The Blast Chamber looked like an old warehouse from the outside, one of those old Victorian workhouse jobs with dirty bricks and a gravel car park. As I traipsed from the taxi toward the club I could feel the stones rolling and clacking underneath my boots, the scent of a nearby hotdog vendor slathered across the air. A sparse queue of the living dead were dragging their heels toward the double iron doors, clad in black, white makeup, black eyes, and morose expressions. It’s Valentine’s day, I supposed even the underlying decaying nation of zombies must clamber out of their coffins to get a little love once in a while. I relayed this to Simon who was mightily unimpressed at my witty illustration of the Goths and Emo kids that were skulking toward the entrance. “It’s who they are and they’re happy.” That was the end of that. Simon started becoming someone else. Little signs, subtle hand gestures, a slight drop to his shoulders, and a frown that was so fake I could have laughed at him. Instead I stood tiptoed in the cold air and kissed him on the cheek. His frown wavered. I watched as he returned two-fingered-horns-rock-cliché greetings with the wannabe vampires that began to build up behind us in the queue.
“Toni listen, if you get sick of it in there, just grab me and we will go somewhere a little more mainstream.” Simon didn’t look at me as he spoke; he kept his eyes forward shuddering against the cold. I squeezed his hand in silent reply. To be honest I was quite looking forward to seeing Simon in his element. I knew he liked rock music, but I had never been exposed to it on a mass scale. Only when it came on a music channel, a radio station where the ever beckoning power button was readily available. It is fair to say that this would not be my comfort zone, and I didn’t fucking care. I was in awe just standing outside the thumping and banging building, the bouncers were even dressed in Dracula’s last season cast-offs. One friendly white faced guardian of the metal realm smiled sweetly as he brushed his charcoal hair from his eyes as it waved in the wind, whipping across his chalk face. With each step toward the door the thumping, screaming and shrieking got louder. The noise was rhythmic and demonic; the thrashing of distorted guitars, thundering drums, angry vocals, and deep bass began to run through my body, into my arteries and roll around my blood. Even in the freezing air I could feel a heat building up inside me. It was like whiskey for the ears, searing and burning, but you had to keep drinking deep.
Simon knew the place; he explained the layout to me as we stood in the queue. The main hall was for those who liked their metal and punk, the middle room opposite the hall was for those who liked general rock, and there was a basement with leather sofas and chilled out Goth-industrial music. I listened with rapturous pretense at interest, I had no idea how to tell the difference between the genres and styles of dirty-greb music, I just wanted into the warm, drink in my hand and man in my arms. The soundtrack to my life was never important to me before now, and at that moment I doubted it ever would be. I listened to everyone around me their nonsensical terminology; groups of people who described everything as “sick”, “banging” and “epic”. Chav speak for metal-heads. I listened with silent amusement ushered forward sporadically by Simon’s large hands until all of a sudden the concrete had been replaced by a burgundy stained carpet, worn over the years by consistent tramping and stomping of Goths and Grungers in their thick boots weighed down by the significant amount of metal piercings and chains sprouting from random parts of their bodies. I wondered how anyone could find that attractive. Maybe I will never understand. It shocked me enough to find out that Simon had his left nipple pierced.
The walls in the thin lobby area were cream, covered with stains and marks of all colours. It was dirty and dingy; I almost expected to find sawdust on the floors of the main hall. If it wasn’t for the rich variety of sounds flooding from the rooms either side of the lobby, I may have regretted the decision to come here. I looked up at Simon; his smile was hidden only in his eyes. His mock frown was betrayed by his eyes, and his head jerking aggressively forward and backwards, his legs itching to get into one of the rooms as his knees bent and locked like he was pedaling the floor. There was an itchy, excited child in Simon trying desperately to burst through his chest as he held his cool demeanour. It was nice to see, but I hoped he would drop the pretense.
