it was, right where it was supposed to be, attached to the cable that runs up the mountain. The security guard called him a smart-ass and Bo agreed. Then Bo turned on that incubus charm of his and…well, an hour later another security guard came along and was quite surprised to find the first one with no clothes on, riding up and down the mountain with all the others.

Ricky says it’s a public relations disaster. Bo disagrees, and I’m not sure what to think.

I just want our tour bus fixed.

Tour: Day Seven

Friday, May 29, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Wow, so much drama these last few days over a little pool party! With everyone so pissy about it, I kept things a little quieter last night—just two girls after the show and none between sets. Ricky was so reassured that he didn’t even notice I managed to get a quick breakfast romp with one of the hotel maids. I’ve been told that they’re off limits, but I’m sure that’s just another of Ricky’s pruderies. I don’t know what Kalila sees in him, except that she’s a bit of a prude herself, so I guess it all works out.

So we’ve got another gig here tonight and I’m pretty excited. One of my girls from last night works for the tram and she says she can get us up there after hours. I wonder how many of us can get into one of those little cars, and how much we can make it swing? I have a feeling it’s going to be a fun time!

Tour: Day Six

Thursday, May 28, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Albuquerque, New Mexico

That whole mess in Pagosa Springs is in the hands of our legal counsel and she seems to think we’ll be able to get away with just paying a fine. I called a band meeting once we arrived in Albuquerque, and everyone acted like they understood what I was trying to tell them about state laws, policies of particular establishments, and the need to look out for their reputations. But I’ve told them all this before, and each time they seem to interpret the whole message as me telling them to be on time for gigs.

So anyway, here we are in Albuquerque, and I’m just hoping things go smoothly tonight.

Tour: Day Five

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
On the Road

Never trust an incubus! After that wild party Bo had in the hot springs, Ricky had to get us out of Pagosa Springs fast. He got us onto the tour bus, then talked on the phone with our lawyer for half the morning while Calvin drove us toward the state line.

I could hardly sleep at all between Ricky's talks with the lawyer and his breaks to yell at Kalila. Of course, she was in her travel bottle and ignored him. It would’ve been pretty funny to watch Ricky yell at a bottle if I wasn’t so damn tired.

Now Ricky is on the computer reading the Colorado state legal code, so maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep. Lazaro and Bo are already in their bunks, and I’ve asked Calvin to keep an eye out for a clinic or bloodmobile so I can get a meal. I’m not very hungry right now, though. Not all the humans at the resort were at Bo’s party last night, and I took advantage of that fact.

Ricky should learn to be more appreciative. We don’t have a gig tonight, so we can hide out wherever our lawyer thinks it’s safe, and with Bo napping, Ricky can read about the laws of Colorado without being distracted by those stupid movies.

Tour: Day Four

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Pagosa Springs, Colorado

We had quite a drive today, all the way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. But it was such lovely country that it was hard to complain. I immediately fell in love with this little town, with its green hills and hot springs, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Could anything be more beautiful?

Bo wanted to check out the hot springs right away, but we were running late and Ricky said no. So we went to the venue and took a look around. Ricky kept a very close watch on Bo so he wouldn’t seduce the manager like he did in Santa Fe. Bo was upset about this, but said nothing. I could tell he was plotting, but Ricky didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. Typical human behavior, I’m afraid. I’ve never met a human who wanted to know the truth if there’s a delusion they’ll like better.

Next we got checked in at the resort on the river.

Ricky made us all promise to be on our best behavior. We did very well before the show, but after we returned, Bo hosted a big party down in the hot springs. He wasn’t supposed to do that, I think. I’m also quite certain the rules say humans must wear clothes.

Ricky was very upset.

Tour: Day Three

Monday, May 25, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Santa Fe, New Mexico

We arrived in Santa Fe several hours ahead of our setup time. Since it was a nice, windy day, giving me lots of energy, I made Ricky take me to see the sights.

For starters, Santa Fe isn’t really that old, only four hundred years. Second, there sure are a lot of churches! It’s a good thing Vic is nocturnal and couldn’t go with us because he would’ve had a meltdown. We saw a church with a labyrinth out front and another that had a spiral staircase supposedly held up by a miracle.

I told Ricky it’s not a miracle and I offered to explain the magic behind it, but he got weird and said some things should remain mysteries. That’s humans for you!

I had a great time shopping on the plaza, especially at the leather and jewelry shops. I felt a little bad for Ricky after awhile, having to carry all those bags while I went from store to store and examined the silver and turquoise jewelry for sale on the plaza, but Calvin wasn’t with us and I sure wasn’t going to carry my own bags.

