Bogleech.com's 2016 Horror Write-off:
The Prophet speaks, in his voice deep as an ocean that makes all the chicks as wet as one. With one hand he unleashes vibrations and sonic bombs that would have been unthinkable, on the purely technological level, as recently as twenty years ago. With the other he casts a mixture of arcane mystic gestures and gang signs.
All the lights, the lights of many colours, converge on one point. As the Prophet builds and lifts to rapturous levels his entire audience stand transfixed by his skill. For a moment the sounds stop and the only sound is them sucking in air, eyes wide. The silence holds for one long exquisitely agonising moment.
"Now," says the Prophet, voice soaring to the edges of the room and back, and he drops enough bass to rattle their intestines. Oh, he is on form tonight. Every touch of the sliders seems effortless and perfect. As the lights pass over the faces below he sees only the finest of emotions - ecstasy, joy, complete surrender to the sonic pulpit.
This is it, he thinks, feeling the kind of joy his audience must be. Every night he sweated over the mixers, every time his hand trembled and he lost an hour of precise sampling, finally it is coming to fruition. It's happening. It's really happening.
In the bowels of the club young Mark Clark is feeling nothing of the sort. He is numb even to the heavier shades of the bass, the stuff that rattles the fittings. He has a terribly cheap cocktail on the table in front of him but he has barely touched it.
Ahead of him, on the edge of the dancefloor, Fiona is speaking close up with another man, a man who is taller and probably objectively more handsome than Mark. The man leans next to her ear, and Mark watches her throw back her head and laugh. Then she touches the man on the arm.
Mark thinks back on the times Fiona touched him on the arm - every one of them had made him shiver inside, and wonder desperately if this meant she liked him back. He wants nothing more to go up and talk to her, pour his heart down her ear in the way he has rehearsed in his head a thousand times, trying to get the words just so. But, he decides, it is futile. She wouldn't listen to him, she probably wouldn't even hear him. Conversations do not work in clubs, unless you're willing to scream in each other's ears - unless you're the kind of man Mark assumes that man to be.
The Prophet deftly leaves a loop going, keeping the crowd on the level, while he readies his next salvo. He runs his fingers across the memory stick containing the track he has prepared, and grins, now very satisfied with himself. All week he has been chopping it and changing it, plucking influences and samples from the entire sonic canon of mankind. Now it is ready. Under his breath he counts backwards to zero.
Infrasound explodes from the speakers, dancing on the edge of human hearing. The Prophet holds desperately on his sliders, feeling as if they might try and shut themselves down without his intervention. Now the faces before him are shattering, from joy to terror and back again every time those searchlights sweep across them.
Mouths smash open, spittle flying from them as they scream silently in the face of the sonic assault. Big patches of the crowd are still jumping and pushing each other around but it seems more aggressive now, like they're out for blood. Even the Prophet pauses, momentarily feeling that fear himself, worried about what it is that he has wrought.
Above all the noise he remembers what the Insider told him, late one night when they were both severely McConaughey'd, when the Insider opened his soft whispery mouth and said "Never call up something you can't put back down."
At the back of the room, Mark Clark knocks over his drink with a deliberate flick of the wrist and walks out, shoulders set with fragile determination.
The Prophet slams one of his sliders down to zero, the infrasound cuts out, and he hastily brings the loops and the bass back in. A roomful of eyes watch him in awe. Some are cheering now, more than a few are applauding and whooping. He gives a great gasping exhalation, suddenly aware that he is sweating.
He blasts out his climax, barely having to think about it, simply letting his instincts do the work, letting his hands fly across the equipment. There is another, greater cheer. As the last echoes are rolling away he says nothing, simply raises his hands, and gives a nod.
By the time he is stepping down from his podium, adorers are already swarming him. He takes the hand of a girl called Fiona, who tells him she has never felt that way before, and he thinks hey, this will be a good night.
Mark Clark has returned home. His mind is eerily clear, in spite of everything. In fact, his decision feels like a relief, weighed against the stresses of working. He thinks of Fiona, of her touch. While his mind may be clear his vision starts to fog.
He climbs up onto the stool. Then he begins to drop down, but stops abruptly halfway.
All night long Mark's body rotates gently, the rope creaking, until the moon calls it a night, the streetlights outside blink off and the sun peeps over the horizon.
