Deathspider/Land of Sunshine
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Land of Sunshine
This story is part of an effort for a Spring/Summer 2007 Virtue event where the characters involved are banished to a dimension where thier fantasies are thier life... and also, their nightmares.
Part One: Land of Sunshine
You have a winning way, so keep it, so keep it
Your future, your future
You are an angel heading for the land of sunshine
And fortune is smiling upon you
Prepare for a series of comfortable miracles
From fasting to feasting, to feasting, to feasting...
And life to you is a dashing bold adventure
So sing and rejoice, and sing! And rejoice!
And look for the dream that keeps coming back
Your future, your future, your future
So pat yourself on the back and give yourself a handshake
Cuz everything is not yet lost
BWAH HAH HAH HAH HAHAHAHAHAAH!
Does life seem worthwhile to you?
HERE'S HOW TO ORDER!
Yes, hmm mmm, now for the next question
Does emotional music have quite an effect on you?
Do you feel sometimes like age is against you?
Sing and rejoice and sing and rejoice!
Yes, hmm hmm, that's interesting.
But tell me, do you often sing or whistle just for fun?
Do you feel sometimes like age is against you?
I can help
I can help you
I can help you
BWAH HAH HAH HAH AHAHAHAAHAHAHA!
Does life seem worthwhile to you?
HERE'S HOW TO ORDER!
- Faith No More 'Land of Sunshine'
“This is an interesting setup you have here, Senor Preston.”
Tyler Preston, the smiling, gregarious founder of the seminal rock group Rakescar, turned from the Pro Tools rig and sound board to look at the man who had the entire Latin world on fire, Miguel Sanchez. “How are you, Mister Sanchez? I hope your trip was good – things in LA are kinda crazy right now”
Tyler Preston was a man who had gone through the wringer of fame and came out smiling. Rakescar had become a platinum mega-hit right out of the gate, their song ‘Raising The Dead’ was still played in snippets at football games. But like most groups, personalities took their toll and so did the drugs and paparazzi. Their lead singer had lost his teeth, holed up in a hotel room. The guitarist, a sex scandal. The bassist killed himself. Only Tyler had held together – in the industry, he was constant, like a rock. He held out a meaty hand, and they shook. Miguel wanted to wince from the man’s grip – the man was all muscle, some of it running to fat, but still powerful.
“Si, it was pleasant, Mister Preston. Hopefully our stay in town and in your studio is more so.” Miguel gave Mr. Preston a smile and glanced around at the lavish studio. Tyler followed his eyes.
“I took a healthy chunk of my savings on my last tour and figured I’d better plan for the future, ya know?”
Miguel nodded. “Muy bueno. The public is fickle. One day they love you, the next day, you are back to begging for money to record.” His accent was thick, despite his passable English.
“Heh. Ain’t that the truth? Yeah, before everything went ta crap, I saw what the band was turning into and I said ‘I ain’t no John Bonham’. I love the guy, worshipped him when I was coming up…”
Miguel looked faintly puzzled, then his face lit up in recognition. “Oh yes, the Led Zeppelin!”
Tyler chuckled. “Yeah. I figured I wanted to have more than that, so me and my girlfriend put a bunch away into our studio and our label. Haven’t looked back.”
“It is good that you did. It would have been a shame otherwise. So… the album I want to do…”
Tyler sat back behind the console. “Well, I always figured Latin music to be all accordians and stuff. But you’ve been doing a lot of interesting stuff. Can’t say I’ve got a lot of knowledge about it, but these demos you sent, I think this is one of the few Mexican rock songs that, y’know, doesn’t sound derivative and forced, like you were saying “Hey, we can do this too’, y’know? It’s got enough elements that, and don’t quote me on this or nothing, but this could turn into something big. Like, not that 2000’s stuff with Ricky Martin or some frickin Mambo Number 5, not that crap, I’m talking about genuine rock-slash-metal with enough of original and distinctive flavor to set it apart, but still might get some kid listening to rock radio to check you out, and that’s what we’re looking for. That cross over appeal.” He leaned back in the chair, brushing off his chest, some crumbs falling away from his CBGB t-shirt.
