Can't get enough of the deliciously wonderful stories of our two yarn-spinners in residence, Maise and Mimi Jones-Taylor? Well here they all are, catalogued and ready for your enjoyment, again and again! May we present... The Tales of Terror!

The Secret Life Of Gabriel Miller
by Maise

Chapter 1: Back In Action

Chapter 2: Operation: DEATH

Chapter 3: Goth Me Deadly

Chapter 4: Gothemopussy

A NINmas Carol
by Mimi Jones-Taylor

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Jerome The Vampire
by Mimi Jones-Taylor

Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Renfield

Chapter 3: Van Rezning, Part I

Chapter 4: Van Rezning, Part II

Chapter 5: Van Rezning, The Final Chapter

In Dreams
by Mimi Jones-Taylor

Chapter 1: The Poster

Chapter 2: The Wedding

Chapter 3: The Den

Chapter 4: The Pool

Chapter 5: The Twins

Chapter 5: The Twins: The Unedited Edition

Chapter 6: The End

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[The_Secret_Life_of_Gabriel_Miller: Gothemopussy]

[And now…the thrilling conclusion!]

As Gabriel Miller swam in the depths of the Pacific, he felt a sense of tranquility that had eluded him for days. He was glad that Trent Reznor was swimming next to him; you could see the burning lust for revenge in his steely gaze and tense trapezius muscles.

The CIA, as represented by Agents North and Sheridan, was not officially involved in this rescue mission, of course. But seeing as it was keenly interested in the existence and location of any Doomsday weapon that could be pointed at the legion of enemies of the government (such as Iran and Stephen Colbert), Gabriel and Trent were able to obtain some unofficial supplies and help. For example, they were provided with some innovative scuba gear, designed by Agent Robert Sheridan himself…

“You know how when you’re working deep underwater, you’ve got all that ungainly scuba gear?” Agent Sheridan asked rhetorically, “Well, if you put this simple, small device in your mouth and inhale and exhale normally, you will have a supply of fresh oxygen for 14 hours.”

“Amazing!” marveled Trent.

“Ummm, Rob?” Gabriel began.


“That’s…uh…that’s a dildo. Like, a 13-inch black dildo. With veins and everything.”

“I know, isn’t it cool? I mean, no. No it’s not. I don’t know where you’d get that crazy idea from.”

Gabriel’s reverie was disturbed as the headquarters of the Zodiac suddenly rose up impressively and ominously in front of them. Gabriel led Trent to the entrance of the large sewer pipe, through which they would enter the structure. Trent had originally been skeptical as to the soundness of this plan, but Gabriel had insisted, “Dude, it will be just like the ‘Pinion’ video.” For what seemed like an eternity, they swam through the filth of some of the deadliest spies and assassins in the world. Finally, Gabriel indicated to Trent that they should break through the pipe. Using a piece of his microphone stand and brute force, Trent smashed through the pipe, and they climbed out into a large and curiously unattended control room. “We’ll look for Alessandro in one of the interrogation rooms,” Gabriel suggested. “But we can’t be seen.”

Meanwhile, a weary Alessandro had spent the last twelve hours in an interrogation room, being grilled relentlessly by Scorpio, who despite her admirable cleavage and friendly smile, was getting nowhere. Peaches, aka The New Aries, sat next to Scorpio and drummed her fingers impatiently against the table.

“Per l’ultima volta…non lo so niente di mio padre o del suo lavoro. For the last time, I don’t know anything about my father or his work.”

“Do you always have to say everything in two languages?” Scorpio asked in exasperation.

“Ich kann auch deutsch sehr fleissend sprechen…”

This smart-ass moment on Alessandro’s part resulted in a frustrated Scorpio’s placing a grapefruit-sized black scorpion on the back of his left hand. “Eeeeeeuuuurrrrrrrggaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!” exclaimed Alessandro, a sentiment that was understandable in any language.

“That’s enough, Scorpio,” Capricorn stated authoritatively while entering the room, “you can remove your pet.”

Scorpio scowled, lightly picked off the scorpion that was steadily crawling up Alessandro’s trembling forearm, and placed it in her pocket. Capricorn then set up a laptop on the table in front of him. After pressing a few keys, she turned the computer towards him. He was shocked to see the face of his worried father.

“All right, Capricorn,” Death sighed, “I see that you have him. I’ll talk.”

“Excellent,” Capricorn purred.

“Son,” Death began, “I'm so sorry...I never meant to get you involved in any of this, but I did a terrible thing. Remember when I went to see your concert in New York City last year? Well, I hid the Doomsday weapon in your keyboards. I never thought they’d touch you…mi dispiace.”

Alessandro thought for a moment. “Ma è distrutto! But…but Signor Trent smashed those keyboards to bits during a sound check a week or two later. I’ve been using the new ones ever since.”

“Che?” asked an astonished Death. “Whaaaaat?” growled Capricorn.

“Ma è vero…it’s true. Those keyboards—and your damnable Doomsday weapon—were destroyed.”

Capricorn slammed the cover of the laptop down. “Kill him,” she said to The New Aries and Scorpio through clenched teeth and walked out of the room. At this moment, Gabriel and Trent, who had been hidden in an air duct above, came crashing down from the ceiling. “Signor Trent!” Alessandro cried happily.

Gabriel and Trent stood before the two women. The New Aries was armed with a chain that she was swinging over her head, and Scorpio brandished a whip. “Get them!” Gabriel cried, rushing forward, nunchucks aloft. But he sensed that Trent was not following him. He turned around. “Dude, what the fuck? Come on!”

Trent sighed. “Well, it’s just…you know…they’re chicks. I can’t hit women. And look, there's Peaches! She is the SHIT.”

“Trent, come on. These aren’t ‘chicks'...they’re deadly assassins. I’ve battled their type a hundred times.”

“Okay, then you handle that, and Alessandro and I will find those escape pods you were talking about.” He and Alesssandro then rushed out of the room.