A light flicks on in Mark's house. It is followed by a scream of grief that echoes over the estate, through streets and windows. Then there is another, and another, until it seems as though the entire district is bereaved.
"Good show last night, I thought," says the Insider, jerking awake abruptly as the Prophet comes through into the living room.
"Mm, quite good," mumbles the Prophet, staggering to the sofa and nearly collapsing on the Insider. He has been unable to face much more of Fiona's snoring.
"You tried out the infrasound, yeah?"
"I didn't hear anything."
"Nah, man, that's the whole idea, it's under twenty hertz, it's right on the edge of human hearing, if you coulda heard it I wouldn't have done it right." The Prophet nods, the technical specifications are flowing back into his consciousness now. This is more mental exertion than he is prepared to engage with at this time in the morning, so he simply concludes "You shoulda seen their faces."
"Fuck yeah," says the Insider, grinning like a shark. He leans forward, knocking a landslide of empty bottles off the coffee table, and spreads out his papers and tobacco. As soon as he has done this he ignores it to twist aside and turn up the volume on Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle. The Prophet screws his eyes closed for a moment, but gives up quickly, knowing there is no way of getting back to sleep.
A thought inside is chafing him. He finds himself wanting to believe that it was a force from beyond he called up last night - that he had tapped into some unknown black magic to make all those people look at him like that. But the reality he knows is much more startling. It was him, all him, fingers on the sliders and mind working through the mixes.
Now he finds he has received a text during the night. The club, REUNION, wants to commission him for next weekend as well. They must have liked it too, then, he nods to himself. Everyone seemed to enjoy the set - they were interested, anyway - so what is this unnameable concern gnawing at the base of his brain? Is it just the dehydration?
"You were saying that, like, the vibrations and harmonics of a lot of notorious haunted houses tend to produce that kind of infrasound," says the Prophet. The Insider looks up at him and nods while licking along the edge of the joint. "So that gives them the fear - and yeah, I'm behind that, not to scare them straight but at least scare them into fucking thinking, right?"
"Fucking indictment of everyone when we need to be fucking scared into doing that," grumbles the Insider, now tapping the joint down against the coffee table, and having to wrench it loose when it sticks in place.
"So what I'm thinking now is, any genres of infrasound out there that can do the other emotions?" the Prophet asks. The Insider gives his hideous grin again. "Like, I don't know, soothing womby oceany sounds to make them calm? Moaning and the noise of fabric to turn them on?"
"All good ideas," says the Insider, "but we'd have to give them trial runs. You got time for that? Now, I say we double down. Go on a high-speed burn sampling all the haunted houses we can find and weave them all together. I mean, why use a knife when you can use an atom bomb?"
The Prophet considers this. Yes, an atom bomb is obviously better than a knife, but how exactly have they defaulted to a street-fight? More to the point, won't the atom bomb catch them as well? Of course, it'll certainly draw a crowd...
He is thrown off his conclusion by a knock at the door, a big chunky fist slamming it in the centre. He groans, rubbing his temples, and rises to answer it.
"Morning, sir," says one of the two policemen standing there. "We're looking for a Mr Sion Cashmore."
The Prophet is about to say that's me, baby then freezes, instinctively not shopping himself in. He is trying to think of any other response when he hears the snap and burn of a Zippo lighter from behind him. "For fuck's sake," he says, turning back to the Insider, "not now!"
The Insider shrugs, and blows out a plume of stinking smoke. The policeman raises his eyebrows, but says nothing.
"I'm Sion Cashmore," admits the Prophet. "What's up?"
"First, let me establish you're not, as yet, being charged with anything-"
"Fuck you!" declares the Insider, jumping to his feet. "You have nothing on him, nothing, and you can't prove it anyway! Get the fuck off his property before we report you to Amnesty!"
"Lively one, isn't he?" says the policeman quietly, as the Insider continues to rant about the civil liberties. The Prophet nods curtly. "We're here today to offer you protective custody, Mr Cashmore."
"What? Why?" asks the Prophet. He has a sinking feeling that he already knows - that some vast and greater force has picked up on him channelling a forbidden art of terror.
"You played REUNION last night, didn't you, sir?" At the Prophet's slow nod the policeman continues, "At last count, seventeen people who witnessed your set have committed suicide in the night. Several of the bereaved families have put the pieces together and insisted we arrest you for murder by proxy, or at least behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace."
"Even that wouldn't hold up," says the Insider, now looming behind the Prophet's shoulder. "He was in a club, any court would throw that out."
