Alternate Version Blogfest: The Adventures of Johnny Rawkriter

It’s time for another Live Fix detour! And like the last one, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this Alternate Version Blogfest diversion, too. We’ll stretch our imaginations and take a fictional journey into the world of Johnny Rawkriter to see what he finds in two different sci-fi and horror-suspense live concert scenes.

Since this is a longer post, I’ll keep this intro short and quickly tell you that today I’m participating in an Alternation Version Blogfest hosted by Livia Blackburne who’s a brain scientist with a love for creative writing. I’ve been enjoying her writing and decided that it’d be fun to revisit my love for writing short stories.

Before I started writing about live music I used to write short stories so I jumped at the chance to explore live music from a fictional perspective. My contributions to the Alternate Version Blogfest focus on a character who I’ve named Johnny Rawkriter as he navigates a sci-fi and suspense-horror scene.

Like I said, live music fiction is something I’ve always wanted to explore so I had a lot of fun doing it. It certainly was something new for me since I’m used to a more “several draft process” when writing fiction.

But I decided to just push myself, let it rip and see what happened.

The stories are off to a good start so I’m planning on continuing them since you’ll see that there’s a lot more to discover with Johnny on PLANET ROCK and his unfortunate live concert slaughtering.

I hope you enjoy these first experimental scenes. And, as always, I welcome your feedback in the comments since these scenes are an organic process and are designed to evolve and adapt as we all interact and respond to them.

Sci-Fi Version: Johnny Rawkriter and The First Concert In Space

He didn’t know what to expect.

This was all very knew to Johnny Rawkriter.

A mixture of fear, excitement and anxiety swirled around in his head and boiled in his belly.

He could feel his heart thumping in his chest. So why did they choose him? What made them think he was the right guy for the job?

They told him that he had all the qualifications they were looking for and that he was the perfect person to write a review of the first rock concert in space.

Johnny knew who Ray Bradbury was and had read all his books. He loved live music and at just 25 years-old he had written the most concert reviews in rock critic history.

But he figured it was his Guinness Book world record achievement for writing the fastest, most emotionally and technically accurate live concert review ever that had sealed the deal.

Sure, Johnny had his doubts about the concert promoter’s motives for creating such a venue in space. But all doubts aside, they had spared no expense to make a concert venue like none other in history.

And the venue was nothing short of beautiful. Johnny loved how it was designed, especially the clear glass walls and the see-through glass dome ceiling that let you feel like you could float out into space while the music rocked you to oblivion.

The stage was perfectly centered in the middle of the floor, too. And lifted just far enough off the ground so the band was elevated, but not to far that the crowd couldn’t feel close to them.

He reached out and touched the stage to see what it felt like.

So far everything he had read on the long press release they had given him was right. The press release said the “revolutionary hybrid rubberized metal stage structure and floor” would enhance the music and keep the loudness of the music from harming fan’s ear.

The press release said the stage design would actually make the music feel like “a pleasure-filled low-resonance audio massage that fans had never experienced before.” Such audacious claims were nothing new for press releases but so far everything he read was true and his doubts about this concert venue were fading fast.

His head was spinning with curiosity.

He wondered about what it would be like when the Sensory Enhancement Module (SEM) kicked in. They told him the SEM was designed to access the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the fans and make the concert more emotionally more interactive and intense for the fans and the band? They told him that when fans bought their digital ticket that they were given an option to select the SEM and by doing so, once they walked in the venue the walls would begin to read their mind and heart and then use the emotional data to create “a hyper-personalized sonic roadmap” for each fan during the concert.

He wondered if fans would actually sign up for something like that? Would fans give up something as personal and intimate to a concert promoter just to have the concert experience of their lives? Possibly. At the very least, the SEM sounded a lot better than the 3D theatrical concerts he had read about back in 2010.

But it was now 2152 and this PLANET ROCK venue was way more advanced than the U2 concert his friend had told him about were the band live-streamed an astronaut from a space station to the video screen on their Claw Stage. This concert at PLANET ROCK was shaping up to be better than anything he had ever experienced.

His shoes squeaked as he walked across the shiny metal floor. He felt the spaciousness of the empty venue all around him. He tried to imagine what it would be like filled with fans and the music.

He looked out through the glass dome ceiling and gazed out at the stars.

With his nose pressed to the glass wall and his eyes squinting, he could just barely see Earth glimmering far off in the distant space.

The silence of the venue overcame him and for a moment he thought of all his friends and music writer heroes and wondered what they all would think about this place and what he was about to do.

He learned a lot from reading the work of guys like Lester Bangs and other rock writers. But they never got to do anything like this.

Sure, all those guys witnessed some of the best rock concerts in history and reviewed some of the greatest space-rock concept albums. But they never actually got to travel far beyond Earth to cover the first real live concert in space.

He sighed. And some of his nervousness and anxiety went away.

And then he chuckled as he compared his last concert on Earth to what was about to happen.

In just a few short hours live music history would be made and the first ever live concert in space would begin at PLANET ROCK.

Alternate Suspense/Horror Version:  Johnny Rawkriter Led To The Slaughter

Johnny Rawkriter never thought it would come to this.

But it did.

First, it started with nasty emails, texts and voicemails about how he didn’t know anything about their music and that he had no right to say what he said.

At first he didn’t care that the band didn’t like his reviews. Johnny was just being honest.

But now it was obvious that he had picked the wrong band to piss off.

They said he had ruined their career and that they were going to make him pay for it.

When they started writing songs about how they were going to kill him he thought that they were just being metaphorical and sonically creative.

But then the death threats came warning Johnny that if he wrote another bad review they would hunt him down and make sure they he never wrote another bad review again.

A few years had gone by and then they released their new album and invited him to review their live show. He thought it was a PR peace offering.

But now that the concert was done it was obvious that it was just a set up for the slaughter.

They were going to single him out and crucify him in front of their fans and show everyone just how bad of band they really were.

He looked around for a place to run to.

He tried to hide in the crowd.

But the crowd quickly closed in on him and lifted him up.

They passed Johnny above their heads like he was crowd-surfing to his death.

Johnny was tossed on to the stage. The lead singer grabbed Johnny by the throat and with the help of the other band members began tying him to the gallows that loomed high above the stage.

The band grab their instruments and music started.

The crowd waved their fists in the air and shouted “Kill him! Kill him!”

More To Come…Stay Tuned

I hope you enjoyed this special Alternate Version Blogfest and I’d like to know what you thought of both stories.  If I had to choose I’d say I had more fun with the Sci-fi version because that’s just more how my brain and creativity are wired up.  But it was definitely fun  getting back into writing fiction again and pushing myself to write in a style that I’m not accustomed to.

And I’m looking forward to continuing Johnny Rawkriter’s adventures on PLANET ROCK.

Now, go see what Livia and other bloggers have created too.

Thanks again to Livia for hosting the Alternate Version Blogfest!

Flickr Photo credit Pierre Thurau

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