“Argh, fucking Trank!” Gabriel cried. Fortunately, a nunchuck strike to The New Aries' chest and a roundhouse kick to Scorpio’s head was all it took to neutralize the threat that they posed. Gabriel then quickly joined Alessandro and Trent. They ran down the corridors as alarms were sounding. Suddenly, they were stopped in their tracks as they faced down a masked man wearing a jester outfit. “You!” Gabriel seethed as he stared down his longtime adversary in the rival Tarot—The Fool.

“Yo, whassup, nucca. Long time, no see.”

“You killed my Aries! You threw her off of the Rock of Gibraltar!”

“Yeah, shit happens, nucca. I had to toss that bitch.”

“You sound kind of familiar,” Trent observed.

“Shut up, Trent,” Gabriel replied, “this isn’t about you.”

“Chill out, nucca. Why you gots to be all emotional all the time about shit that don’t mean shit? I come here looking for some motherfuckin’ Doomsday weapon. Then I hear that it’s been broken by TR during some shitfit. Surprise, surprise, nucca. But am I all out for vengeance and shit? Nah. I’m just going to blow up this motherfucking toilet in the sea. By the way, y’all gots about 30 seconds to get out of here. Later.” The Fool then ran past them in the corridor. Gabriel and Trent and Alessandro looked at each other for a moment and then sprinted towards the escape pods.

The members of the Zodiac were not unaware of the threat, and they were scrambling to get into all available escape pods and launch away one by one. Finally, Gabriel and Trent and Alessandro found themselves facing Capricorn herself for the last remaining pod. With a diabolical laugh, she held a gun to Gabriel’s forehead. Gabriel clenched his teeth, awaiting his almost certain demise.

Trent calmly approached her and quickly tapped her seven times at various points on her torso. Capricorn fell to the ground with a gasp and lay there motionless. “You know the ancient art of Dim Mak?” Gabriel asked in astonishment.

“A little skill I picked up between albums,” Trent shrugged. “It’s all about the pressure points…I haven’t killed her, but she’s not going anywhere either.”

“We’ve got about five seconds,” Alessandro pointed out monolingually.

“Don’t leave me,” Capricorn hissed.

Gabriel and Trent exchanged a guilty look. Trent sighed, “Well, she’s an older, evil chick, but she’s still a chick.” Gabriel agreed. Trent carried her, and all four entered the escape pod, just moments before the Zodiac headquarters detonated spectacularly.

And in the end, Capricorn was picked up off of the shore of San Diego by Aquarius in her boat and in gratitude for Gabriel’s life-saving actions, agreed that he could finally retire in peace. Agents North and Sheridan were fired by the CIA for allowing the Doomsday weapon to be destroyed under their very noses, but they were rehired by Trent, who was working on his new album. Alessandro and his father participated in some family therapy in Italy. And Gabriel happily realized while surfing one day that his poetic muse had returned to him once again. ("The stars aligned against me...can never escape my past..." he muttered as a small wave knocked him off of his feet.)

As Trent said over a celebratory virgin strawberry daiquiri, “Everything is right where it belongs.”

[The End.]

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[The_Secret_Life_of_Gabriel_Miller: Goth_Me_DEADLY]

[Gabriel fanfic spirals down even further...]

Gabriel had mixed feelings about the “new” Aries. Although it was kind of cool to hang out with an operative who was famous in the outside world and although he really liked her newest song, “You Didn’t Fucking Fuck Me, I Fucking Fucked You,” and although he was fond of her very tiny shorts, he was not as fond of her penchant for randomly kicking him in the balls for the amusement of herself and her entourage.

It was eventually decided that during the Irvine, CA show, Sagittarius would launch an attack onstage in the middle of “Gave Up.” Then Gabriel, who would be positioned backstage, would use his nunchucks and general hand-to-hand combat skills to fight off security and the other band members and carry off Alessandro. They would then be transported to the coast in a van driven by Leo and then take a ride in Aquarius’s speedboat back to headquarters. Then, Gabriel supposed and hoped, he would be allowed to retire in peace. It was a simple enough plan--if unnecessarily public and brazen--and Gabriel did fancy the idea of saying, “Eat it, Trank!” as his entire muscle-bound cock rock production collapsed around him.

And yet…

Maybe it was the fact that Gabriel had been in retirement too long. Maybe it was the fact that when NIN was onstage, the songs sounded just as good as he had remembered. Maybe it was the fact that Alessandro looked so amiable and harmless. Maybe it was just Trent’s shiny pants, which he did fill out rather well these days. Whatever the reason, it was there, waiting in the wings on the appointed day at the appointed hour, that Gabriel lost his stomach for kidnapping. And as Trent sang to the crowd, “Smashed up my sanity/smashed up my integrity/smashed up what I believe in…”, Gabriel saw the first of Sagittarius’s exploding arrows fly through the air towards the stage and knew that his moment of personal reckoning was upon him.

“Fuck it," Gabriel said. "No one’s taking Alessandro while I’m here.”

He rushed onto the stage, nunchucks at the ready, and as two security guards charged him, he deftly swung his nunchucks over his shoulder and above his head. He struck one guard in the face and took the legs out from under the other. Both crashed to the ground and offered no further resistance. The scene was chaotic as Saggitarius’s arrows began to detonate. Roadies and techs ran screaming across the stage. The drum kit caught on fire. The gauzy curtain that descended during “Eraser” and “Right Where It Belongs” fell to the ground like a white flag of surrender. It took the audience a few moments to realize that this wasn’t exactly the performance that was scheduled, and they formed a screaming, stampeding mob, trampling each other to flee. [About half an hour later, the first Internet message board posts appeared, decrying the “lame” and “unprofessional” premature end of the concert.]

Trent stood in the midst of this rock apocalypse in silent disbelief. Jeordie walked up to him, calmly said, “Dude, I quit,” and strolled nonchalantly offstage, with his bass in hand. Alessandro hid behind his keyboards as Gabriel stood in front of him. Gabriel gave him a thumbs-up. “Don’t worry…I’m here to protect you.” But Alessandro just stared at him, baffled.

