Singing sensations The Sirens aren't what they appear. What will Hailey do?
My Trusty iPod
"No, I need the red gels for this song," Hailey called up to the lighting booth. "Song number nine. Isn't it marked?"
Hailey tapped her foot waiting for the Light Board Operator's assistant to find the required control button. This was all a bit overwhelming. Last week she was just a bar singer, tonight she was the opening act for "The Sirens."
Hailey stood on a stage which darkened to a tropical red. She called out, "This is the one! Make sure this is on the preset list. Song number nine, OK?" Like he cared. Like he wasn't wishing her dead for keeping him this late, anyway. She felt remorseful. "Thank you! I'm done; you can go now." Maybe he wouldn't try to get her back for being such a pain by sabotaging all her lighting effects. Well, she could hope.
Hailey gathered her microphone, water bottle, and made sure her iPod was off. The band had gone hours ago, so she'd practiced a capella, listening to the songs from the iPod's ear buds. On her way to her dressing room, she noticed The Sirens' dressing room door stood open. She poked her head in, but instead of three voluptuous rock stars, she saw two "townies" dressed in overalls. They jumped up.
"Are you a Siren?" the taller boy asked in awe.
"No, I'm opening for them tonight." Hailey smiled, reminding herself that these were fans; she should be nice to them. Maybe one day they'd be her fans.
"Do ya know where they are?" the chubby, shorter one asked, then continued, "We been here waitin' for half an hour. Maybe this is the wrong room? I tol'ja this wasn't the right room, Denny."
"Yes it is. That manager guy said it was the one with the big star on it. Well?" he indicated the door. "There it is."
They all turned to the door. Sure enough, there was a big gold star on the door. Hailey's door didn't even have a nail on it.
"Do you know how long it's gonna be 'for they get back?"
"No, I'm sorry, I haven't seen them for a few hours."
"B'coz this is the wrong room," the shorter one said to Denny.
"No, it ain't."
"Yes it is, an' if we missed 'em, it's your fault!"
A muffled scream froze the boys mid-bicker and they all turned back to the doorway. As Hailey wondered, What the heck was that? she was shouldered aside by the boys. She bounced off the doorframe and almost went down. She wasn't very big, and the boys looked like they played linebacker on their high school team. She ran after them onto the stage.
The lighting assistant lay in the middle of the stage, his chest torn open. Ugly wet things protruded; things Hailey had never seen before and hoped never to see again.
"Ooohh!" breathed the guys.
"Oh my God!" squeaked Hailey.
The boys continued up to the prone man. His eyes were fixed in an expression of fear that would never change.
"Are you sure?"
"Look at 'im, ya moron!"
"What're we gonna do?"
"Call 911." Denny reached into his pocket and took out his mobile phone.
"Ya ain't gonna get no reception out here." The shorter guy continued, "The fairground's too far out."
Denny looked at his mobile, "You're right. No signal."
Then they both turned back to Hailey, who was cringing against the curtains, and looked at her expectantly.
"I don't have my phone, it's back at the hotel."
Denny snorted. "Not yer phone. Don'tcha know where that manager guy is? Seems like he should know what to do." Denny took one look at her blank face and turned away. "Bobby, do ya think the guard's gate'll have a phone?"
Bobby shrugged. "Maybe."
"OK. Come on." The boys walked down the stairs at the corner of the stage and onto the concrete floor. The arena was a small venue for The Sirens; they usually played big city stadiums packed with thousands of fans.
"Hey!" Denny hesitated. "Come on with us, 'less ya wanna stay here."
Stay here? Alone? No, Hailey thought as she scurried after them. That wasn't going to happen.
"What'ja suppose happened to him?" Bobby asked Denny.
"I figure he was up on that lighting catwalk and fell off."
"Fell off? Then how'd he get so bloody?"
"Well, maybe his chest just popped on open when he hit that stage."