Finally we went back to the hotel, got everyone together and went to set up at the venue. While we were doing that, Bo disappeared with the manager and came back half an hour later much happier. The manager was happier too and gave us a round of drinks. For some reason, Ricky was annoyed about all this.

The show went great, and we all had a fine time creating our own after-hours party on the plaza.

Ricky got a little nervous when the cops came, but Nevin used his fairy magic to make them happy, and they ended up joining the fun. We danced, sang, and played music until the sun came up over the mountains and the native women arrived with their colorful blankets and hand-made jewelry to sell.

I bought a silver bracelet to remember the night by.

Tour: Day Two

Sunday, May 24, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
Roswell, New Mexico

Man, last night in San Angelo was great! We rocked, and so did those sorority girls! I don’t think they get a lot of fresh acts between spring and summer semester because those kids were wild and they kept me pretty busy between sets, as well as after the show.

Vic had some fun too, and I think Lazaro got himself a chemistry major, but it could’ve been mathematics. It was kind of hard to tell based on what was left. Ricky was pissed and Lazaro apologized for not hiding the body better. Ricky kept saying that wasn’t the point, but it was, of course. If Lazaro had done a better job cleaning up after himself, Ricky would’ve never known and we’d all be happy.

We spent the day on the road again, with Ricky on his computer, yelling at me every half hour about my movies. I told him he could join me and I even said we could act out some of my favorite scenes from Pride and Priapism, but he said no. He’s such a prude.

Tonight’s gig is in Roswell. We’re all pretty excited, hoping we’ll meet some space aliens. It’s always fun to meet a new species. I’m hoping the space girls are sexy. An incubus has his priorities.

Tour: Day One

Saturday, May 23, 2009 reviews (Comments): 1
San Angelo, Texas

We hit the road early, and everyone was grumpy about it, but most of them are nocturnal and went to bed not long after we headed out. I tried to get some work done, but Bo was watching one of his porn videos and it was distracting, to say the least. When it got too bad, I went up front with Calvin so I could watch the scenery go by.

We got to San Angelo on schedule and the gig tonight is at a club that’s popular with the college crowd. It ought to be a good time for everyone but me. I’ll be doing damage control, making sure no one gets hurt. Bo, Vic, and Lazaro are hungry after a day on the road. They understand in theory why they shouldn’t feed on their fans, but when you’re immortal, or close to it, self-control isn’t a very important virtue. I mean, it’s not like someone’s going to throw a vampire in jail or something.

But they could throw me in jail. Great job I have, isn’t it?

Maelstrom Tour: Preparations

Friday, May 22, 2009 reviews (Comments): 2
I spent today packing my equipment and watching Calvin and the other werewolves load the tour bus. They’re very particular about how they do it, which is a good thing because some of the band members worry. Like Lazaro. He would rather his drums be on the bus where he can see them, but this time Kalila said no and meant it, so he had to watch everything Calvin did as he stowed them underneath. It was quite exasperating for Calvin, and Ricky had to go the store twice for hamburger meat to calm him down.

Some of our guitars. Lazaro didn't want me taking pictures of his drums.

Finally we were all packed and everyone is happy now. Ricky is the only one who seems a little nervous. He thought we should have a tour manager so he could stay home and work on our publicity. Last month he was all ready to hire one, but then Kalila reminded him what happened to the last one. (It was so unfortunate, and I do hope Thomas is found someday.) Then she took Ricky into a rehearsal room for awhile, just the two of them, and when they came out he was much happier. He’s worried again now, though. I'm sure it will all be fine, though.

We're going to have a great tour!

Maelstrom Extra: Werewolf Strike (Part Five)

Thursday, May 21, 2009 reviews (Comments): 5
Ricky picked his way around the sleeping werewolves. Some were wounded, many still sported wiry tufts of hair, and all were exhausted. He felt a moment of pity as he stepped over a sweet-faced young woman with a nasty gash across her nose. She looked like the sort of girl who knitted cardigans and read stories to children at the library, but lycanthropy was treacherous, turning even the gentlest humans into killers.

This was no time for distractions, though. Ricky’s plan required efficient and unemotional action. Only one werewolf mattered, and Ricky found him lying slightly away from the pack, his guards too deeply asleep to react to the presence of a stranger. Now that he could see him up close and in human form, Ricky was startled to realize the new alpha was the man who had changed the oil in his Lexus last week.

He hesitated, then shook his shoulder. “Blake. Hey, man, wake up.”

