Speaking In Tongues 

Chapter One 

Ken Preston

22 February 2024

The singsong voice filled the recording studio, undulating and wavering, rising and falling, on and on. Kurtz was slouched in the swivel chair, head back, eyes closed. A bottle of Bud in one clenched fist, his other hand tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the chair.

“Are you still listening to that shit?”

Kurtz’s eyes snapped open. He clicked the pause icon on the computer monitor, cutting the voice off in mid flow, and swivelled around to face Thrash.

“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking before you come into a room?” Kurtz said.

“Uh, since when did we introduce that rule?” Thrash raised a pierced eyebrow.

“Okay, never, but I don’t like it when you creep up on me like that.”

“Creep up on you? Shit, man, you were playing that crap at top volume. Godzilla could’ve crept up on you, it was so loud.”

“Okay, okay! Point taken, all right?” Kurtz swivelled back round to face the computer.

“Why’d you have it so loud, anyway?” Thrash dropped into the chair next to Kurtz.

“I dunno. I was just trying to listen to it. Y’know, like, kind of try and work out what it means.”

Thrash leaned back in his chair. “Kurtz, I got to tell you, I’m having a serious what the fuck moment listening to you talk like this. How long have you been dicking around with that audio?”

Kurtz ran his hand through his thinning hair. Seemed like there was less of it every time he looked in a mirror, unlike Thrash, who still had a full head of thick, wavy hair down over his shoulders. Ratzo used to say Thrash had made a pact with the Devil to keep his hair, but then Ratzo went and made his own deal with Beelzebub, and lost.

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“I dunno. A while.”

Kurtz put the Bud to his lips and upended it, draining the last of the lager.

“You’re not going and getting God on me, are you, Kurtz? Last thing I need is a Jesus freak in the studio, casting out demons and commanding me to repent my sins.”

“Will you get lost and let me get on with my work?” Kurtz threw the empty bottle at Thrash.

Thrash clapped him on the shoulder and stood up. “That’s better! Thought for a minute there I’d lost you, buddy. Hey, you wanna go down to Bernie’s tonight?”

“Sure, why not?”

The problem with going to Bernie’s was, Kurtz had to walk past the Church of Christ the Redeemer. That used to be okay, it had never bothered Kurtz before. It had only started becoming a problem after that stunt him and Thrash pulled, a couple of months back. They’d both been drunk.

Hell, drunk didn’t even begin to describe the state they had been in.

That’s how it had been in the old days, when the four of them would go out after a gig, hit some of the all-night bars, too wired to go to sleep, and drink until the sun came up. And then they would finally crash and sleep the day away, rousing themselves in time to play another gig in the evening.

Kurtz thought those were the best days, before WulfRakt hit the big time.

Three platinum selling albums, and two world tours later, and they were on top of the world.

And then Ratzo died. It was kind of a foregone conclusion, Ratzo partied harder than anyone, took it to the extreme. And then he crashed harder than anyone.

His girlfriend found him collapsed in a pool of his own sick outside their apartment. Half-naked, his chest criss-crossed with fresh cuts. Looked like some sort of satanic symbol.

Official cause of death was a heart attack brought on by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.

Kurtz knew better.