Monday, December 6, 2010

Spanner Chapter 10: Fashion Meltdown

Here’s the first major episode in the “Fashion War” plotline that will be running throughout Spanner. Once again, I’ve cobbled together several fragmentary scenarios and pulled them into a coherent whole. The music video (narrated, of course) and the “fashion war” itself are new; but the “school shooting,” “serial killer clique,” and “Pie Kill” scenarios, the “Wild Style” idea, and the characters of Arvid Shield, Minty Fresh and Lala Sun-Microsoft come from the early-’00s Project Notebooks (numbers 11-14) from before I started doing NaNoWriMo.

This is the last chapter of Spanner Book 1 that I wrote during the 2010 editions of JulNoWriMo and AugNoWriMo. Starting next chapter, I’m using NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month) as my excuse to finish the rest of Book 1. This is, in fact, the first new chapter to use material written during FiMo. (The expanded Chapter 2 contains the first material I wrote for FiMo ’10.)

This time, I’m not just throwing in the usual wild plot pyrotechnics here. Now we’re getting into Wild Style!

Oh yeah: this time there’s songs, too...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 10: Fashion Meltdown

Fashion springs from absolute necessity,
unbounded by the constraints of conscience, mercy, pity...

Posted by LocaFantoma99 to MyTube on 24 September 2014 at 6:00 a.m.:
[Shira is wearing: parti-colored feathered headdress that makes her hair stick up; short blue and gold matador jacket, open; black bustier.]

I know you’re asking the question, “Will she or won’t she?” [grins evilly] Molest Minty Fresh on camera, that is. Yes, yuri fangirls, I’ve been reading your comments. No, I won’t do Minty on MyTube. Sorry to disappoint you, fangirls. But don’t flame me! I’ve got the consolation prize right here. It’s a song I wrote during 50/90 just for her. Here it is! [winks wickedly]

[She reaches back to pick up her left-handed acoustic guitar and straps it on as she turns forward again. The camera pulls back to show that she is wearing a “Catholic schoolgirl” microskirt and fishnet pantyhose. She strums the opening chords enthusiastically and dances with the funky song.]
She’s the hot pop idol on the Internet
She’s so damn pretty she makes me sweat
I’m so obsessed I blew my game
And Minty Fresh is her name

Minty is the teen queen of my dreams
She’s so pretty she makes me scream
I wanna get right into her flesh
I wanna make love to Minty Fresh

I’ll make sweet love when the sun is bright
I’ll love her harder in the dark of night
I’ll love her and love her till she exclaims
And then I’ll scream out her name

Minty is the teen queen of my dreams
I wanna love her hard and make her scream
I wanna bite her butt and suck her breast
I wanna make love to Minty Fresh

She sings those songs so sweet
She makes me break down and cry
Sweet agony of defeat
But I can’t lie
She makes me fly

Her songs make her sound so innocent
But she knows how much she makes me wet
She’s so hot she ignites my flame
And Minty Fresh is her name

Minty is the teen queen of my dreams
I want her so bad she makes me cream
I’m the only one who can do her best
I’m gonna make love to Minty Fresh
[She extends the final chord into a full Rock Ending, then blows a kiss at the camera.]


24 September 2014

Shira makes love to the camera. She wears black lacy bra and panties, black fishnet stockings, high-heeled black patent leather boots; her hair is styled and professionally tousled; she wears gold earrings and locket pendant. She lies on her back, caressed by the fluffy blankets on the bed, seducing the camera. Click. She turns on her side, bending her waist and legs, gazing sideways, keeping her eyes on the lens. Click.

“Beautiful,” says Pierre Moretti, the man behind the camera.

She sits up and braces her arms on the bed behind her. Click. She raises her leg so that her foot rests on the bed; she puts her arm around it and rests her head on her knee. Click.


After the shoot ends, Pierre inserts his camera's memory card into his laptop and shows Shira the raw photos on its screen. “Wow,” she says, “they’re beautiful.”

“I believe this is the best shoot I’ve done yet. And that’s only because you’re the best. You’re a natural. You could rise to the level of Cindy, Linda, and Naomi before you turn seventeen.”

“I’ve had a bit of practice, really.”

“Keep it up. Even at your young age, you’re a total professional.”

“I pride myself on it.” She winks.

The pictures will be printed only in Europe. In theocratic America, the Church of America condemns fashion, and pictures of women in their underwear are banned as pornographic.

25 September 2010
before class.
Every morning before the first bell rings, Shira and her friends trade hugs and kisses. This is highly frowned upon by those members of the Church of America who do not belong to or approve of Promise Keepers, which gets large numbers of Christian men to hug in big sports stadiums. Shira always mentions it whenever the faculty, especially Vice Principal Falconer and the chaplain, try to stop them.

But some of Shira’s friends are what her side likes to call Politically Incorrect. After Shira gets done kissing a series of male friends (Rob, Dexter, Cory, Kio, Steve), she makes a point of glomping Lyssa and giving her a big kiss on the lips. When her girlfriend Chuck sees, she nearly goes ballistic till Shira gestures her to come. Then she puts her arm around Chuck and kisses her too.