The living dead around me appraised me suspiciously. Despite Simon’s best efforts with my wardrobe, it was blatantly obvious that I was not one of these critters. I smiled back; I was with the god of this puny lot. Look at my God, five foot six, disheveled, with the capability of owning every room he wants. Such is the confidence a woman can have in a man, I felt protected in this demonic realm. Simon stood out even here, in his comfort zone. He carried his own style in such away these vampire clones wouldn’t dare challenge his uniqueness, or whether he belongs here. Simon was my God, and I his Goddess. Simon paid the tickets and bade me choose a room. If I was going to do this…I was going to do this properly. I pulled him toward the main hall, and the world exploded.
The walls were as black as death, but colours washed over the frenzied pool of humans that lay before me. The sound was deafening, every drum beat felt rather than heard, every note serrating my very skin, the lights, the sound, the decadence, the pulsing, throbbing, thrumming, aching, breaking, all-encompassing-fucking-everything.
“The feel of mortal stalking still reverberates. Everywhere I go I drag this coffin just in case.”
Simon was pulling me to the bar, but my eyes were on everyone else. Pushing and shoving, throwing and slamming, everybody attacking everyone else before helping them back to their feet. Heads and shoulders were throwing themselves through the air, mashing their entire torso’s through the air in violent appreciation of…well whatever it was.
“Your secrets keep you sick, your lies keep you alive. Snake eyes every time you roll with crooked dice.”
Girls were scantily clad with black leather boots almost pressing into their crotches, some with more vibrant art over their skin than the Louvre. The living dead in here had colour too, green hair, blue hair, girls with red Mohicans, men with long pink hair, humans of undeterminable gender with spikes three inches tall from their heads glowing with some fluorescent gels. This was a crazy movie pulled through the screen and manifest into reality.
“I wrestle with my thoughts, I shook the hand of doubt. Running from my past I’m praying feet don’t fail me now.”
I looked with awe at Simon who was smiling at me. We were stood by the bar now, I don’t remember walking there, I must have been guided on autopilot as I gawked and marveled at this community of accepted freaks. I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to jump in and start swimming amongst this psychedelic throng of sharks.
“I can’t believe I’m actually meant to be here. Trying to consume, the drug in me is you.”
Simon was mouthing words, gesturing for a drink. I nodded and continued to watch the zoo. Moments later he puts a plastic bottle of my usual in my hand. I looked at him as he took a long swig from the bottle. I waited impatiently for him to ask where I wanted to go. Instead of waiting I just dragged him forward down three steps to the dance-floor (sorry moshpit, or just plain and simple pit, as I was to learn later) through the stampede of frivolity, past the spasms and thrusts, through the cutting belting heat.
“I’ve lost, Myself, you tried to reach me but you just can’t help me.”
I stopped before the wall of thrusting and throwing immortals, watching them thrash and fit like a landed school of fish, rhythmically fighting for space and power, each having their own personal struggle to stay on their feet, staying strong, staying powerful. I had never seen anything like this, small girls, grown men, big human bears, and waiflike sylphs all battling euphorically together. Waves of humans crashed against each other, smiling and screaming, observing the etiquette of the mosh-pit; as one went down submerged under the vicious current of flesh and sweat, three others would reach down to help them to their feet, like Poseidon intervening in a raging ocean.
“I’ve lost my fucking mind, and there’s no fucking time.”
“You want to go in?” Simon shouted over the noise into my ear. I bounced as the song began to fade out into something new, another stuttering disjointed guitar rhythmic replacing the lunatic sounds before.
“Fuck yeah” I meant it, I wanted some of that sweet sweet violence. I wanted to a part of it. It looked so decadent, so pious, and so honest. Potential energy released; I was a taut elastic band ready to be snapped. I wanted to hold my own against a raging crowd of bullies. I grabbed Simon by the arm and threw him into the crowd, with a deep breath I followed. I was hit immediately, pushed and pulled, slammed and yanked, I was a part of a raging ocean, a drop in a waterfall, a stone in an avalanche. I was powerful and strong.