Suddenly Gabriel was staring down the barrel of a gun. “Agent North, CIA,” the shaggy-haired guitarist said. His eyes were cold behind all that eyeliner. “I was wondering what you and your little Zodiac friends were up to…Pisces.”

“You know who I am?”

“Yes, I fucking know who you are. Let me see if I can refresh your memory…Tangier? The kasbah? The teahouse? The camel stables?!”

“Oh God!” Gabriel cried, clasping a hand to his mouth with the sudden realization.

“That’s right. My hair was shorter then.”

“I lost my Aries on that mission.”

“Well, you couldn’t say I didn’t try to warn you. You know, it’s too bad you had to come out of retirement. Cause I’m going to make a prediction…based on the retrograde position of Mars and the orbit of Whatever-The-Fuck, in a few seconds, you’re going to have a head like a hole…”

At this point, Agent North was tackled from behind by Peaches, the new Aries, who rendered him unconscious with an expertly landed karate chop to the head. She screamed to Gabriel, “Grab him! Grab the Italian and let’s get the fuck out of here!”

“I can’t do that, Aries,” Gabriel replied, swinging his nunchucks again. “I tried to tell you people that I’m retired.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” she exclaimed, “you can’t trust a man to do a goddamn thing. Fortunately, we were prepared for some pointless little act of rebellion from you…” She nodded her head in the direction of Alessandro. Gabriel turned around and saw him being carried off by Leo and Libra, two attractive young women armed with very large automatic weapons.

Gabriel took a step towards them, but Libra growled, “Pisces, if you so much as lift up those fucking little nunchucks, I’m blowing the keyboardist’s head off. I don’t even have time for your little ninja games, you fucking traitor.”

Gabriel watched helplessly as Alessandro was roughly escorted off stage. Aries joined them with a diabolical laugh.

“Signor Trent, aiutimi!!! Help!!!” Alessandro cried.

Trent still stood at the front of the stage, even as the arrows continued to fly and then explode upon landing. He looked out numbly at the empty amphitheater, looked at his burning set, saw Aaron lying unconscious on the stage with a large gun in his hand and that skinny goth-looking roadie who had been hanging out with Peaches all week standing before Aaron wielding nunchucks, and two hot women kidnapping Alessandro. Josh Freese was standing in the wings, begging Trent to join him offstage in safety. Trent started smashing his guitar in impotent rage. Suddenly, one of the explosive arrows flew right at Trent.

At that moment, everything seemed to go in slow motion. Josh ran out on stage, dove in front of Trent and took the arrow right in the chest. Trent held him in his arms as Josh said weakly, “Boss, I think I’m going to be okay.”

Then the arrow detonated, the force of which threw Trent several feet backwards but fortunately left him only singed. Josh, however, did not fare as well.

Thunder clapped, and rain started to pour. Trent cried out, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

After the arrow attack ceased, Trent stood in the rain, sobbing over the body of his fallen comrade. Gabriel walked up to Trent and put a hand on his shoulder. “Mr. Reznor, I’m so sorry,” he began. “I tried to stop all this…”

“Where did they take Alessandro?” Trent asked with an eerily calm voice.

“Back to their secret underwater headquarters,” Gabriel answered. “I promise, Mr. Reznor, sir, I promise I will get him back for you.”

“I’m going with you,” Trent declared.

“No, Trent…it’s too dangerous.”

Trent stood up, grabbed a microphone stand and broke it in half with his bare hands. Holding a sharp, jagged piece of microphone stand in each hand, he said, “You and me…we’re in this together now.”

[To be continued…and remember, kids, if you really enjoy an artist, please don’t ruin the show for everyone by lobbing explosives or any other projectiles onstage. The More You Know!]

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[The_Secret_Life_of_Gabriel_Miller: Operation_DEATH]

Gabriel Miller fanfic continues! So suck it, Liebchen.

Volume 2

Gabriel lay on the titanium floor and stared at the titanium ceiling for hours. He attempted to compose poems for his own edification, even though he had no paper or pen to save them for posterity, but even his Poetic Muse had abandoned him for the moment. He sat up when he heard the heavy titanium door slide open with a grinding sound. Two women walked inside—one was short and curvaceous with a dazzling, artificially whitened smile. The other was…formidable and armed with a stun gun. The petite member of the pair bent over to tousle Gabriel’s hair affectionately.

“Hey, Fishhead!” she exclaimed brightly.

Gabriel felt a wave of relief, “Virgo!” he cried. “You know, I never realized until right now how much I missed you.” He nodded at the other woman slightly less enthusiastically. “Taurus.” She grunted in reply.

Virgo smiled happily, “Yeah, it’s been a while, huh?”

“Well, it looks like I’ve been drafted back into service. Unless you’re here to rescue me…”

Virgo bit her lip and made an exaggerated frowny face. “Sorry, sweetie pie, no can do. We’ve got strict orders to take you to the boss…”

She wants to talk to me? What for?”

“Oh, I don’t know. They don’t tell us peons what’s going on. So Fishhead, let’s just get you up. We don’t want to have to use that awful stun gun, do we?”

Gabriel’s face fell. “No, we do not.”

Taurus demonstrated its effects on him with a sadistic grin. “Ahhhhh, fuck!” Gabriel cried as he fell to the floor again.

Virgo rolled her eyes. “Taurus, sweetie, let’s not play around too much. She’s waiting on us…”

Gabriel, feeling weakened, wasn’t so much restrained by his former cohorts as he was supported by them as they walked down a labyrinth of blinding white, empty corridors. Gabriel was at first disoriented, but his memory eventually returned as he was led to the largest and arguably most comfortable room in the entire compound. The door opened, and Gabriel was forcibly pushed into a very comfortable plush chair in front of a large mahogany desk. Behind the desk, large windows revealed a breathtaking ocean scene; the entire building was, in fact, completely underwater.

A middle-aged woman sat at the desk, typing into a laptop. She did not look up when Gabriel was brought in. She looked like a friendly, nondescript soccer mother, but he knew better than to speak before being spoken to. Finally, she addressed him with a terse “Pisces.”