"Naw," derided Bobby. "That looks more like a puma got 'im."
The boys discussed the possible causes of the lighting assistant's death as they walked down the main aisle of the arena. The arena only sat two thousand and was in a fairground that only saw large crowds in the summer during the county fair. Now, in late October, Halloween to be precise, it was completely deserted.
They reached the end of the long aisle and walked through the little lobby to find that the exit doors were chained shut.
"Well, what in tarnation? Is somebody stupid?" They both looked at her.
Offended she said, "I didn't lock it! I don't know anything about it!"
"Come on, we'll check the side ones. They're fire exits. They'll be open."
They went left through the lobby and left again down a side corridor. As they neared the fire exit, they could see it was locked, too. A little glass window in the door showed Hailey that all the roadies' cars were gone. The only vehicles she could see were the equipment trailer and The Sirens' big tour bus.
Opposite the fire door, another door led them back to the seating area. The Siren's manager stood on the stage.
"Mr. Kerr," Hailey ran up on the stage. "I'm so glad- You can't believe-" her jumbled sentences stopped short as she realized that there was no body next to him on the stage. The two boys ran up behind her. Everybody spoke at once.
"There was some dead guy-"
"With his chest all-"
"What happened to him?"
Mr. Kerr cut them off.
"Boys! I've been looking for you. The Sirens are waiting." He extended one index finger straight up. "They're on the roof for their annual celebration." His eyes burned with a strange light and he gave them a toothy grin. "They're just going to eat-" his inhuman eyes glittered yellow, "you-" his fingers turned into great talons, "up!" His teeth became fangs and dirty grey feathers sprouted from his body. As he lunged at Bobby, Hailey screamed and they ran down from the stage and out the door they'd just come in. Denny had sense enough to block the door with his body. He yelled to Bobby, "Get that cart!"
Bobby followed the direction of his gaze, and grabbed a big wheeled cart filled with extra chairs. The metal door thudded as something heavy crashed into it from the other side. Working quickly, the boys jammed the cart in front of the door and locked its wheels. The assault continued from the other side of the door. Adrenalin whipped Hailey's brain into a frenzy.
"Quick! In here," Hailey cried. She ran further down the hall to a small door. It led under the stage to the large scenery storage area. Small bare bulbs illuminated fantastic props and glorious sets used in The Sirens' shows. A hollow bang came from the outside corridor. They crept into a back corner and hid behind a large panel painted like a birdcage.
"We gotta figure a way outta here," whispered Denny.
"I ain't goin' out where that thing is!" hissed Bobby.
"What if it finds us here?"
"Shhh!" Hailey admonished.
Above Hailey's and the boys' panting, they heard a creak and a shuffling sound.
Hailey held her breath and closed her eyes, thinking, "Oh, dear lord. I promise I'll be better, I'll go back to Concord and never leave again. I'll even-" her eyes snapped open. Something rattled one of the props. Whatever it was, it was getting closer.
Slow, erratic footsteps approached the birdcage flat. Hailey could barely see the boys in the shadows, but she could hear they were all trying to hold their breath.
The flat moved. Hailey tried to squeeze further back into the corner, Bobby whimpered, and Denny crouched as he prepared to run.
Suddenly the flat was jerked away from the wall to reveal a little old man. Denny leaped to his feet, but stopped in confusion. The little white-haired man said, "Come on and be quick! It'll break the lock on the door soon."
"Who're you?" Denny demanded.
"Someone who's sick and tired of their annual ceremonies." He narrowed his eyes until his wrinkles had wrinkles and said, "Do you want to get out of here alive, or not?"
They followed him across the floor. Hailey knew his name was Harry. He was the Prop Master and drove the equipment trailer. He'd been with the tour forever.
A crash came from the direction of the door and then a splintering sound.
"Hurry!" Harry pushed them onto the huge elevator platform in the center of the room. They squeezed in against a gleaming old-fashioned anchor, used in the beginning of the show. Harry took a remote out of his pocket and pressed the button; pneumatic pressers raised the elevator.
