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Dr Archeville

[Musical Vignette] Teenage Death Songs

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Teenage Death Songs

June 24, 2009

Nick Cimitiere shook his head as he walked down the streets of the West End. Some kind of magical working had thrown Freedom into musical chaos, with everyone singing their heart out. This would’ve been an interesting sight on most days, but Eldrich had warned him that it could easily take a turn south.

“I suspect that our sorceress – and yes, I have a pretty good idea who it is – is using a ritual as the base for the working. Specifically, the rites of the Maenads as they called Dionysus to worship.”

“Then there’s wine, sex, and partying, complete with an orchestra.”

“Yes. There usually is, right before someone gets torn to shreds as a bloody offering to the god.”

“Well, when you put it like that...”

So now Nick was on the street, using one of Eldrich’s handheld scrying tools to trace any possible source of magical overload that could be the follow through of the ritual. So far, it hadn’t caught anything big – there’d been a rap battle in Lincoln that had failed to progress beyond the freestyling phase, but that was it. He was beginning to wonder if Adrian had him in the right place when the crystal shook so hard it almost broke his fingers. Regaining his balance, he quickly followed the mystical shard into a diner at the corner of Jameson and Laurent, where he found something he felt he wouldn’t forget for a long time.

The two practitioners, a boy and a girl, stood in a ritual circle scribed in blood and what appeared to be spilled liquor and milkshakes. Only they weren’t dressed in robes, or any of the stock ritual paraphernalia. The boy was dressed like he’d stepped out of a James Dean fantasy, while the girl was dressed like a dream of a ‘50s cheerleader. They were both young, beautiful, and, as Nick noted, possessed of the certain madness that befalls a type of magician. He could see a waitress bound behind them, and breathed a sigh of relief when he noticed she was still struggling. In fact, the blood of the circle seemed to have come from the cut palms of the two practitioners.

“Are they coming?” the girl asked.

“They’ll be here soon, baby,” the boy said, stroking her cheek with the unbloodied hand. “Once they show up, we’ve just got to put the song on, kill these squares, and rise.”

“Oh, baby,” the girl said, resting her head on the boy’s chest. “Here’s to immortality.”

“Ahem.” The two turned to find Nick standing in the doorway, arms crossed. “As touching and demented a tableau as this may be, I’ve just got one question – what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Go away, bokor,” the boy said, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a switchblade. “You don’t want any of this.”

“Oh, I think I do.” Nick browsed over to the jukebox, noticing that it looked like it had undergone some recent revisions. “‘Teen Angel’... ‘Leader of the Pack’... ‘Vincent Black Lightning 1952’...” Comprehension dawned. “Oh, I see... you’re riding the lightning. Music’s being given form and power, and you want in on the action. And here I thought teenage death songs were played out.”

“Only until the emo kids rediscover them,” the girl said. “We’ll be young, beautiful, and lovers forever, riding on the words of song.”

“Divinity through music,” Nick said. “Can’t say I ever thought of that one.” He pointed to the waitress bound behind the counter. “Though I’m guessing this ritual has some cost...”

“The young lovers always have to do something that gets ‘em killed,” the boy said. “Disaster, hopeless devotion... or crime. Ritual has to be primed – for that, it needs death.”

“And once it’s readied,” the girl said, “the cops’ll be here, ready to complete it.”

“By gunning you down.” Nick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Well, as necromantic workings go, it gets points for creativity... and loses them for atrocity, needless complexity, and plain old stupidity. I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the ritual circle and let the hostages go.” A palpable chill fell over the ruined diner. “Now.”

As impressive as the chill of death might’ve been to a standard crook, the two necromancers responded with laughter. “You really think you can threaten us?” the girl said. Around her, the shadows seemed to lengthen and hint as things lurking within, as the boy’s switchblade reflected with a strange light. “This is our place of power, and we have the song behind us. Who do you think you are to spoil this?”

Nick had to admit they had a point. Judging by the power flowing through the diner, they’d managed to wed together their own personal working with Medea’s musical one. The knitting was impressive, with the two works almost seeming to be one.

And as the music rose – maybe in his head, maybe all around him – there was his answer...


“I’ll tell you who I am..." The door slammed shut behind him as the force kicked in all around...

“I’m your worn-down gravestone carving

I’m the vision of the last ray of light

I’m the healer of the starving

I’m the thing you sought in your last desperate fight

You and me...”

Nick felt the power flowing through him, and found it both wonderful and terrifying. He only barely registered the spells of the two necromancers lashing out at him; all he could feel was something old pushing at him, and all he could hear were the words coming out of his mouth.

“I’m your first dream of after

I’m your first long-gone love on the other side

I’m the sick, morbid laughter

But I ain’t cruel, I’ve just seen the brunt of life

And all that follows...”

Some part of Nick realized that the two necromancers were pretty much throwing everything they had at him... and some other part realized that he was deflecting it easily. The power was shifting under him.

“So take me in your hand

Into the shadowed land

I’ll lead you down the dark roads

But you’ve gotta understand

You won’t take me for granted.”

By this point, Nick could feel the ground shifting beneath his feet. He could hear the heartbeat of the city, and the cry of every ghost in it. And most importantly of all, he could see “Danny and Sandy” staring at him in mortal terror. The working was his.

“I’m the rime on the gravestone

I’m that thought of what lies past those pearly gates

I’m as cold of all things ending

But I’m as warm as a night in your lover’s arms

I am death.”

He didn’t have to be Sondheim to realize this was starting to take a seriously wrong turn. Whatever strange joining had gone into the ritual was overpowering him utterly. Visions of zombie armies danced in his head, and they danced to “Thriller.” He had to take this apart in terms it understood, but without ripping it roughly.

“So take me in your hand

Into the shadowed land

I’ll lead you down the dark roads

But you’ve gotta understand

You won’t take me for granted.”

As a loud instrumental kicked in around him and he danced like Baron Samedi in a mosh pit, Nick found the answer. Slowly, he exerted his will across the working, cutting here, tearing there. He could feel it start to yield, but knew it needed one last push before it could be undone...

“So take me in your hand

Into the shadowed land

I’ll lead you down the dark roads

But you’ve gotta understand

You won’t take me for granted.

I’m with you at the start

And I’ll be there at the end

With mercy in my heart

Just don’t take me for granted.”

Nick felt the swell of some power behind him. He knew he’d forgotten about those necromancers. Keeping his mind on the working, he crafted some of the spillover energy into a pure wave of frost. He heard the winds blowing behind him, and whatever power there was had cut off.

“No one knows...”

The music spilled over, clashing against the walls of the diner and causing the glass to vibrate. Police sirens wailed in the distance, but Nick didn’t hear them. He couldn’t hear them. All that mattered was the last chord...

“You won’t take me, for... granted.”

The windows shattered around him as a rime an eighth of an inch thick settled on the counters. And with that, it was done. Nick scanned the wreckage of the shop. The hostages were all unharmed, though they were staring at him like he was mad. Hell, maybe he was, after all that. “Danny and Sandy” were bound up in ice, just as he’d willed it. As dumb and delusional as they were, he wasn’t exactly keen to induce hypothermia, so he drew up some entropy to melt the ice. As the two lovers fell to the floor, Nick could feel them working something new. Mind you, that took most of their attention, so they didn’t even notice the sap until it struck them in the back of their heads.

With two necromancers out for the count, a nearly destroyed diner, and Freedom’s finest on the way, Nick quickly ducked out and took off down the alley. Gotta say, I wasn’t half bad, he thought to himself. Maybe I should think of starting a band...

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