Suzie Tremors and the Barbarians of Speed

Chapter Five

Ken Preston

14 February 2024

An illustraation of an angry punk woman screaming into a microphone.

I’m almost finished now, all right?

We’re nearly at the end.

You’re recording all this, right?

I had a plan.

Doesn’t everybody have a plan? Man makes plans, and God laughs, that’s what my old man used to say.

We headed back to the bar, back to the gig. Suzie and the Barbarians were playing a second gig there the next night. The guitars and the drums and everything, it was all just as they had left it.

The basement stank of sweat and booze and vomit. A blue light illuminated the bar, but the place was deserted.

Suzie climbed up on the stage and got hold of the mic. She wrapped her hands around it, the way she held it when she screamed into it.

And she said, ‘Take my photo. One last time, before it’s over.’

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I lifted the Leica and gazed at Suzie through the viewfinder.

A spotlight cast her shadow across the stage and up the wall. And Suzie’s shadow was huge, and it prowled across the stage and loomed over her.

‘Take my photo,’ she said, and her voice dropped an octave. ‘Capture me in silver nitrate, forever.’

And there they were, in the shadows. Picking up the guitars, crouching low over the drum kit.

Ready to explode into cacophonous, raucous life.

I said, ‘Go ahead. One last time.’

A throbbing bass line pulsed through my chest, picking up the rhythm of my heart, pounding against my skull. The howl of the electric guitar kicked in, a buzz saw ripping through my brain, shredding muscle and fibre and tissue.

And Suzie screamed, anguish piled upon horror and despair, a wail of terror and insanity.

The Leica dropped from my nerveless fingers.

Blood dribbled from my ears and my nose.

One last time.

Suzie Tremors and the Barbarians of Speed.

I lifted the Leica.

It was a carving knife.

It was all part of the plan.