"Quite so. Sir, I have no desire to make a collar that'll spend years bouncing through the legal system - but blow smoke in my face again and I'll break your fucking fingers." The Insider takes a humble step back. "As I say, Mr Cashmore, the families of the deceased blame you, a lot. There's protective custody if you want it - if not, I would seriously recommend you lay low."
"Right. Well, thanks for letting me know," says the Prophet. The policemen nod to him in unison, and walk off down the street.
When he closes the door, the Insider is grinning at him like a maniac. "Man, I just wish we knew if most of them used the rope or the pills, that woulda been interesting data."
"Yeah. Really interesting," says the Prophet grimly. "Though it does seem like a very good time to skip town and go round all the haunted houses." If his simulated infrasound has done this much, he reasons, then - then who knows, or dares to dream?
Fiona walks out of his bedroom, looking pale and unrested, like she has slept in a haunted house. "One of my friends killed himself last night," she chokes out. The Prophet and the Insider look at each other, mutually wondering where they left the car keys.
For five minutes, they sit still as statues, not speaking and barely breathing, at the top of a partially collapsed grand staircase. It was sunny as they walked through the woods, but now, inside, among the crumbling colonnades and neo-Palladian curves it could be a heavy, shadowed evening. Eventually the Prophet delicately reaches out, stops the recording, and loudly exhales.
"I know, right? I'm certainly feeling rigid," says the Insider, hopping up and stretching with a breathless grin. "Yeah, I don't know about you, but it's scaring the hell out of me."
"How can it just be the sound of the place?" asks Fiona, quietly, still halfway worried about interfering with the recording. "Surely it must be the whole atmosphere - how old the place is, how abandoned it is, the cobwebs and stuff?"
"Well, kind of," says the Prophet. "All those things are going to effect the acoustics. But the sound's the main thing. The cobwebs, yeah, people look at them and think 'that's spooky' but that's, that's kind of a conscious thing. The sound, though, that gets straight to people's lizard-brains."
Fiona literally shivers, but doesn't tear her wide eyes away from him. "So, you think that could make someone honest-to-God top themselves?"
The Prophet is about to speak quite callously about Rezso Seress's infamous song Gloomy Sunday, and about the rash of suicides it was linked to back in the '30s, in both Seress's native Hungary and also stateside after Lady Billie did her cover, when the Insider pipes up with "No chance. Sound can freak you out but it's not seriously about to beat the instinct for self-preservation." Fiona nods, still looking worried.
They split up and delve further into the house, exploring the upper floors. The Prophet finds a room where the floor is beginning to give way, one corner fully come loose from its foundations so the wind whistles through and echoes a little. Daubed on the wall is Latin graffiti, thick comic-book black letters that read NEGOTIUM PERAMBULANS TENEBRIS.
He is shuffling around the edges of the room when he hears a voice say "Hey." Instantly his head snaps upright, glancing at the doors and into the shadows. The rationality that accompanies working every day with hi-end audio equipment vanishes when the hairs start to rise on the back of his neck. He looks about for any sort of a weapon, and while there are chunks of timber sticking out of the walls that he could probably pry loose, he doesn't fancy seeing what that does to the structure. Instead, he slips his hand into his pocket and curls his fingers around his keys, so they jut out like a jagged extension of his knuckles.
"Down here, Sioni."
"Fuck me," sighs the Prophet when he spots the Insider's face, moonlike, looking up at him through the floor. "Christ, we should have recorded that."
"Why'd you bring her?" The Insider somehow makes the question quite casual. "What benefit does it have to the project to bring Yoko?"
The Prophet doesn't even have to think. "She didn't blame me," he says. "You saw what the families were saying about me online, most of them wouldn't settle for anything less than skinning my balls. I feel a lot better about doing this with her here."
The Insider thinks for a moment. The Prophet can see the gears whizzing round behind his eyes. "Good point. Yes. You're the talent after all, we can't let you burn out. We should have thought of this from the start, having something around to help you unwind, and at least she doesn't have to be carried."
This doesn't concern the Prophet. The Insider has always seen strangers as either tools or obstacles, and normally isn't so polite about it.
A hiss from the doorway nearly has him diving through the shattered floor. Fiona is standing there, half-crouched. "Guys," she says, softly, slowly, "we're not alone in here."