“You like it?”
Tyler gave a conservative nod. He didn’t want to go overboard with optimism. Most artists are pigeonholed into a certain genre and a certain sound. Crossing over, experimentation, was almost certainly a risky move. Unless you were Bowie. Even Metallica had lost a good portion of their fanbase because of the switch to 90’s alt-rock – some because of the change itself, some because the music, well, sucked.
Miguel Sanchez, a flamenco guitarist, and known pretty much exclusively for Latin music, wasn’t so much taking the risk of alienating his fanbase – most Latinos didn’t dig rock, but venturing out into new waters. And because he paid well, Tyler Preston wanted to make sure the venture wasn’t a total wash, or an embarrassment to them both – Tyler felt responsible for what he produced and what came out of his studio. His livelihood came from word of mouth and craftsmanship. He was no Rick Rubin, but he wanted to be.
Miguel smiled and looked through the glass at the recording room. “That is good. I wasn’t sure you’d want to try this.”
Tyler shrugged. “I figured I’d give it a shot. Why not, ya know? Get to do something new. Every crop of Nickelback wanna-bes are making me sick.”
Miguel stretched on the luxurious bed, and sighed in relief. It had been a long flight from Mexico City to LAX, the LA traffic and three hours in Tyler Preston’s Hockey Goon studio. Tomorrow, some of Tyler’s friends would come in to help lay down some tracks. He had done the demos over the course of six months, on the road or inbetween recording sessions. This new endeavor would hopefully open him to new horizons, or at the very least, he could know that he tried it. Not many can say that, that they went ahead and pushed the boundaries of their world.
Ah, it seemed like it was only yesterday, struggling by himself in dirty backwater towns. Like most people, Mexican crowds wanted the same bland, yet garish, folksy mariachi band, or stuff like Serena did and it’s numerous imitators. Miguel never wanted to be like them, or a nameless guitar player at some pendajo’s wedding.
Miguel wanted to be a rock star.
Miguel wanted to be like Axl Rose or Dave Mustaine or Robert Plant. He wanted to have his music, let it breathe fire. He had listened to music, American rock, when he was young. His fingers were nimble, and he had a talent for it, and his uncle Pedro had worked hard in the States and sent extra money so his little nephew could have guitar lessons and his first guitar. He could have crossed the border and worked his fingers, wasted them, on framing houses or pouring concrete slabs, do roof jobs or landscape, but his Uncle Pedro was adamant – he would not have his nephew ruin his chance to be somebody. Not to sweat while the bored gringos watched with suspicious eyes, ready to call La Migra and cart them away, just to end up back in Juarez City, just to go back.
Suffer for nothing.
No. While others sent back money for large pickup trucks to trundle around in, Pedro Martinez-Sanchez made sure his nephew had what he needed to be more than Pedro or his brother had been, or will ever be.
And none was prouder than Uncle Pedro when Miguel performed in the tacqueria-slash-cantina in their hometown in the scrub hinterlands of Mexico. Now, his family didn’t have to beg for work outside a Home Depot in White America, or slave away on a crew for less than minimum wage. The first few albums were slow, and the touring and self promotion relentless, and at times he doubted it would ever take off. After all, trying to ‘make it’ in a poor country filled with laborers was daunting, and really, when it came down to it, most people wanted familiar music, something they could play at a family get together, not flamenco, not Spanish Guitar. They didn’t warm to something that wasn’t truly a Mexican style of music, something esoteric in a stolidly conservative culture – a nation of Catholics.
He learned to bend, but not break, to move to mariachi, to cater to if not the popular style (which made his ears ache), at least something that wasn’t so ‘Gypsy and Spaniard’ as one record label had scornfully commented. And so he did, and years of struggle for a young man trying to live his dream followed.
