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Logan Kenneth

"Schizophrenia beats dining alone."

0 · 367 views · located in New York City

a character in “Gold Cuts”, as played by InfamousParadox

Description

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I Think I'm Paranoid by Garbage
”Am I a mindless fool? My life is a fragment, a disconnected dream that has no continuity."




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Basics

Real Name:
”My grandfather named me in an attempt to tie me to my Scottish roots."
Finley Logan Kenneth

Stage Name:
”It means to be well known for some bad quality.
You may not want to speculate on what that quality is."

Infamous

Nicknames:
”The name you choose with determine my thoughts of you."
Fin / Finley - as a very young child
Psycho - to bullies, even adults, called him all sorts of insulting names
Logan - to his professional acquaintances and band mates
Infamous - to his fans


Band:
Paradox

Role:
”It's interesting. I've known quite a few good athletes that can't begin to play a beat on the drum set. Most team sport is about the smooth fluidity of hand-eye coordination and physical grace, where drumming is much more about splitting all those things up."
Drummer

Age:
”Just because I am the oldest of the band doesn't not mean they look up to me as a big brother. Not even close. That role is left for J. Though, I couldn't see any member of Paradox needed a big brother."
27

Ethnicity:
”My grandfather was a purist about maintaining Scottish bloodlines.
So, to him, I was just a bastard child he was willed to care for."

Scottish / Unknown

Gender:
Male

Sexuality:
"When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."
Heterosexual
While he has had high passion relationships, they lack emotional intimacy and commitment.


Love Interest:
”Romantic love is mental illness, but it's a pleasurable one. It's a drug. It distorts reality, and that's the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw."
TBD Why? Are you interested?




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Appearance

Height:
”I seem taller on stage or in front of a camera."
5 ft 9½ in || 177 cm

Weight:
”Trained, athletic, sexy, hot, handsome. Whatever you want to call it."
156.5 pounds || 71 kg

Eye Colour:
”My most noticeable and most popular trait."
Bold Blue

Hair Colour:
”Genetic."
Dark Brown

Distinctive Markings
”I've modeled for many years. Since I've joined Paradox, it's been for promoting our music. Since that started, J requested that I keep my body clean of excess tattoos and piercings, if only to appeal to the majority of fans. Which has created an interesting fan base... All I can say is it works. I had no desire for tattoos or piercings anyway. The scars I had, mostly from childhood, have slowly faded away."
None, at least, not physical

Description:
”Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many."
Logan is that stranger who is tall, dark, and handsome. He stands at an average height of 5'9'', but that becomes exaggerated because he has a very straight posture. He is mostly made up of lean muscle mass. He has clear blue eyes that change color based on the light, sometimes blue green and sometimes steel grey. His hair is a dark enough brown that it typically looks black, except in the right lighting it will actually come out looking brown. It's unkempt and shaggy, though it's also stylized in the front to keep out of his face, but it is almost always messy from him running his hands through it. It's easy to tell his mood from the state of his hair, as well as the time of day and the last time he took a shower. Sometimes he sports a short beard, just for the sake of it, and other time he sports a smooth face. He has what most would call a very chiseled jaw and face. His features are strong and smooth. When he (really) smiles, it spreads widely across his face. The most memorable expression you can find on his face is "mischievous", a doggy smile, squinting and watchful eyes, head tilted, and ever moving eyebrows. This trademark expression is well known among his fans and can have them roaring, especially combined with a flirtatious wink. When Logan is not in front of the public eye, he becomes much more stoic and seemingly lost within his own thoughts and conversations.

His physical build and ability to make incredibly flirtatious expressions and poses have made him the ideal male model. Before he ever flashed an audience a cocky yet sexy grin onstage as Paradox's drummer, Logan Kenneth was the go-to teen model of the 1990s. His striking blue eyes and dark features made for a mesmerizing mix and many fashion powerhouses took notice. He's been modelling since he was 16.




