The humidity in the abandoned factory left everyone in the crowd dripping in perspiration. Bodies all showing mass amounts of skin slip and slide as the thronging mass of partiers dance the night away waiting for the main event to get on stage.
Being the main event, I’m watching from backstage, sweating for a completely different reason. There’s no amount of preparation in the world to get me past the anticipation of going on stage. Every time I walk out above the crowd and hum of hundreds of conversations break down only to come back and coalesce into a deafening roar, my heart skips a beat and falls into my ass.
The masses love what I do. They showed me that by rocketing my first single, Ghost, to number one on the King’s Music Charts for a record-breaking number of weeks. Ever since, I’ve been busier than I’d ever been with finishing my first album. I’m determined to do just as well with this next single’s release.
That release is happening in just a few minutes. The excitement in the warehouse has the air thick to the point that I have half a mind to run for my childhood inhaler that lives in the bottom of my backpack in the green room. I haven’t needed it in years, but my mom instilled the precautionary measure of always having it on me from a young age.
“Hm?” I turn to see the talent coordinator coming up at lightening speed, a look of absolute panic distorting his greasy face. He’s holding my backpack out to me, his entire arm shaking. “I-I didn’t peek. I swear.
“Fire Marshal is on the way,” the slight man boasting a sweat-stained club shirt with glowing alien babes on it is the embodiment of stress in human form. “You need to go—get out of here!”
The genuine worry for my identity staying a mystery makes me smile slightly from behind my black studded mask. The authorities didn’t scare me, and I’m not letting anyone stop my song’s release.
I have my father’s work ethic…which means I do nothing but work and freak out win quiet moments because I always have to be doing something or my lizard brain has a fit. Dipping out on a release isn’t an option for me, anyway.
I need this to go well—Ghost will not be a one hit wonder. I refuse to end up like that.
Taking the faded navy Jansport, I shrug it up onto my shoulders right as the booming bass of the current track stops, leaving an equally as jarring silence.
“Look, I’m playing. I’m not missing this,” the robotic words that come through my voice changer inside my mask can’t deal with the register change in my laughter so when it tries to catch up giving the impression that I’m autotuned.
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve got my bag—I can dip and hide while I change.”
Ghost! Ghost! Ghost! Ghost!
My name being chanted in the cavernous factory calls my attention back to the booth center stage, and the projection screen behind. My moniker is flickering there in thirty-foot-tall letters.
G H O S T
Never gets old.
Turning back to the terrified talent agent, I slap my hand down on his shoulder roughly and give him a small shake.
“May your feet be swift,” the man nods, overly serious, despite the fact I sound like the fucking Mandalorian saying shit like that. He chuckles nervously, shirt practically dripping at this point and raises a hand to signal his departure.
The heel of my Doc Martins squishes in from my full weight on it as I spin on it to face the stage. Checking my smart watch to make sure the other half of my disguise, a pair of sunglasses with LEDs in the lenses were synced to the application I made to control which pixels activated. I click the ‘show’ setting. It limits what expressions the sensors on my face read so I don’t have to wonder if I’m emoting inappropriately.
It’s happened before, but that was prior to Ghost getting airplay. Now? Now I can’t afford that.
Once the short delay between my smart watch and the Bluetooth glasses connect, I’m at the booth pulling my USB from my pocket to load my files into the system connected to the rave’s PA system.
While that downloads, I finally regard the audience, the LED’s showing two closed happy eyes, mirroring and expounding on my own expression.
“Langdale!” I call out. “The Fire Marshal is on the way! Be ready to run!” I warn them and pull the files into the program. The laptop the company putting on the rave has is ancient, so when the crowd complains, I have time to hold up a hand for them to quiet down and say:
“I’m releasing this song, come hell or high water—” the responding cheer has my ears ringing. I squeeze my eyes shut at the sharp jolt of pain that shoots through my head.
Dammit, Mikael, get it together.
Swallowing the dregs of the discomfort I’m feeling, I become aware that I’m being watched, which sounds stupid since I’m on stage, but this? This was different. Not ‘looked at’ but ‘WATCHED’.
Scanning the closer rows of fans, I don’t see anyone paying too much attention at first. I get to slightly off the right of center crowd and a pop of glowing white, blonde hair catches my eyes from beneath the blacklights.
The eyes beneath the bright blonde are full of fire. This girl who may as well be trying to turn me to stone, stares right at me. She’s not begging for attention but daring me to return it. It’s like I’m not the most intimidating person in the room. She is.