Debbie screams. Shira, Lyssa, and Chuck stare at her cousin Charmian’s cute blond enforcer, amazed at the expression of combined horror and anger contorting her pretty face. “What the hell are you doing?!

Shira grins wickedly at Debbie. “You mean like this?

She lets go of her lesbian friends, sweeps Debbie up in a huge embrace, and plants a monster kiss on her lips. Debbie struggles and flails, tries and fails to scream and protest through the kiss, tries to break free while a crowd of shocked students crowds around them. Eventually, her whole body gives up and abandons the protest. She melts into Shira’s body, surrenders to her kiss, unconsciously starts to moan...

Shira finally releases her. Debbie stares at her with shock at what she did to her and horror at the desires her kiss unleashed in her, desires she had been so desperate to hide for so long and which everybody around her can now see... She wants Shira Thomas. Slowly she steps backward.

Hands on her shocked face, Kelly yells, “Oh my God, what are you two doing?!

Debbie stares at her, giggles in embarrassment, says “Nothing, Kelly, just nothing...” — then runs away as fast as she can.

Polly runs up to Shira in a panic, pulling Mimi by the hand and followed by Jennifer. “Have you heard?”

“About what?”

“About that one clique that’s been hanging with some serial killer?”

“Never noticed ’em before.”

“Well, you will now. He just killed one of ’em last night!”


Suddenly, someone fires gunshots at the front door. Several shots go off. Panic ensues; screaming teenagers flee the lobby and cafeteria, running down the hall to save their lives; Polly and Mimi follow them. A few remain: Shira, Jennifer, the Shelley twins, Dorian, Lucy, Debbie (who rushes back for the action), and a few others.

Shira and Jennifer look at each other. Jennifer says, “Sounds like a gunfight.”

Two men in black ski masks and trench coats burst through the doors, leaving dead security guards behind them. They spot the two girls and point their guns at them. One of them screams incoherent death threats in a voice they recognize as Don, one of the lowest ranking losers in the Tournament; his companion, they all immediately deduce, can only be his inseparable friend Ron. Shira says, “It is a gunfight.”

“Let’s end it before our friends here do.” Jennifer glances sideways, implying Leila, Rob, and Debbie.

“Gotcha!” Shira flits out of view and appears right in front of them as if from out of nowhere. She fixes them with a hard gaze, holds out her left hand in a “Stop!” gesture, and commands: “Hold everything! Stop right there and don’t move!”

Ron and Don freeze in place. They try to move, but they can’t. They try to point their guns at Shira and squeeze the triggers, but they can’t. They’re completely motionless, and helpless.

Dorian gasps. Jennifer takes off her glasses to see what astonishes Dorian. Shira is projecting a reality distortion field so powerful that she can see it.

“Drop your guns.” Don and Ron drop their guns. “All of ’em!” They take off their trench coats, which are loaded with guns and bombs. Then they remove holsters, bandoliers, anything that bears weapons. They wear black T-shirts, jeans, and combat boots. Dorian runs in and starts picking up discarded weapons; she gestures to the others, and except for Shira they help her take weapons away from Don and Ron. The Tournament losers are now disarmed, helpless, and quivering in terror at Shira’s power over them.

Shira paces slowly in front of the two boys, never keeping her eyes off them. They squirm but cannot move. A mischievous cockeyed smirk grows onto Shira’s face. They twitch nervously. She says, “Piss.”

Their bladders obey her command. The crotches of their black jeans go wet; the urine stains spread, and eventually drip. Shira revels in their suffering. Lucy runs away to shout the news; she comes back with a small group of students that quickly grows into a small crowd, all laughing at the predicament of the two who had come to massacre them. It ends only when their bladders are completely empty. Then Shira’s smirk becomes a wicked grin.

Ron whimpers, “Oh no...”

“Shit,” she commands.

The sound, the smell, and the pained look on Don and Ron’s faces betray that their colons are as obedient to her command as their bladders were. Diarrhea explodes out of Ron, staining his pants brown. Several girls hold their noses and cry out “Ew!” Lucy and other more squeamish girls flee the scene. The remaining jocks and princesses laugh.

“Now lie down on the floor and remain calm.” Don and Ron resist her command with all their might, but their bodies obediently climb down onto the floor and lie down, their legs together and their arms at their sides. Shira points down at them and orders, “Don’t you move a muscle till the nice policeman snaps his fingers.” They go rigid as if they had gone catatonic.

Several students laugh loud and cheer Shira’s victory. Debbie runs over to kick and slap them quiet, but Shira grabs her, spins her around, and says sternly, “Oh, no you don’t.” Debbie glares at her, then stomps away in frustration, leaving in the direction Lucy and her friends went. Then Shira throws a hard glance at the others, and they go silent and slink away.