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Personal Information

Likes:
”I'm a rich man with too much time on his hands."
Drumming ✓ Languages ✓ Music, specifically classic rock ✓ Self confidence ✓ Dogs, only big dogs (even if they're puppies), exception are pugs ✓ Jolly Ranchers ✓ Mystery/murder stories ✓ Horror movies ✓ Paranormal studies ✓ Ghost stories ✓ Nightmares ✓ Raves ✓ Motorbikes ✓ Surfing ✓ Skydiving ✓ Early mornings ✓ Showers ✓ Thunderstorms ✓ A cheering/screaming crowd ✓ Fruit and veggies ✓ Aquariums ✓ Sky lanterns ✓ Arcades ✓ Casinos ✓ Waterfalls ✓ Road trips ✓ Amusement parks ✓ Water parks ✓ Chinese food ✓ Whiskey, brandy, fine wines ✓ Polaroid cameras ✓ Stop motion animation ✓ Any Tim Burton movie ✓ Any noise to drown out the voices in his head

Dislikes:
”All that time allows me to discover what I'd prefer to not waste it on."
Emotional intimacy ✗ Comedy movies ✗ Romantic movies ✗ Documentaries ✗ Ice cream ✗ Cold ✗ Commercials ✗ Confrontations ✗ Abuse ✗ Careless drivers ✗ Inconsideration ✗ Bullies ✗ Coffee ✗ Silence ✗ Medication ✗ Therapists ✗ Coffee ✗ Any carbonated drink ✗ Socks ✗ Islands ✗ Zoos ✗ Puppets ✗ Museums ✗ Forests ✗ Fog ✗ Sour candy ✗ Almost every other candy ✗ Ferris wheels ✗ Cats ✗ Liars ✗ Calculus ✗ Chemistry ✗ Sports on TV

Quirks:
“I am an oddity, my strangeness too complicated to explain or share.”
Paranoid schizophrenia
Bedroom eyes ♦ Crooked smile ♦ Spacing out ♦ Obsessive compulsive ♦ Cannot wear the color orange ♦ Hears voices ♦ Has delusions/hallucinations (in rare, straining situations) ♦ Volunteers at an animal shelter ♦ Eats clockwise around plate ♦ Severely allergic to strawberries ♦ Drinks alcohol a little too much when alone, or with J ♦ Hates to hug, or touch, mostly ♦ Sleeps without blankets, only sheets ♦ Takes sleeping pills when the voices are intolerable ♦ Knows many foreign languages ♦ Talks to self, or so you think ♦ Must sit next to a wall ♦ Can solve a Rubiks cube in under a minute ♦ Won’t fly ♦ Won’t take public transportation


Fears:
”Always do what you are afraid to do. Well, not always."
Over dosing ☠ Airplanes ☠ Buses ☠ Snakes ☠ Losing control ☠ Hallucinations ☠ Delusions ☠ Losing his good health ☠ Earthquakes ☠ Being kidnapped ☠ Being in an accident ☠ Elevators

Skills:
”I have all the resources I need to develop any skill that interests me."
Drumming ★ Modeling ★ Linguistics ★ Foreign languages ★ Translation ★ Traveling ★ Baking ★ Cooking ★ Kickboxing ★ Motorbiking ★ Mixed martial arts ★ Solo rock climbing ★ Juggling ★ Poker (thankfully, without the gambling problem), and he has taken J's money plenty of times ★ Calligraphy, thanks to all the time he spent learning to read and write various languages ★ Darts ★ Windsurfing ★ Swimming

Personality

Charismatic ♮ Eccentric ♮ Guarded ♮ Mysterious

Onstage, Logan has a special magnetic charm and appeal as well as the ability arouse enthusiasm through that charm. He has a knack for knowing what others want to hear. In short, Logan is incredibly charismatic. However, he is only this way when ever he is performing with Paradox or entertaining his fans. The drummer, Infamous, is a different person from Logan. Oddly enough, he does not have a desire to connect with people, at least, not anymore. He is far too distracted by his own mind to attempt a meaningful relationship. Besides, who would really want to get to know someone like him? ”Acting is not that far from mental disease: An actor works on splitting his character into others. It is like a kind of schizophrenia."

Growing up in the environment he did, Logan held little respect for conventionality. He did not like being told and formed into a person he was not. He has desire to break free from an overly strict and regimented past. Along with that, his paranoid schizophrenia compels him to be eccentric. Because he is easily stereotyped as "crazy", "broken", and "can't be helped", he is often underestimated and overlooked by society. One would think this would change when he joined Paradox, but instead he just created a separate onstage personality to please the fans. People with paranoid schizophrenia are often not respected by their peers and are misunderstood. Everyone has something to offer, but his gifts are not often sought out or graciously received. For years, he has lived on the outskirts of community and fellowship and is often alone. ”People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better."