“Capricorn…ma’am.” Gabriel acknowledged in return.

“I’ve been told that you were less than cooperative on your way here,” she noted wryly.

“Would you expect any less of me?”

“No, of course not. Well, I’ll cut to the chase, as we don’t have a lot of time. Pisces, we have a job that requires your unique skills, knowledge, talents, and expertise.”

“In other words,” Gabriel replied, “a suicide mission.”

“Bingo,” Capricorn said with a smile. “Pisces, I don’t have to remind you about our continued rivalry with The Tarot, do I?”

Gabriel briefly pondered whether it would have been more or less manly to have joined a secret spying syndicate based on tarot cards as opposed to astrology. He wondered why the only spying organizations he had ever heard of seemed so New Age-y. Couldn’t they have been named after deadly reptiles or natural disasters? Perhaps one day, he thought, I’ll start up my own outfit and call myself “Eruption.” But returning to the matter at hand, he recalled that he had no love for members of The Tarot. Not after a mysterious figure known only as “The Fool” threw Aries off of the rock of Gibraltar right in front of Gabriel’s helpless eyes…

“Tarot…hmmm…that name rings a bell,” Gabriel shrugged.

“Good,” Capricorn said. “Because we’ve been keeping a close eye on them and their so-called ‘Doomsday Weapon.’”

“Do you mean that you’re actually going to save the world, Capricorn?”

“Don’t be insipid,” she scolded. “We want it for ourselves. The Doomsday Weapon is being developed, naturally by ‘Death’ because they’re not terribly creative. Of course, he’s an elusive little man, but we have managed to track down someone who could give us a little leverage…his only son. Your mission is to intercept Death’s son and bring him back here—alive and unharmed—so that we can figure out what he knows or at least use him as a bargaining chip.”

“That’s it?!” Gabriel scoffed. “You forcibly reactivated me for a simple kidnapping?”

“Oh, this is no simple kidnapping, Pisces dear,” Capricorn replied, “For Death’s son is a rock and roll type, a keyboardist named Alessandro Cortini, and your mission is to abduct him in front of a few thousand people in the middle of a concert…”

“Couldn’t we just grab him when he’s by himself sometime…maybe late at night?” Gabriel asked.

“Shhh,” Capricorn dismissed him with a wave. Taurus zapped him with the stun gun, for good measure. Another individual entered the room and stood next to Capricorn.

“Peaches?!” Gabriel sputtered.

“Pisces, meet the new Aries,” Capricorn proudly proclaimed. “She’s been doing some important reconnaissance. Aries, would you like to give us some more information?”

“Well, ma’am,” Aries began, “the most dangerous factor in this entire operation is not security or the public, but rather the lead singer/songwriter, Trent Reznor. He doesn’t know what the fuck is going on—if you pardon the expression, ma’am—but he is short-tempered and powerfully built. He will not gladly suffer this skinny-looking prick carrying off his keyboardist in the middle of his show. He doesn’t appear to know any martial arts, but he does throw things around quite a bit.”

“Thank you, Aries,” Capricorn smiled. “Pisces, Aries will be filling you in on more information and getting you the proper credentials to get you backstage at the right moment. In the meantime, you’re going to need these,” she said to Gabriel as she returned his trusty nunchucks. “And do know that we’re going to be keeping an eye on you just in the unlikely case that you develop any ideas of your own.”

To be continued…

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[The_Secret_Life_of_Gabriel_Miller: Back_in_Action]

Am I the only one who’s ever noticed that Gabriel is just a little cagey re: his personal life? I mean, we all guard our privacy and anonymity to a certain extent, but we barely know anything about the boy beyond l’orangerie stank and brief allusions to certain ill-advised sexual encounters with some friends in San Diego. As with Trent, we have no idea what Gabriel does behind the scenes, and I think that he is no less worthy of some fanfiction than “notre amour.”

So in honor of our webmaster and record-breaking spunk producer, I present my own creative interpretation of The Secret Life of Gabriel Miller…

Volume 1

Gabriel clicked on “Post” with a smile. That’ll show Maise, he thought. He couldn’t help exclaiming aloud, “I am AWESOME!”

“But not awesome enough…Pisces,” a husky female voice intoned behind him.

“Gemini,” he acknowledged without turning around. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Of course you didn’t,” she confidently replied.

“How did you get past the state-of-the-art burglar alarm, motion detectors, and retina scans?”

“Oh, we hacked into that earlier. The password wasn’t especially hard to figure out. ‘I eat what I made.’ Brilliant.”

“And the bear traps?”

“You must think I’m a fool.”

“And my vicious guard panther?”

“He’s a pussy.”

“Well, Gemini,” Gabriel said, “I guess you’re as good as you always were.”

“I’m better. Look, would you just turn around already?”

“No,” Gabriel replied.

She sighed deeply.

“I’m surprised it took you this long to find me, though.”

“We didn’t need you before. Now we do,” she shrugged.

“So sorry, I’m retired. Remember?”

“There are no retirement options in The Zodiac.”

“Well, I don’t believe in that astrology crap anymore, sweetheart.”

“You used to.”

“That was mostly to get laid.”

She snorted in disbelief.

“What?” he protested, finally facing her. “We were lovers once.”

“No, we weren’t,” she declared, “I fucked you. Enough of the terse banter. We’ve got a job to do, and I am to bring you back to headquarters willingly…or not.”

“Not tonight, kitten,” Gabriel replied, standing up slowly. He grabbed his trusty nunchucks from beside the computer and started swinging them in a figure-eight motion. “You know,” he began, “I never meant to use these again to kill…”

Without another word, Gemini reached inside her leather trench coat and pulled out a small bamboo blowgun. She blew through it, and Gabriel was stung in the neck with a dart that, although tiny, was extremely painful.

“What…the…fuck?!” he asked with a strangled cry as he dropped to his knees and then fell face-first onto the floor. His vision began to blur as he stared at her impractical black boots. He gingerly craned his throbbing neck upwards to peer into her scowling face, which was framed by long, straight, honey blonde hair.