Scotty Waters comes over to Shira grinning and says, “Why didn’t you tell ’em to ‘fuck’?” Shira throws him a “you are so clueless” look over her shoulder, rolls her eyes, and casually walks away. Scotty runs after the others. Everybody leaves Don and Ron to their fate.

class time. Under a full moon shortly after midnight on November 5, 1998, Irish gothpunk singer Suzanne Taylor Brinkman (daughter of Governor Wally, though they have been on strictly screaming terms for years) gave birth to twins fathered by her lover and then-husband, footballer Ian Shelley. First, a beautiful little black-haired baby girl popped out of the womb of Taylor Brinkman. Already she strongly intuited that the newborn would grow up to be an exotic creature, so she gave her the exotic name Leila Renata, blatantly neither Gaelic nor English. An equally beautiful little boy followed her; she named him Robert Louis after her favorite literary Scot whose name is not Byron. (Taylor laughs at the rumor that she named her son after Robert Smith, lead singer of the Cure, whenever it inevitably comes up.)

Taylor Brinkman is the sister of Ariel Shield, a big smoke in the Grail Conspiracy who, ashamed at her neocon father, takes her family name from their scandalous Irish mother. This makes her a Black Princess, descended from Jesus by the female line (or “bar sinister” in the ancient language of heraldry now understood only by historians and Anachronists). The Black Princesses are closely associated with the legendary Holy Grail and are considered by some to be the Grail Family itself. Legendary punk rocker Rat Scabies is more famous today for Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail than he ever was for setting drumkits on fire while playing on stage with the Damned, so of course he became godfather to Taylor’s newborn twins and the redheaded younger sister named Fiona who arrived a year and a half later.

“It sounds weird,” says Leila after explaining it to the rest of Team Bremelo, “but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and everything I’ve just said is true.”

“So why are they calling you ‘Eurotrash’?” asks Polly cheerily.

Leila sighs. “Because I sometimes dress, or undress, like my mother. I was never really fond of clothes, actually. I have really sensitive skin, and clothes tend to make me itch or rub me sore. Still, some people take a look at me and judge me by my clothes and don’t even give me a second thought after that. They just throw a label like ‘Eurotrash’ at me and dismiss me as shallow ‘trash.’”

“They’re just shallow people themselves,” says Jennifer. “They happen to think they’re deep and other people are shallow, especially people prettier than they are who wear strange clothes.”

Leila gets out of her chair and goes to Jennifer, who stands up to meet her, and they hug. Shira gets up and hugs her from behind. Stunned at such unaccustomed affection, Leila sighs. “You don’t think I’m ‘trash,’ do you?”

“Of course not, Leila.” Jennifer kisses her on the cheek; Shira then kisses her on the other cheek. “We like you, and we want to be your friends.”

“Thank you. I think I’m falling in love with you already. Not just you and Shira. All of you.” Tears start to form at the corner of Leila’s eyes.

Then Vince Corson rudely interrupts. “Hey, you girls going lesbian on me?”

Team Bremelo all laugh at him hard.

Shira gets control of herself and smirks wickedly. “I think he wants to see a donkey show,” she mocks.

“Let’s get him a six-pack of cerveza and some Tijuana pornos,” adds Cory. “Then he can have a donkey show.”

They laugh even harder. Vince starts to blush in embarrassment. Shira puts her hands on her hips and says to him, “Oh, you prudes. You can’t tell the difference between a friendly hug and a sex show.” She raises her arms in mock frustration. “You people just don’t know how to be friends. You can’t romance, either, which is why you people are so keen on banning divorce, because your marriages all suck.”

Leila inserts herself between flustered Vince and mocking Shira. “I don’t think you’re such a glutton for punishment that you want to get thrashed by us yet again. So I suggest you leave us alone. Okay?” She smiles sweetly to signal that much hurt will be coming his way if he doesn’t.

“Have it your way, Shelley.” Vince hits Leila’s sternum repeatedly with his pointed finger; she doesn’t flinch. “But don’t blame me if you get yourselves into deep, deep doo-doo.” He hurries away.

Shira caresses Leila on the shoulder. “Maybe your sensitive skin doesn’t like clothes, but I’m sure your bare skin loves being stroked by hands.”

Leila laughs. “You’re right! Maybe we can find somewhere more private so you can put your hands on me?”

“Now there’s an idea! Let’s go, lover.” She puts her arm around Leila, kisses her on the lips, and leaves arm in arm with her.

During class time and between classes, Shira and Leila make every excuse to absent themselves so they can make love. During classes, they make love in restrooms and music rooms and behind the drama club scenery; between classes, they make love in janitorial closets and library study rooms. The danger of getting caught only makes it that much more exciting. Even in public situations, they steal kisses every chance they get. They leave no doubt in anybody’s mind but the most clueless that they are an item and there’s nothing they can do about it.

In his office, the Principal tells Shira sternly through his smirk, “You know making out is against the Rules. You’ve been pushing it even farther than that, Miss Thomas. It is in fact illegal to make out with someone of your own gender. It is illegal.”

