8 out of 10 tribesman from the South American rainforest who've never heard music before, and don't in fact have a word for 'music', when given Barry Manilow and Guitar Man to choose from, choose... -----=====##### GUITAR MAN #####=====----- [The other two couldn't be woken up.] [Episode 6: Yes, an episode all right] Well, I say uh-huh, yes, yep, sure thing, definite-ly -The "Yes" song, Guitar Man, own composition. There was a quiet knock at the door. Guitar Man put down his book, hit pause on the CD player, and answered it. Standing at the door was Fan.Boy, his glasses glinting in the light. Behind him were Frat Boy, California Kid, Insomnia Boy and Innovative Offense Boy. Fan.Boy cleared his throat uncertainly. "Hi there... can I help you?" asked Guitar Man, pleasantly. "Um... Well," said Fan.Boy. Frat Boy poked him in the ribs and muttered in his ear. "Go on, it's worth it," he muttered. "OK. I understand you're a real whiz on the guitar," said Fan.Boy hesitantly. Behind him California Kid snickered, and Innovative Offense Boy elbowed him in the ribs. "Well, I try." "I'm a big fan of guitar music, would you mind playing me a song?" "Sure," beamed GM. "C'mon in." Fan.Boy entered the room, and Frat Boy closed the door solidly behind him. There was a noise like someone dragging something heavy in front of the door, and then trampling, departing footsteps. Fan.Boy tried the door, but the handle wouldn't move. GM got his guitar out from under the bed, and plugged it into the stereo. "What would you like to hear? I play a wide variety, as well as some of my own composition." "Ummm... Hotel California?" "All right." GM adjusted his strap, and started to play. As the first discords bounced around the room, Fan.Boy's eyes glazed slightly and his knees threatened to buckle. GM burst into song. "On a dank desert highway, cool wind in my ear, Warm smell of junipers, wafting out of my hair." Fan.Boy's eyes rolled up and he passed out. GM continued playing, his eyes shut as he concentrated on the finger-picking. Finally he finished, strumming the last chord. Correctly. The universe paused, confirmed what it had heard, and blew GM into another dimension in surprise. GM vanished in a blast of electric blue flame. Fan.Boy groaned and awoke, spotting the remnants of the flame. He fished in a pocket and beat at it with a handkerchief until it fizzled out. "Oh no," he moaned. "I've melted Guitar Man. What will his author say?" === It was a dank back alley. It had a rubbish bin next to a steel door, and a sporty-looking car parked near the open end. The observant watcher will note that the car hovered just above the ground, and didn't appear to have wheels. It's probably not important. Sitting in the driver's seat was someone wearing an immaculate business suit, and sunglasses. It had red scaly skin and a wide grin with discoloured teeth. A few feet along from the car, leaning against the wall, were two more similar figures. They both wore suits, but neither sported sunglasses. One had green scaly skin, and was considerably larger than his friend, who had blue skin. "When's he gonna show, Drubbis? What do we do if he doesn't show?" asked the green one. "He'll show," replied Drubbis. "He pulls 'em all together here every few years and proves that, while they're good, he's the best. Pride. He'll be here." "But what if he doesn't? Will _you_ explain it to the boss?" "Goonda, stop whining," snapped Drubbis. "We'll get him." He smiled, showing off pointed teeth. "We'll get him." === [Everyone else is doing them, so... :-) Splash Page: Guitar Man stands, feet spread and eyes closed, on a rocky surface. He has one hand on the neck of this guitar, his fingers picking out a chord, and his other hand is above his head with a pick. Behind him is spread the beauty of the cosmos.] Guitar Man materialized on a rocky footing. With his eyes shut. He listened to the chord on his guitar die out, and then opened his eyes. It was the largest surprise he'd had since he fell down the manhole way back in GM#1. He was standing on an asteroid. It was fairly large, about 2km across. It was warm, which was odd, because there was no star in sight that would warm something, though there was a breathtaking starscape spread around him. Speaking of breathtaking, there was an atmosphere, and gravity too, rather contrary to the usual run of physical laws. Guitar Man gave up on trying to figure out what the heck was going on, and flew towards the nightclub that was the only feature on the asteroid. Did I forget to tell you about that? Sorry. A club, called Chez Lui, sat rather-out-of- place-edly in the middle of the rock. GM landed at the back of the queue outside. The club was brightly lit, with many tables and a small dancefloor and stage. A poster outside declared 'Tonite only - Him.' GM puzzled over this as he waited in line. The doorman was checking people off on a list as they came in. "Tori? Sure, go on in. Eric, Eric, ah yes, you're on the list. Phil? Certainly sir, go on in. Prin--um. What is this, this, symbol? Oh, it's you, OK, sir, go on in." The line was rapidly diminishing. Soon there was just GM and a blond-haired man. "Kurt, so good to see you, didn't think you'd make