The Adventures of Sam Sonata - the Politcally Incorrect P.I.
It was many hours later that I managed to escape the Hall of Mirrors. The domes were closed at that hour and I wandered alone through the Parkade until at last I found a window in a basement boiler room and broke it out. Harmony was gone - my heart skipped a beat at the thought, but I could still find Melody. If I hadn't run out of time.
I found my car and started down the Trollway back to the city. The sun would be coming up soon, although the light through the heavy nuclear clouds never made much difference. I had only one lead left and it meant going into an area that I dreaded as much as a Boston Pops version of the Firebird Suite.
I pulled into the Hades South parking lot under the tracks just as the New Music Express roared overhead, and paid the ferryman to take me across the Appalachian Spring. The rodeo was in full swing - so I entered an underground pneumatic tube that took me to "The Immortal Hour" - a nightclub unknown to all but a chosen few. I made my way to the men's room and swung the mirror open like a door. Inside was a passageway that I knew led to the Mirror District. I climbed inside and headed for the workshop of the man they call the Toy Man.
I plodded along the rubber streets larghetto, while shadowy figures moved amongst the fringes of my vision and spoke in musical languages alien to any of my experience. I tried to read the street signs, but the names were printed backwards. At last I found the building with the name "Nam Yot" on the sign and went inside.
I expected to find a factory full of workers, but there was just one man bent over some schematics at a desk. I cleared my throat. The man looked up.
His eyes were autofocus lenses that quickly zoomed in on me. One arm was entirely mechanical with several attachments available on a tool belt worn like a shoulder harness. His other arm was still partially flesh and blood, but with some additions/improvements like 4 extra fingers and another opposable thumb near the elbow joint. A third arm shaped like a hose extended out from his back. The whole arm mechanism was run by a complex set of gears, pulleys and gyroscopes that could be seen inside the rather large chest cavity. From the waist down were wheels and a thick tank-like tread. His rather jolly metallic face was welded in place and it fairly bristled with an artificial, flax white beard screwed into place. Behind him trailed an electrical cord, plugged into an extension cord that was plugged into the wall with a power cord. I wondered to myself if he ever lost a cord.
"Yes?" he asked in distorted voice through a speaker on his midsection.
"Are you the Toy Man?" I asked.
"The man toy is more like it - who sent you and what do you want? I've already done more than I should have."
"I'm Sam Sonata - music detective. I'm looking for a girl."
"Not round here I'm afraid. That particular mechanism was removed from my body many years ago." He rolled forward toward me. "A music dick, huh? At least you're not one of THEM."
"Those who made me what I am. Of course it is my own fault - who can resist immortality - or at least an extension? I've been down here for centuries - they make me design and build things for them and in turn they supply me with the parts to keep me alive - if you could call this living."
"Do THEY have you make toy musical instruments?"
"Like this you mean?" He pulled out an exact replica of the one stolen from my office - the one left behind in Melody Littlesong's bedroom the night she disappeared. The initials N&M carved into the corner as before.
The man rolled closer. "Do you notice anything strange about this toy?" he asked.
"Look closely - most children's xylophones have only the notes of a major scale - generally in C. This is in B-flat and has all 12 tones represented."
"Try to play it," the man said grinning with a mouth of blinking lights.
I struck a few notes with the little metal mallets and suddenly was almost knocked off my feet by an electrical shock.
"What the heck?"
"You must play all notes of the twelve tone series concurrently or you will receive a rather painful shock. You will learn the hard way that you must not play the same note twice before all twelve notes are played or you will be punished."
"Fiendish! And this is meant for kids?"
"That's how you teach young minds, isn't it?"
"And the N&M?" I asked.
"Ah that - I'm not entirely sure what it means. They made me put it on there."
"Have they made you build anything else lately?"
"Yes," he looked at the watch on his wrist, "and if you go there now you may find your answer."
"You'll figure it out. Now you must leave me - I have work to do."
I left the man-machine to his work and stepped back into the streets. What did he mean I would know the way? A wraith brushed past me toward what looked like the Aurora Borealis had alighted down the road. The murky light was strange, eerie - as if it were darkness represented as light in a negative. Other forms glided in that direction - so I decided to follow. For some reason Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" was playing in my head.