Shira answers with a mocking look. “I’m sorry to inform you, Mr. Principal, but love has no respect for your arbitrary and irrational prejudices in the form of laws, nor for the Eugenics Institute that enforces them in such terrorist fashion. Besides, would you want to inflict a child on such a notoriously unstable and violent young creature as Leila Shelley? That one partner is a mudblood, the other is a Eurotrash lunatic, and both are pretty women is nothing to Cupid. He only laughs at you pious folk who try to shoot him down. Love is the expression of nature. Poets describe it in terms of chemistry and magnetism. You people’s terrorist attempts to stop it only tell me that you’re trying to create a loveless world. Besides [flashes Incorporation badge], I’ve already bought my Exception, and if it comes to that, I’ll buy one for Leila on her grandfather the Governor’s coin so we can be together. Got that?”


“Glad you agree. Now you will leave us alone and let us be together, or I’ll call my lawyer and you will have trouble indeed. Goodbye, Principal Principal.” She takes Leila by the hand and leads her out the door.

lunch. There’s a stage in the cafeteria built for public announcements and the occasional public performance. Rumor whispers of another purpose (public punishment and humiliation), but one does not speak of such things in public.

Charmian’s aristocratic presence graces the stage as she prepares to speak. Shira sneaks up onto the stage by the right-side stairway with a light and fluffy lemon meringue pie in her left hand. Charmian notices the giggles and the “oh my god” expressions, but she doesn’t realize somebody’s there until it’s already too late and a grinning Shira is right behind her. She turns to confront the interloper, but she’s already too late: Shira slams the pie into her face. In the audience: screams, giggles, howls of laughter. Shira hops to the front of the stage and bows to her audience. They cheer and boo. She yells mischievously, “Thank you, thank you! No applause, just money!”

In the hallway after lunch, Charmian and her yes girls barge right in front of Shira. Traces of lemon meringue still stick to the council president’s uniform despite multiple applications of a moist towel. “I hope you know that was gross insubordination, which is quite the punishable offense.”

Shira pretends to whimper like a whipped slave. “Yez, mizza.” The yes girls giggle.

“Shira, I’m serious! I could have you expelled for this! I’ve got connections like you’ll never have!”

Shira dips down knock-kneed, throws her head back, puts the back of her left hand on her forehead, and gasps. “I am pale, Charmian!”

The laughs around them reveal that a growing crowd of students have gathered to watch the school’s princess regnant confront her prankster nemesis yet again, and as usual they are not disappointed. Charmian does not want to entertain the crowd yet again, so she storms off, shouting, “You are so busted again, Thomas!”

Shira yells back, “And I am so getting away with it yet again, Princess!”

locker room, afternoon. After school, Charmian decides that she doesn’t need a shower, especially with Shira around, and drives home in a huff. Shira and Leila have the girls’ locker room all to themselves.

Even before the locker room door closes, they throw off their clothes as fast as they can. Not bothering to pick them up, they race together into the nearest shower up front and turn it on cold. They shriek and giggle as the cold water hits them uncomfortably. They keep it cold till they shiver violently, then turn it up as hot as they can bear it.

They wash each other’s bodies with their hands. But the soap’s really an excuse for them to grope each other’s erogenous zones and masturbate each other into a screaming orgasm. Elsie gapes at them in absolute surprise through the window of her office, but does nothing to stop them. She wants to watch.

They take two of the extra soft towels Charmian prefers and dry each other off. Then Shira takes another out of the bin, and they run over to Shira’s locker near the exit, giggling as they admire each other’s bouncing breasts. Shira drapes the towel over the bench. Then she jumps up and down to bounce her breasts so that Leila can see them. “I love female breasts! I love to watch them bounce! Jump, Leila! I wanna see yours bounce too!” Leila jumps up and down so Shira can see her breasts bounce. “Yeah! That’s so beautiful!” They smile huge and giggle and watch each other’s breasts bounce liquidly and tremble with desire for each other. They throw themselves into each other’s embrace and jump up and down and kiss passionately and hard.

Leila lies down onto the towel on the bench. Shira straddles the bench so she can gaze up Leila’s beautiful nude body. “God, Leila, you’re so beautiful. I want to look at you all the time. Will you swear to me never to wear any clothes when we’re alone together?”

Leila eagerly nods. “Yes! I swear!”

“Of course, that’ll be easy at my place, ’cuz our family make a practice of never wearing anything at home.”

“It’ll be even easier once you know how much I hate clothes. If I could get away with going nude in public all the time, I would.”

“I like you.”

“Now hurry up and make love to me before I go mad.”

Shira slides closer to Leila, leans over, grabs her breasts and squeezes them hard repeatedly. Leila squeals and screams in delight. “Yes! Yes!”

Impatiently, Shira says “Aw, fuck it” and gets on top of her, 69. For a whole hour, they make love without stopping, driving each other to ever greater extremes of sexual ecstasy, losing all track of time. Then at the exact same time they decide they’ve had enough for now. Shira spins her body on top of Leila’s till their faces are together and their lips meet and they kiss long and hard.

