Chapter 03

Harry lived in a tiny house on the hill above the pub where the not-totally-human creatures met, and it was there SMPDM had their first session with their new singer the following Friday. Colin found out the names of the other members of the band – Jim (the bass player), Mark (the drummer) and Alan (the keyboard player) – and also the fact that they were “a friendly bunch, only a bit scared of magnets”.

They sat down in Harry’s living room and played Colin a few demos they had recorded.

“We don’t have vocals for most of them yet,” Harry told him. “But I think you can help us there, can’t you?”

Colin shrugged, suddenly concerned whether he was able to find enough inspiration in himself to contribute to the writing process.

“I suppose I could try…” he said.

“Don’t worry,” the drummer smiled, “we’ll give you enough time to adapt to this band.”

“Thanks,” Colin appreciated it.

“We have this story that Mark wrote,” said Jim. “We thought it might be nice for a concept. Maybe you could have a look at it and help us transfer it into lyrics…?”

“Sure, I’d love to,” Colin nodded and received a folder from the author himself.

He liked Mark. He was a very simple being – kind, modest, friendly, and although he had a fair portion of intellect at his disposal, it didn’t make him complicated. He also smiled a lot. It was only when Colin got to read his story that he came to understand how unhappy Mark actually felt inside about what he was, and decided to make it up for him whenever and however he could.

Alan was the eldest member of the band, and the only one who was married. He spoke very little and to Colin he seemed a bit too icy.

Jim was a rather rational and down-to-earth being, but his remarks occasionally tended to make them laugh like mad. It always happened very unexpectedly, but that only made the whole business funnier.

And then of course there was Harry. His name was actuallyHarrison, however, this little detail remained a secret to Colin until much later when they were working on the booklet of their first album. Colin did not need long to realise it was Harry who actually was the wise guy. He was like a father to all of them, and they all treated him with great respect. And although it was now officially Colin’s job to front the band, he knew he would not. Harry just seemed too appropriate for this role to take it away from him. They ended up splitting the frontmanship, though, because Harry had a very strong sense of what is fair and insisted that Colin at least take part in making decisions.

Colin promised he would read Mark’s story at home during the weekend, and after he managed to go through all SMPDM demos they had so far and subject them to criticism, the five of them dropped the music business for the moment and tried their best to get to know each other better. Colin told them his story and they provided him with theirs, plus a short history of SMPDM.

The band had been formed three years earlier. Harry, who was 24 at the time, had had the idea of having a band to entertain the not-totally-human world in his head for a long time, until one day he had  plucked up the courage to say so on a leaflet he stuck to the entrance door in the pub. He soon got response from the other members, and gladly accepted Jim for a bass player. He hesitated a bit about Mark, who was barely eighteen, being somewhat scared about this certain responsibility, and about Alan for exactly the opposite reason – Harry had wanted to have the last word in the band, but naturally respected people older than himself. It was also this reason, however, that made him reluctantly accept Alan, but it was not long before he found out Alan simply did not care about any kind of leadership. When he was not playing, it was as if he was not there at all most of the time. From the way Harry spoke about this period it was nevertheless obvious that they had made their status perfectly clear to one another and this had enabled them to become friends – on a very strange, but also strong level.

“I suppose you’d like to see where we record all the stuff,” said Harry to Colin when the others had left.

“You mean we have our own studio?”

“Let’s say we got a small grant for it,” Harry nodded. “It’s in the attic above the pub.”

“Can we go there now?”

“Sure. Ernie, the innkeeper, has the key. Sometimes one of us just feels like going there and practise or develop an idea or something, so we decided Ernie would have the key so that it’s always at hand,” Harry explained, adding they had just the one copy of the key (and Ernie had reasons not to allow them to have more made), otherwise they would not bother with this measure. “Can you play anything, by the way?”

“I used to get piano lessons, actually… and later taught myself a few chords on the guitar. Wouldn’t handle an electric one, mind you.”

“Wow. Fancy a werewolf playing the piano,” smiled Harry.

“Yeah, fancy a couple of vampires having a death metal band.”

“That’s not that strange, you know. What else is there for a vampire to sing about than death and blood?”

“Only you don’t play death metal,” Colin reminded him.

“Ok. Call it death rock, then. Or death pop. That story Mark wrote has death all over the place. Wait till you read it. You’ll love it.”

