Maelstrom Extra: Musical Milestone

Saturday, January 30, 2010 reviews (Comments): 6
Ricky pulled his SUV into a parking space, cut the engine, and ran into the club. Of all nights to get delayed! And when he tried to call the venue manager to see if the band had shown up, nothing. The BlackBerry went dead in his hands.

He grabbed the first employee he saw. “Is the band here?”

“I think so. Their stuff is on stage.”

They had done that much without him, at least. But that didn’t mean they had gone through a proper sound check or that they were in any way prepared to perform. Without him watching, pestering, and monitoring their every move, the band members were likely to wander off on demonic errands of their own.

He pushed open the door of the dressing room and found Bo checking out his leather pants in a full-length mirror, Kalila at a makeup mirror applying lipstick, and Vic sucking on a plastic blood bag, likely stolen from a local hospital. At the edge of the sofa, Lazaro practiced his rhythms with a pair of snare sticks on a coffee table.

Nevin, sedate as always, sat apart from the group, sipping tea. He raised his eyebrows as Ricky stumbled into the room. “You look alarmed about something. Is everything okay?”

Ricky paused to catch his breath. “You’re all here.”

“Yes. We have a show.” Nevin frowned. “Don’t you remember?”

“It’s just I—”

Kalila dropped her lipstick into a bag and turned around. “It’s just you thought we couldn’t do it without you. Isn’t that right, human?”

“More like I thought you wouldn’t.”

Vic sneered, baring his fangs. “Stupid mortal. You’re not as important as you think.”

“He’s right.” Nevin nodded sadly. “We’ve been playing together longer than you’ve been in the music business, Ricky. I’m afraid you often forget.”

“And you act like I don’t know your history: failure to show up on time or to perform at all, leaving gigs halfway through a set, accidentally killing your fans…you’ve been hounded out of three cities and had to change your name five times. I think I have reason to worry.”

Kalila stood up and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Well, this has been very interesting, but in case you haven’t noticed the time, we need to get out on stage.” She flounced out of the room and the other band members fell in behind her.

Ricky started to follow, then paused. They had done this much correctly without his help. Maybe he should back off and give them a chance to prove themselves. They had hired him to teach them how to manage their career like humans, and human bands didn’t have their promoter breathing down their necks all the time.

He sat in Nevin’s vacated chair and picked up the copy of Audubon Magazine the fairy had left behind. He was flipping through some pictures of quails, fighting the urge to check up on the band, when the dressing room door opened.

The club manager looked as startled as Ricky. “I didn’t expect to find you here. Something the matter?”

“Why would you think that?”

“This is just an odd place for a guy to hang out, that’s all. Needed a little downtime, huh? Maelstrom is a crazy bunch.”

“You’re telling me.” Ricky smiled and stood up. “But I think we may have reached a milestone tonight.” He dropped the magazine on the table. He would find himself a good spot at the bar, and try to relax and enjoy the scene.

There was going to be a good show tonight.

Maelstrom Extra: Order: Chiroptera

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 reviews (Comments): 6
Ricky pushed his way into the dressing room. “This is going to be great, guys. The house is packed, everyone’s excited, and—” the expressions on their faces brought him up short. “What’s the matter? Nevin, I loaded your iPod with soothing songs and you’ve got a dozen rainforest-friendly chocolate bars for snacking. Lazaro, I know it’s not ideal, but you’ll enjoy the head cheese. And Vic—” he looked around. “Okay, everyone, where’s Vic?”

Bo stopped fondling a groupie on the sofa. “He had to run an errand.”

“Okay.” Ricky glanced at his watch. “He’s on his way back, right?”

Kalila sighed and shook out her hair in front of the mirror. “I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do. Maybe he’ll be back in time, maybe not.”

“But you have a show. I worked hard to get you this gig.”

“And we appreciate it,” Nevin said. “But Vic found a dead bat on our way in and felt it very important that he return it to its kindred.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. You’re going to screw up a paid gig with advertising, beacon lights, and everything, over a dead bat?”

Kalila stopped admiring her reflection and turned around. “You wouldn’t want him to grieve, would you? He feels a very strong connection to mammals of the chiroptera order.”

“But couldn’t he do this after the show?” Ricky felt foolish even as he asked. Demons had a poor concept of time and didn't order their priorities by human standards.

“There’s never any time like the present,” Bo said. He turned his attention back to his girl.

Ricky stomped out of the room in disgust. He would have to do something, fast, but just what he wasn’t sure. Racking his brain for ideas, he recalled reading in the tourist literature something about a bat bridge in the area. Maybe he could go there, for starters. He shuddered at the thought. Bats with their leathery wings unnerved him. Then again so did vampires and zombies, but he hadn’t let that stop him from marketing this crazy band.

He reached in his pocket for his car keys. He would go to the bat bridge, then. And whatever Vic's bonds of affection for the disgusting creatures, he had better be ready to get back to this club and sing. One didn't hold up a rock concert for a bat funeral.

Maelstrom Extra: The Cow

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 reviews (Comments): 4
Ricky sat hunched over the laptop, so absorbed in his work he didn’t notice the bus was slowing until it stopped with a jolt that sloshed coffee out of his cup and onto the table. He looked up. “What’s the matter?”

“Cow,” Calvin called back.

Ricky walked to the front of the bus and peered out the window. The flat ribbon of highway stretched toward the horizon and infinity, and there in the middle of it stood a placid brown cow, eyeing the bus with bovine complacency.

Calvin cut the engine and got up. “She'd make a good dinner.”

Nevin joined them, curious about the delay. “That’s not very nice.” He looked at the cow and waved. “We should make her our mascot.”

Calvin growled. “Cows are food, fairy.”

“Perhaps you should become a vegetarian.”

“Werewolves aren’t—”

“Guys.” Ricky waved for their attention. “Whether cows are food or pets is moot. This cow belongs to someone and we need to get her off the road and be on our way.” He looked around. “Does anyone here know how to do that?”


Ricky found Kalila’s travel bottle and tapped on it. “We need you out here.” When she didn’t answer, he added, “We need help getting a cow off the road.”

The voice that answered was wispy and faint. “I’m a djinn, not a cowgirl.”

“Fine.” He put the bottle away and walked to the back of the bus. “Come on guys, I need some help here.”

“Ask me again after dark,” Vic said from behind the blackout curtains on his bunk.

“Is the cow sexy?” Bo asked.

Lazaro waved a drum mallet with characteristic zeal. “I’ll get rid of her. Boom!”

“Uh…thanks. I’ll let you know if I decide to take you up on that.” Ricky walked back to the front of the bus. Stupid demons. They were magical, immortal, and had been around a hell of a lot longer than he had. You’d think one of them would know how to do something about a simple cow.

Before he could reach the front, Calvin slid back into his seat and cranked the engine. “Cow’s gone. Got bored and wandered off.”

“She was very pretty,” Nevin said. “I would’ve liked making friends with her.”

“Steaks,” Calvin corrected him. “Very rare.”

“No. She was a beautiful creation of nature, and—”

Ricky quit listening and returned to his laptop. The argument probably wouldn't continue much longer, and in the meantime he would check his email. Then later, if Calvin was still annoyed at not having gotten an easy meal, they could stop for dinner. Although he would never admit it to the others, Ricky had a sudden craving for barbecue.