As I drew closer I could see that a vast crowd had gathered around a bandshell with a sign that said "Highlyweird Bowl." Onstage a band of mutants in gas masks tortured a grand piano. The crowd cheered as the sledgehammers struck wood and ivory, chainsaws ripped through the carved legs and flamethrowers flared for the finale. Above a neon sign flashed continuously - "N&M - Necrodance and Morbidity Festival."
I made my way through the crowd of revelers - people dressed as ghouls, skeletons, executioners, lawyers, or rotting corpses. A new band came on stage - "A Constant Blink." "They play their music so fast if you blink you'll miss it," a dazed young woman with black circles under her eyes told me excitedly. The band indeed burst into a 210 bpm version of their hit song - "Don't Do What Your Parents Say":
"Don't do what your parents say,
They're just stupid anyway,
They make you work - don't let you play,
Wish they'd all just go away-"
What did the Toy Man mean when he said I'd find what I was looking for here? I shuddered at the thought of Melody among these cretinous music destroyers.
The blinkers set was mercifully short, and a tall, bald, bespectacled, skeletal and sinister looking man ascended the stage.
"It's the Emcee," the same girl whispered.
The man cleared his throat and began to speak.
"I want to thank each and every one of you who have attended our little gathering here tonight. The blood and pain have been kept flowing all night, and the noise has been ever so delightful, but I know that everyone is most excited to get the Necrodance started. So without further ado - here are the main act - The EVIL DEAD SEX MACHINES!!!"
The Walpurgis Night crowd went wild as the curtain opened and 7 particularly gruesome looking robots wielding musical instruments, power tools and weapons of destruction began thrashing violently around the stage to the deafening sounds of machine noise combined with random sounds, a thunderous beat and the speeded up shrieks of the slaughterhouse. The lead "singer" emoted guttural, prerecorded shouts that had been doubled several octaves below the threshold of pain. I held my ears - the girl next me smiled in ecstasy of blissful pain.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the front of the crowd - deeper into the heart of the spinning maelstrom. Bodies hurled themselves at each other with tremendous force. A man in front of me fell and the crowd jumped on him. You could barely hear his screams and bones breaking over the din. A man waving a club crashed into the girl holding my hand - I saw her neck snap and hang to one side. She let go of my hand and she moved away from me - her lifeless body supported by the gamboling motley crew.
Swords, knives, hammers, spears, rocks, and crowbars came raining down on the frenzied mob - as the robots on stage began throwing various weapons to the crowd - who in turn began to beat on each other in a primal fury with a beat not unlike that of "Mars, Bringer of War" in Holst's "The Planets." As the bodies fell, they were hoisted to the stage where they were displayed to the acclaim of the murderous hoard. One girl, who had been blinded, screamed in agony as the crowd pelted her bound body with rocks. The lead guitarist finally put her out of her misery by shoving a Stratocaster that had been carved to a point through her torso. The bodies from the previous concert were taken down and thrown to the crowd who tore them to pieces and ate their putrid flesh, while the new bodies were raised swinging in the air and would accompany the group on to their next stop on their underworld tour.
It was a kaleidoscope of blood and torn flesh as I swung my 45s in all directions and tried to retreat through the throng. A swinging chain whizzed just past my head, and I heard a chainsaw cut into a screaming man's arm behind me. I looked up on the stage to see the Master of Ceremonies grinning at me as he exhorted the followers to attack the interloper.
I ran around the back of the stage with a surging mass of rabid killers close behind. Punching a roadie in the breadbasket, I quickly shoved a copy of Elvis Costello singing "What's so Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding" into the P.A. system. As the crazed pursuers grabbed me and pulled me to the ground - I kicked a foot out and knocked a plug out of the outlet causing the robots on stage to whir to a stop and go silent. Meanwhile, the cd started up, and as Elvis' gravelly voice filled the air with a heartfelt plea for universal love, I watched the gray drain out of the people's faces and the madness leave their eyes as the zombies regained their humanity. As if awakened from a nightmare, they released me and slowly walked away still dazed. Carrying the wounded with them as they made their way out of the arena they melted into the streets - fading out like a reverse "Bolero."
To Be Continued...
Chapters: One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Nine - Ten
Past, present & future
misguided ramblings of the MusiCurmudgeon
Stroll through the vaults of a diseased mind!
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