His years spent "alone in a crowd" have aided in him becoming very guarded, as did growing up in an abusive home and living in a uncertain environment. His uncertainty branches from having auditory hallucinations, which is the perception of sound — usually voices — that no one else hears. The sounds may be a single voice or many voices. These voices have both talked to him and to each other. The voices are usually unpleasant and seem terrifyingly real. As a child, he would often talk to or shout at the voices. Even now, if he mumbles something, it is brushed off as "talking to himself." He is both cautious and slow to trust. Logan tends to be secretive and seen as having an under-developed sense of humor. Even those who are deeply embedded in his life, such as J or his band mates, feel that there is a wall keeping them from knowing him completely. ”The trouble is not really in being alone, it's being lonely. One can be lonely in the midst of a crowd, don't you think?"

For those who don't make assumptions him and brush him aside because of his paranoid schizophrenia, Logan is still difficult to understand. He is more inclined to internal thought (or entire internal conversations) than external expression. When asked directly, he will discuss mental illnesses, but only in a matter-of-fact sort of way - nothing personal to his experience. So, he comes off as having something to hide. He has an aversion to intimacy that makes it impossible to completely open up to others. The air of mystery about him makes people curious. He is cause for infinite speculation. To his fans, this mystery drives praise in an attempt to get Logan to reveal more about himself since little is really known about his personal life outside of Paradox. “To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown."

At the end of the day, when someone describes Infamous, the charismatic drummer of Paradox, versus the reserved Logan Kenneth, you would think they are two completely different people.




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"Tell me about your family." ”No."


Known languages:
”Some would call my knowledge of languages an obsession...
I would have to agree with them."

English, Gaelic (Celtic language native to Scotland), Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Italian, etc.

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”You will see only what your mind is prepared to comprehend."
Family:
”Unfortunately, some family members are so psychotic that no matter how hard you try, nothing will help. Now that I'm an adult, I take refuge in the fact that some things are beyond my control. I owe it to myself to steer clear of people who are harmful to my health."
Father || Roy Munro Kenneth || Deceased
His father was always busy with work, so Logan hardly saw him. He died in a plane crash. Logan was 7 years old.
Mother || Unknown || Unknown
Nothing is spoken about Logan's mother. He knows nothing about her. He has no memories of her, and no token to remember her existence.
Grandfather || Gregor Finley Kenneth || Deceased
There is no one Logan hates more than his grandfather. For years it was nothing but insults and abuse. Logan quickly learned to evade his grandfather. The only reason he didn't run away from home, if he could even call it that, was because of his grandmother. Gregor Kenneth died of lung cancer. Logan was 16 and refused to attend the funeral.
Grandmother || Ùna Morna Rodina-Kenneth || Deceased
After the death of his grandfather, Logan left Scotland and would only return to visit his grandmother during Christmas and her birthday. It was the only positive family relation Logan had. She died to natural causes. Logan was 23.


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”Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true, more real, than others? What about the world of a person with schizophrenia? Maybe it’s as real as your world. Maybe you cannot say that you are in touch with reality and I am not, but should instead say, my reality is so different from yours that I can’t explain mine to you, and you can’t explain yours to me. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication… and there is the real illness."

First of all, Logan was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 9. The defining feature of paranoid schizophrenia is the presence of auditory hallucinations. His temperaments and general behaviors often are related to the content of the disturbance of thought. Logan, diagnosed with the paranoid subtype, may not appear odd or unusual and does not readily discuss the symptoms of his illness. He does not have as many problems with memory, concentration, or dulled emotions. Still, paranoid schizophrenia is a serious, lifelong condition that can lead to many complications, including suicidal behavior. Often, paranoid schizophrenics will come to the attention of mental health professionals only when there has been some major stress in their life that has caused an increase in their symptoms. He may appear to lead a fairly normal life by successful management of his mental illness.