Blake stirred and opened his eyes. “What?” He blinked at Ricky in confusion.

Ricky fumbled in his satchel and produced a document and pen. “Congratulations on becoming the new alpha. Sign here.”

Blake looked around, slowly coming to his senses. “Damn, that was some fight.”

“Yes.” Ricky shoved the paper and pen at him again, pointing to the signature line. “And if you’ll sign here, we can secure grant funding to better optimize the coordination of future full moon nights for the strategic benefit of all concerned. And you’ll get breakfast.”

“Breakfast?” Blake’s nostrils quivered and he glanced at Ricky’s still-bulging bag.

Ricky edged closer so Blake could better smell what was in the satchel. “Sign and it’s all yours.” He held his breath, hoping he hadn’t miscalculated. Maelstrom’s werewolves were disoriented for hours after a full moon night, and sometimes weren’t completely right until several days later. But this was an alpha pack leader, the strongest and cleverest werewolf in the Local 666. Ricky watched him scan the document and wondered if he was in any fit state to understand or care what it said.

Blake grumbled and scrawled something across the bottom of the page. Ricky snatched it out of his hands before he could reconsider, and began backing away.

With a snarl, Blake lunged at him. “You said breakfast!”

Ricky tossed him the satchel and watched him tear it open to get at the raw meat inside. Then, while the werewolf was thus distracted, Ricky let himself out of the room, out of the building, and into the morning sun. He was standing near a tree, trying to get his bearings, when someone called out to him.

“Hey, primate!” A swaddled figure slunk toward him, trying to keep to the shadows. “How’d it go?”

After what he had just been through, Ricky found the vampire’s presence oddly comforting. “What are you doing here? You’re going to get yourself killed.”

Vic sidled up to him, hat pulled low over his face to shield it from the sun. “I wanted to make sure everything was okay. Don’t get cocky, though. It’s not because I care about you.”

Ricky suppressed a smile. “That’s good to know.” He held out the contract. “Duly signed, releasing Calvin and our road crew from any obligation to participate in future strikes, as long as they’re satisfied with their wages and working conditions.”

“Good job, human.” Vic grinned, baring his fangs. “So I guess the tour is on?”

“You bet your unlife it is.”

NOTE: The first post of the tour will be tomorrow, May 22, and the band members will be posting daily through June 4. Add us to your blog reader and stop by often!

Maelstrom Extra: Disconnect

Sunday, May 17, 2009 reviews (Comments): 6
Monday night gig in Santa Fe. Not very promising, but it was the best he could do. At least there were plenty of hotels.

“What are you doing, human?”

Ricky glanced up. “If you can’t knock, can’t you at least say hello?” He turned back to the computer and frowned. They would finish the week in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. There was a nice little hot springs resort up there, if he could get a promise from Bo to behave himself.

“Fine. Hello.” Kalila jutted out a hip and waited, but Ricky’s grunted response didn’t satisfy.

Then head back south for—

“What’s so compelling about words and numbers on a screen?”

—a weekend in Albuquerque. They weren’t big gigs, but a small show in a big town had more publicity potential than a big show in Podunkville.

“Ricky. Are you listening to me?”

“Of course I’m listening. I’m just trying to finalize your tour itinerary. You leave in less than a week, you know.”

We leave,” she corrected him. “You’re coming with us. Or have you forgotten what happened to our last tour manager?”

“Please don’t remind me.” He turned back to the computer and called up a map. It was a straight shot from Albuquerque to Las Cruces, but there wasn’t much along the way. Maybe—

Ricky punched a few keys, trying to unlock his frozen screen. Then he opened the network status window and cursed. He tried to re-connect, but nothing happened. “Kalila, do you think you could…oh.” Kalila was watching with a smug, catlike smile. Ricky shut down the computer and sat back in his chair. There would be no more work until the djinn had gotten what she came there for. Knowing her, she probably just needed to be noticed.

“Okay, Kalila. You win. What do you want?”

NOTE: Maelstrom will be on tour May 23 through June 4. They’ll be blogging their preparations and their tour right here starting May 22, so make sure we're on your blog reader!

Maelstrom Extra: Werewolf Strike (Part Four)

Thursday, May 14, 2009 reviews (Comments): 7
Vic passed a hand over the lock and slowly turned the handle. He opened the door half an inch, then closed it again. “Remember,” he whispered, “If you get yourself killed, I’m not making you into a vampire. You’ll just have to stay dead.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Ricky said, pitching his voice low in case he had miscalculated and there were werewolves nearby. “I don’t suppose you’d reconsider?” He pointed to the cooler at his feet.

