White Picket Fence
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I watch White Picket Fence through the control room glass. I feel like both the animal being caged at a zoo, as well as a child watching wide-eyed as he sees a new creature acting in a bizarre manner. Their instruments are as unnatural and fleeting as they are, black and square. Like they’re holding small pillars. I lean slightly closer to the glass. A very tall, skinny man, cloaked in a mist of darkness is holding a bass guitar. I can’t quite put my finger on the feeling, but every time I look at the instrument it seems to appear differently. Maybe the neck is longer, maybe the body is wider. I can’t quite tell if I’m even seeing correctly, I feel as though I’m in a drunken, forgetful haze. I blinked, and looking at the bass guitar again revealed that it had six strings now, pitch black lines only visible when the guitar is turned to the point where the large overhead light illuminates the black streaks against it like an eclipsed sun. The same light fails to dissipate any amount of the strange veil of swirling darkness surrounding the musicians.
I look over at the other side of the room. A very short, stocky man is sitting on the floor tuning his drums. He sits like a child would as they play with their toys. I think he looks up at me, so I start frantically surveying my equipment to avoid his gaze as arrows of terror pierce my heart. As I look down at the board of controls, what I’ve spent my life doing suddenly looks like a sea of random knobs and switches. I have forgotten the purpose for my art.
The third member of White Picket Fence enters from a space illuminated by the single tall lamp that fails to dispel any amount of the shadows encircling the band. He’s massive, he looks like he could crush my skull with a squeeze from two of his fingers. He is the only one who speaks with me, and wears the only pair of headphones. The massive one strolls between his two band mates and faces the control room, facing me. I’m staring at him, lost in palm-sweating plans and escape routes, all of which have doomed me multiple times over in my mind. Muffled sound interrupts my thoughts, my eyes move slowly over to the little black box that speaks fate to me. I try to shake my head and regain my place in consciousness but it only makes me feel nauseous. I walk over to the microphone, I’m forgetting to sit down, my legs have ached for an unknown period of time. I stretch one arm behind myself and pull over a swivel chair to sit in.
I leaned over to the microphone dangling in front of me, trying to focus on it to avoid any eye contact with any of the three shadowy men. “Brison?” I said. I felt death closing in, I had a feeling they were planning to give me another performance. He doesn’t speak English, but rather he speaks pure fate to me and waters it down for my understanding. His strange, non-native tongue sounds to my ears like a screeching, almost like nails against a chalkboard. It stings my ears like a needle piercing my skull, but I have to listen. Missing directions could lead to horrific consequences. The speaker buzzes once more. Whispering noises, the sound of a nail on a chalkboard, a mix of terrifying sounds nature did not intend for me to hear, whittling down my sanity. My eyes dart around the room as I listen to his ‘words.’ I try to steady my increasingly fast heartbeat. First I feel great relief, and my entire body relaxes. I take the time to wipe some of the sweat off my brow and adjust the collar of my white shirt, stained with sweat. The next moment I feel gut-wrenching terror. For however long, I’ve been the subject of performances, terrifying combinations of sound crudely mimicking the sound of rock and roll. Now Brison wants me to be the one to distribute the sound of White Picket Fence to the rest of the world.
I naturally concede, fearful of consequence from beings with such terrifying potential. I go through the usual procedures of recording, rapidly flipping switches and pushing buttons. It suddenly strikes me that I have no label for the music to follow. So I crawl my chair closer to the microphone and ask.
“Mr. Brison, what should I call it?” He doesn’t respond. The short one stands up and grabs his black black drumsticks, and raises them, ready to beat the assortment of drums in front of him. The tall skinny one spreads his fingers out like black spiders over the bass strings, and Brison lifts his black guitar up from its stand. It’s now that I take in the full terror of the situation, watching White Picket Fence assemble, being drawn together somehow, stretching out like shadows bent by the setting sun, they’re now closer together without having moved. And as for most of anything they do, my mind is in disarray as I watch. An empty pool shut off so I might not go mad. They all raise their black, square instruments now. My body begins to move without my input, pushing buttons and flipping switches. I lean over to the microphone and swallow hard to subside the sudden jolt of nausea piercing into my stomach; dizzying me into submission. “White Picket Fence, take one.” My voice squeaked and I don’t believe I hardly made out the words I had meant to, but I was relishing in the relief of finally getting the words out.
I hear the first note and my mind explodes. The tall bass player is touching the strings too lightly for sound to possibly ring out, but ring out it does, in terrible, shrieking notes. He picks the strings with such strength that the walls shake, and the occasional crunch of control room glass can be heard, although I was too engrossed in the sound to notice where. The bass player continues to plug strings in a pattern that switches between being wildly complex, beyond human capability, and childlike simplicity. The drummer joins in, smashing only the cymbals and somehow producing the sound of all of the other varieties of drums. Now Brison, the frontman, began to step forward from his position in the middle of the other two and strummed the first chord. His hands moved so fast I couldn’t say which strings he fretted, or where his position was on the neck of the pillar-like guitar, but the sound brought me somewhere horrific, desperation sweeps as the sound of that chord phases in and out of my head, weaving in and out of my subconscious.