The Insider crawls up through the floor, and they make their way to the opposite wing of the house. "Over here," says Fiona, leading them toward a doorway with no floor beyond it. They look down through what must have been two rooms, their floors long since perished, fireplaces awkwardly hanging in mid-air. Down on the ground, where the remaining floor is giving way to moss and overgrowing ferns, figures in hooded yellow robes chant words that they cannot make out.
"Fuck yeah," whispers the Insider, his eyes lighting up. The Prophet says nothing, but clicks on the recording again. He is reasoning that, while this will not have the same psychoactive effect as the infrasound they have gathered, it is at least thematically appropriate.
Fiona looks between them, every fibre in her body wanting to say something, but she notices the recording. So they stand still again, and watch, watch those sinister forms below chant and throw up their arms, extending their hands, beckoning to a being that none of them can quite see.
Suddenly the cloaked figures stop, all but one of them throwing back their hoods to reveal eerily normal faces. A woman speaks in a full, melodious voice, "You, sir, should unmask."
"Indeed?" says the last hooded figure, his voice echoing up to his silent audience.
"This is pure gold," hisses the Insider.
"Indeed it's time," replies the woman. "We have all laid aside disguise but you."
"I wear no mask."
"No mask?" asks the woman, retreating in fright, turning pale, looking desperately to the others in the circle for help. "No mask?"
Immediately the rest of the circle chorus "You know who you behold now - speak the unspeakable name! Speak the name of-"
The Insider has been leaning on the door frame. Now it gives way under his hand, a chunk of rotting wood loudly coming free and falling. He hesitates only seconds before he breaks and dashes off the way they came. The Prophet and Fiona need no prompting to follow him.
"What was that?" asks the director, tossing back his hood to peer up at the empty doorframe.
"Just a bit of wood," says the woman. "I told you this place is falling apart." She takes some printed sheets of paper from under her lemon-yellow robe and flips through them. "Where were we?"
"You'd just freaked out over the stranger," says the director, "and you're about to declaim the name of the king in yellow before everyone freaks out even worse. Come on, guys, I want to get through act two as well."
"Fuck! Are they after us?"
At this, the Insider turns his head to peer over his shoulder, which incites the Prophet to shriek "Watch the road!" The Insider looks ahead and wrenches the wheel, narrowly turning into the corner and avoiding a solid wall of trees and shrubs.
They burst out of the woods, their severe vibrations suddenly stopping as they go from dirt road to smooth bitumen. A lorry blasts its air horns at them, clearly not expecting anyone to tear panicking out of the trees. The Insider swerves wildly, not sure which side to veer off to, not blinking and his hands still shaking on the wheel.
Eventually he slings them to a stop on the hard shoulder. Fiona breathes deeply, her head in her hands. Meanwhile the Insider yanks his phone from his pocket and declares "Finally, some reception!"
They are still catching their breath when there is a burst of distorted noise, sounds obviously too bassy to be accurately conveyed through the speaker of the Insider's phone.
"What was that?" groans Fiona, massaging her temples.
"That," says the Insider, eyes wide like a man witnessing the second coming, "was a vine of our boy's performance the other night. All the gutter papers have run with the story about it maybe we're-not-sure but probably causing the suicides."
"Oh Christ," she says, "I hope they don't try and get any quotes from Mark's mum." Now she looks over her shoulder, violently jerking her head round as if her more primal senses have detected a pursuer. The Insider's lips break apart into an eerie grin.
The Prophet can feel his own phone shivering on his hip as it receives its backlog of transmissions. He ignores it, ignores Fiona's panic and the Insider's crowing delight, and redoubles his focus on the mixing software in his lap. He is compressing five minutes of raw infrasound into the space of a fraction of a second, then repeating that many times over the original audio. It occurs to him he could also do the opposite, stretching the recording out as undertone for his entire set.
The Insider punches him on the arm - accidentally extending the sound even further - and says "I'm thinking now, it could be worth thinking about this the other way around."
"How? Like, thinking there's something wrong with unleashing all this on people's unsuspecting brains?" asks the Prophet. There is no hope in his voice, he says it neutrally.
"Nah, man. I mean thinking about how it'll be received by their brains, you know? How the fuck is this 'wrong'?"
Even Fiona stays silent.
"So most of the audience will be on an up - they'll be out for a good time, right? They'll probably be drunk, or wired on MDMA, or..."
"Starbursting," suggests Fiona.
