Chapter 1. Welcome to Santa Carla.
I stare out of my bedroom window and sigh… The amplifier cut out in mid riff just as I finally had the damn tune right! Perplexed I placed my "axe" gently on the ground and check the speaker. All the switches and dials are exactly where they need to be but… the power button had no light. I snort as I check the connections only to find power socket is indeed still plugged into the wall. I look up and scan my bedroom. Amongst the scattered items of clothing, sketches and musical scores I spy my alarm clock and noted it was dead. With a sigh I skip over my ESP AX50 LTD electric guitar and try the light switch.
"Yep, she's dead."
I catch my reflection in the mirror attached to the barely-in-one-piece second hand vanity with a 'you've got to be kidding me' expression staring right back. I shut my eyes for a moment to keep my anger in check. It could just be a loose circuit or something.
"Yeah, and pigs fly too…" I utter under my breath.
I stomp back to my guitar and put it back into its canvas case. Grabbing my mini amp, batteries, sketch book and pencils, I roughly shove them into my old skull and cross bones travel bag - snatching my denim jacket as I hopped out the door. As I went down the stairs I couldn't help but notice the wallpaper peeling away so badly that it exposed the wooden planks supporting the plaster in the wall. Every step creaked and groaned, making ninja steps difficult, but not impossible. I had almost made it to the front door when I heard the all too familiar question:
"Where do you think you're going?"
I cringe at the sound of her voice and turn around, dropping my arm simultaneously away from the doorknob to face my mother. She stared with her usual smug expression, cigarette in one hand, bottle of vodka not far from the other. She sat at the small dining table with bills scattered in front of her, wrapped in a bath towel and nothing else.
"The power's out… forget to pay the bills again, 'mother'?"
"Hmph, you didn't answer my question, girl."
"Out. I know you've got a 'customer' coming soon and I need to concentrate on my riff. I got a show in a couple of nights. Remember?"
Exasperated, I move my hand to emphasise 'remember' but drop it quickly, smacking my thigh loudly as I wait for her response. She stared for a moment and laughed her wicked witch laugh.
"Pathetic. You're twenty years old Lizzy. When are you gonna grow up and get a real job?"
"I don't count hooking as a 'real' job mother! I have a real job! It's called being a musician… AND DON'T CALL ME LIZZY!"
I was so mad I was ready to hit her. She looked mighty pleased with herself and THAT smirk played on her lips.
"Face it kiddo, you 'aint goin' nowhere."
"Go fuck yourself!"
I spin around so fast that I nearly knock over the vase of dead daisies and throw the front door open, nearly walking into Jack - mother's pimp boyfriend.
"Woah, what's the rush, sugar?"
He wore way too many necklaces around his neck; it didn't really go with his wife-beater singlet and skinny jeans. I push past him with a grunt but he catches my arm and pulls me close enough to smell his bad breath, forcing me to look him in the eye.
"Be nice, come talk to me when you're ready to make some real money." I rip my arm free from his grip, and mutter "Fuck off." under my breath as I walk away.
We'd only just moved here a week ago but things were just as bad here in Santa Carla as they were back home in Australia. The only reason why I was with my mother was because I was broke and had no place else to go. I look around as I head towards the boardwalk looking for places to squat or hide out for a while, anything would be better than home. Alas, everywhere I look there seems to be some kind of a gang loitering around. The more notable of the variety of the punks and misfits was the local chapter of the Arian brotherhood, dubbed 'Surf Nazi's' around here, and the Goths.
The Goths disturbed me the most so I give them a wide berth as I jump into a nearby phone booth. I take my guitar off my shoulder and place it by my feet as I pat my pockets down for some loose change. With relief, I push the coins into the slot and punch in the numbers to call my mate, Jimmy. I shield my eyes from the sun as I wait for the phone to ring and I notice the Goths were staring my way.
Normally I'd dig the fishnet look but these guys really overdid it. Black makeup, black torn clothes, pale faces, giant platform boots… the works. The leader of the group really stood out. She held an air of authority around her and her eyes demanded fear and respect. The most noticeable thing about her was the amethyst she wore around her neck. It was such a vibrant purple, I swear it glowed. I'm distracted by Jimmy's sudden loud and boisterous "Hello" and I hastily confirm the time and date for our upcoming show.
"You still down for the crazy eighties theme?" Jimmy beams down the receiver.
"Yeah of course… So uh, are we some kind of a tribute band or something? Or is it just for this show?" I reply, trying to sound nonchalant.