it," said the doorman, making a final tick on his list. He ushered the man inside, and then turned to look at GM. He frowned. "And you are...?" inquired the doorman. He was much too polite to ask, so he inquired. "Guitar Man," said Guitar Man. "Well, no-one gets in if they're not on the list, and, well, the list is done. Everyone's in." "But I want to hear... Him. Please," said GM. The doorman looked at the guitar across GM's back. "You're a musician, eh? Well... play me a few notes." GM swung the guitar into place, and strummed a few liquid-smooth notes off the strings. They bounced beautifully around inside his head and slowly dimmed. The doorman stood unmoving, and then reanimated with a jerk as the sound dimmed. "Certainly sir, my apologies, go right on in." GM did so. === In the alleyway Goonda was still nervous. He was flexing his fists, and his biceps were threatening to pop the seams of his jacket sleeves. "When? Drubbis, when?" "A few minutes. We'll let Him play before we take him." Drubbis rolled up his sleeves and clawed his hands. Six inch steel claws grew from his fingertips, and he grinned. "I want no mistakes." === Inside the club, the tables were full. Wine was being served by waiters, and a variety of foods were all around. GM looked across the crowd. Each and every one of the people there looked somehow familiar to him, but he couldn't quite place it. He leant nonchalantly against a wall at the back and watched the waiters serve wine. Eventually he was given a glass, and he sipped it while he waited. He didn't have to wait long... the lights dimmed, and bright lights came up highlighting the stage. A piano sat on the stage, polished to a deep black, highlighted by the lights. A murmur went through the crowd, and then a small man stepped in from the wings. He was wearing a dinner jacket and a white tie, and his dark hair was shot through with grey. The light reflected off his bright, perfect teeth as he smiled, and then he bowed once, and sat at the piano. The room fell to an expectant hush. The man spoke in a commanding, powerful voice. "I guess you all know why you're here. Some of you have been here at other times, and some have never been here before. You're among the best on your world, but I like to show off. Here's how well _I_ play." He flexed his fingers once, and then started to play. The music was wonderful, the timing perfect, the piano was the best in the universe. This was surely the best music that anyone has ever played, and GM listened raptly. It skimmed cheerily, and dipped into low notes that tore the soul. It was all that music _could_ be and it was almost better. === In the alleyway, piano music drifted across the air. Goonda opened his mouth to speak, probably to say 'Now, Drubbis?', but Drubbis interrupted him before he could start. "He can't play for peanuts, you know. Annoys the Hell, if you'll pardon me, out of Him. Amazing at _Everything_, y'know, except music. But here he can play, oh, yes, he can play well here. That's why He comes here. That's why He _made_ here." === Inside, the piece finished. The small man stood, and bowed, to applause that went on and on and on. Finally it slowed. The man inhaled, to tell the crowd something, and a voice rang out from the back. It was Guitar Man. "Excuse me, sir. You play so well. Can I take the liberty of asking if I can jam with you?" The man's smile flickered a second, and a gasp went around the crowd. "You? Jam with _me_? Who are you?" "I am Guitar Man. I'm nobody, really, but some people think a lot of me. I always considered myself overrated. But I don't know how I got here, or why I'm here, but I have my guitar and I would love to jam with someone of your skill. Please?" The man looked Guitar Man over carefully, and seemed to struggle internally. Finally he smiled his perfect smile again. "Why not." GM walked up onto the stage, and stood next to the piano. He nodded to the man, and extracted a pick from his belt pouch. "When you're ready," he said. "No, please, you lead," replied the pianist. GM nodded slowly, closed his eyes and pictured the tune in his head. There was a short commotion in the kitchen followed by a loud buzzing, and the door from the main kitchen to the dining area burst open. 2 demons, one wiry with blue scales and the other massive with green scales, both wearing business suits, burst into the room. They seemed rather angry, and one of them had huge steel claws. "All right," yelled Drubbis, for it was he and Goonda. "Nobody..." He was drowned out by GM's first chord. It rang out across the crowd, perfect and clear, precisely on pitch and echoed by the very souls of those who heard it. No-one in the room, demon or human alike, moved. They stood transfixed, watching the stage. GM picked his way through a delicate intro, and the piano joined in, swelling the music to perfection. GM started to sing. "Full fathom five, Some day I'll lie, Singing songs that come from dead mens' tongues, Anchor me." [(c) The Mutton Birds, "Anchor Me"] His voice rang true. The strange fusion of piano and guitar echoed all around and was beautiful. But any of the observers would have picked the guitarist as the better player... the song played on, and