And like a dream, doors opened and he pursued that elusive vision with a savage passion. New opportunities presented themselves, and soon… soon he found himself very wealthy, very much sought after, and very famous. And with that clout, he was less constrained by the whims of drunk migrant workers in a rundown tavern in the hardpan wastes, coughing dust out of the back of his throat before he sang.
He could make the music he wanted to make, and all over Latin America, the Carribbean, even far off Spain and Portugal, his name was known. He had arrived – the gaudy shows on television, he was there with his long black hair and his look of ‘haughty, barely concealed sexual hunger’, as one critic gushed, he was in the fantasies of many a young woman on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, ask an average American the name of a Latin American music personality, and they’ll shrug indifferently, or worse, name a Puerto Rican. Miguel wanted to be known here in the States, even though the US was becoming a very dangerous place to be these days, it still was ‘The Dream’, and it’d be great to break through to get his face on the cover of Rolling Stone, get to play rock music, American rock music, on American stages, and get paid in that sweet, sweet American cash.
But as AC/DC once claimed, it was a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. But that was all right. He had perservered before, and he would again.
He liked this Tyler Preston. The drummer from Rakescar, now quietly producing. He didn’t let the fame and the habits associated with fame diminish him. And he took a chance with Miguel. That would not be readily forgotten. And he was grateful that Tyler didn’t ask him about the tempers flaring back home – last week, a mass grave of illegals was found out in Nevada, a staggering amount of men and women slaughtered. No group claimed responsibility, as was the norm, and woe to any dissident in Mexico, the US had bought out President Santiago years ago, and he was generally considered to be the State Department’s puppet.
So naturally, the US was looking like the culprit. Anti-US sentiment over this outrage was considerable, but even macho Latinos dreaded what would come in the night if they made too much noise about it. Six hundred and eighty Mexicanos found in a mass grave, being eaten by worms. Some said it was a statement made to illegals, that La Migra wasn’t messing around anymore… You either had a State Identification Number or you were scum, an outcast, your life meant nothing. You didn’t exist. Your SIN was everything. And those illegals were SIN-less. Therefore, no legal or human rights. They were non-persons, they didn’t matter.
Miguel had long since learned the lesson of not railing against the big bad El Norte. If the people in their own country who spoke out (well, those not sanctioned to provide a different ‘opinion’, so the whispers said) were found butchered, half eaten, and drained of their blood, what chance did a Latino in Mexico stand? Especially a musician – he had heard enough myths, half truths, and leaked crime scene photos to make him quiet. And so did an entire hemisphere – Chupacabra this wasn’t.
Chupacabras didn’t leave abbatoirs in their wake, recognizable chunks of meat hanging in the webs left behind, gruesome tapestries intended to be seen and whispered about.
Miguel wasn’t a political person, he never had been. He rarely looked up from his work, or past the latest sexual conquest to ponder and get frustrated by these things. It was enough to know that the bogeymen existed, and they were like the Sword of Damocles – the sword everyone lived under. And if you kept quiet, didn’t look too hard, and lived your life, then you might never be paid a visit by what some called the ‘Shadow Spiders’.
For Miguel, that was enough. He rolled over and fell into a dreamless sleep.
“And welcome back to Entertainment Tonight! You may of heard of our next guest, tremendously popular in Latin America, coming from playing in taverns and at weddings in Mexico to being an international superstar, bar none the world’s most talented guitarist… Miguel Sanchez!”
Miguel walked out onstage at the ET studio, dressed in his trademark black and red mariachi outfit, his long black hair tied back in a long ponytail. He gave a warm smile to the blonde woman as he strode out, then gave a little wave to the cameras, hopefully to the audience at home. She directed him to sit on a grey couch. He sat down, sinking into the cushions, while she sat opposite of him.
“Buenos dias, Michelle, it is good to be here on the show.”