I find myself in complete blackness, in space. A white line appears at my feet, stretching infinitely into the darkness. I blink once and the other side of the line is paved in fields of dull red, and in the distance I see even mountains made of the same dull maroon. And that’s all there is. I turn around and look behind myself, clenching my teeth in preparation for the possibility of something horrific, however, all I see is white. A blinding white almost more terrifying than the fields of red almost surely meant to demonstrate hell. The white is not heaven, I know I am not given the choice of heaven or hell. I clutch my stomach, I feel like vomiting. I lean over in an attempt to make myself vomit to subside the constant sickness I feel, worsened by the continued ringing of that one terrible chord. However, instead of vomiting, I see a crate. A metal crate, like one used for a dog. It was almost beautiful, a new color against the fields of red behind me, and the blinding white in front. Faced with a decision beyond my judgment I fall to my knees and begin crawling towards the crate, crying softly and wishing tears would fall. The chord is getting louder in my head the closer I crawl to the cage. As I near it I stretch out my arm and touch the metal. Then in my peripheral vision I see three figures. One tall, one short, and one muscular. A tear falls while I look at White Picket Fence in color. Beautiful skin and normal clothing. I know each of them and look on with great happiness, and I start to ramble with a desperate smile on my face; I ramble their praises, I ramble their talent, and I ramble my regret. The stony faces don’t make any contact with me. My smile slowly melts as I realize what I’m doing is futile, and begin to crawl back towards the cage. A hand on my shoulder stops me a second time. I look up slowly, my heart beating into the white ground. Brison is looking straight into my soul with his sharp, blue eyes. Beautiful blue crystals that I had missed so dearly. One of his arms is behind his back, and when he brings it forward a handgun is being clenched. I didn’t know a whole lot about guns, but I recognized the snub nose revolver. I blinked a few times to see if I was seeing correctly. His finger was on the trigger, and he continued to stare me down without blinking. He switches his grip on the gun so that he is now grasping the barrel. He holds it out to me. I felt almost a sinking feeling, I wish he had shot me. But he had greater plans for me, anyway. I tried to make eye contact with him, but I was intimidated by the nostalgia and ferocity of his eyes. I swallowed hard and grabbed the gun from Brison, tucking it into the back of my jeans. Whatever it was for, I didn’t want it.
My head feels heavy as I lift it from the floor. I see blood trickling down a trail between the black and white tiles of the control room floor. I watched it flow like it was a little red river serving the purpose of reminding me of my pain and regret. My head was still ringing to the point where I wondered if I was deaf, but slowly I began to hear the combined playing of White Picket Fence slowly flood back into my mind. They were still playing, and it was still being recorded. It's more tolerable now, though. I can think and I can feel, invigoration runs through my body and lets me stand up. I felt very hot at that moment, and my skin felt like tiny spiders were crawling all over it, biting me. My blood was pumping faster and faster, like the beating of great war drums. I shook my head to dispel any doubt of what I must do next. I gritted my teeth and started flailing my hand around my back for the gun. I felt my palm touch the handle, and I drew it out quickly, holding it out in front of me. I had never held a gun before that moment, but I knew that using it would come down more to adrenaline than to skill. I look up at White Picket Fence, and feel dread, but not terror. I brought the gun up to my face and fiddled with it until I was able to pop it open. Two bullets. I was satisfied, understanding my purpose. At that moment I yelled at the top of my lungs and slapped the cylinder back into place. I ran for the control room window and through my body against it. The glass cracked slightly but didn’t break. I was about to throw my body against it again when I noticed the monitor. I watched the lines appear on the screen, recording the terrifying sounds of White Picket Fence. Without thinking I raised my revolver and shot a bullet through it. I was hyperventilating now, and with only one bullet left I needed to make it count. The three musicians were still playing their instruments, seemingly unbothered by the gunshot that took down their recording. I knew where I needed to fire the final shot, and I lifted my shaking hand and placed the barrel of the gun up against the glass to steady it. I pulled the trigger and the glass exploded, blasting shards out in every direction.
White Picket Fence were absent the next time I blinked, however Brison lingered for a moment, although the Brison I saw was the man I had once known, no shadows molested his body and the presence of blood reddened the color of his skin. I saw the man I had cheated, the man I had dealt the most painful blow possible. I destroyed their passion for money. A few years ago, after the band broke up, Brison had killed himself, and I didn’t feel a thing. Though I found out later that regret is a slow drip poison, and it had taken great amounts of it to unearth the emotion hiding within myself. An impossible task, I found the power within the nightmare I had found myself trapped in, the power to free myself and Brison.

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