“What makes you think that?”

“The boy’s style, for one thing,” Harry grinned at him. “Let’s go, though.”

“Sure thing, boss!” Colin saluted.

“And drop that American way of speaking, wee chap, or I’ll make use of knowing your address when I’m thirsty.”

“Yeah, why don’t you do that? You’d be the first werewolfpire in the world!” laughed Colin.

“Of course. My middle name is Originality,” said Harry proudly while locking the front door to his house.

“What’s your last name?”

“Chisholm. Pretty weird, to tell you the truth.”

“Pretty Celtic,” Colin nodded.

They reached the pub within ten minutes.

“Hi, Becca,” Harry greeted the witch at the entrance door.

“Hi Harry. See you’ve managed to persuade our new young friend to come back here. Hello, Colin,” she said then.

“Hi.”

“Not only to the pub, Becca. He’s actually joined the band,” Harry boasted. “We’ve come to have a look at our studio.”

“Wow. Certainly. But you should pop into the pub for a while. Everyone will be only happy to have you back, Colin. They’ll want you to sing again,” she laughed.

“No way. It’s not a pretty sight, having all those vampires staring at me.”

“They would have applauded even the last time had you given them a chance, you know,” Rebecca pointed out with a giggle.

“How was I supposed to know, for God’s sake? They looked like they’d eat me on the spot.”

“They wouldn’t. Vampires are altruistic creatures. They’d wait till your next transformation so that there was enough meat for everyone.”

“Stop that!” Harry laughed. “You’ll scare him off before he really gets involved with the band.”

“Sorry,” she shrugged.

They entered the pub, and Becca shouted: “Look who’s here, folk!”

The room fell silent at once.

“There you go,” said Colin uneasily. “I told you. Hey there, not-totally-human creatures! The victim has returned to the scene of crime. I’ve been told you would like to see me again, but if you don’t start minding your own business this very instant and stop staring at me like that, I swear I’m leaving forever!” he called out nastily.

“Welcome back, pal,” someone smiled, and that sentence seemed to break the ice. Everyone obeyed Colin and got back to their beers, or whatever it was they were drinking.

“Why do I always do something stupid when I’m here?” asked Colin quietly.

“Don’t worry, you did the right thing. At least they’ll be careful about that staring thing from now on,” said Harry reassuringly.

“If you say so…”

Five minutes later they were climbing up the stairs to the attic. Harry unlocked the door and they found themselves in a small room full of electronic equipment and instruments.

“Of course it’s not the best you could get, but it’s enough for us.”

Colin looked round the room, and suddenly realised there was something not exactly understandable about this.

“Harry…” he spoke after a while. “Why do we have a studio anyway? Do we expect to actually release any albums?”

“Well, since we’re making music for the not-totally-human creatures, we thought we would record our music and burn a few CDs for them. The rest of the world doesn’t need to know, but the not-totally-human one deserves its own music,” Harry explained. “Of course we won’t get too much money for that. It’s more about the principle, you see.”

“Sure,” Colin nodded.

“You know, if we wanted to record things for the outer world as well, we’d probably have to wait till the witches design that blood-making device and till we can no longer be punished for stealing the blood from the hospital. But I don’t know if that’s even possible. We never tried to find out. Besides, imagine the insanity if humans found out about us. They don’t really believe we exist. If they knew we do…” Harry paused.

“They couldn’t just…” Colin protested. He understood his friend was afraid people might try to get rid of the entire not-totally-human population.

“They don’t have to do it the legal way. Murdering us would be too easy, though. You know you don’t get punished for defending yourself.”

“But you still have to prove it was a self-defence.”

“Colin, there’s no way any human legal system will protect us.”

“Why not? It has to be fair! That’s why they call it justice!”

“Because we’re dangerous. Do you think they will believe that the only side that’s done any harm in this relationship is the Faculty of Medicine, because we steal a greater part of old blood they get sent for their study purposes? Do you think they’ll believe you that you never hurt anyone?”

“They would have to. They’d know if I did. And they’d know, if it ever came this far, that you’ve only been stealing old blood, because they’d have discovered long ago if you stole fresh one that could’ve saved someone’s life. No one is guilty for what they are by birth.”