Moving on. Logan spent the first 17 years of his life in Scotland. He was born into a family who has had wealth and fortune passed down through generations. He wasn't permitted out of the country thanks to his grandfather's strict rules. Logan was instructed to focus on his private education. While he was a smart individual, his interests expanded beyond basic school subjects. For example, he found learning the German language to be far easier than calculus. The voices in his head drove Logan to find activities that would drown out their sound, such as his passion for drumming and motorbiking. - After his grandfather died, Logan felt this new sort of freedom to explore a life he never had. He also received his full inheritance, which meant he wouldn't have to work for the rest of his life and could enjoy ever luxury the world had to offer. To begin, he wanted out of the country.

He traveled all over the world for a few years, reveling in the languages and cultures and making professional connections around the world. He excelled at his hobbies and skills and created many more along the way. At age 22, he took a few classes at a college in the States, mostly music, linguistics, and the odd business class. This was where he met and befriended "J" de Jaager. As much as Logan had a hard time keeping friends, J always stuck around. They were the best college buddy the other could have. However, Logan talked as much about his mental illness as J did about his ex-wife and daughter, nothing. Still, there was an unspoken understanding between both of them.

It wasn't until a few years later that J finally heard Logan on the drums. They were meeting for drinks, but Logan was running late and so J took the initiative to go to the music room where the music class was held. The drumming sound was abstract, dynamic, and insanely energetic. There he found Logan, rocking away on a massive drum kit. Soon after, an inspired J, followed by Logan, dropped out of college. They still remained friends, and a year later, became business partners when J's career skyrocket at the discovery of Giovanni Santoro and Rosaline Sweet.

Remember the first time you went to a show and saw your favorite band. You wore their shirt, and sang every word. You didn't know anything about scene politics, haircuts, or what was cool. All you knew was that this music made you feel different from anyone you shared a locker with. Someone finally understood you. This is what music is about. - Not only did he have the skills, but he also had the looks. His attractiveness, let alone his incredible drumming skill, aided in the initial popularity of the band. Not that they would struggle in that area without him. While his drumming added so much more and completed Paradox, it was strange and sometimes difficult for Logan to have to work with others in a band setting, but somehow it worked... Since Rosaline's death, J has been keeping a close eye on Logan, who is also struggling with the new additions to Paradox.


Other:
”No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. We cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown."
2 years ago, he adopted a rescued puppy (Staffordshire Terrier) from one of the animal shelters he volunteers at and named her Briar Rose. He saved her, and now she's saving him. Briar Rose can read his body language, knows what grabs his attention, listens to him, and loves him.




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So begins...

Logan Kenneth's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison
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#, as written by Layla
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Make me wanna die by The Pretty Reckless

The insect squirmed between her thumb and index, writhing like the figures ambling two-hundred and fifty-two feet below. Light penetrated its frail wings, fractured by the bones that bled from its body like emaciated veins. It reminded her of the vivid emerald and molten gold rays that radiated from her twin's perpetually dilated pupils, reflecting a warmer hue of her own and serving as the universe's brusque reminder in case his violation of every atom of her body were an insufficient affliction.

The figures milling about outside Gold Cuts' headquarters were no doubt naive amateurs braving ignominy for a chance at fame and fortune. Paradox had been made to travel from state to state for over two weeks, listening to one incompetent band after another. While impoverished skill was something she could disregard with a tactile deflection of registered sound, vapid personalities and mundane life stories were intolerable. If she had any desire to suffer from death by acute boredom, she would read the bible. She'd excused herself from the stifling room where songs were being butchered and judges' egos were being stroked a half hour ago, pleading a headache, from a severe lack of entertainment, she hadn't added. Thankfully, today would be the last day of this incessant torture. Auditions had commenced when the slither of tangerine light emerged in the horizon; the sun was now quickly evaporating from the sky, casting long shadows where Eleonora Santoro stood on the parapet.

She was a distant silhouette dancing with death on the rooftop of the twenty-one storey building, the wind howling and grasping with desperate fingers at her silver-gold hair that radiated like cold flames in the setting sun. She rolled onto the balls of her feet, inching closer to the edge of oblivion. With arms arched beautifully over her head, she tossed her weight to the right and performed a splendid pirouette for her silent audience. The butterfly floundered between her fingers.