GM excelled himself. "...Anchor meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." he finished. There was a long pause, as the crowd worked up the courage to applaud, and into the silence Drubbis yelled: "...move!" He waved his claws about, and moved towards the stage with Goonda clearing the way. "'Scuse me *thud*, Pardon me *thud*, Coming through *thud*," said Goonda, leaving behind him a trail of unconscious musicians. The doorman reached under the counter at the coat check-in desk, and extracted a sword. He brandished it, and flames burst along its length. "Back off," he said, and though it was as loud as a shout he was only speaking. "Goonda, do it," yelled Drubbis. Goonda waved his arms and muttered in a tongue that sounded like fat bubbling in a cauldron. Suddenly thousands of small black insects spread across the room, and the air was filled with a hideous buzzing. The insects obscured the light, and crawled over everything in the room. Guitar Man threw himself to the floor, and there was a shout of pain in the darkness, audible over people screaming and yelling. GM caught a glimpse of a large green shape grabbing the pianist in an iron grip and dragging him off, and he lunged to try to stop it, but Goonda was gone before he could get there, vanished back into the confusion. GM flew along above head height, batting insects away from his face, towards where he remembered the kitchen being. He careened off a light fitting, skimmed the top of Grace Jones' haircut and smashed through the wall into the kitchen in time to see the door bang shut. === Drubbis and Goonda tore out into the alleyway, Goonda with the pianist unconcious under his arm. Sluph, the previously unnamed red demon behind the wheel of the car, adjusted his sunglasses and kicked the vehicle into life. Goonda and Drubbis piled in the back as Guitar Man flew out the door followed closely by a rather badly wounded doorman waving a flaming sword. Sluph put his foot to the floor and the car took off at a 45' angle into the sky, almost blowing GM over in the backdraft. It swiftly vanished from sight. "*(&^%(," cursed GM, using a phrase he'd picked up from Innovative Offense Boy, "they got away. Who was that?" he muttered to himself, "He could really play." He almost jumped out of his skin as a hand was placed on his shoulder. "That," said the doorman, "was perhaps the most important person in the Universe. And those demons kidnapped him. *Sigh* They never give up, you know." GM turned, and looked at the doorman. He had grown around two feet since he'd let GM in the door, and he had softly feathered wings that had badly ripped his jacket when they'd been spread. He also had a long rake across his neck and upper torso that was slowly oozing a very bright red blood, and looked quite deep. "Um. Are you all right?" "Fine, why do you ask?" "Well... I normally wouldn't say anything, but that huge slash might be a little painful." The doorman looked down at himself. "Oh, yes. I forgot. Thanks." The wound closed over, and the blood stopped, leaving merely a gash in his clothing. "I'm in over my head here, aren't I?" asked GM. "Well... sort of," replied the doorman. "Great. So... shall we mount a rescue?" "Sure. Hang on a sec." The doorman's eyes went dull, like he was reading something somewhere else while his body was here. Or something. "Um, they'll stop for gas and for the green one to visit the bathroom in about 10 minutes, around 30 lightyears," he paused and extended a finger in the vague direction the car had taken off, "that way." "OK. Sure. No probs," said GM. "How, and this is just an idle query, do we get there?" "You're right, that does cause a problem. I mean, it's out of this dimension completely." "Well...I seem to have left my dimensional transit gear at home." "Oh. Well, usually I'd just take my car and chase them, but one of the cherubs got behind the wheel last week and stacked it into a moon, and it's still in the shop." "Dear me," said GM, bewildered. "I guess there's no choice, we'll have to take His hawg." === The doorman sat astride the motorbike, his sword sheathed at his side and his wings folded close across his back. Guitar Man adjusted his guitar on his back and climbed on behind the doorman. "What's your name, by the way?" asked Guitar Man. "Just call me Mike," replied Mike. "Ready?" Guitar Man took careful, but firm, grip on Mike's wings and nodded. The Hawg accelerated into the sky, and out of the atmosphere of the asteroid. A bubble of air clung to it as it travelled, and Mike gunned the engine and twisted the throttle. The stars became lines of light, and then vanished. The asteroid shot away behind them, and GM felt a slight tug as though they had just crossed ...something. "Can we catch them?" asked GM loudly over the purr of the engine. "Yes," replied Mike. "We should overhaul them, and we can ambush them when they stop." "OK," said GM. "What was that place? With the club and all?" Mike smiled. "Well, y'see, it's like this. People make their own skills, and develop them themselves. And people have the ability to be good at everything. But as the top power in the Universe, the guy we're rescuing is astounding at basically everything. Except