"What the hell is that?"
"That's when you drop acid, then take some MDMA when it starts to kick in."
"Really?" The Insider looks genuinely interested. "I had no idea there was a name for that." He coughs. "So, yeah, letting loose some audio that scares them and fucks them up, most likely that'll just bring them back down to normal. Then you can philosophise them. Drop that good shit."
"Tell them to rise above our baser impulses," suggests the Prophet.
"Yeah, I mean," shrugs the Insider, "I guess."
The Prophet thinks. "You don't suppose, anyone who's sober, it'll just really really fuck with their heads to the point they might do something bad?"
"Fuck no. If they do something bad there was something wrong with them in the first place."
"Yeah, I mean," says Fiona, then pauses, looking for a moment as though she is having dental work done with no anaesthetic. She continues "Mark was the melancholy type. I never thought he'd do himself in but it's not so much of a surprise either."
"What'd it all do to you?" asks the Prophet.
"Well, it-" Fiona stops again. She mouths emptily, words eluding her. The Prophet idly winds down his window, and samples the Doppler effect of a passing tanker. "I wasn't exactly rising above my baser impulses, put it that way. I don't even know how I feel about it."
"Was it enjoyable? Do you, at least, not regret having that experience?"
"You still mean your set, right? It was..." She waves a hand, trying to pluck an appropriate description out of thin air. "Well, it was pretty unforgettable, I have to give it that."
"There you go, man!" says the Insider, slapping the Prophet on the back too hard. "Unforgettable, right from the horse's mouth - oh, sorry about that."
The Prophet screws his eyes shut for a moment, then opens them again, and attempts to return to his work before anything else happens. Mentally he constructs the next element of his new set, he can almost feel the beats, he is already thinking of samples from far and wide he can weave through it...
The Insider hits him too hard again. "REUNION just texted me. They want to you do tonight. I say we get some coke and celebrate."
When they get back into town they park up on the edge of the estate, and insist that Fiona waits in the car. As they walk down a puddly alley, between two houses away from the main road and into the heart of the sprawl, the Insider says "Keep your hand on your phone. When I say, blast them with your set."
"What?" says the Prophet, moments before they see young Ibby round the corner ahead of them, dressed conservatively in a gangster's wind-cheater. They have met Ibby before, but purely professionally. The Insider's smile returns, crawling up from inside his throat.
"Hey, Gav," nods Ibby. "How's the business?"
"See for yourself," says the Insider, gesturing to the Prophet.
Ibby looks, and blinks a few times. "Oh, wow - it's you, you're, you're that guy, you were in all the papers-"
"Scream and you're dead. What you're going to do is, you're going to turn around, and walk us back to the main stash. You know what he'll do if you don't."
Ibby swallows. "Right. Right, okay." He turns and leads them back the way he came. They follow silently.
On the way, the Prophet looks to the Insider and throws out his hands, wordlessly questioning. In response, the Insider rubs his fingers together, holds one nostril closed, and gives two thumbs-up at once, shaking them wildly. The Prophet grudgingly concedes the point. Ibby takes them up to the door of one in a whole row of identical houses. "Do us a favour," he says softly, "at least let them know you threatened me, eh?"
"For you, Ib, I'll say I threatened to kill your whole family," says the Insider. Ibby sighs, then knocks a brief tight pattern on the door - shave-and-a-haircut with only one bit.
The door opens. The hefty man inside has recognised the code, he doesn't even look at who he's letting in, he is already turned away and retreating further inside the house. Ibby follows him, and the Insider and the Prophet tail along behind.
"He's a coward. He's a bedrock coward," Grant is saying in the living room. Grant is obviously the centre of power. He has a chintz armchair while his tracksuited employees are squeezed onto a sofa. "I met a million like the bastard in my time. We just have to show him what's what, right? Then we got him over a barrel, mun. After that we can return to sanity, and - the fuck are you two?"
"I'm sorry, Grant!" begs Ibby, as every man in the room gets to their feet. "They made me do it, I didn't want to, I thought they were cool - I didn't know!"
"Jesus God," says Grant, "you're him. From the news - Jonatton, back off!" he adds to the hulking man who had been advancing on the Prophet. "What do you want?"
"It's a robbery," shrugs the Insider. "Nothing fancy. Give us some sugar, give us some cash, and we can be on our way and leave you unmolested."