“Well, certainly glad to see you Miguel. Now, there are a ton of questions I want to ask you, but unfortunately our time is limited. Now, I understand you’re here in LA to record an album?”
“Si, Michelle, I am here trying to get started out at Tyler Preston’s studio, he was the drummer for Rakescar, now he has his studio, and he and I will be working together to make a new album for American audiences, I am trying to expand and try new things. Try to make a rock album.”
“Really? That’s intriguing! Why did you decide to get into rock?”
“As a boy in Mexico, I used to listen to my cousin’s tapes he bought, Van Halen, AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and a lot of other American rock bands. I always wanted to try that, even starting out playing flamenco, I would go home or to my hotel room and play their music on my headphones, so this is very exciting for me.”
“Well, we don’t have a lot of time left, what can you tell us about this new album?”
“Well… it is not recorded yet, but I can say that it will be accessible to both American rock audiences and people back home, with elements that will appeal to both.”
“I can’t wait to hear it. Thank you for coming on the show!”
“In other news, no positive identification on the mass graves found out in the desert surrounding Edwards Air Force base, a US Air Force spokesman said today at a press conference…”
“National Guardsmen deployed to Iran last month are getting quite a show of support from their loved ones. Today in Sacremento, several family members…”
“… in these times of turmoil, the price of oil at nearly ninety dollars a barrel, we at Petrochem know the importance of researching alternative fuels…”
“…become a mindless zombie!”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m saying, these are no longer people. They hunger for human flesh and…”
“I’m Loving It!”
“… We must show Islamic Extremists we mean…”
“…The new 2007 Cadillac Escalade…”
“We worship you, oh…”
“…money, and we are Mutual Financial, money matters.”
“…is that your final answer?”
“A BRAND NEW CAR!”
“…I don’t know what the big deal is…”
“More mass graves found in…”
“…your own back yard. Don’t you want the security of knowing that…”
“…close to five hundred Mexican migrant workers were found dead…”
“…Moving on up! MOOOOVING on up! To the ski-high! To a deeeeeluxe apartment, in the…”
“…the ghetto. Yeah, we got a call for a domestic disturbance, probably high, beating his live in girlfriend. I tell you, some days it doesn’t pay to…”
“…deadly police shooting…”
“…string of several political assassinations in Central America…”
“…the democratically elected Parliament of Iraq suffered another…”
“…made in America. That’s a label you can trust!”
“Nobody can top our prices! That’s right!”
Tyler Preston sank back into the leather couch, swirling a bottle of Corona, the lime bobbing and spinning inside. Miguel had good publicists if he was getting on ET the first night he was here. God bless ‘im, then, if he had the money to blow on it.
A scream, the sound of someone beating on the glass doors outside the studio. Tyler frowned, and got up, pulling a baseball bat from alongside the couch. Who the hell…?
He made his way to the front of the studio, and there she was. Penny. Tyler squinted, because, well, why would Penny Richards show up here? She was some big wig reporter now, she stopped working for the music industry mags years ago, having gotten her big break. She looked hysterical, pounding on the glass with renewed fevor when she saw the husky form of Tyler.
“TYLER! OPEN UP! PLEASE!” she screamed, mascara running down her face.
“Jesus…” he muttered, stepping to the door and unlocking it. He pulled the door, and Penny nearly floored him, rushing inside. “Penny! What the hell is going on?”
She pressed past him, panicking. “Close the door! Lock it!”
“Penny, what the hell..?”
“PLEASE! They’re after me!”
“THE SPIDERS!” she screamed, rushing further into the building. Christ, he thought. Aatiya wouldn’t believe him.
He looked outside into the night, furrowing his brow. Ok. He shook his head and locked the door, and followed Penny into the studio.
He found her, clutching herself tightly, half out of her mind.
“Penny, what… what are you talking about?”