“I’m the man, I’m the king, I’m the one that’s pure inside”
I was pushed hard to the ground, heading headlong head first into stamping boots. Strong hands gripped my arms and pulled me back to my feet. I looked up, Simon was smiling and sweating. Already his hair was getting greasy with effort. I pushed him hard in the chest and he began to fall backwards into the pandemonium, tripping and tumbling into a young girl with more metal in her face than is found in the average quarry.
“I will stone you, stone you. Wrap my arms around you. I will stone you, stone you. My little halo.”
It was frenzied, Simon and I were battered and pushed like human sledgehammers, laying waste to everyone and everything in the pit. There was pain, oh so much beautiful pain, but everyone looked out for each other. We were all enemies, friends, comrades, foes and medics. Everyone sung and screamed in unison, it mattered no longer that I was a sheep amid the wolves, we were all one, and with each blow to the body I was becoming accepted. I didn’t leave the sweat fragranced riot for at least ten songs. Each track more manic than the last, until the drums and guitars were thrashing so wildly that the words were almost indiscernible. Eventually I became hot and thirsty, and by the look of Simon he could be dehydrating, a month’s worth of fluid intake soaking his t-shirt and glistening on his neck. I raised a cupped hand to my mouth offering a drink. Simon nodded and pitched forward grabbing my hand. My hand was so slippery I nearly lost grip of his.
“This is fucking wild dude.”
“Christ one hour in a pit and you develop toilet mouth.” Simon was out of breath, but exhilarated.
“I totally don’t care. I am gasping for a drink.” I pulled him from up the short set of stairs through the fluttering lights, I felt sexy and powerful. Simon looked sexy and powerful. I never in my life thought I would be doing this on the most romantic day of the year; I would never have imagined myself dripping with sweat, bruised and exhilarated. The slight build of Simon may have well belonged to Hercules tonight, oh the pheromones, oh those sweet pheromones. We made it to the bar and Simon signaled the barmaid. I didn’t notice the tall young man sidle up to the bar next to me.
“Ah, so you’re the poor unfortunate that got stuck with Simon then.” I turned to him, assuming that it would be a friend of Simon’s, someone with a hearty bit of banter. He was very tall and handsome, every strand of his hair perfect with a broad wide smile. He wore maroon skinny jeans and a long sleeved white top with a subtle undeterminable pattern upon it. As the young man held his hand out for me to shake Simon all of a sudden stepped in between us.
“You’re a bit far out of your territory are you not?” Simon’s face was grim and stern, without fakery or mockery. His mood was black, and this time the frown was real.
“Are you not going to introduce me to your lady friend Simon?” I recognised the voice from somewhere, a whisper of a memory was tugging at my mind.
“Hadn’t planned on doing that no.” It wasn’t like Simon to be so rude. I looked suspiciously at him, beads of sweat trapping themselves on his downturned eyebrows.
“In most British societies we would consider that rude. In fact…”
“Lewis, do you have a point or can we get on with our night?” I had never heard so much venom in Simon’s voice before. Before Simon had finished his sentence three burly men appeared from behind Lewis. I realised then where I had heard the voice. The voice from the microphone at the DOF party, it was this tall handsome smiling man? This was Lewis? This was the antagonist in Simon’s stories? He looked like a stiff wind would whip his skinny legs from underneath his body and leave him on his backside. The three men behind him however may have been a different story. Lewis obviously liked his friends stocky and beefy. Bulging biceps, rippling back muscles, shaved heads and pectorals that you could crack nuts with.
“Tommy, have you regained the use of your jaw?” Simon had shifted his eyes to a short but heavy meat head behind Lewis’ right shoulder. There was a menacing snarl forming on his mouth which amused Simon slightly. “What’s up puppet, has your master prohibited you from causing trouble tonight? Where’s Jane? You left her at home on Valentine’s day?” Tommy started forward, Simon didn’t flinch, but Lewis put his arm out to stop the thug from getting past.
