“Why the fuck am I even arguing with a fucking cosplayer?” Daniel asked himself. “Fuck this shit, I need something to drink. Something strong. Something badass. Something that’s going to make my head explode.” The Lord of the Pit stomped off to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. The sounds of various items being tossed around in search of clothing could be heard well beyond the thickness of the door.
Raven grimaced in anger and marched to Daniel’s bedroom door before pounding on it with the force of a heavyweight boxer’s punch. “What do you mean you need something to drink?!” She shouted. “Do you actually think that liquid poison is going to help you?! Why the hell would somebody want to drink something that makes them stupid?! It makes no goddamn sense!”
Daniel opened his newly cracked door now dressed in ratty blue jean shorts, a red Pantera T-shirt, a stained leather jacket, and combat boots. “Just for the record, Raven, if that is your real fucking name, I’m already fucked up in the head to where I can’t even get a good night’s sleep. It’s not like one or two beers is going to make too much of a difference. If I’m going to be a lazy piece of shit, I might as well smell like liquid heaven. Get out of my way.”
The booming sound of glass shattering echoed throughout Daniel’s home. Raven immediately drew her blade while Daniel looked around with wide paranoid eyes. “What the hell was that? I haven’t even had a drop of beer yet and already I’m hearing things.”
“You’re not drunk or stoned, Daniel,” said Raven. “We need to get the hell out of here and fast. I believe I’ve been followed.”
“Yeah, that’s right, lead the big bad guys right to my house. That’s some five-star general shit right there,” said Daniel. Raven grabbed him by the hand and despite slurring protests from the rock star, dragged him down the hall towards the garage. “What the hell is chasing us, anyways?!” Daniel whined.
The elusive twosome barged through the garage door and hurriedly got inside the Demon Axe tour van, Daniel in the driver’s seat and Raven in the passenger’s. The Lord of the Pit fumbled to get the keys out of his shorts pocket while the elf warrior screamed, “Hurry! Get this thing started and let’s get out of here!”
The bomb-like sounds of pounding on the steel garage door nearly gave Daniel a heart attack as he clutched his chest and dropped the keys down the side of his seat. Raven cursed incessantly while digging around for the fallen keys, Daniel nothing more than a scared little mouse. The pounding continued until crater-sized dents formed in the door. The Lord of the Pit’s apoplexy nearly hit its climax when the garage door was ripped off and standing there were the brainwashed wrestlers Johnny Vega and Sonia Marquez, both of them with fists at their sides, muscles tensed, and angry breathing filling the garage like dragon smoke.
Not taking into account the crowns of thorns on the minions’ heads, Daniel’s mind-blowing fear fizzled into light laughter, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “Holy shit, man!” he chuckled. “We’re being kidnapped by a couple of wrestling badasses! I love these guys! Maybe we can do a little autograph exchange or something!”
Raven smacked Daniel upside the head and brought him out of his fan-boy trance. She shoved the keys into the ignition and barked, “Drive, damn it!” As the heavy metal icon twisted the keys, the engine to the tour van was sputtering and blasting, like it hadn’t been driven in years. Johnny and Sonia slowly approached the lame duck vehicle with their muscular arms in the air and their claws extended. “Hurry, Daniel! Move it!”
“I’m trying to move, damn it!” shouted Daniel, still twisting the key as hard as he could. By this time the two brainwashed wrestlers began scratching the windshield of the fan and flicking glass shards into Raven and Daniel’s faces. Raven covered up with her arms while Daniel continued working on the ignition. After a few small cuts formed on Raven’s arms and Daniel’s face, Johnny Vega punched through the windshield and unleashed a blizzard of glass upon the driver and passenger.
Then and only then did the tour van purr to life. The two occupants were bleeding mildly from these small gashes, but Raven, being the solid warrior she was, swung her blade at the attackers and backed them off. Daniel slammed his foot on the accelerator and blazed down the street at nearly top speed. Johnny and Sonia sidestepped the vehicular onslaught, but grabbed a hold of the sides of the van and sunk their claws into the metal.
The neighborhood was empty of other drivers, so Daniel let out a heavy metal growl and swerved from side to side in an attempt to shake off his assailants. Their bodies flapped in the wind like flags of patriotism for their leader’s elven nation, but they refused to let go. Johnny, who had occupied the left side of the van, crawled and scratched his way toward Daniel’s window only to be slammed against a light post and bounced off of the street, causing the giant wrestler to roll and stumble on the sidewalk. The light post came crashing down on top of him and pinned the seven-footer on his back.
