The Concert of My Dreams

A lot of it was a blur. Hours seemed to pass between the time spent in a strange mall, all closed up except for one store blasting out strong music, and the actual event. It was strange, the way everything lost proportion. Time either crawled or hurried past. Scenes and people and views changed in a flash. Only some moments stand out clearly in my memory… That’s how it always is in dreams, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. We got to the mall at 15:00, found the neighboring stadium and the cluster of people. It felt like coming home. They were happy, energetic, giddy with excitement. There were nerds, and girls and Goths and metal-heads. There were young boys, barely into puberty and women in their thirties, clearly original fans.  Bottles of beer, vodka and even white wine littered the ground along with what seemed to be a thousand cigarette butts. But it was the one place, the only place, in which I felt perfectly comfortable with it.

We were there for a concert, a show. The rules are different when music pumps in people’s veins and the sun burns their backs to a crisp as they wait at a gate guarded by a couple heavy-set men. The rules have to change in an environment like that – it’s inevitable. Better to throw bottles on the ground where the organizers know it’s going to happen than throwing bottles into a crowd later and injuring someone.

It seemed as if we were in and out of the mall for food and bathroom breaks a hundred times, but finally, at 16:45, we were in the crowd waiting at the entrances. It was hot, sticky, and the sun was piercing and bright. People kept whooping for no reason, getting everyone just a bit more pumped up. Sir B. F. and I played games, guessing at what this or that person was like outside of Concert-Time.

Concert-Time is a different dimension, holding a dream-like quality, and consisting of no more than twenty-four hours in which time itself seems to shrink and elongate. The sunlit hours are the longest, whereas the moment evening falls, the breezes hold sweet and short promises. Crushed in a crowd, time elongates again in the heat and airless place. But then, suddenly, time seems to jump forward – by fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour. The opening bands are on the stage forever, and then they’re not. The stage is empty forever, and then, suddenly, gloriously, it’s not.

They came on-stage, four men in the their mid-forties, and the crowd roared. We were part of a beast, a many-headed animal that thrashed and begged and demanded to be satisfied. The moment the first note started, we began to feed. Music, loud notes one after another, lyrics yelled at the top of our voices while the men on-stage sang loudly with us, for us. The speakers, huge and foreboding when the sun was up, were now a welcome friend, giving out the drug that we needed – the music.

**

Metallica haven’t been in Israel for eleven years. Finally, on Saturday, May 22nd, they performed at the Ramat-Gan Stadium to the ecstasy of long-time and new fans alike. There were sound issues, issues that the stadium staff blamed on Metallica’s equipment. But it didn’t matter whose fault it was – only that it was fixed, and that the crowd, and I inside it, roared approval at each return of the full blast of the speakers.

There are concerts you can’t ever go to again. Concerts that you know were likely once in a lifetime opportunities. This was one of them, and I cannot express how glad I was to be there. It was a night of enchantment – a night of dreams coming true.

Move [Part VIII]

Marianne was afraid for the first time in days. That is to say, she was consciously afraid – her muscles, whether she knew it or not, had been clenched in a sort of animal fear ever since she had first woken up in that cold steel room. But this was different. Marianne had gotten used to the routine of this place, these facilities in which she acted as lab-rat. Her mind was constantly ticking away and her plan was slowly forming during those short spans of time when she knew she wasn’t monitored as closely.

She was unprepared, therefore, for what was currently taking place. She had come to think of Miss Flanders as a scientist; pure, precise and utterly ruthless when it came to her experiments, one of which was Marianne, Adept [for she had been promoted from Novice apparently] #824. Marianne wasn’t ready for Miss Flanders to come into her room, sit down, and try to chat with her.

When Miss Flanders had entered, Marianne froze in what she had been doing. A panic that she had been discovered rose in her, for she had just been making her usual rounds of the room, jogging, trying to see if she could detect any more cameras in there. She jogged so as to have excuse in case she was asked what she was doing, taking rounds and rounds of the room as she did – exercise, she would reply. She promptly forgot this excuse, however, as the fear of Miss Flanders’ entrance erupted in her mind.

Miss Flanders didn’t ask a thing about what Marianne was doing. She didn’t speak for several minutes, but just sat down on the vacant bed in the room and stared politely at Marianne. Marianne couldn’t help noticing that Miss Flanders’ pupils were very wide, so her eyes looked blacker than ever. She also detected a strange smell about the woman, though she couldn’t explain what it was.

When Miss Flanders opened her mouth and asked Marianne the question, in a false, bubbly voice, Marianne knew that things were only going to get worse from now on, and she had to sit down on her bed to stop her legs from buckling completely.

“So, Marianne, what’s your mom like?” Miss Flanders asked.

“Wh-why? Why are you asking that?” Marianne was thinking furiously, trying to figure out what was happening here. She guessed by now how the Set worked, and she was chilled to her very bone at the thought of what they might do to her mother.

“Oh, I just want to know what you think of her. I mean, dear, all our other volunteer subjects talk about their families all the time,” Miss Flanders’ cheery voice was somehow much scarier than her normal, deep, musical and threatening voice. “You, however, seem rather quiet on the subject. You haven’t, for instance, asked to go home since those first few days.”

“Your OTHER volunteer subject? Meaning you think I’ve volunteered for this?” Marianne tried to take the subject away from her mother, but wasn’t sure whether or not Miss Flanders would see through this.

“Yes, you did. You applied, you got accepted, you signed the papers. Now, what about your mother?”

Marianne gulped. She knew that what was coming wouldn’t be a pleasant interview. She’d lie as well as she could, tell Miss Flanders that she absolutely loathed her mother, tell her whatever it took to try and convince her of that. She knew the truth though. She knew that they were planning something to do with her mother. As she lied fluidly to Miss Flanders, Marianne was speed-thinking, trying to figure out her plan and how she could carry it out quicker than she had intended. She resolved, as Miss Flanders raised her eyebrows in disbelief at Marianne’s lies, to begin practicing.

I’ll practice every night if I have to, she thought to herself. We’ll see how they like a taste of defiance soon enough.

Move [Part VII]

Miss Flanders was standing at the window into the room where Marianne was currently strapped into the chair. She looked thoughtfully at the girl, and saw that Marianne had succeeded in this next part of training as well – there were two wooden blocks floating now, one on each side of her.

Miss Flanders returned to the monitors and sat down in front of them, tracking the little lines with her calculating eyes and trying to decipher what the girl was thinking of that was giving her such extraordinary power so as that she managed to move two things simultaneously as she was doing now.

A door opened, and Miss Flanders spoke without turning around to see who it was.

“I think she’s thinking about her family again.” She pondered aloud. The man who had entered made an indistinct noise in his throat and put down the tray he was carrying beside the monitors. He handed one of the mugs on the tray to Miss Flanders and sat down beside her, staring intently at the monitors with her.

“There’s something new there, though. Look, right there, see it? Just once in a while. What could that be?” He said quietly as Miss Flanders took a sip of the drink he had given her. She made a face at it.

“God, that tastes nasty,” She said. “Anyway, yes, I see it. We’ll need to start analyzing that tonight. You want to do it, George? I want to spend some time with her tonight, see what I can get.”

“Sure,” He said, smiling as he saw Miss Flanders pupils widening slightly and taking a sip of his own mug. “It does taste nasty, you’re right.”