Elsie clears her throat nearby. They look up and see that she’s already dressed for the talent show. She checks her watch and says, “It’s almost time.”

Shira and Leila gasp. They get up off the bench, take the now drenched towel with them and throw it into the dirty towel bin, rush into the showers but separately so they can clean up quick. They take the first towels they reach for in the bin, dry themselves off quickly, throw those towels into the dirties bin, put their clothes back on as fast as possible, and race out the door toward the auditorium and its dressing rooms.

auditorium, late afternoon. Bremerton High School has a Performing Arts Center that serves as the regular home of the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra when they’re not playing the Admiral Theatre downtown. Tonight there’s a talent show scheduled, and the theatre is crowded with teenagers wearing the uniforms of several schools. Many students with odd talents or no talent at all have signed up, though not all of them were judged good or suitable enough to make it.

But the big draw is the feud between two teams of singers. The Pop Princesses sing they kind of sweet, bland pop that tween girls scream for and parents insist on buying for unwilling teens. They hope their victory tonight will earn them great fame as DisneyPop SuperStars like last year’s talented winner, Minty Fresh (her real name). They must face the implacable challenge of their rival tribe, the Bad Romancers, rebels against the bubblegum pop dictatorship with outrageous Styler costumes and “unwholesome” pop songs like those sung by such controversial and frequently banned singers as Lady Gaga, Pink, Róisin Murphy, Lisa DANK, Charlie Richter-Thomas before she left the Sour Grapes to go punk with the Naked Killers, and the queen of them all, Madonna. “BadPop,” as its most passionate advocates and detractors call it, pushes the envelope as far as it can be pushed without actually being illegal (and sometimes they actually do go over the edge). But the most important Bad Romancers are not those who land major-label contracts, get into heavy rotation on MTV, and score millions of dollars, but those who scorn “lamestream media” exposure and push their music as far over the edge without it becoming actual rock ’n’ roll: the Fashion Punks who spit in the collective face of the “fashion-industrial complex.” To the lords of the New Confederacy, rock ’n’ roll is unthinkable and any genuine black music is unforgivable. This official attitude only drove the cutting edge underground, where the Stylers rule. And in the Style Underground, Shira is La Loca Fantoma, clown princess of the Wild Style tribe.

Never mind that rock ’n’ roll is the national music of Cascadia, nor that hip-hop and techno are the reigning styles of the underground. Never mind that when the Hip Kids think pop, they think of MTV, DisneyPop, and, worst of all, the despised Eurovision Song Contest, and turn away sneering. This is a battle of the pop idols, mainstream versus underground, and it’s the main event tonight.

There are no real Pop Princesses here at Bremerton High, not since Minty left for Disney World. They tend to come from the more isolated exurbs where the culture is more politically correct, and Bremerton is too dangerously close to Seattle to be attractive to the Wholesome Family set. The closest thing to a champion they have here is head cheerleader Karen Kubota, whose singing style is bouncy J-Pop with uplifting lyrics she draws from her Buddhist faith. But her Wild Styler cousin is beyond Bad Romancer: she is Bremerton High’s resident Fashion Punk. She plans to slay her sweet and genki cousin with just her entrance alone.

Act follows act on the stage for most of the show. Some of the kids on stage are really talented, like the bugle boy from Kingston and the classical cellist girl from South Kitsap and the hip-hop dance team from Olympic. Others are just big egos under the delusion that they have talent, like the Cool Girl from Central Kitsap who thinks that gaudy yet comfortably trendy style alone guarantees pop idol status but sings only slightly better than William Hung, and who reminds Shira uncomfortably of her patronizing stepsister Lovie Thorndyke. Shira predicts she will be a success once some Svengali producer buys her soul and provides her with style consultants and an autotuner. At the end, the judges rule that the top three are, in ascending order, the bugler, the hip-hop dancers, and the cellist. Many cheers, some crying contestants and parents both happy and sad, the smiles of the winners, and then the contest is over. The backstage band take their places: Shira’s older and even more notorious half-sisters Charlie and Desiree Richter-Thomas on guitar and keyboards, school librarians Kitty Carlisle on bass and Sally Hatfield on drums. They do their last-minute fine-tuning on their instruments. At last, it’s time for the main event.

As the lights go dark again, everybody waits breathlessly for Karen’s song to begin. The curtain opens and the spotlights illuminate a rainbow set. The music that plays over the PR system is light pop that is bouncy and positive without being saccharine like too much DisneyPop and J-Pop can be. Karen dances onto the stage; behind her, two lines of girls in white T-shirts and knee-length shorts run on from opposite directions. She wears the same T-shirt, but with an unpleated miniskirt. The design on the T-shirts is an abstract design of a rainbow-colored world surrounded by angular silhouette children; it says “Youth for Peace.” All the songs she’s written relate to her strong Buddhist beliefs and her organization’s worldwide peace activism. As her dancers move in near-perfect unison behind her, she sings in her sweet voice:
Too many people suffer in silence
They cry and hurt and struggle alone
Too many people lash out in violence
They hurt each other too close to home
It’s up to us to be each day
Examples of a better way

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!