“Young man, do you ever read news?” Harry spoke quietly.

“Every day, why?”

“Then you must have heard about what happened last year after the bombings inLondon.”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“They shot this chap just because he seemed suspicious.”

“Oh, that one. What’s that got to do with us?”

“It shows that trial is sometimes unnecessary.”

“How can stealing old blood make you a terrorist suspect, for God’s sake? If they did find out, they’d just arrest you.”

“I would run, Colin, because I’d be running for my very life. Who do you think would give me blood if I get behind bars?”

“I’m sure they wouldn’t kill you.”

“If you’re so brave, why don’t you just go out to the street and tell everyone you’re a werewolf?” Harry snapped, his patience finally running out.

“You’re the one guilty of making me so brave, Harry. Remember that and come with me, I want to show you something.”

“What?”

“Don’t ask questions, just come with me,” said Colin and ran downstairs.

Harry caught him up outside the pub. The street, only lit by neon lights, was almost empty. He watched in horror as Colin shouted: “Ladies and gentlemen! May I have your attention for a second, please? I just have one thing to tell you.”

“Are you mad?” Harry whispered desperately, trying to stop him, but Colin shook him off easily.

“I’M A WEREWOLF! Thanks very much.”

To Harry’s relief, everyone started laughing.

“He’s not a werewolf, he’s drunk!” he said, and when the passers by stopped paying attention to them, he dragged Colin back into the pub.

“I’m not drunk,” Colin protested.

“No, you’re not. Sorry. YOU’RE THE WORLD’S GREATEST IDIOT!” yelled Harry.

“Well, at least we now know what happens if we tell the truth,” Colin shrugged. “But if they ever find out you steal blood, it might be different and they might ask you for a proof. How difficult is that?”

“Not much,” Harry guessed.

“You know, Harry, it really didn’t occur to me much that we could go public with the music, but I’m starting to believe we really should give it a go. Just consider this: if they find out about the stolen blood, is it better for you to be an anonymous vampire, or is it better to be famous?”

“I’d go for anonymous. It wouldn’t provoke a scandal that way.”

“Hm. I wouldn’t be so sure about that. We’re talking about discovering a big thing here – there are vampires in this world! Humans will get mad about that. It’s not about the scandal, you’ll have it anyway.”

“So where are you going with this?”

“Think, Harry. You said they’ll like to get rid of vampires once they find out about them. Do you think it will be possible if you have a good fan base? If you manage to persuade people that you’re good and that they want you in this world, do you think it will be easy for the ‘authorities’ to just dispose of you? I don’t think so. Publicity gives you power. We’ll be good together, people will like us. They will protect us should something go wrong.”

Harry gazed at him suspiciously. This was madness. And yet it all made sense. Colin was tired of being an outcast and was prepared to fight for people’s understanding. And he had a point. If they managed to get a good fan base and then it somehow leaked out that they were four vampires and a werewolf, the fans could protect them and force the rest of the society to listen to them and understand their miserable position. Maybe the hospital would even give them a part of the old blood if it meant they would not have to kill anyone. And everyone would be happy…

Colin’s faith was almost contagious.

“Colin… I don’t know how you, of all people, could have sustained such a high level of innocence for such a long time, but believe it or not I wish there were more of us like you. If everyone was so ready to fight, this world might be a great place to live.”

“Does that mean we’re going public?”

“That’s not for me to decide. We’ll try to persuade the others to understand what we’re trying to do and to support us. If they do, we’ll try sending a demo somewhere. If they don’t, I suppose we shouldn’t go against them.”

Colin nodded.

“Can you come on Monday evening?”

“Sure.”

“Read the story, listen to the demos and try to make something out of it. You’re welcome to make any alterations you want to the songs. Bring what you’ve got on Monday, and I’ll get them all to the studio and we’ll discuss everything, ok?”

“Ok. But Harry, what if I…”

“What if you don’t get visited by a muse? Don’t worry about that, nobody’s going to bite your head off. But do read the story and at least tell us what you think of it.”

“I will,” Colin promised.

“Fine. Then I suggest you go home and get started,” Harry smiled.

“On my way,” Colin saluted.

“And thanks for the very productive discussion.”

“Any time!” shouted Colin over his shoulder, as he made his way to the bus stop at the Royal Infirmary.

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