Grant chuckles. "Or, or what? You're going to give us suicidal depression? I assure you I will personally take your teeth out before I go."
"Zap them, Sioni." And the Prophet moves without thinking, hitting the button on his phone that sends the electrical signals bursting out along the wires and out through the travel speakers hung around his neck and it comes out
Before it is over the gang are on the floor clutching their ears, the big man who answered the door is sobbing, Ibby is screaming, the Insider is just about weathering the storm, leaning a white-knuckled hand on the doorframe. The Prophet stands firm, it washes over him much like the first draft of it did.
"Now do it again!" crows the Insider, delighted, his grin as evil as it ever has been.
"No! Christ! Stop!" says Grant, throwing up a hand as he tries to get to his feet and so falling back to the floor. "Ibby, give them the stash."
Ibby shuffles off into the kitchen, still half-crouched.
"Hey," smirks the Insider, "you liked that, he's playing REUNION again tonight."
"You really are fucking deranged, aren't you?" says the Prophet. "Are you trying to get them to skin me alive, or do you just not give a shit? Why don't you tell them my fucking address while you're at it?" The big man, Jonatton, moves slightly too fast. The Prophet raises his phone and shrieks "Move and I'll destroy you!" Jonatton cowers, hiding slightly behind the settee.
"It's just fun," says the Insider. "These guys, they're nothing. We're big time now."
"Oh no - I am big time. You're my entourage." Ibby returns, lays a sports bag full of cocaine and banknotes between them, and backs into the corner. The Prophet turns to Grant. "If I tell you that this is over, and that you shouldn't take this any further, what would you say?"
"Probably lie," says Grant.
"Yeah. Excellent." The Prophet seizes the sports bag. "Well, Gav, I hope you enjoy that. I'm sure I will."
As the Prophet turns to go, the Insider takes hold of the bag's strap and asks "Fifty percent?"
Being in this area is setting Fiona's teeth on edge. She does not dare to check her phone. Two separate people have drunkenly tried to get in the car with her, before realising it is not their car and giving an awkward apologetic wave. She had meant to be looking for a job today. Instead she ended up on an adventure with two guys who barely seem human - more like vessels for whatever that music actually is.
She is on the point of getting out and walking briskly away, when the Prophet appears and steps inside. He has a split lip, and the sports bag has left a small trail of cocaine in his wake.
"Where's the Insider?" she asks. "What happened?"
"We had the creative differences," says the Prophet.
"And you guys seemed so in tune before," says Fiona. She looks at how the bag is bleeding powder, does a quick mental calculation and instantly figures out more or less what they've just gone and done. "So, you actually going to play REUNION again?"
"Oh, probably. Are you coming?"
Fiona thinks of those formless yellow robes. She thinks of how, even when they ran from that nightmare, they were carrying something of it with them. "Nah," she says eventually. "I'm tired - I don't think I could do two nights on the trot."
"Fair enough. I'll drop you home."
It is early evening and the sun is giving way to the orange of the streetlights when the Prophet arrives at REUNION, so high he is visibly shaking. The owner of the club shakes his hand and says "We sold a hundred tickets in ten minutes after you confirmed. I don't know why they're so hell-bent on maybe killing themselves."
"They would have done it anyway."
"Where's your pal?"
"He's having a night off."
In fact neither of them should have worried. When the night begins the Prophet stands behind his sonic pulpit, hands on the sliders moving quite smoothly. The people jig and jog to his trancey dreamland opener. None of them particularly look suicidal. He touches a button and the speakers exude one of his fresh samples:
No-one will forget the day Mark Goodier said he'd had a baby
It is the golden voice of radio satirist Chris Morris, warped and soaring through the equipment. The words do not matter, they are another layer on the noise, calm, almost serene for now. The Prophet's hands are going like bastard maniacs and everything is alright. Through the faint pink haze of his vision, he looks over at the bar, sees a sizable group of people who look older than REUNION's typical clientele, before dismissing it and returning to his smooth work.
In memory of what they did to him
"Skinny fella?" Mark Clark senior is screaming into his phone, by the bar. "Ragged hair, looks a bit vacant? Hello? Hello?" He stares at his phone, and growl. "Sod it. This must be him."
Miles away, Fiona has angrily put down her phone. "Sorry about that," she says.
"Not a problem. What were we saying?"
