The bass rumbled through the arena, a primal heartbeat of some mammoth chthonic beast, waking from its slumber and getting to its feet. I looked above the stage at the six pointed star, and lights flashed around me. I began to get nervous.
“The devil and his had me down
In love with the dark side I’d found
Dabblin’ all the way down
Up to my neck soon to drown”
Tool has been my favorite band for years, and I was thrilled to be attending; it was a sold-out show. When we got there, our tickets had been upgraded to the front, the VIP section, without any explanation. I was close enough to shout to Maynard, which was crazy.
“Breathe in union” Jambi was playing, and the refrain made me keep breathing faster and faster.
The lights flashed around me. I watched the people dancing to the music. The man beside me caught my eye. He was tall, and looked like he in his mid forties. With every beat, he moved his fingers into different positions and let out sounds and grunts. My first thought was that he was a wizard, a magician, and then I shook my head and brought myself back to the music.
There were people in the throes of ecstasy falling down around me. A purple light illuminated the center of the arena, and flashes of shadows terrified me; I saw horns and stars, tits and beards, and I began to shake. If this were a dream, now was when I should wake.
The wizard danced closer to me. He told me his name was Cyril. He was repeating phrases that I couldn’t understand, but they sounded like spells. “Delectable dish, drink deeply, delights …” He leaned his long neck over and commanded, “look into the light!” I looked, and then looked away.
Black suited business types occupied the front row, and they turned to look at me. I moved away from Cyril and went to the bathroom. Phrases from the songs would stick out to me.
“So as one survive”
“Join in my child”
“I choose to live and grow”
“See my shadow changing”
“Stretching up and over me”
I came back from the bathroom, and the businessmen turned to me, telling me that I could have anything I wanted. I could be famous. I could be the Queen, the monarch of the slave world. I could live in ecstasy every day of my life. I didn’t look at them, and they began to stomp and clench their teeth. I moved away, to the other side of the VIP section.
“Soften this old armor”
“Step into the shadow”
“Now the armor’s wearing thin”
“Of things we’ve done”
“Caligula would grin”
“Chasing Ponce de Leon’s phantoms”
“I can taste mythical fountains”
“Feel the sting, feeling time, bearing down”
“Mom’s coming round to put it back to way it oughta be”
People were crying all around me. A few left. The purple light blazed. My vision became dots and I was surrounded by a halo of healing light. The word “ether” came to my mind, and I was floating. I rose above the crowd and looked down at my people, milling around and chasing flashing light. I felt serene, transcendent.
The lead singer pointed to me, floating yet also standing on the floor, and said, “you have twelve minutes to decide,” Cyril turned to me and said, “You heard him, you have twelve minutes, what will you do?”
I heard poetry in my ear, not the song. “Temple and tempo, the heartbeat heard yields the gift of nectar.” Still I floated. Everything coalesced into a moment, and instead of this arena being a beast set against me, I was all of them. My breath controlled thousands. I became Ether, the Fountain of Youth. I pushed the envelope of healing light around me, and watched it bend. My light was too bright and strong. I had burst an iron ring around my heart. I had died and was reborn. God had won.
I descended and reunited with myself. The music played on, but I needed to leave. Cyril and the businessmen followed me at a distance, and I brushed past huge security guards. I heard their radios sqwak: “the rocket is departing. I repeat, the rocket is departing.”
I got to my car, walking as fast as I could. As soon as I reached the highway, a police car began to follow me, even though I was going the speed limit. The lights flashed, and I pulled over. I breathed and remembered my light. As the officer came to my window, his radio crackled with static, and he spoke into it for a few minutes. I smiled as he brought his face to the window, and he said, “go on ahead, ma’am.”
I pulled into my driveway, locked my car, and went into my house. I took off my shoes at the door so I didn’t waken my family. I found my way to my bed and curled into my covers. The music was still ringing in my ears. The lights flashed around me, like I was still there at the concert. I brought my head out of the covers and looked out the window.
Men with headlamps were circling my darkened house. I went to my front door and opened it; they seemed frightened, and nearly ran to their truck parked on the road. I shut the door and locked it. I needed to sleep.