"No no, 'Back Track' are a cover band all the time. This show is just a promotional thing."
"Ok cool… I guess I'll see you guys Wednesday night."
I hang up and walk right into the gang of Goths, bouncing off of one, being caught by another. "Hey watch it!" I yell instinctively as I try to shake myself free from the boy's grip but to no avail. He dug his black nails into my arms, making me wince. There were five in total, three males and two females. The guys were walking bean stalks while the girls really did look like Harley Quinn rejects. One of the guys with heavy eyeliner and spiked hair move right into my face, clasping my chin with his thumb and index finger alone.
"Watch me end your life!" His group chuckle menacingly in response.
*Shit… it's just not my day… and what's with everyone getting in my face!?* He sneers when he sees my eyes widen with alarm. He tilts my face so I can see the leader of their group; the stand out Goth with the glowing amethyst. "You stared at the Mistress, now she wants your eyes!"
He hissed as he spoke in an attempt to sound more threatening but it wore thin fast. At that moment I swear I could see someone standing behind the Mistress with a platinum blonde mullet to die for, wearing a long, heavy, black coat. His eyes were sunken and his face was gaunt. He wore an expression of deep sorrow, as though he survived a fatal car wreck but lost his whole family in his stead… but just as I saw him, he was gone. My attention was returned to the Goth holding my face. I couldn't help but notice the spiked collar around his neck and a grin began to creep across my lips.
"Pffft… you guys into BDSM or something?"
They all looked a little stunned by my question. I guess they were used to people freaking right the hell out by now instead of laughing, so I continued to bait them. *If I could get them riled up enough, it might just provide me with the opportunity to get away…*
"Heh heh… I couldn't help but notice your collars there… I thought they were for show or something but I guess your Mistress keeps you lot on a short leash and beats your arses like the BUNCH OF MONGRELS YOU ARE!"
A white light flashes across my eyes before pain really registers, as the Goth's fist made contact with my nose. My smart-mouth often earns this type of treatment so I am able regain my senses quickly and kick him between his legs. As he doubles over in pain I throw all my weight down and jump back, head-butting the Goth who restrained me square in the jaw. His grip loosens long enough for me to rip my arms free and punch the Harley Quinn reject in the eye. Without skipping a beat, I elbow Goth guy number three in the solar plexus, knocking the wind out of his chest. Creating the opening I needed, I run, leaving my beloved Axe behind.
I take off down the street, completely ignoring the pain in my face and concentrate on breathing through my mouth. I head towards the fairgrounds. The sun is only just beginning to set but the place is already packed with locals and vacationers from all over the country. I can hear the Goth Mistress yell "After her!" so I don't bother looking over my shoulder as I jump into the crowd.
To my left was something like the merry-go-rounds we have back home but much bigger. It was too bright so it was a no go zone for hiding. I look to my right and see several stalls and booths like in a market place. I duck and weave through the crowd until a spot a booth displaying a variety of sunglasses. These tables had low hanging table cloths so within a heartbeat I jump under one and tuck my legs in. I watch the multitude of feet going in every direction until I see the tell-tale platform boots with fishnet stockings stopping a few feet away from me. I can see my guitar and it takes every ounce of discipline not to reach out and grab it. Instead, I listen.
"We've lost her. I'm sorry Mistress. We'll keep an eye out… She'll turn up eventually."
"Forget it! We're out of time. Gather everyone at the Sunken Hotel. We'll deal with her another day."
I can't hear much else as they shove aggressively through the crowd. I feel something hit me from behind and I turn to see the proprietor of this booth with kind eyes and a bushy, brown beard staring down at me. "They're gone." He informs me. I climb out from under the table and thank him for not giving me away. I ask him for the location of this "Sunken Hotel" and he was kind enough to give me directions to Hudson's Bluff. We part with a warning - that this was Goth central and I should let it go. I thank him again and make my way through the crowd, leaving the fairgrounds behind and head for this mystery building. There was no way I was going to let those Goth bastards keep my guitar. My Axe was my bread and butter… and my life. I hug my jacket around myself while I make my way to the old, dirt road. The sun had well and truly set now and the temperature was dropping fast. I realise then that my nose had been bleeding. I wipe the dried blood away and tentatively check to see if my nose was broken. It was not. As I continue the long walk along the coast, I can hear the crashing of the waves against the shore. My mind drifts back to the shadowy figure I saw earlier… and pondered what the hell the Mistress wanted with my eyes.