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[A_NINmas_Carol: Chapter_4]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor

             Trent got into his car, and started the engine. As he drove down the deserted street, he muttered to himself, “Well this is all well and good, but there’s nothing I can do now. If everyone’s expecting the session at 7AM, then I might as well do it. We’ve gotta get that song just right.”
         Trent saw a dark figure far ahead in the middle of the road. He squinted his eyes, only to find that the creature was closer than it appeared. He slammed on the brakes, and swerved to avoid hitting it. His car ended up in the ditch.
         Trent took a deep breath, and stepped out of the car.
         “What was that?”
         He looked around the road, but there was nothing there.
         “I swear I saw something…”
         Trent felt something brush against his leg. He looked down and saw a dog wearing a hooded black cloak, standing beside him.
         “Well hello,” he said, kneeling to face the dog. His face dropped when he stared under the hood.
         The dog looked at him with sad, sullen eyes.
         “What’s wrong girl? Why are you wearing that crazy hoodie? Oh. You’re the third ghost.”
         Maise walked ahead of Trent. The snow began to obscure the road ahead, but Trent felt nothing – no wind, no cold… he continued to follow Maise as the path became blurred with snow.
         “Where we going, girl?”
         The snow began to part, revealing a dimly lit bar. Maise walked up and through the front door. Trent followed. As he entered, he could hear the faint strains of loud bass and drum beats.
         There were about 10 people sitting around the club, holding long-neck beers in their hands, staring at the old codgers onstage, struggling to keep the rhythm together. A pot-bellied, balding man with long hair stood front stage, trying to sing along.
         "And you can have it all/my empire of shit..."
         “It’s dirt, you moron,” muttered Trent.
         Maise nudged his leg.  Trent held his tongue, and watched as the crowd lethargically clapped at the end of the song.
         “Thank you, thank you,” said the singer. “And thanks very much for coming out this Christmas Eve. On bass this evening is Jeordie White, and on drums, Josh Freese. And I’m Bo Bice. Have a good night, everyone!”
         “What the humbugging hell is this?”
         Trent looked down at Maise.
         “This is what these guys end up doing? Playing my songs at seedy clubs with a humbugging American Idol as the singer? Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick…”
         Maise pushed against Trent’s leg, moving him towards the exit. Trent walked out of the bar, and found himself in front of a convalescent home. Once again, Maise walked through the door, and Trent followed. As they entered, a small figure sat in a wheelchair in the middle of the lobby, his long salt-and-pepper hair knotted and askew.
         “How are we doing today?” a nurse bent over the chair, looking at the patient.
         “So much pain,” the man in the chair whispered.
         “Would you like another Percocet, Mr. North?”
         The patient nodded. Trent was beside himself with shock.
         “Okay, well I’ll be right back then.”
         The nurse walked over to the dispensing station, and began talking to the nurse behind the glass.
         “Two Percocet please for Mr. North. You know, it’s so sad. He messed up his body by flying through the air and doing all sorts of crazy stage antics to entertain people and to make his band remembered, and now, nobody even gives him a call at Christmas. Poor guy.”
         Trent watched the nurse take the drugs over to Aaron. Trent started to walk towards Aaron’s chair, but Maise gripped the bottom of his jacket with her teeth.
         “But I just want to…”
         Maise gave Trent a look. Trent hung his head and followed her out of the convalescent home. The snow began to part, revealing a stadium, with lights blazing. Trent stared up at the marquee – it read “One Show Only”. A crowd was starting to exit the stadium.
         “Oh my fucking god that was like the best show ever!” Trent heard a girl say to her friends. “They so rock.”
         “Yeah I really like that song they do, 'Right Where It Belongs'. It rocks the place so hard. They’re so fucking brilliant,” said one of the friends.
         “You know that’s a cover, right?”
         “No, really? Oh my god, like I totally thought they wrote it.”
         “No, it’s a really old song by some band from the 90s.”
         “Who, Tool?”
         “Nah, it was a really slow song by some band, I can’t remember their name, but it’s the same band where they got their name from. Nights… something Nine Nights, something like that…”
         “Well it so doesn’t matter, because this version just totally nukes the world.”
         The girls laughed as they walked past Trent and Maise.
         “You mean,” Trent began, “nobody remembers us?”
         Maise gave him a look.
         “Nobody remembers Nine Inch Nails?”
         Maise continued to look up at him.
         “Surely that band must know us. I mean, if they’re covering my song…”
         Maise walked forward into the stadium. Trent followed, and ended up in the backstage area. Roadies and crew were running around, taking down equipment. Trent could hear an accented voice yelling in the background.
         “You guys played like vomita tonight,” shouted the man. “That was probably your worst show ever. You need to practice if you gonna play that New Year’s Eve show.”
         “But Alessandro,” said a young man’s voice, “We’ve been working really hard. We don’t even know these songs you’re making us play, but I think we’re doing…”
         “I don’t manage you for you to think,” said Alessandro. “That’s it. You gotta stay tonight and rehearse.”
         “Tonight? But it’s Christmas Eve!”
         “Music doesn’t stop because it’s Christmas,” said Alessandro. “The guy who wrote that song, he no stop because of a statutory holiday. So why should you take a break?”
         There was a collective sigh from the young men, as Trent caught sight of Alessandro, with a stern and cold look in his eye.
         “Thank you, Trent,” Alessandro muttered to himself. “You showed me that success is more important than family or friendships, and you were so right.”
         Trent slunk away from the window.
         “So nobody knows my band anymore, and Alessandro is using me as his business model. Great. Could I feel any worse?”
         Trent bent down to pet Maise. She moved away.
         “What? What is it girl?”
         Maise walked down the hallway and through a fire door. Trent followed and found himself in a TV studio, complete with live audience. He looked around at the set, which consisted of oversized numbers against a wall.
         The applause sign lit up and the crowd went crazy. The announcer’s voice chimed in.
         “And now, it’s time for America’s favourite low-budget game show, Nine Times  Nine, with your host, Trent Reznor.”
         Trent screamed in terror as he saw his older self, balding, pot-bellied, and lacking shape in his polyester suit, shuffle onto the stage with a large, fake grin.
         “Welcome to Nine Times Nine,” said old Trent, “The game show where contestants have to find as many multiples of nine in ninety seconds in order to qualify for our grand prize. I’m your host, Trent Reznor.”
         “Oh God, no!”
         Trent screamed as he held Maise’s hoodie.
         “No, no, no! It can’t end this way. No, Maise, no! I can change! I’ve seen the error of my ways. Please, please Maise! Please say it doesn’t end like this!”