Youth is a difficult time for some
There’s so much pain we must outgrow
But it’s the time that we become
Creators of the world we know
Let’s be capable people now
So with our lives we can show them how

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!

Youth of the world, let’s get together
Young friends as one in harmony
Let’s all join hands as friends forever
Create a new world for all to see...
The song is catchy enough that people in the audience get up to dance in the stands and clap their hands to the beat. By the time Charlie and Desiree finish their instrumental duet, the audience are ready to sing along.
Culture and education are
For not the few but everyone
No matter if we’re near or far
The fight for peace has only begun
Let’s get together for peace today
And show the world a better way...

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!
Karen and her dancers come up to the front of the stage, hold hands, and bow together. “Thank you, everybody! I love you all!” she cries out, to a thunderous standing ovation.

The lights go back up for the next five minutes. Shira is preparing for her spectacular entrance. People talk darkly about her and share rumors. What some of them seem to dread most is not so much her chosen style of music (i.e., what the media marketers of the fashion-industrial complex call “hip-pop”) so much as the styles she wears on her body. She is known to prefer styles that flatter her curves. What they hate and fear is not so much that she wears them as the fact that the young woman who wears them is only fifteen.

The theatre lights go down. The curtain opens. The backstage band start to play; the low slow hip-hop beat kicks in, followed by Charlie’s menacing staccato and a gangsterish buzzing punk-funk synth in E minor. The stage lights turn on and go psychedelic. Multicolored streamers and confetti rain down. And then the spotlights converge in white as the fog bomb explodes and Shira emerges out of the thick white vapor holding out her arms in a victory stance — wearing spectacular white-feathered headdress, spiky fashion-punk mirrorshades, spiked black leather minijacket, bladed black leather Batman gloves, spiked black leather bikini, high-heeled steel-buckled black leather combat boots, her trademark cockeyed smile, and video body paint — and at once the boys roar and howl and Shira’s legion of fangirls unleash a collective scream. Cory, Kio, and Dexter step up behind her dressed robo Kato and start dancing the funky robot. Shira sashays up to the microphone, violently swipes it off the stand, and proclaims: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the pop underground!” Charlie rocks the pick down her Strat’s G string, and Shira begins to sing:
You step out of your brand new car
The drama queen of the disco scene
You think you know just what you are
You make me scream and fall down to my knees

You’re cold and far like a distant star
You’re so crazy bent and like to torment
You got no idea how hot you are
You don’t know how wet you make me get

I’m the one that you desire
You’re the ice and I’m the fire

I’m too hot for you to handle
I got your key to ecstasy
You and me, we’re a ragin’ scandal
It’s plain to see you melt for me
As Charlie begins a short solo, Shira throws Charmian a wicked wink. Charmian goes cold with shock and horror, then goes hot with rage and screams. She climbs up on stage to attack Shira in a frenzy, and her sisters and their cousin Debbie follow. Lady faints into Lucy’s arms from sheer sensory overload. The song stops and the stage swarms with burly security personnel prying mean girls off Shira and the boys. The non-rocking adults in the audience flee the auditorium in panic as if it were on fire. The fire bringing the house down is, in fact, burning in Shira’s heart; they are unable to handle it and they know it.

Suddenly, the curtain closes and the lights turn back on to reveal a panicked crowd walking all over each other in their desperation to escape. Shira lands on the floor, takes off her headdress, and drops it on the stage. She peeks out through the curtain to witness the chaos. The people who aren’t panicking are calling friends and loved ones on their cellphones; some of them are calling for paramedics. Shira’s head vanishes from in front of the curtain; she goes backstage and puts on a khaki duster coat and ties the sash tight around her waist.

When she emerges from backstage and skips down the steps in to the seats, Shira sees Karen tending to the wounded. “Need any help?”

“Thanks, but the paramedics are here already.” Shira stands up and sees several EMTs and firefighters rushing through the doors to take care of the wounded. The police come soon after.

Later, in the nearby swimming pool locker room, a worried Karen showers as she watches Leila apply the special soap to remove Shira’s video body paint. “I never expected that kind of reaction to something they show all the time on MTV.”

When Leila’s done with Shira, she quickly soaps herself up as Shira spins around in the water stream to wash the last of the special soap and body paint down the drain. Shira says, “Those people don’t watch MTV. They watch the Disney Channel whenever they’re not fixating on Fox News or TBN. They’ve only familiar with the likes of Minty Fresh, and that’s what they have in mind when they think of pop music. They’ve never seen underground pop before. They probably never even heard of Lady Gaga or Rihanna, and they’re not even underground. So when I went all Stylin’ on ’em, they couldn’t handle it, and they panicked.”