“You think I’m crazy?” Vic pulled his leather coat tight against his body. “Good luck, human. I’ll tell Kalila to make sure you get a nice funeral.”

Ricky watched him slip into the night, then turned to the task at hand. Willing himself not to be nervous, he let himself into the building and set the cooler down quietly. The vestibule was empty, and in the distance he could hear sounds of bickering and a faint metallic rattle. He had once asked Calvin how the local werewolves kept from getting caught in lupine form, but had only half-believed the answer. Tonight, he needed that information to be true.

Leaving the cooler near the door, he moved quietly down the hallway, following the sound of raised voices. A maze of halls led to a locked steel door, on the other side of which came the sound of rattling cages and voices raised in protest. Ricky glanced at his watch. They couldn’t have locked themselves up yet, could they? He dared a peek through the door’s tiny window of fortified glass and could make out long rows of cages with people moving among them. Some were already shaggy, and a few waited patiently in their cages while others argued with the union leaders.

Ricky took a step back and considered. Then he looked again, this time ignoring the werewolves and trying to get a view of the room’s ceiling. To his relief, it was a drop ceiling, at least thirty feet high, with no way to reach it from inside the room without a ladder. He hurried back to the entry, retrieved his cooler, and went upstairs.

It took nearly ten minutes of frantic searching, and Ricky had almost decided to go with his backup plan to use the air ducts when he found an entry into the ceiling over the great room below. He took the bags of meat out of the cooler and hauled them into place. Below, some of the werewolves were being locked into cages and the ones still wandering loose were becoming hairier by the minute.

Clearly the alpha was the one walking the rows, snarling orders, so Ricky selected the spot farthest away, lifted a corner of a ceiling tile and dropped a steak into the room. He followed its trajectory with his eyes as it landed beside a sullen young male. The werewolf looked at the steak in confusion, but before he could grab it, an older, hairier half-wolf grabbed it.

Two other wolves saw something going on and trotted over. Ricky set the ceiling tile back in place and listened to the ensuing squabble. He selected another steak, made sure the alpha had his back turned, and dropped it where the lower-ranking wolves would be sure to find it. The snarling and arguing grew louder as the half-changed wolves fought over the meat. Cages and order were forgotten as Ricky dropped more steaks into the room. Now the alpha realized what was going on and joined the melee, fighting the others for his share and status.

Ricky tossed two of the last three ribeyes into the room and lay on his belly, listening to the howling below, as heavy bodies heaved, bit, and knocked each other against the cages. It was quite a fight. Whoever was left standing at the end of it would not only be the leader, but very hungry. Luckily, the last steak was a juicy one. Ricky hoped it would be enough.

(To be concluded next week!)

Maelstrom Extra: Healing Magic

Sunday, May 10, 2009 reviews (Comments): 9
“Can’t you do something for her?”

Kalila looked at Ricky askance. “Call an ambulance. If one gets here quick enough, she’ll live.”

Ricky looked at the prone and bleeding form on the asphalt of the studio parking lot. Her clothes were torn, her shoes were missing and a leg lay at an odd angle. “But you can heal her now.”

The scattered contents of the woman’s purse lay at Kalila’s feet and she prodded a lipstick with the toe of her boot. “It takes a lot of energy to heal a human. It’s not worth it unless the band did this, and we didn’t. She’s an ordinary hit-and-run victim.”

“No one’s ever ordinary, Kalila. I don’t know this woman either, but I’m sure she has friends and family who care about her. What if something’s wrong that the doctors can’t fix?” Ricky saw her hesitate. “Please?”

Kalila yanked off her bangles and shoved them into Ricky’s hands. “Fine. Monitor the area. Make sure I’m not disturbed.”

For several minutes Ricky paced the perimeter of the parking lot, keeping an eye out for curious pedestrians. Finally he saw a familiar figure, clothes clean and mended, purse slung over her arm. He followed her with his eyes as she crossed the street. Although she looked a bit stunned, she was whole and healthy.

“I altered her memory,” said a voice behind him.

Ricky turned around and was struck by Kalila’s ashen skin and pale lips. The healing had taken a lot out of her.

“She thinks she tripped and I happened to be nearby to make sure she was okay and help her put everything back in her purse.”

“Thank you.” Ricky wanted to say more, but he knew how Kalila hated to be caught doing good. He held out his arm. “Want to go for a walk? There’s usually a breeze at the park.”

She took his arm and they walked for several minutes in silence. Finally she said, “It was more serious than it looked.”