He has to have a weakness, otherwise the Universe would collapse. So, He's terrible at any form of music." "But he plays so well," said GM. "Yeah, well, it pains him now, what with the importance of music in today's society. Whoops, hold on." Mike threaded the hawg carefully through a solar system, just missing a gas giant. GM held on for dear life, but they made it through. "Anyways, he made a dimensionette, with the rock and the club in it. And in there, everyone's musical skill is reversed. So in there, he can play. Well." "I see. But that would mean I..." "Here we are," interrupted Mike. He braked violently, and parked the hawg on a Space Station advertising 'Gas'. Mike looked at his watch. "Well, we've got about 2 minutes before they get here." He looked up and down the station. "OK. I'll wait by the toilets to get Goonda, and you get Him away from the other two," said Mike. "Right." === "But I really gotta go," said Goonda in a whining voice. "Gah," said Drubbis. "I don't know why we brought you along in the first place." "Well, there's a gas stop up ahead. We'll pull in there for a minute or two, and top 'er up," said Sluph. "Thanks, Sluph," said Goonda. He glared at Drubbis. "At least _some_ demons are prepared to work as a team." Sluph looked at him with a cold expression on his face, his eyes unreadable under his sunglasses. "Whatever," he said, and pulled the car into the gas station, landing by the pumps. Goonda hopped out and hustled bowleggedly to the side of the station. An attendant in overalls and a cap came out to meet them. "Good day, um, sir," said the attendant. "Fill 'er up?" "Yes," said Sluph, "and wipe the asteroid-grit off the windshield." "Sure thing, sir," said the attendant. "Unuraniumed, or Super?" "Super, and move it." The attendant started the pump going, and started to wash the windscreen. "I'm gonna get some munchies," said Drubbis to Sluph. "Be right back." He hopped out of the car and headed into the station. The attendant hummed off-key as he worked. There was a sudden loud yell and a thud. "What was that?" said Sluph. "Um," said the attendant, "probably an air bubble in the fuel tanks." "It came from the direction of the toilets. Goonda!" Sluph opened his door and started to run towards the side of the station. The attendant stuck out his foot and the demon went sprawling, his sunglasses skittering on the ground. He climbed slowly to his feet, his now-revealed reptilian eyes glowing yellow. "I'm gonna mess you up for that," said Sluph. "Hoka-Hei!" said the attendant, assuming a karate stance. Sluph charged towards him, and was rewarded with a hard punch to the jaw that knocked him back a step and made him see stars. "Raaaaargh!" roared Sluph, spitting twenty feet of flame from his mouth. The attendant rolled sideways, missing most of the flame by a split second, but was just tagged by the edge. It crisped his overalls completely, revealing electric blue armoured fireproof spandex beneath. "Wow, amazing dodge," said Sluph, despite himself. GM patted his eyebrows out and threw the windscreen cleaner. Sluph ducked, and GM flew up and over to hit him in the back of the head with both heels. Sluph crumpled, landed squarely on his sunglasses, and lay ummoving. "Sluuuuuuph!" yelled Drubbis, dropping a bag of chips and a bottle of Mr Paprika (a real Demon's pop) and sprinting towards GM, claws outstretched. He hit GM squarely from the side in a tackle, knocking both of them to the ground. GM rolled and flew to his feet, and Drubbis sprang at him from the ground, slashing wildly with his claws. GM dodged, but only just, and then lashed out with his foot to kick Drubbis in the shin. Drubbis stumbled, but kept his footing, and clawed again. GM threw himself aside, but Drubbis changed his swing and he clawed GM across his left forearm. The razor claws grated through the armour and nicked GM's skin. GM swung his right fist and connected solidly with Drubbis' temple. Drubbis stumbled again, and GM kicked him with a swift inside crescent to the jaw. Drubbis was out for the count. GM stopped, panting, and leaned against the side of the car. The pianist opened his eyes groggily. "Oh," He said. Mike walked up to the other side of the car, and the pianist sat up. "Are You all right?" asked Mike. "Yes." He looked at GM, and at Mike, and at the unconscious forms of Drubbis and Sluph. "Them again, huh? Well." He looked at Mike. "Go tend to your duty." Mike bowed his head. "As You wish." Mike faded from sight. GM gasped, and the pianist turned to him. "Thanks for rescuing Me. That could have been nasty, those guys are really... persistant. Look, I am quite pleased to know about your level of musical skill. No-one has managed to play better than Me at the club. I think I will reward you. I'll take you to any three places, past present or future, you like. Pick the first." "Huh?" said Guitar Man. "OK. I always wanted to see..." ===================================================== Coming in GM#7 *Where Guitar Man always wanted to see. *Some other stuff. Guitar Man is copyright me - Campbell "Sasquatch" March Fan.Boy used with permission, and is copyright Jamas All others are public domain. I think.Back to the Index.