As Leila rinses, she says absently, “They reacted as if it were a Rebel Styles video gone live. I should know. Shira showed me hers.”

hallway, evening. After the disaster in the performing arts center, Shira and Karen emerge dressed once again in their sailor yellows. Charmian storms up into Shira’s face and screams, “What in God’s name were you thinking?

Shira grins. “I was thinking, ‘Take that, Minty Fresh.’” She flashes Kelly and Charmian a wicked wink.

“But I love Minty Fresh! I’m her number one fan of all time!” protests Kelly. She wags her finger at Shira. “You won, you know. You destroyed your own cousin, and that was with just the song. Minty would have died a horrible death at the very sight of that horrid costume! That was the closest thing to Rebel Styles live that I have ever seen in my life. I hate you, Shira Thomas!”

“You sound like I used to around Miley Cyrus. I was eight. Come on, girls, if you can’t handle the heat, don’t get in the oven.” Kelly and Charmian stare at Shira funny, then sigh angrily and flounce away together in a huff, leaving Shira and Karen alone. The two cousins sigh in unison.

Shira notices that the Cool Kids are not mobbing her. Something is distracting them. Karen points at the eager crowd down the hall. “Over there.”

They meet Jennifer a few meters away from the hopping and squeeing crowd. They look at each other, then in annoyance at the Cool Kids surrounding a young woman. They can hear the words “Pretty City” squealed by girls in the crowd. Jennifer peers into the crowd to see who the woman is. When she recognizes her by the curls of her long dark brown hair, she goes cold. “Oh, no.”

Shira turns to her and says, “What is it?”

Jennifer whispers the name into Shira’s ear. Shira’s eyes go wide and her mouth twists. She rolls her eyes and says, “Oh great.” She turns to Karen, puts her finger to her mouth, and nods. Karen’s mouth falls open; she turns toward the scene and stands back to watch.

Jennifer and Shira march toward the young woman and the crowd surrounding her. When they get close enough, Shira yells, “Oh; emm; gee; doubleyou tee eff—

The woman turns to see where the voice is coming from. “Shira?” Girls move out of their way so they can get a clear look at each other.

Lala Sun-Microsoft possesses the anonymous beauty of the surgically Resculpted. She was born plain, but she longed to be beautiful as long as she can remember. Her techco executive father, Elliott Sun-Microsoft, bought the services of the best plastic surgeon in Los Angeles to Resculpt her. He transformed her into closest thing to the perfect average of every pop idol in Asia possible with the most modern technology and plastic surgery techniques. She is rich, eccentric, and two years older than Shira or Jennifer. She’s surrounded by Cool Kids eager to follow their strange pied piper to Pretty City. Surprised at the reunion, Lala opens her arms wide for a hug. “Jennifer! Shira! How are you?”

The two cousins accept Lala’s embrace. “We’re goin’,” says Shira.

Mimi comes up next to Shira and asks, “You two know her?”

Shira winks. “We’ve met.”

Lala stands back from them and takes a good look at Shira and Jennifer. She has always admired their Natural good looks. Shira says, “So what brings you back to Bummertown?”

Lala whips out a brochure and winks. “I’ve got your ticket to Pretty City.”

Shira smiles. “Don’t you remember? I already burned my ticket to Pretty City.”

“But Shira—”

Shira holds out her fingers to count. “One, I’m already famous and/or infamous in my own right. Two, I have no intention of becoming a slave of the fashion-industrial complex. Three, the fashion-industrial complex are itchin’ to cut my nose, and I won’t let their plastic surgeons even touch my nose. Four, I’m such a notorious Styler that no self-respecting New Pretty would accept me no matter how Resculpted I get. So, thanks but no thanks.”

Lala slumps, crestfallen. “Aww...” She stands back up, holds the brochure out to Jennifer, and smiles at her cheerily. “So... How about you, Jennifer?”

Jennifer does not smile. She sighs. “No, Lala. You should know me well enough to realize that I am what the fashion-industrial complex like to call ‘a great mind trapped in a great body.’ Smarts just don’t cut it in Pretty City. You know what they call me there?”


“Trouble. They’re even more scared of me than they are of Shira.”

Lala’s eager smile returns. “You’ll have no problem with them as long as I’m there for you!” Shira and Jennifer look at each other and sigh in unison; the eagerness drains from Lala’s smile. Shira shrugs.

Suddenly Lala screams in pain. Shira and Jennifer look behind her to see an angry Leila pinching Lala’s collarbone hard.

“Leila!” cries out Shira. “Stop that!” Leila lets go.

Lala turns to face Leila and stumbles back a pace. “Well! I never expected you’d be here!”

Unsmiling, Leila says, “Hello, Princess Frankenbarbie. What the fuck are you doing here?” Lala gasps in horror at the slur: “Frankenbarbie” is the evil word Stylers like to throw at the Resculpted.

“Three guesses,” says Shira, “and the first two don’t count.”