Daniel let out a victorious, “Woo-hoo!” only to have Raven’s window bashed in by Sonia’s legs, which then wrapped around the elf warrior’s neck and squeezed like a hangman’s noose. Her face turned several shades of purple and she even dropped her blade on the floor. Daniel smiled at the incident and maneuvered the van to the side where Sonia bounced head first off of a steel mail box. The MMA enthusiast let go of the chokehold and rolled down the sidewalk unconscious and defeated. Meanwhile, Raven clutched her own throat and coughed violently before sucking in sweet precious air.
“Are you alright, baby girl? I hope I didn’t rough you up too badly,” said Daniel in a celebratory tone.
After a few hard breaths of fresh oxygen, Raven said, “Don’t ever call me baby girl again.”
The van found a clear path to the highway and pulled over so that Daniel and Raven could assess their wounds. They ended up wrapping Demon Axe T-shirts (that were being sold as merchandise) around their cuts since the van wasn’t equipped with a first aid kit. Daniel and Raven sat together in the back of the van during this medical jury rigging and stared out into the rising sun. Their hunched over postures and heavy breathing suggested extreme tiredness for what they had just gone through.
“Here’s what I don’t understand about you, Raven,” said Daniel. “You’re an elf from another world, just like this Roger Zee douche-canoe is, yet you talk just like a normal human being, no different from what I’d hear on the streets.”
“It wasn’t always that way, Daniel,” said Raven as she placed a hand on his wounded shoulder. “Whenever one nation conquers another, the losing side always takes the language of their captors. Your people are freaking out over the appearance of elf terrorists, yet they do not know that the governments of the world have been in on this all along. I bet this narrative sounds familiar, especially as it relates to your native captors. You know the ones.”
“I never said I believed in all that Manifest Destiny bullshit,” said Daniel. “I don’t approve of any of this political violence no matter who it’s happening to. With that being said, I can understand why Roger Zee would be pissed off. It still doesn’t change the fact that he killed a bunch of innocent people to get his message across. Those concertgoers didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t know what was happening. They just bought tickets thinking they were going to see some kick-ass heavy metal.”
“Truth be told, none of my people can understand Roger’s zealous ways. Yes, we’re upset at the way human governments have treated us, but we would never authorize the killing of innocents. Then again, how can some of those people be innocent when they’re just as scared of us as the pundits and politicians they blindly follow?”
Daniel placed his slashed up arm around Raven and said, “Not all of us are conformist sheep. But I will admit, enough of us are. As long as there are people in power who pull the puppet strings, there will always be puppets willing to dance along with them. I tried to convey that warning to my fans by having an all-Muslim and all-LGBT band open for us at the night of the concert. Some people got it, others didn’t. Some people just don’t want to see the light.”
Raven got down from the van and turned to face Daniel with a serious expression on her face. “I understand how powerful your music is. You can evoke all kinds of emotions with the heaviest chord or the wildest scream. But as powerful as your music is, Roger’s blade is that much more dangerous.”
“I see where you’re getting at,” nodded Daniel. “Trust me, my love for music is as dead as my band mates. I can’t even picture going on without them. They were like brothers to me. It’s part of the reason why I’m so fucked in the head right now.”
“There are other ways in which you can redeem yourself and fight for a noble cause, Daniel. But in order to do so, you have to listen closely to what I have to say. A lot of bad memories are going to come flooding back, but it’s for the good of the cause. We have to return to the scene of the concert,” said Raven.
“What? Are you crazy? There’s no chance in hell I’m going back there! I’m not exactly looking forward to seeing my friends’ heads rolling around on the ground with their spinal cords still intact!”
“I know that!” snapped Raven before returning to a lulling voice. “I know. That’s why I want to accompany you. I can keep you safe from anything Roger throws at us. I know I looked pretty weak back there while we were on the road, but I swear I’ll be ready next time.”
Daniel sighed, shook his head, and leaned his face down to hold the bridge of his nose. He took some more heavy sighs before lifting his head back up and saying, “You’d better be right about this. I’ll slash my own fucking throat before I get locked up in a loony bin. I like drugs, just not those ones.”
Raven placed both hands on either one of Daniel’s shoulders and said, “Trust me, my friend: this whole journey is going to feel like you’re on psychedelic drugs. Like I said, elves take the language of their conquerors. That means we have the same technology and urban development that you guys do. It’s just that in the elven world, things are slightly different. Just different enough to make you believe that you’re on LSD.”
“I would kill for some acid right now,” said Daniel with a flat tire noise and a small grin.