"Aren't you coming with us?" Hailey asked. There was a mighty crash from the other side of the room.
"I'll hold him off." The trapdoors in the stage floor dropped open and the platform ascended toward the stage. Hailey realized her hand was sticky and held it up to the light. It was red with blood. Her gaze flashed to the other side of the anchor. There was the assistant's body, flopped on its side, intestines spilling out all over the place.
Her scream combined with a screeching roar from the room below. As the elevator climbed nearer the stage, Hailey looked back to see Harry wrestling with a dark creature. Then they were lost from sight as the elevator reached stage level.
"We can't just leave him down there," Hailey begged.
Bobby looked at her and said sarcastically, "Well I don't see no cape on ya. Are ya some kind of Superhero?"
"That thing'll kill us if we don't get outta here!" Denny exclaimed.
"How are we going to get out?"
The elevator made a sharp click and started to drop from beneath them. They scrambled off and looked at each other in alarm.
An eerie wailing sound reached them. It didn't come from below; it seemed to come from all around. Hailey thought, Eeww! It's off key, and really creepy. She glanced at the boys and was startled to discover they were standing slack jawed, staring into space. Then they turned in unison and plodded toward the back of the stage. Hailey ran after them, trying to rouse them from their stupor, but she was like a gnat trying to stop two buffalos; they simply ignored her. The elevator rattled behind her and she wondered what to do.
The dissonant keening continued to draw Denny and Bobby and they disappeared behind the curtains. As the humming of the elevator got louder, Hailey decided staying onstage was a bad idea. She would go to her dressing room and lock herself in.
Hailey followed in the boys' wake past the curtains and found herself face to face with the monster.
Evil yellow eyes glittered from the face of The Sirens manager, but through the ripped pieces of his jacket, Hailey could see grey and black feathers. As the creature bore down on her, she backed up, but not quick enough. It shot out a claw and grabbed her arm. Teeth gnashed in front of her face as she struggled in its grip. She landed a powerful kick and twisted away.
Hailey ran back onto the stage. The monster leapt after her. She saw the anchor on the elevator rising up, then only the black floor as the monster tackled her to the ground. She squirmed back and forth, trying to get out from under its heavy weight. She shrieked in pain as its hooked claws drew blood, and pinned her to the ground. Ugly, oozing saliva drooled off the thing's teeth as it prepared to bite her head off.
Suddenly the beast was tumbling off her. She looked up to see Harry, cut and bleeding, standing protectively over her with a baseball bat. With a bellow of anger, the bird-creature launched itself at Harry, knocking him down. Hailey lost all fear for her own safety and jumped on the creature's back. She grabbed a fistful of feathers and rode it like a bucking-bronco, letting Harry slide out from underneath. She hung on for dear life as Harry bent to pick up the bat.
Sharp black talons raked across her forearm; Hailey yelled in pain and let go. She rolled out of its way into the anchor. She raised her bleeding arms to protect her face as it lunged toward her. Harry ran up behind it. She squeezed her eyes shut expecting horrible pain.
A moment later, Hailey opened her eyes to discover the beast dangling lifelessly above her and Harry lifting himself off the thing's back. Harry had pushed the monster onto the sharp prong of the anchor, impaling it.
"Where are the boys?" Harry cut through Hailey's shock and jerked her back to reality.
"They went back that way," she pointed. "I couldn't stop them."
"What?" he asked. "Talk loud - I'm wearing ear-plugs."
Hailey shouted her words again and she added, "Why were they like that?"
"They're following the Sirens' song. They can call any man to them, even if it's to his own death."
"What?" She yelled as he helped her up. "What are you talking about?"
"Not enough time to explain. We have to go." He reached behind her to the elevator platform. "I brought bolt cutters," he said, and lifted them into view.