Penny sniffled and leaned against the wall. “The Spiders, Tyler. You know, the stuff nobody talks about?” He grunted. Conspiracy theorist crap. “The Shadow Spiders. We… ah god… we got too close to something, and… oh jesus… they… they sent the Shadow Spiders after us. I… I got out, but… I know they’re coming for me, Tyler. I saw them. I saw what they did… god, they move so fast, they tore everyone apart, Tyler. They killed everyone, and I know they’re coming for me, what I’ve seen…”
Tyler shook his head in disbelief. “Penny, slow down. What are you talking about? The Spiders are just an urban myth, it’s a cover up thing the drug dealers use to scare people.”
Penny snarled, actually snarling, and pulled out a small video cassette from her coat pocket. “Damnit, Tyler! This is not a myth! I have it on tape! Everything! The mass graves, have you heard about the mass graves?”
“We found one. They were trucking people in there… in these… these… cattle cars, and filing them out, big Homeland Security signs everywhere, and there were these guys in head to toe black outfits, and they… they shot them all, all of them, all these people, and bulldozed them into this huge hole in the ground… the next thing we know, we’re at the station, and everything goes black.. and… well… watch the tape.”
“Penny, I don’t…”
“WATCH THE TAPE!”
Calmly. “Penny. I don’t have anything that’ll play that.”
Penny gritted her teeth. “Tyler!”
“Jesus Christ, Penny! Hold on! Slow down! I haven’t seen you in years, you show up out of the blue, hysterical..”
“I AM NOT HYSTERICAL!”
Tyler held out his hands in front of him. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on! Just chill out! Now, okay, you got a tape. Ok. I don’t have anything to play that on. Let me call up Aatiya, she’s in town, let me call her, I’ll tell her to pick up what you need, okay?”
“Tyler… I’m dead serious. The Spiders are real. I have them on tape. They killed everyone at my office, and they’ll come for me, I know it. Please, Tyler… I gotta hide, they’re going to…” She stopped, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Oh God, Tyler, I’ve never been more scared in my life…”
Outside, in the darkness, a slender figure emerged from the shadows of an alley, black chitin-like skin gleaming in the low light. It crept along the wall, slowly, methodically, and eyes glowing malevolently. The air was stagnant in the city, pollution and heat forming a toxic atmosphere, but the being on the wall was well equipped to deal with the bad air – it’s olfactory powers could look past the environmental scents, and still home in on it’s prey.
It moved, alien like, skittering alongside the wall, fingers like talons, feet lightly hooked, no sound from it’s passing. The glowing red eyes narrowed on Hockey Goon studios… It’s prey, the terrified, delectable blonde girl, she had gone inside.
Patience, it thought. Patience.
Those inside posed no threat. The reporter girl, however, did, if she was able to transmit the information she had. It could be very damaging to the regime, and well, that sort of nonsense couldn’t be tolerated. She would die, but not after some more reconnaissance. Then the others would come, and attack en masse. And then they would eat. And others, they would find what remained, and none would know why they had to die, but there must have been a good reason, they must have done something… They would have to assume they were terrorists, or better yet, terrorists.
It scaled the wall, climbing to the roof. The being grinned, baring translucent, dripping fangs. Soon, the others would come, and they would tear the pretty blonde girl apart.
Miguel returned to the hotel room with a pair of giggling models in tow.
Hours later, after the festivities were concluded and the champagne was consumed, the women left Miguel alone, soaking in a ridiculously lavish bathtub. He was pleasantly buzzed, full of alcohol, dinner, tired from the women, and his back scratched.
This, he concluded, was what Heaven must be like. And soon, recording would begin, and although it would be arduous, it would be infinitely rewarding. He wiggled his toes around through the suds, feeling positively decadent, and he was reveling in it.
Had he ‘arrived’? Maybe not quite yet, and it wasn’t like he hadn’t had a night like this before (Spanish women were far more exciting in bed, but hey, white women. Models. That’s a certain excitement in and of itself), but he finally felt as though this was going to be it, that he was on the cusp of greatness.
It was exhilarating.
It was a dream come true.