As her limbs moved with grace and sheer abandon, she waited for the crippling fear she knew would never come. If she fell, she would likely be annihilated, but death was a remote fact of knowledge. She recognised it like she did solutions for Euler–Lagrange equations. As her lithe body danced to the deaf man's symphony, the frail creature she held shuddered like a dying thing. She stilled.

Eleonora watched the lives unfold beneath her; lips were peeled back from whitened, straightened and polished teeth as saline tumbled from wide eyes and passion stained the insensible. She was God perched on his white cloud, contemplating which mortals she had a taste for this very fine day, pondering the natural disaster that would inflict the greatest tragedies and who's faith she was inclined to test. As she glanced at the insect she held in her hands with its lovely wings brushing the fringes of freedom, she thought of her brother with his lovely words and his lovely face.

Eleonora tore the butterfly from wing to wing, and tossed its corpse into the abyss.




J.

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They would come. He knew they would. Their desperation, passion and devotion had blistered his heart when he first heard them play. An inferno like that would not simply fizzle out, not without consuming at least half of America first. They had what he feared Paradox might never have, something that even twenty hours of unadulterated practice a day for fifty decades could not foster, empathy and honesty. Yet the sun was being rapidly devoured by New York's ostentatious architecture and still they had not come.

They'll come, he admonished himself.

His eyes shifted to his left, bypassing the experienced Gold Cuts staff stabbing away at their keyboards to the remaining three Paradox members and finally, to the empty seat beside Gio. His precious, precious Gio and his terrible, terrible luck. That vexing sister of his had disappeared to whatever Hell she probably frequented after explaining she had a "headache." As expected, throngs of people rushed to her aid the moment she so much as wobbled. Even the senior staff seemed equally, if not more, bewitched by the spell she wove with her golden hair and spare compliments. God knew how a succubus like her could possibly be related to- Actually, he could see how. J stifled a sigh, the resulting noise morphing into a mix between a disgruntled hiss and a perturbed groan.

The music halted.

"Is something wrong?" the band's lead singer asked. If the exasperation in his voice were any more conspicuous, he might've had to wave a neon sign.

"Yes," J replied. "Next."

Whilst the bands they'd heard had not be utterly abhorrent, none had surpassed the worn and weary band he'd heard in that crumbling structure they called a building. Whilst some had talent comparable to a prepubescent Alyosha after weeks of sleep deprivation - which in itself was a remarkable achievement - they lacked the essence of the entertainment industry, which was to engross your audience and leave them pining for leftovers.

J glanced at his wristwatch.

They'll come.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Yuki Misora Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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ilyas naqvi
chapter i - a guide to actually getting somewhere



        Death awaited; chrono-guillotine the ominous judgment above their geese necks, the clock's cadence of twirling arms in the waltz of
        anxiety upon his nerves, and his axons coil into taunt spheres of twine.

        Right, they were thoroughly fucked, predestined for unfortunate lives, hexed and cursed and doomed to endure the worst – but he was
        never particularly talented in the business of throwing towels.

        "He'll come." Is his placid answer to the volcanic frustration of one blonde haired sylph – which isn't false, Zayne was sure to arrive with
        adrenaline leaking from the pores of his face in due time, it was just a concern of when. Heavy with the bindings of atmospheric nooses the
        flickers of his eyelids become decelerated during the hypnotism, spiral of the clock a formidable antagonist to the contradictory human
        mind, and his hands find his neck for the hundredth time, the tips curling against the nape in fruitless attempt of being self-soothing.
        However, if he wanted to be comfortable he'd smoke a joint (though, now that he thinks about it, is impossible – details, details) and besides,
        he never did too well with being comfortable in the first place.

        The threshold of panic didn't seize his cardiac muscles until their time to breathe out stardust in musical arrangement had come, announced
        in flippant tone of the overworked, underpaid, and it digs into his skin like incandescent fishhooks. A burn of peroxide from within and finally
        the springs release their energy and he rises, ball jointed doll of snapping, breaking motions and eyes feverish, constricted and ghastly and
        prepared to escape the weakened sockets. "Holy shit, we're going to die." Ah! An affirmation of distress! His words are pried out from
        dehydrated throat and strained into cat gut string. The look is dedicated to Iris, heart circulating blood at miles per minute and he finds shards
        of their synchronized demise sketched in swivet countenance. Yes – good question, what are they going to do? Attempt a 'the show must go on' maneuver? Plead for more time? Claim constipation? Create a nifty distraction by setting something on fire?

