Charlene Russole bore down. Her strumming hand flew over the strings, forcing note upon note to scream from her guitar. Sweat ran down her face and dripped onto the stage. Charlene kicked at it with the toe of her boot, scuffing the stage.
The song came to crescendo and she leaned way back as she worked to bring it home. Jenna laid down the bass line and Bernice came in hard and fast on her kit. This was going to be their best show yet.
“We’re Carnal Tunnel Syndrome and we’ve just fucking rocked you!” Charlene yelled into her mic. The crowd lost its collective shit. The sound of their cheers was a physical thing and Charlene rocked back on her heels, grinning maniacally.
Which is when the back of the room exploded.
“Fuck!” Jenna said, diving for cover.
“What the ass shit is that?” Bernice asked, not even flinching.
“It’s the motherfucking Grundasitan!” Charlene said, slinging her guitar around so it rested across her back.
The Grundasitan. Those foul befouls of fouling who not only dripped pus, acid and weak decaf, but who also only liked to listen to light jazz on the weekends, with a cup of tea. Carnal Tunnel Syndrome had run into them only last month when they played the outer rim of the solar system for a benefit concert. Charlene hated agreeing to gigs that far out but Bernice pointed out the money went to a good charity, so they had saddled up and rode hard.
The Grundasitan happened to own the planet that Carnal Tunnel Syndrome warmed up on. With that planet now in shambles, the Grundasitan felt they were owed certain compensation. Namely, Carnal Tunnel Syndrome’s heads on a platter. That was not to be, as the Grundasitan learned when they first came after the band. Now, however, would be different.
“We have come for your city!” the head Grundasitan yelled. “If you surrender, we won’t destroy it!”
“As. Fucking. If.” Bernice said, standing up behind her kit. She hefted and threw, in one seamless motion, a drumstick. As it flew the tip started to glow. By the time it reached the far side of the club it exploded into a mass of blue glue.
“That oughta hold them, ‘Nice,” Jenna said, laughing. Bernice came around her kit and slammed home a high-five with Jenna.
The glue ball exploded not long after, shards of hardened glue flying like razors into the vastly depleted crowd. The few fans left screamed and dove for cover. Charlene grew impatient.
“This is taking too long. We can’t even do an encore now. Can we just end these fuckwastes already?”
“Char’ c’mon,” Bernice said, “it’s been maybe three seconds.”
“The Ramones could have done two songs by now! What’s our excuse?!”
“So let’s do it then,” Jenna said. She leapt off the stage and hit the floor running. She took a handful of picks from her pocket and gave each one a sharp squeeze before throwing them. On impact with the Grundasitan each one exploded. The air tasted like burnt hair and the Grundasitan simply growled.
“Any other bright ideas?” Jenna asked.
“I was all for blowin’ ‘em up real good,” Charlene said, coming to a halt near her friend and bass player. “Now that that’s failed I guess we gotta, I dunno, can we blow them up better?”
“What about Punk Vagina?” Bernice asked, running over to the soundboard that laid along the side of the stage.
“Holy shit! That’s right! C’mon, Jenna! Let’s melt their faces off!”
Jenna and Charlene ran back to the stage, reaching it as the Grundasitan opened fire. Lasers shot everywhere, burning holes in the curtains and setting a few stragglers on fire. No time to worry about them now, the women knew. Now it was time for only one thing.
They bent their bodies around their instruments and started to play. The song had no lyrics, at least none that any of them could remember, being instead simply a wall of unending sound. Played perfectly it could unleash a wave of destructive force that would obliterate anyone in its path. Played wrong and, well, ask the Grundasitan how their planet was doing, you know?
Bernice started to sweat around the 20 second mark. Missing a cue on the hi-hat could end the city, if not the Earth. But she shook the sweat from her eyes with an angry shake of her head and played on. Bernice almost flubbed a chord and cursed under her breath. She stole a look at Charlene.
Charlene glowed. Literally. Radiating gold and red lights from every pore, Charlene elevated her being past simply human and into that realm that only a select few know. The realm of the Guitar God.
Each string sang perfectly, her fingers slid along the frets as if they were made of some dream-like element. Everything was so perfect time itself seemed to stop to enjoy the riff. And then her pick broke.
A shudder, a wail and the energies started to spill out of control. Jenna screamed as she saw what was about to happen. Bernice closed her eyes and decided she couldn’t watch. Charlene herself just dug her heels in and hoped the back of her nails would hold out. She played harder, faster, covering for the almost-mistake and raised the song right into the solo.
Light spilled from her body again and she started to float, inches above the stage.
“Jenna, toss me a pick! A red one!” Charlene managed to scream.
Jenna fumbled the pick out of her pocket without dropping the melody and underhanded it across the stage. Charlene snatched it out of the air and pressed it hard. It started to glow and she played even faster.
The solo reached the pinnacle of its existence on Earth and as it did, Charlene threw the pick right at the Grundasitan. It exploded just before the wave of destructive sound materialized from the song and blasted forward. The combined forces left nothing but dust in their wake.
“We’re Carnal Tunnel Syndrome,” Charlene said softly to the suddenly still room, “fuck off, if you don’t like it.”