And she damn well may be. The confidence wafts off of her and rolls onto the stage like and all-consuming fog. I’m rooted to the spot, unable to move from behind the decks and slides.
The girl’s coral coated lips part into a brilliant, toothy smile. It’s the kind of smile that makes a man’s legs weak, and I find mine shaking a little, or is that because the only stuff to ingest here is water and cocaine?
It only takes a couple of moments but now that I’m painfully aware of her location—that’s where my focus begs to be: with her.
Doesn’t matter that she’s sitting on some guy’s shoulders and he’s trying desperately to get a read on what she’s doing despite the inability to see from that angle, likely making him at least a date. She’s a vision all in white with the platinum hair and dark lined eyes.
The window telling me that all my assets have been imported to the program pops up, giving me the much-needed reason to break her serpent’s gaze and start the show.
I start the back beat—a pulsing beat that sets you up for a big base drop…and then doesn’t deliver. I did the opposite and went with a grooving bass line because I wanted this song, Fantasy to be just that. A chill groove. Pairing that kind of mood with my voice which, though not terribly deep when I sing, is suited for a sexy mid-tempo song like this.
Baby? There’s just one thing I need from you.
My vocals begin when the thrumming drum cuts out for the muted mushier sounding bass. While the verse is going on, I’m not completely occupied, so I look up back at the blonde and smile when she blows me a kiss without her date noticing.
Not like she can see it.
Still, my mask picks up what she does to my heartrate and recognizes it for what it is: infatuation.
The glow of the LEDs in my glasses are both showing themselves to be the outlines of hearts. Great way to ‘out’ myself, right? Well, thankfully, it makes the girl blush a rosy pink. Her beautiful eyes avert from me, and she has this adorable, satisfied smile on her lips, just barely visible from where I’m at.
Baby? I’ll tell you what I’m
Lately, I think I need you on my team.
The girl looks up at me just in time for me to croon to her:
---You’re my fucking fantasy.
Great. Now I’ll forever equate Fantasy with this little blonde I don’t even know. I’ll probably never see her again. Langdale isn’t nearly as big as Silverfall. It’s a fraction of the size but is still pretty massive all things considered and is the most densely populated city in Sistrova. Odds were not in my favor.
all I think about is you,
Baby, I don’t know what I’m gonna do,
And you got, you got me beggin’ ‘please’.
Cause baby, you’re my fucking fantasy.
Backing vocals kick in bringing a cheer from the audience with it while I continue to mix, playing to my crowd and the energy that we were building here. By the end of every show, whatever space we were in was filled with such amazing energy that just walking out the door way from the care-free stress-free environment we create here.
I keep glancing up to see if she’s watching. She isn’t her eyes are closed showing a tick fan of black lashes on her cheeks as she slightly moves to the music her hands exploring the curves of her torso.
It’s oddly sensual—she’s dancing to one of my labors of love and feeling it. The heart eyes on my glasses begin to flash from small all the way to large whenever as I so much as look her direction during the extended musical interlude between the verses of Fantasy.
There’s also the knowledge that she’s putting on a show for me that’s stroking my ego a bit. The self-important rock star in me is eating it up. He likes the attention. I mean, who doesn’t want the epitome of perfection of your preferred gender to be touching themselves to you? I mean…most people—anyway. What I’m saying is:
When someone who is the level of put together like this girl is, finds something as personal as my music to be a turn on? Not gonna lie, I’m interested.
Want you, baby.
You’re my fantasy.
Want you, need you.
Want you, need, need.
Baby you’re my fantasy.
There’s less than sixty seconds left of my song when white and amber lights begin to shine through the windows behind the crowd. That was bad enough, but then the red and blue hues of police cruisers join in as they pull into the decrepit parking lot out front.
Immediately, the crowd begins to look around due to the unfamiliar light show as the last lines of Fantasy plays. Without a word, I eject my USB and jam it deep into the pocket of my jeans cutting the music off and leaving the entire warehouse in a deafening buzz.
Ravers begin to scatter to the exits en mass, knocking into one another when they try to put themselves in what they think is the best position to avoid getting detained.
I have the luxury of the back exits that are blocked off from the normal rave-goers. They’re in the office side of the building which gives me plenty of places to hide and get out of my disguise without being seen.
However, a flash of platinum toppling from above the jostling crowd catches my attention. Everyone stage-side is still trying to get to the doors. They push back away from me, and I guess the guy that was with her got taken down, or something because I watch her disappear into the sea of bodies.