“It’s beddy-bye time, Pisces.”

And as Gabriel faded out of consciousness, he was once again touched by his Poetic Muse. “Hair…the color of…golden…treachery,” he murmured.

“God, you suck,” she replied.

When Gabriel awoke, he found himself lying on the floor in a small, windowless, and completely empty cell with walls made of smooth, nigh-indestructible titanium. In the past, he himself had put prisoners in this cell. He used to think it looked cool. Now, rubbing his sore neck, he said to himself, “This is so not cool.”

To be continued…

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[A_NINmas_Carol: Chapter_5]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor

            Trent buried his face in his hands and screamed. The room around him was suddenly silenced. He looked up, and was in the rehearsal hall. He looked at the clock on the wall. It read 6:40. Trent ran out of the studio and out into the street. The sun was just starting to rise in the east.
            “I didn’t miss it! I didn’t miss it! I… oh no, it’s nearly 7AM!”
            Trent ran into his car, and sped down the road. Reaching his house, he tore out of the car and ran to his computer. Checking his IM client, he saw that Jeordie, Aaron and Josh had already signed on. Trent typed in an IM message and broadcast it to all three of them.
            Sorry, change of plans. Go back to the hall. Now. TR.
            “Hee hee hee,” Trent giggled as he hit. Next, he picked up the phone and dialed.
            “Pronto,” said a very tired Alessandro at the other end.
            “Buon Natale!” cried Trent. “Dude, go get some sleep. Spend some time with your family. Fuck the session.”
            “Perdono? Who is this?”
            “It’s me! It’s Trent.”
            “Yeah, it’s me. I know, I was being a real prick, and I’m so sorry. Dude, your family is way more important than any stupid rehearsal session. We’ll worry about it when you get back. And take your time, okay? You wanna be off for three weeks, go for it. No worries. Oh and if you ever manage a band that performs my songs, you’d better teach them the history of it because I’m not becoming a game show host.”
            Trent hung up the phone and dashed to his car.
            Back at the rehearsal hall, Jeordie sat, holding his bass, yawning into his latte.
            “What the fuck? Dude makes us come all the way here and he’s not even in the fucking room. I say we go.”
            “Yeah, I hear that,” said Josh.
            “Give him five more minutes,” said Aaron. “We can do that.”
            Suddenly the door of the studio burst open, and Trent came in, his hands loaded with paper bags.
            “Hey guys,” he said, “I brought you some coffee and some rum cake.”
            “Rum cake?” Josh’s eyes perked up. “Wait… what’s the catch?”
            “The catch is, I’ve been a real jerkoff, and I’m sorry,” said Trent as he put down the bags. “You guys have been the greatest, putting up with my shit, hell, even sacrificing your well-being for the band and the damn stage show. And I keep pushing and pushing you til you break. That’s not fair, to put it mildly. So you know what? We’re gonna have some coffees, and you’re gonna have rum cake and I’m gonna just have this bagel, and we’re just gonna hang, and then we’ll go home.”
            “But dude, aren’t you paying overtime for the hall?” said Jeordie. “Shouldn’t we be playing?”
            “Bah,” said Trent. “It’s only money. Let’s just have a good time, shooting the shit. It’s Christmas!”
            Trent handed out the coffees, and gave out the cake. Aaron smiled, and bit into a piece.
            “Wow, this is awesome cake,” said Josh. “Thanks Trent.”
            “You’re welcome,” said Trent. “It’s great to have good friends at Christmas.”
            “Yeah,” said Jeordie, “Especially with good rum cake.”
            “For sure,” Aaron raised his paper coffee cup.  “God bless us, every one!”


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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!”

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[A_NINmas_Carol: Chapter_3]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor   