Posted by Mimi Jones-Taylor in tales_of_terror | Permalink


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...hmmmm. Trent as a cheesy game show host? Does he at least have one of those pimped out Bob Barker mics? Don't think I could keep a straight face if he was screaming out "Terrible Lie" while holding one of those mics. Would take a little something away from the performance, don't you think?

Posted by: Iris | Dec 23, 2005 11:45:30 AM

Mimi, again, you've outdone yourself!

Posted by: bex | Dec 23, 2005 11:51:12 AM

Oh no, poor Trent! How horrifying! But a dog in a hoodie would be pretty cute.

Posted by: maise | Dec 23, 2005 12:07:03 PM

Ahahahaha. :(

Posted by: Kim | Dec 23, 2005 1:51:03 PM

I can't help thinking that if I were to show Trent the error of his ways, I'd be a bit more verbose. But one can't stray from Dickens.

Excellent work, Mimi!

Posted by: maise | Dec 23, 2005 2:16:22 PM

Excellent use of the silent ghost, sis. I'll see you tomorrow...I hope :) Unless of course you're too busy posting the last part. I'm watching the Alastair Sim version right now, and trying to picture TR in the lead...

Posted by: Buttercup | Dec 23, 2005 4:31:42 PM

I'd love to show Trent the error of his ways.

Posted by: Dierdre | Dec 23, 2005 10:05:15 PM

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