Ricky nodded but didn’t answer.

“She hit her head hard when she fell. Your human doctors probably couldn’t have saved her.” When Ricky didn’t answer, she stopped. “What? No ‘I told you so,’ no remarks about my service to your wretched kind?”

“No.” Ricky dug something out of his pocket. “Want these back?”

Kalila put the bracelets on and reluctantly took his arm again. As they neared the park, the wind picked up and she tipped her face toward the sky, sucking the air greedily, feeding off the restorative breeze.

Ricky waited until the color returned to her cheeks and her eyes had lost their listless cast. “Thank you.”

“I’m not Florence Nightingale.”

“I know.”

“I refuse to do that sort of thing every time you get a sentimental human notion.”

“I know that, too. But don’t you feel just a little proud that you did a good deed?”

Kalila looked away with a small jerk of her chin. “Don’t be ridiculous. Djinns don’t do good deeds.”

“Of course they don’t.” Ricky waited, then asked, “So I’m not to tell anyone?”

“Not even your own mother.” Then, with a faint smile, she started to take his hand, but reconsidered and moved in close so he could put his arm around her instead.

Maelstrom Extra: Werewolf Strike (Part Three)

Thursday, May 7, 2009 reviews (Comments): 6
Ricky sat inside his Lexus, tapping the steering wheel as he considered his situation. Kalila had stuck him with a problem and he was no closer to solving it than he had been two days ago. The werewolves’ first loyalty was to the union. There wasn’t anything malign about it; it was just their nature.

Fighting nature wouldn’t get Ricky anywhere.

Alpha dogs. That was the problem. The head of the union was their pack leader, and if he told them to go on strike….

Ricky had a flash of inspiration. He grabbed his BlackBerry and looked up the union hall for the Local 666. The street was an obscure one and the directions were cryptic, but he had lived in this town all his life. He could find it.

But first, a little detour to the grocery store butcher counter.

Even an alpha dog had his price, and there was going to be a full moon tonight.

Concert: Come in Character (Finale)

Monday, May 4, 2009 reviews (Comments): 2
Kalila: Hi, everyone! I want to thank all of you for coming to see us this weekend. We hope you had a great time.

Bo: I know I did.

Kalila: Shut up, Sleazy.

Vic: Yeah, I didn't appreciate you monopolizing the Type O girls.

Bo: You know I don't care about their blood type. I see a human I like and what happens, happens.

Lazaro: What should've happened is me eating Shadow's brain because he drank when we said no.

Ricky: (Uh, guys, can we just continue with the announcements?)

Kalila: (You're no fun, Ricky.) Anyway, it was great to see all of you, especially our new friends from Come in Character and our old friends from the bunny benefit in March--

Nevin: Hi, bunnies!

Kalila: (Don't interrupt, Nevin.) We appreciate all the support you've given us, and we hope to see you around more often.

Nevin: Tell them about the tour.

Kalila: Oh, yeah. We're going on tour, May 23 through June 4. Our wonderful manager, Ricky Landon, has set us up so we can blog every day of the tour. We hope you'll sign up to follow our blog or add us to your blog reader in the next two weeks so you can keep up with all our adventures.

Ricky: Which won't be illegal, immoral, or dangerous, right, guys? Kalila? Bo? Where are you going? Vic! Lazaro!

Nevin: I'm still here, Ricky. I'll finish up for them.

Ricky: That's not the point.

Nevin: Are you sure? Thanks for a terrific weekend everyone! We love you!

Ricky: (Let's go, Nevin, before Vic hears you say that.) Folks, this weekend's show will be archived under Reviews, Concerts and Sightings, and there will be further announcements to come about the tour. I also have it under good authority that a book about us has been accepted for publication. I'll have more information about that soon. Have a safe drive home, everyone, and good night!

Maelstrom Concert: Come in Character!

Saturday, May 2, 2009 reviews (Comments): 10
The show is over and we're sorry you missed it! But you can still check out all the fun we had below, enjoy the music, and sign up to be one of our groupies so you won't miss any future shows.

Here's the outside of the venue, Cabal. Intimidating, isn't it? But it's really nice on the inside and those guys are paid to look scary.

Here's the bar. We told you it was nice, didn't we?

And here's one of Cabal's busy bartenders hard at work.

Everyone had a great time dancing, mingling, and watching the show.

The after-party was at Come in Character, a great place to hang out, no matter what your age, gender, quirks or species.

We're sorry we missed you, but check back often because we're planning lots of fun and mayhem.