“Calm down Tommy. Simon you really want to end up in hospital on your first Valentine’s day with…” Lewis gestured towards me looking for Simon to introduce me.
“Lewis, why don’t you get on with your night?” Simon turned away to move me further to the bar when Tommy pushed past Lewis and clamped his hand on Simon’s shoulder. Simon didn’t even turn around; he just stopped dead and said “Do you really want me to break that for you again bitch?” Tommy let go and Simon smiled.
“Simon, we have a rally coming up next week, we are going to need your vocals.” Lewis shouted.
“You don’t know what day yet.”
“I’m busy all week.”
“Well we could always get Cameron to sing the song at the rally. I have been teaching him the words.” Tommy had crossed the line and I knew it. Simon’s green eyes flashed a vivid scarlet colour, noticeable even under the myriad yellows, blues and purples of the lights. As Simon turned around Tommy was holding out his mobile phone, on the screen was a picture of a small ginger haired boy. The boy was smiling and pointing to a red motif on his white t-shirt. The motive read simply ‘DOF’ and the boy was Cameron. I saw Simon’s fists clench and I grabbed his wrist and pulled him away. It was a hard job, Simon was rooted to the spot with anger, his muscles were tense. Finally when his concentration was broken he grabbed his drink and followed me out of the room and down the stairs into the chill-out industrial-goth room.
“Simon you ok?” I pushed him on to a leather sofa; I knew the answer I could feel his hand shaking all the way from the hall. For a moment his eyes were glazed over, he was staring at a small troupe of leather and metal wearing Goth girls. This room was a lot smaller than the hall; it had a small dance floor on one side of the room, flooded with white and blue lights. The other side of the room was ten ripped and worn leather sofas, spilling honeycomb coloured sponge onto the floor. The music, although demonic had a gentler driving rhythm. It probably wasn’t the right time to have been thinking this, but the song that was playing was right for sex. It had a pulsing rhythm, the vocals were deep and husky. “You’re such a dirty dirty rockstar.” I would ask for the name of the song in the taxi-ride back, providing I could turn this sulking guy around.
“You know what Toni. I’m OK. There’s no problem that I can solve right this minute, so neck that drink let’s get to the bar, and fuck the DOF. Fuck Lewis. Fuck Tommy. Fuck Jane for letting Cameron wear that shit. I can deal with all that tomorrow. What I can’t do tomorrow is to be with you tonight.” Simon stood and drank his entire bottle. I eyed him suspiciously, I didn’t want him hiding his rage from me, if he was angry, I would rather know. “Don’t look at me like that Toni. I was caught by surprise that’s all. We are thirty miles away from home, and that happens. Lewis just wanted to stick his boot in that’s all. To be fair it was probably Tommy’s idea to come over and have a go. He didn’t get the reaction he wanted so he’ll just go home and beat Jane up now. That isn’t my problem.” I emptied my bottle down my throat and considered his words. Simon didn’t care if Jane got beaten to a pulp? How could a relationship that had produced two beautiful kids with smiling happy faces degraded to such a heinous debacle? This part of Simon sickened me slightly, would we end up this way? Would he be so indifferent to any harm that may befall me in the future? Was she not the mother of his children; was their happiness not intrinsically linked? I wondered if this lack of concern was just a twisted form of bravado, or a way to show me that I was the only woman he cared about. Is this one of the many layers of a man?
“Which room do you want to go?” Simon asked.
“Back to where I can work some of that aggression out of you!” I smiled and started towards the stairs back to the main hall. He smiled and followed as we went traversed in silence, through the stragglers. The hall was definitely where I wanted to be, and judging by Simon’s reaction to the song playing it was where he wanted to be too.
“Oh my fucking god I haven’t heard this legendary track in years.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the riot, singing along the entire time. “Living just isn’t hard enough. Burn me alive inside. Living my life’s not hard enough. Take everything away.” His head bounced and banged before he threw me into the rippling mosh pit laughing.