"Oh yeah - they went off somewhere near Kingsley Avenue. Then he came back with a big bag of cocaine, I think they'd stolen it. And my call just then, that was some of the parents trying to track him down." Fiona takes a breath. She's said it. It's done now.
"He probably should have taken the protective custody," tuts the officer. "Listen, I'm going to need to make a call."
Fiona holds her head in her hands. She never wanted to inform on the Prophet, or on anyone. But she doesn't want him to be torn to shreds by a vigilante mob, either. This is the better option, she tells herself. This has to be better.
The Prophet is gearing up imperceptibly, gradually increasing the tempo by drips and drabs over minutes at a time. Those doughy outlines seem to have left the bar and are moving through the crowd toward him, shoulders-first.
He looks over in the other direction, and sees Jonatton head-butt one of the bouncers to the ground. The rest of Grant's mob start to converge on him from that side of the club. He knows for sure now he is at the centre of all of this. It is a feeling which gels perfectly with the cocaine.
He checks the knot
Both groups leave trails through the crowd as they descend upon him. This is really worrying him a lot - he may have to skip quite a big section of his set. This was meant to be about the music, about people's aural pleasure and about his own skill at mixing. It was never supposed to be about him fucking with people's heads and being a figure of terror - yet here he is.
And steps off the edge
Some huge burly docker slaps one hand down on the equipment. Unable to put it off any longer, he looks up, straight into their eyes, and flips a switch.
The first anyone knows of it is the vibrations on their drink. The music still seems calm and dreamy, but outside, dogs are distinctly whining. Sucking in air, feeling totally right with the world despite everything, the Prophet grins at the docker, and declares "Now."
I'm Chris Moyles please forgive me
He unleashes a huge wave of infrasound moments before he drops the bass and rattles their stomachs as well as their brains. The docker sprawls backwards and trips over his own feet, taking down an entire boy band with him.
Electronica gives way to screams, at once the scream of metal torn asunder and the scream of Hendrix's guitar in The Star-Spangled Banner and the scream of innocent people dying in a train disaster. The crowd are either jumping or rolling on the floor in the foetal position. Jonatton, having heard this awful thing before, is venting his fear through his fists on some of the other bereaved parents.
All of the Prophet's hair is standing on end, his skin puckering into goose-pimples as though it has detected a threat way back in the primordial jungle. He is clinging onto his decks as if the sonic catastrophe might literally blow him away, pick up him bodily and pin him against the back wall through its own sheer force. And all he can think, as he looks out over the tangled chaos of the club, is that this is paradise.
Grant wades up through the crowd as though it is knee-deep syrup and seizes the Prophet's arm. The Prophet laughs scornfully before he sees the noise-cancelling headphones wrapped around Grant's head. Then he spots the Stanley knife, swinging round through the air towards his face.
He reels, feeling like half his mouth has been torn off, but keeps a hold of the decks. Grant is drawing back the blade for another swing, aiming a killing blow for the Prophet's neck, when someone grabs his headphones from behind and rips them from his skull.
The noise crashes into Grant's ears and something in his eyes break. He stands motionless, staring vacantly into nothing as if catatonic with trauma. Then the Insider spins him around and plants his house keys into Grant's unresisting eye.
As the two men look at each other, breathing relief, they do not see the armoured police van come crashing straight through the glass lobby and into the club itself. They only notice when, shaken by noises they have never heard the like of, the armed police start firing on full automatic in all directions, against every official protocol. The Prophet sees the Insider explode with blood, shuddering like a puppet with cut strings, milliseconds before the bullets - meeting little resistance from the Insider's body - hit him as well.
Come the cold light of morning, when the armed unit have awoken from eight hours of catatonic terror to find themselves in a room full of corpses, they are not even surprised.
They begin to gather evidence, and so naturally investigate the decks - the pulpit that has been defiled in a way it only could be with the Prophet lying dead across it. The Insider is sprawled in front of it, prostrate on the floor, now eternally reaching for its glory. Something is wrong though. Several of the higher-end speakers are now missing, as is, unbeknownst to them, the memory stick that contains the Prophet's set.
When they attempt to interview the owner of the club, having mentally prepared some pretty cutting questions, they find he is missing too. And this makes complete sense to them, because whatever beast danced in the air last night could never have been satisfied round here. It will be seeking somewhere it can really stretch its claws out - London? The twenty-four-hour boom raves of Ibiza? A Greek party island? Perhaps even one of the stateside megalopolises? They already know this is far from over.