          Rick James began to laugh.
          “Hey hey hey!” Rick laughed. “Take it easy, my brutha.”
          “Wait… wait a minute.” Trent shook his head. “You’re not Dave Chappelle here to humbug with me, are you?”
          “Hehehehehehehe,” laughed Rick. “No man. I’m Rick James, bitch! Or well, I used to be. How you doin’ Trent?”
          Trent blinked.
          “Um, well, okay, I guess.”
          “Wanna keep driving?”
          “Keep driving, motherfucker!”
          Trent shifted the car back into gear and drove down the road.
          “So, you didn’t like what you saw in your past, huh?” said Rick. “I don’t blame you. Cocaine is a helluva drug…”
          “Yeah, tell me about it.” Trent said, starting to smile. “That’s what I tried to explain to the last ghost.”
          “Okay, then what’s your problem now? Why you gotta be such a bitch to your band?”
          “Look, I gotta push them, or else they’d be a bunch of slackers.”
          “Slackers, huh? It’s Christmas Eve. Everyone deserves to take a break at Christmas.”
          “Humbug!” said Trent.
          “Believe me, brotha, I know what it’s like to be alone at Christmas, and you wanna up and piss on everyone else’s holiday. Well congratulations, motherfucker. Everyone you know is gonna have a miserable Christmas.”
          “But they understand that we have to get that song perfect, don’t they? I mean, that’s what it’s all about…”
          “Have you lost your mind?”
          Trent gave Rick a puzzled look.
          “Bitch, please,” said Rick. “You don’t have a clue, do you? Pull over the car.”
          “But we’re in the middle of nowhere…”
          “I said pull over the car, damnit! Don’t you know who I am? I’m Rick James, bitch!”
          Trent rolled his eyes and pulled over.
          “Now get out of the car.”
          “Why?” said Trent.
          “Listen, I don’t want me no self-centred little skinny-assed white boy being all self-deprecating on his ass at Christmas driving me around. Get out of the car. I’ll drive myself.”
          Trent sighed, and opened the door. He stepped out of the car and into a bar. The wood was dark and the lights were dim. Trent’s hands began to shake. He turned around to rush for the door, when he ran into Rick James.
          Rick laughed.
          “Where you goin’ so fast?”
          “I don’t know why or how I even got in here,” said Trent.
          “You’re here because your guys are here,” said Rick, indicating the row of filled seats at the bar. “Let’s go see what they have to say.”
          “Oh don’t worry… they can’t see us. Come on!”
          As they approached the group at the bar, Trent could hear the boys in the band muttering their complaints.
          “He’s just a big fucking asshole now,” said Josh.
          “He used to be really cool,” said Jeordie. “He used to throw parties and give presents and everything. And now, since he got sober, he’s totally lost his joie de vivre.”
          “I feel so bad for Alessandro,” said Josh. “He’s gonna barely be off the plane when he has to do that link up in the morning. And then Hitler Boy is gonna start screaming at him because he’s jet lagged.”
          “Hitler Boy is a little harsh, don’t you think?” said Aaron.
          “Maybe. Maybe Kim Jong-Il is a better name for him. Little frickin midget with the superass ego…”
          “You know, if it hadn’t’ve been for Trent, you wouldn’t have a job right now,” said Aaron. “You should be thankful.”
          “I told you he was slow,” Jeordie said to Josh.
          “Look, that might be true,” said Josh, “but after I’ve seen the way he treats all of us, especially tonight of all nights, I would have been better off busking at the corner of Hollywood and Highland.”
          “You guys are so ungrateful,” said Aaron. “It’s really hard being under the pressure that Trent is under, and he can’t even drink to take the stress off. Speaking of, I’ll be right back.” Aaron hopped off the stool, and limped to the bathroom.
          “What’s the matter with him?” Trent asked Rick James.
          “Rheumatism,” said Rick James. “From an old stage injury that he got on the spring leg of the tour. It only started to act up now because of the winter.”
          “But he’ll be all right, won’t he?”
          “I dunno,” said Rick James, “If he keeps pushing himself the way he does onstage, running around, knocking down all that equipment, it could make it worse.”
          Trent looked down at his feet, as Jeordie spoke.
          “That poor kid. He jokes about everything when we’re all together, but deep inside, he’s hurting most of all. Bartender, another round.”
          “Don’t you have to get going home?” asked Josh.
          “Nah, I’ve got nobody to go home to this year,” said Jeordie.  “I was just gonna play Xbox all day tomorrow anyway. I guess I shouldn’t complain about the session tomorrow, then, but at least I would’ve liked to be able to sleep in until noon.”
          “Can we leave now?” Trent asked Rick James. “I’ve heard enough.”
          “Sure.” Rick led the way towards the bar door.
          Trent opened the door and stepped into the aisle of a plane. His ears popped as he realized they were in mid-air. The seats were crowded, and everyone was singing Christmas carols or smiling and laughing with each other.
          “Where the hell are we now?” Trent turned to find Rick James in a big Santa hat sitting in an aisle seat.
          “Alitalia Flight 279 to Rome,” said Rick James. “Italian Christmas Eve. That’s what it’s all about, brotha. Check it out.”
          A slight smile began to cross Trent’s face as he watched the happy passengers split panettone with each other, children laughing…and then his eye caught a lone passenger, sitting next to a window. His eyes were sad, and his face was drawn.
          Trent walked over to the seat.
          “He can’t hear you,” called over Rick James, as he took another sip of champagne.
          “What’s wrong with him?”
          “Well as soon as he gets off the plane, he’s got to go rehearse,” said Rick. “And that’s all he can think about. He can’t think about his family or the joy of surprising them on Christmas Day. He’s gonna be stuck at a hotel, using Garageband to perfect a song. And he’s worried that he’s gonna screw up because he’ll be so tired.”
          “You mean…”
          “Yeah, brotha. He’s more concerned about you than about his family.”
          Trent’s face fell.
          “I had no idea,” said Trent.
          “Come on, we gotta go now.”
          “But just wait, I just want to tell him…”
          “We gotta go now!” Rick James opened the plane hatch door.
          “What are you doing?” shouted Trent.
          “This…” Rick James shoved Trent out of the airplane. Trent screamed as he went tumbling through the air, and landed in a snowbank.  He saw his car in the distance, and turned around to look for Rick James, who was wearing a purple pimp overcoat trimmed with chinchilla fur.
          “Okay, okay,” said Trent. “Yeah, I feel bad. But what can I do?”
          “Listen, brotha, look under here.”
          Rick James opened his pimp coat to reveal two goth children, a boy and a girl, dressed in black.
          “These kids been following me everywhere. This boy’s name is Perfection. This girl’s name is Ego. Beware of both of them, but especially beware of this boy. Because he’ll make you drive everyone away, and make you ruin lives, and before you know it…well, let’s just say tonight was just a small sample of what could happen.”
          “Yeah,” said Trent.
          “Well, I gotta go,” said Rick. “My girl wants to party all the time, and I can’t keep her waiting.”
          “Nice,” said Trent, turning to shake his hand. But he was gone.
          Trent stood alone in the dark street. A cold winter wind blew through his ears. He clutched his arms as he shivered, and walked towards his car.