With the bolt cutters, they could cut through the chain and get out! Harry hurried away, but she stopped him. She shouted, "We have to try and help those guys. We can't leave without them."
"It's too late for them. We've gotta save ourselves."
"No, we have to try to help them," she argued.
"I'm not going up there - I'm leaving!" He limped quickly down the stairs.
Hailey hesitated, then picked up the baseball bat from the floor, straightened her shoulders and ran across the stage. She passed the dressing room doors and ran through the open door to the roof stairs. Maybe if I can bring them out quickly, we can catch Harry before he leaves. She took the stairs two at a time and burst through the door at the top.
The setting sun cast a fiery orange glow over the shocking sight on the rooftop. The three Sirens, beautiful modern rock stars, were deformed chimeras. They had the heads of fang-toothed hags, but their bodies took the form of giant eagles. Their wing-like arms were truncated by deadly looking black talons.
The Sirens' wailing song was much louder up here. Hailey dropped the bat and put her hands over her ears. To Hailey, their cries were horrible ululating shrieks. But Bobby and Denny were kneeling in front of them in dazed awe.
One of the Sirens had an ornamented dagger in her hands and she was raising it to strike Denny. Hailey gritted her teeth, picked up the bat and ran at the fiend. She swung the bat as hard as she could. It connected with the Siren's head in a wet thunk.
The Siren fell to the ground, the other two choked off their cries, and looked at Hailey with scorching hatred. They screamed and sprang toward her. Hailey swung the bat wildly in front of her, hoping to connect with anything.
Denny and Bobby woke from their trance and struggled to their feet.
The Siren on the ground started to get up.
Hailey kept the two attacking Sirens at bay with erratic swings of the bat, and yelled to the boys, "Run! Run! The entrance doors are open. GO NOW!"
They didn't have to be told twice. Leaning on each other, they staggered across the roof. They half-ran half-fell through the door, and disappeared down the stairs.
The third Siren climbed to her feet. There was no way Hailey could hold off all three of them. She made a break for the roof door only to find one of the Sirens blocking her way. She raised the bat over her head, but a Siren behind her wrenched it out of her grasp.
Hailey was defenseless against the approaching Sirens!
Realizing that their new prey was helpless, the Sirens grinned and cackled. They started their horrible howling song again. Hailey covered her ears, but the sound pounded into her brain; its vibrations shaking her soul. Tears streamed down her face as she saw the third Siren pick up the glittering dagger. Her legs weakened and she fell to her knees. She hunched over and her iPod fell out onto the ground in front of her. She curled up over the iPod and put in its ear buds. She pressed the button.
Cool, clean familiar music filled her ears. She looked up under teary eye-lashes just in time to dodge the dagger as it plunged toward her. She crab-crawled out from their midst, and slid herself back until she ran into the ledge of the roof. She dragged herself up on the ledge. She would have to jump and hope the four storey fall wouldn't kill her. But she was afraid. It was so far down.
The Sirens advanced, swaying back and forth, careful to keep themselves between her and the roof door. Their terrible song reached a painful crescendo.
Suddenly, a high whistling bugle like a train horn, pierced through both the Sirens' song and the iPod's music. She looked over the ledge.
Harry had driven his huge equipment trailer over the sidewalk and bushes. He had maneuvered it up against the side of the building, directly underneath her.
She said a quick prayer and jumped into space.
Hailey landed on the metal top of the truck with a reverberating crash. Immediately the truck started to roll away. As it picked up speed, Hailey bounced around and rolled onto her back, staring at the sky. The truck bounced over the curb and onto the main road out of the fairgrounds.
Hailey glanced back at the roof of the arena and saw three figures silhouetted against the deepening sunset. She hoped their wings didn't work.
Hailey also hoped that Harry stopped to get her down soon, because the ride up here sucked.
Her most fervent thought, as they roared out of the fairgrounds, was: I am soooo glad my mom bought me an iPod for Christmas!