June 7th, 2020
“Fuuuuck,” groaned Rami.
The remaining members of the Gargle Blasters had gathered in their typical practice space – Rami’s basement – where the orange-haired drummer flopped back onto the old bed she kept as an impromptu crash space.
Anna quietly frowned at Rami’s distress, while Echo paced angrily between the wooden support pillars.
“There’s a fuckton of guitarists out there,” Echo snarled, slamming her fist against one of the supports as she stomped past, “why the fuck aren’t any showing up?”
“Maybe they’re all Crystal Shit fans?” Anna offered languidly, reclining in a battered old office chair.
The mention of that other group made Rami groan again, this time squeezing her eyes shut as if to block out the memory. Shortly before their former guitarist quit, the Gargle Blasters played a battle of the bands against another local act known as “Crystal Shit”. The Gargle Blasters lost – and pretty badly – with many indicating that the guitar player just “didn’t seem to be into it.”
This caused a fight to break out between Rami and the now-former guitar player, which in turn resulted in the band being reduced to three members. It had now been a week since that split. Rami had put out an ad for guitarists to come try out, but she’d received no responses. Echo, their lead singer, couldn’t play other instruments. Anna, the bass player, didn’t have the sort of energy that the guitar parts of their songs required. As for Rami; she simply couldn’t part from her drums.
“Crystal Shit don’t have any fans,” Echo raged. While “rage” was Echo’s default state, it was markedly more heated as they discussed their issues. “They only won because someone was playing like fuckshit and made us look like ass!”
“Shut uuuuuup,” Rami shouted, now covering her eyes with her forearm, “we got that ritzy gig in two days. That greasy dude paid us a shitload of money, so I really, really don’t wanna cancel.”
“Plus they’re vampires,” Anna added, still in that unnervingly calm voice, “I assume they wouldn’t take kindly to being stiffed.”
“That’s another fuckin’ shitass thing!” Echo growled, turning back to her bandmates, “how the fuck are we gonna explain to some new normie that they’re about to put on a show for a bunch of supers? They could go running off to the press as soon as they see some weird shit.”
Rami waved Echo’s protestation away with her free hand. “We’ll just say it’s some role-playing shit. I doubt anybody there would be stupid enough to do any obvious magic – and if they did, we’d have bigger problems than our guitarist getting a rude awakening.”
“What, like a lorp?” Anna asked, somewhat confused.
“The fuck is a lorp?!” Echo retorted, throwing her hands in the air.
Before they could delve deeper into the magical world of “lorping”, the unmistakable opening drum beat from Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” echoed through the basement. Rami sat up quickly, scrambling to answer her phone.
Anna and Echo watched hopefully as their band leader put the call on speakerphone to answer.
“Heyyyy,” came a somewhat meek-sounding female voice, “is this Rami? Gargle Blasters Rami?”
“Yeah! Yeah, yeah, that’s me!” Rami replied, looking up to her group with a hopeful smile, “who’s this?”
“My name is Ashe,” came the answer, “are you still looking for a guitarist?”
“Fuck yeah, we are!” blurted out Echo, which got a glare from Rami.
“Oh! Oh, yay! Can I come try out? I have my own guitar and stuff.”
Anna bounced excitedly in her chair, showing an uncharacteristic amount of energy. Rami sprung to her feet and began walking around the basement as she spoke. “For sure, for sure. I know it’s short notice, but like… could you come tonight? We really wanna get the band together as soon as possible.”
“Tonight? Wow! Um… yeah, sure! Just let me know where to go!”
June 7th, 2020
The band lounged in Rami’s living room, watching Jessica Lee interviewing some red-haired cop lady about a string of robberies going on in Owings Mills. When the doorbell finally rang, all three of the girls jumped to their feet. Rami held her arms out, hissing quietly to the other band members.
“Hold up… we can’t rush the door and look desperate. Give it a sec…”
Anna shrugged and sat back down on the sofa. Echo, however, stood in place, but seemed to be trembling with barely-controlled emotion. Rami smirked and rolled her eyes at the singer, waiting a few more seconds before going to open the door.
“Hey… you Ashe?” Rami asked, as casually as she could.
Standing on the front porch was an adorable young lady, her hair pink with blue streaks, with a guitar in a gig bag flung over her shoulder. She smiled sweetly, nodding to the much taller drummer. “Yeah. It’s so cool to meet you! I’ve been to a few of your shows.”
“Hopefully not the last one!” called out Echo with a snicker.
Rami sighed and shook her head, standing aside so Ashe could enter. “Well, come on in. I know it’s kinda late, so we won’t keep you too long.”
As Ashe scampered past Rami, the drummer suddenly stood up straight, her jaw dropping as she felt a strange sensation emanating from the guitarist. She closed the door behind Ashe, walking up behind and gesturing wildly at the girl behind her back, hoping to get Echo and Anna’s attention.
Luckily, both of her bandmates caught on, approaching to greet the applicant. As they drew near, the subtle change in both of their expressions indicated that they felt exactly what Rami had.
“Soooo,” continued Rami, trying to sound casual, “that’s Echo and Anna, but… I guess you already knew that. We have our setup in the basement, so you can hook up down there and show us what you got, okay?”
Ashe nodded, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear with a faint smile. “Yeah, that’s cool… do you mind if I play a part from one of your songs? Since I hope I’ll be playing them with you all…”
“That would be perfect,” Anna replied in her calm tones before either of the two less-subtle members could say anything in this suddenly awkward situation.
The four of them descended into Rami’s basement.
June 8th, 2020
Ashe had left the house hours ago, but Rami was still abuzz with excitement. In addition to feeling that mysterious power, Ashe had turned out to be a damned good guitar player. Rami had already sent a message to Vic Mercury of the Bodymore Times to put the word out that the band was reforming under a new name – Area 42. Anna had come up with the idea when she’d realized the first letters of their names could spell a word.
The number 42 was Rami’s idea; it kept up with the same theme as their former “Gargle Blasters” monniker.
Rami was laying crosswise on her bed in just her boy shorts, her legs dangling off the side as she was far too tall to actually fit in the bed in that way. She was far from able to sleep, as she was sending out the word to everybody she could think of. She even shot a message to Jessica Lee on Channel 6 to see if they could maybe swing a TV interview.
And after Ashe’s audition, Rami didn’t have quite as much hesitation about bringing their new guitarist to a vampire’s ball – though they stuck with the story that it was a group of roleplayers.
Rin had slipped in quietly, easy to do with Rami being excited (and with Rin’s ninja-like stealth). With a wide grin, she leapt onto the bed beside Rami, leaning her head right over the drummer’s.
“Heyyyyyyy!” Rin giggled as she loomed over Rami.
Rami was so startled that she dropped her phone onto her own face. “Ow, oh fuck! Dammit, Rin! I was wondering when you’d come home!”
Rin beamed, leaning back and sitting up on the bed beside Rami. She tilted her head curiously. “Soooorry. But not really. Any luck with finding a guitar person?”
Already sitting up as Rin asked the question, Rami rubbed at the bridge of her nose, where her phone had so roughly landed, “yeah… fuck yeah. This girl named Ashe showed up, and… well, she’s a great guitarist…”
Rin blinked, tilting her head the other way. “It sounds like there’s more to it.”
“Oh, there is,” Rami took a deep breath before continuing. “She’s a Beacon.”