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[A_NINmas_Carol: Chapter_2]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor
          "Gabba gabba hey."
          The elevator seemed to speed up as it descended.
          Trent remained flabbergasted.
          "What the humbug is going on?"
          "I'm the ghost of your Christmas past," said Joey in his nasal New York drawl. "I hear you've become a real jerkoff these days. You weren't always like that, you know."
          "Come on, I've always been like this, as long as I can remember," said Trent, grasping the rail on the side of the elevator wall.
          "You mean a cheap bastard? Well, maybe. But treating your band like shit? That's just recent. Take it from me...sure bands fight, sure they wanna kill each other, but when it comes down to it, you pull yourselves together and your heads outta your asses and make it about the music. Come on, you remember the Self Destruct 1994 Tour, don't you?"
          "Barely," said Trent, his knuckles turning white.
          "Well maybe this will help you remember..."
          The doors opened to a backstage area, with many stagehands in black t-shirts running around in a frenzy.
          "Where is this?" said Trent.
          "Just wait," said Joey, beckoning Trent to leave the elevator.
          Jeordie White walked by in full Twiggy Ramirez makeup.
          "Hey Jeordie, what the fuck?" Trent laughed. Jeordie continued to walk past.
          "He can't hear you," said Joey.
          "Why is he wearing that old shh..."
          Trent watched as Jeordie stopped to talk to Marilyn Manson.
          "What the..."
          "Hey Trent!"
          Trent turned around as Robin Finck called his name.
          "What the fuck is he doing here?"
          Trent's eye caught a skinny, young man in fishnets skulking backstage.
          "Yeah?" the young man called over to Robin.
          "Oh my God," said Trent, in shock at seeing his former younger self. "Was I really that skinny?"
          "Buddy, that ain't skinny," said Joey. "Look at me, dammit!"
          Trent watched his younger self talking to Robin Finck.
          "Let's listen in." Joey beckoned Trent once again to follow him.
          "So you still having one of your famous Christmas parties this year?" said Robin.
          "Yeah. I just bought this really cool place in New Orleans," said young Trent. "I can't wait to have everyone over."
          "Dude, I gotta go hang with my folks," said Robin. "I don't think I can make it..."
          "Dude," young Trent mocked, "I'll fly you down for the day, and then you can catch a red eye home. No worries."
          "You sure? Just for the day?"
          "Come on," young Trent put his arm around Robin, "It wouldn't be a party without you, man." 
          "You're the best!" smiled Robin.
          Trent shook his head.
          "That was a waste of money," he said. "If I hadn't've flown Finck down, I would never have gotten so fucked up on coke that night."
          "You sure about that?" said Joey. "Sure you wouldn't've just taken that cash and spent it on more coke or something worse?"
          "Humbug," said Trent.
          "You're still in denial about how much fun you really had, aren't you?"
          "I wasted a lot of time and money killing brain cells and being out of control," said Trent.
          "Did you? Really?"
          Joey led Trent towards the black stage curtains.
          "Look over here," Joey said, pointing.
          Trent parted the curtains, and walked into the living room of a house. An artificial Christmas tree stood in a corner, covered in colourful lights and a plethora of silver icicles. Presents were piled under the tree, spilling off of the skirt.
          Trent heard laughter coming from the other room. He walked along the wooden floor, and stood in the doorway of the kitchen.
          "Oh my God," he gasped. "How did you know about this?"
          "Man, I know everything about you," Joey said.
          Trent watched his younger self playing with a half-full glass of red wine, watching a young woman bent with her head inside of an oven.
          "I can't fucking believe this," the woman called.
          Young Trent laughed.
          "It's okay, really," he said. "We'll just do what everyone does in LA at Christmas. We'll go out to eat."
          "No, damn it!"
          Tori Amos stood from the oven door.
          "It's Christmas Eve. Nobody eats out on Christmas Eve except loners and Jewish people. And everything else is ready."
          Tori stuck her finger into a pot on the stove.
          "See, these yams are just fine," she said.
          "Great," laughed young Trent, "So we'll have candied yams and bread and red wine." He took another gulp from his glass. "Good enough for me."
          "You don't understand," Tori said, frustrated, "The fucking thing is completely raw. Come and see."
          Young Trent walked over to the stove, as Trent smiled with anticipation of what was about to happen.
          "See?" Tori bent her head in the oven, wriggling the chicken leg, "It's pale and it's bloody on the inside. But it's fucking hot in there."
          Young Trent slid his arm around her waist.
          "Yeah it is, isn't it?" he laughed.
          "Stop that," she giggled. "Look, I'm telling you, this house is possessed. I can't even cook a chicken, the easiest thing in the world to do."
          "It's okay," young Trent said, smiling, lowering his voice. "Here, have some wine. Screw the chicken, we'll go out. Or we'll order in. Let's just have a nice Christmas, okay?"
          Tori smiled, and drank some wine from his glass.
          Trent's face became sullen, as he pulled Joey Ramone aside.
          "Look, why have you brought me here? To show me that I used to be a nice guy?  So what? Times change, people change.  Tori turned out to be a psycho girlfriend in the end. I was totally out of control. Now I've got control of my life, and I'm not going to be swayed by visions of my past."
Joey shook his head.
          "You know, your entire past wasn't a complete waste of time. Look, if you don't want to see that, it ain't my job to get that into you. That's up to the next ghost. Man, I'm outta here."
          Trent turned his back to Joey and found himself in the middle of a dark alley. The cold wind whistled in his ears, and he grasped his arms while he shivered.
          "Fine," muttered Trent. "Humbug. The past is the past and that's where it should stay."
Trent walked towards his car.
          "I gotta get home and sleep. I bet those humbuggers are out partying. Christmas Eve. Bah humbug."
          Trent turned the key in the ignition, shifted the car in gear, and drove off. He reached for the radio knob. "Superfreak" blasted from the speakers.
          "Heh, Rick James," said Trent. Unconsciously, he began to sing along with  the lyrics.
          She's a very kinky girl, The kind you won't take home to muthah. She will never let your spirits doowwwwn. Once you get her off the streets.
          "Hmmm," Trent muttered to himself, "I really am impressed with this sound system. It's as if Rick James was singing in the car himself."
          She's all right. She's all right. That girl's all right by me. Yeahhhh.
          Trent turned to check the passenger rear view mirror. Rick James began to sing in his face.
          She's a superfreak, superfreak, she's super freaking OWWWT.
          Trent screamed and slammed on his brakes.