“Well. Trying to trick more suckers into selling their faces and souls to the fashion-industrial complex, aren’t you.”

Lala breathes in deep, crosses her arms, and lets out a hard angry sigh.

Shira sneaks up behind Lala and says, “You probably haven’t heard about this yet, but Leila’s now my girlfriend.”

Lala turns around toward Shira. “What? Her?!” Shira smiles triumphantly and nods. Lala spins to stare at Leila. The black-haired beauty’s sweet ironic smile says: Shira’s mine now, bitch. Deal.

Polly comes up and says, “Your drama here’s been entertaining enough. If you like that, you’ll just love what’s coming up next. Especially you, Leila.”

“Me?” says Leila scornfully. “What could be worse than this?”

“Brandi just texted me. Looks like your gangster uncle’s here to drag you kicking and screaming back to Pretty City.”

“Tell him I’m not going back under any circumstances.”

“I guess you’ll be telling him yourself.” Polly stares fearfully down the hall.

Toward the door, girls scream and squeal. The commotion comes closer. Shira and her friends notice that people are moving out of the way of whoever’s coming.

When she sees him, she catches her breath. He’s beautiful: tall and elegant, with long silky black hair and a delicate face which looks a whole lot like Rob’s. He’s flanked by two huge and dangerous looking men in MIB suits and mirrorshades, but he looks more dangerous than either of them. He looks as dangerous as Leila. And he’s heading straight for her. When he gets in range of her, he yells: “Leila!”

“Oh, no!

“Where’s Robert?!”

“I have no idea!”

Arvid grabs Leila’s slender wrist in a death grip. She cries out in pain. “Well, we’d better find him, ’cos you two are comin’ back with me to Pretty City, where you belong!”

Shira clears her throat loudly in his ear. He turns to face the interloper and finds himself looking at a Wild Styler in full regalia. “Excuse me, but Leila’s staying here with me.”

Arvid stares down at her threateningly. “And who do you think you are to say such a thing to me?

“I’m her lover.”

Shira pulls Leila out of Arvid’s grasp, holds her tight, and gives her a long passionate kiss right in front of him. She lowers her hands until they caress and squeeze Leila’s soft buttocks. Leila moans in pleasure. Arvid crosses his arms. “I see,” he says. “Maybe I should take you with her?”

“You weren’t here when I told Lala I already burned my invitation. You can always go ask her. And the answer, of course, is no. I’m staying here and she’s staying with me.”

Arvid sneers, “You know I never take no for an answer.” He and Shira stare each other down as if locked in a Mexican standoff.

Meanwhile, another chorus of squeals moves in a wave from the direction of the auditorium. Out of the dressing room, Charlie approaches in full blue sailor-girl school uniform with its sailor cap and wields a weaponized custom Les Paul clone strapped over her shoulder like a broadsword. The Gibson Les Paul and especially its cheaper non-brand clones are the most easily weaponized of the popular electric guitars because they are so solid and heavy; small women tend to find it difficult to carry one, so Charlie plays the checkerboard-pattern Strat she has left backstage for the roadies to pack up.

Arvid Shield is still facing down Shira when Charlie swings her guitar and hits the side of his head with it with such impact that she knocks him down. She raises it up like an ax and brings it down, intending to crush his head; but he catches it in time.

“Charlie!” cry Shira and Jennifer in unison. Shira grabs her from behind. Charlie kicks the guitar up out of Arvid’s hands and slings it onto her back as she spins in her tall younger sister’s embrace to kiss her hard on the lips. Arvid climbs back up to his feet and scowls at the spectacle. He moves toward them threateningly. “What the fuck are you doing, Charlotte?”

Charlie breaks the kiss and flits her way in front of Leila. “Just protecting my sister’s girlfriend and her brother from, well, you.”

“Damn it, woman, I’ve got too much invested in these two! Do you want me to lose my arse on this?”

Charlie shrugs. “You win some, you lose some.”

Arvid leans into her face. “You know what happens when you cross me, don’t you?”

Charlie stands on her tiptoes to get even closer and smirks. “Why, yes, come to think of it, I do. You get yourself in trouble you can’t get out of, and you drag down as many people with you as you can get in your clutch on your way to the bottom. That’s where I come in, Artie, and you know it.”

“Damn it, Charlotte, I’m their uncle!

“And right now, cousin, I’m their best friend. So why don’t you be a friend to them and buzz off?

Arvid Shield wrestles with the temptation to reach into his blazer and draw his gun out of its shoulder holster. His hand twitches. Then he thrusts his hand down to his side and stands up straighter. He glares at Charlie, then Shira, then Leila (and Rob, who has come to protect her), and finally at Charlie again. He concedes with a smile, then storms away toward the front door, followed by his two bodyguards.

Everybody in the hallway outside the auditorium lets out a huge sigh of relief.

on to the next...

Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

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[Revision 1.1, 1/11/11: edited Katy Perry out (because she's taking her husband’s name — one of my longtime feminist pet peeves — and Pink in. Plus one related story revision.]

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