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[A_NINmas_Carol: Chapter_1]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor

          Trent Reznor hunched over the mixing board in the middle of the hall, staring sternly at the band, who were shivering where they stood. Raising an eyebrow, Trent moved a few level bars, and gave the band the signal to begin. Jeordie White took the cue to speak into his microphone.
         “Is this the final take?”
         “It’s the final take when I say it’s the final take,” growled Trent. “Right now, this song sounds like shit. You’re going to keep playing it until it’s perfect.”
         “Hey Trent,” said Jeordie, “do you think you could turn up the heat just a little?”
         “What, do you think, I’m made of money?” said Trent. “It costs $100 a month extra to heat the place up to the tropical temperatures that you sissy boys keep crying for. Besides, heat changes the sound of the instruments, and the last thing I want is a warm sound for this song.”
         Jeordie sighed, and the band began to play the song once more.
         “No no no no no!” Trent interrupted, screaming over the echoing music. “What the hell was that supposed to be, music? You guys suck. Especially you, Alessandro. Are you actually using your fingers to play the keyboards or are you just pounding them with your head?”
         “Signore Trent,” said Alessandro, “We are all very tired. And it’s Christmas Eve and I have to catch a plane to Roma.”
         “Well, bully for you,” said Trent. “Don’t you think I was tired as I slaved over the instruments recording The Downward Spiral practially by myself? Do you think I stopped in the middle of recording, just because it was some damn statutory holiday? Christmas. Bah, humbug, I say. You know, my old keyboardist never used to complain during these long nights.”
         “Sì,” said Alessandro, “But I haven’t seen my family since the summer, and I would really like to see them for di Natale.”
         Trent slammed his fist on the board. “You are going to keep working until you get it right. You don’t work for your family. You work for me.”
         “Sì Signore,” said Alessandro.
         The telephone beside Trent sounded a loud ring.
         “Hello? ...Yes, this is the Nine Inch Nails session…another two hundred dollars an hour? Holiday rate? Bah, humbug!”
         Trent spoke into the mic again.
         “Well it turns out that they’re going to charge an extra $200 per hour because it’s a humbugging holiday. So we’re going to finish for the evening.”
         The band heaved a collective sigh.
         “But,” continued Trent, “don’t travel very far from your computers. We can do the session early tomorrow morning from each of our homes via Garageband. So I’ll see you all online tomorrow bright and early at 7AM.”
         “Ma Trent,” said Alessandro, “I am going to be in Italia with my family. I will have the jetta lag.”
         “7AM Eastern time,” said Trent. “No exceptions.”
         The band sighed and grumbled, and exited the studio. Trent was packing up his gear, switching all the slides on the board to “off”, when the lights in the rehearsal hall faded with the slide of the bar.
         “Is this another one of your childish jokes, Jeordie?”
         Trent turned around to find himself in an empty space.
         “Humbug,” he muttered, switching back on the light, and returning to his gear. He halted in mid-movement as the intense pounding of the starting beats for “Eraser” came from the direction of the stage.
         “What the… that humbugging Alessandro,” Trent cried to himself. “Leaving his samples on. Great. Now I have to take down his gear, too. If he costs me any more damn money…”
         Trent flipped on the stage lights and gasped as he caught sight of the figure hunched over the drum kit. He carried heavy chains around his body that rattled as his arms raised and lowered in rhythm.
         “My God…” Trent froze in fear.
         “Hey there, ex-roomie!”
         The figure put the sticks down. His chains rattled as he stood up and moved away from the drum kit.
         “But… but… that’s impossible,” said Trent, “You’re…”
         “Dead?” The figure smiled a sly smile. “Old band members never die. We just do exposés on VH1 and episodes of The Surreal Life.”
         “How did you get in here?” said Trent. “Never mind. You have to go. They’re going to start charging overtime in about five minutes.”
         “Oh Rezzo, you never change, do you? You win a ton of money in your court case and you’re still pinching pennies like they’re going out of style. That always made me laugh.”
         “Look, what are you doing here?” said Trent.
         “Since you’ve put me on a time restriction,” said Chris Vrenna’s ghost, “I have to make this quick. Dude, you can’t treat your band members the way you treated us. I mean, first of all, the cost of living has gone up exponentially since 1994. And secondly, these guys for some reason actually like you. Don’t treat them like shit.”
         “Why not?” said Trent. “They play like shit. Don’t you remember the times we used to get together and bitch about how bad the rest of the band was? How we didn’t need them anyways?”
         “Look, do you see these?” Chris held up the chains attached to his body, as Trent nodded. “They were attached to my body by old fans and secondary band members of the netherworld.”
         “Whatever for?”
         “I’m wearing these chains as punishment for the way that we used to mock the other band members and keep all their money for ourselves.”
         “Oh good humbugging lord,” said Trent.
         “My friend, you should see the set of chains they’re making for you.”
         “What?” said Trent. “I don’t deserve to be wearing these chains.”
         “You deserve that and worse,” said Chris. “But there is still a way you can redeem yourself.”
         “You mean pay the band more? Those humbuggerers don’t deserve it.”
         “Listen,” said Chris, ignoring Trent, “tonight you’re going to be visited by three spirits of Christmas…”
         “I quit drinking,” said Trent.
         “Would you shut up for two fucking minutes and stop making jokes?” Chris was getting pissed off. “The first ghost is going to be showing up at midnight. Listen carefully to what these ghosts have to tell you, because it’s your last chance to be redeemed. If you don’t change your ways after their visit, then you’d better bulk up to be three times the size you are now, and you might be able to wear the chains that they’re making for you.”
         “Bah, humbug,” said Trent. “You’re just going to spike my mineral water.”
         “Believe what you want,” said Chris Vrenna, “but I have to go now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Rezzo. Take care of yourself, bud. I’m outta here like last year.”
         Trent Reznor scoffed, and turned back to look at the clock.
         “Why it’s nearly midnight now, and…” Trent looked around the room. Chris Vrenna had gone, leaving no trace that he had even been there.
         “Ghosts,” muttered Trent, “Bah humbug. Humbug I say! I’m probably hallucinating from lack of caffeine and sleep.”
         Trent closed the door to the hall behind him. His watch beeped to indicate that it was midnight.
         “Just in time,” said Trent, as he pressed the call button for the elevator. “I’d like to see them charge me overtime now.”
         The elevator arrived, and the doors opened. As Trent stepped in, he noticed another person standing in the corner. Trent’s mouth dropped to the floor.
         “You’re… you’re…” he stammered. “You’re Joey Ramone!”

                                                            ...to be continued.

Posted by Mimi Jones-Taylor in tales_of_terror | Permalink | Comments (43) | TrackBack