        He hardly acknowledges the band before them cascading into the back room of monochrome and modernization, only their radiating grief and
        his hasty heartbeat. Swiftly, in a wave of a motion Ilyas smothers himself, the palm of his hand covering the scruff of his facial hair (he wouldn’t
        don the characteristics of his pubescent self if he had shaved – but why would he? vanity was a strange thing, and he was quite smitten with the aesthetics the genetics of his father had given to him, and the phone number fitted comfortably in the back pocket of his jeans was a generous
        bonus) as the gears in his head turn, can literally feel the exchange of information whizzing from frontal lobe to those anxious fingertips.

        The light bulb bursts into a million fragments, the glass slivers rain down on him like transparent snow.

        "I know what we have to do." He states, stabilization resounding in the notches of his convex spine, hands continuing to conceal his face for
        several delayed seconds. “Yuki.” And the name is a torrent of rose water, spoken as if they were a brotherhood of gamblers tucking aces into
        their tailored suit sleeves. It’s an answer simultaneously obvious and obscure, and the corners of his lips curl as noxious clouds part to reveal
        the illumination of heaven. “I mean – no shit, right? She writes the music, knows the music Hell probably treats the music like it’s her bible,
        prayin’ in compositions and all that.” His grin feels insatiable, the bells of relief ringing within his lungs, singing of their hollownessas a new
        dread feasts upon the kingdom of his psyche, and Ilyas presses his lips together into a paper thin line, dodging eye contact of both Iris,
        the head-set professional and Yuki herself, the seraph wallflower.

        Maddened laughter absconds from his chest, the chortle startling the pair of canaries caged in the corner, feathers of citrus ruffling as his arms
        spread, hands latching onto Iris’ shoulders and shaking her for a moment – dammit! Don’t shake the baby, man! “I mean, don’t get me wrong.”
        Flip of the switch, recalibrate electricity and his demeanor transforms, furrowed brow puckering the skin between his eyebrows and jaw
        settled into severity, distant guilt already gnawing at his kidneys. “It wouldn’t be the same without Zayne, it’d probably be sort of fucking
        weird –– sorry Yuki, but I've grown accustomed to your elusive charms – but if he can’t make it in time, well, our dream can be saved.” The
        sunrise of a smile all but wans, and his hold on the blonde is detached, wrenched away as cement expands in the apertures of his psyche, sticky
        tar exuding from the roof of his mouth, closed by force, feels as if he had chewed a fistful of stale taffy.

        And his heart palpitates; it skips a beat, skips a beat, skips a beat.

        Until he's simply a machine, nodding, cannot even vocalize a word because they are submerged in the goo but it's Elenora fucking Santoro and
        his breath is stolen, evicted with the problem - her presence the catalyst to temporary amnesia- and he follows, heart beating, thumping,
        skipping.

        Oh God, they are so screwed.


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alyosha ellison
chapter i - lemon drop



        “Oh damn that was cold.” Her eyes are bubbling champagne, popped and oozing with iridescent excitement, the pupils oscillating between the departing group of monotonous clichés and their manager of chiseled apathetic marble, the art form of detachment perfected by years in the industry of feral dogs and venomous snakes. “J, you might want to talk a psychologist; each day I see you grow a little more jaded and cruel –
        before you know it I’ll be calling you our old man. I could dress you up in suspenders then, it’ll make up for the loss of your cute factor.”
        During the years preceding the present these impish words would have never been illustrated by her silenced tongue, had only spoken to elders
        in tones of orchestrated respect unless her sense faltered and stumbled into grave mistakes, but now teasing him feels natural, on par with
        smiles and sipping the sweetest of fermented beverages.

        Speaking of fermented beverages, the cylinder of steel is lifted from the table, insulated water bottle crafted to preserve a refreshing cold abused
        to store red wine – justified if she is to be masquerading as their panel’s Paula Abdul, though the apparent role was self-chosen. She imbibes
        whilst maintaining act of moderate sobriety, nectar in her stomach, cradling her mood and leaving cherry painted lips particularly exuberant
        with each drop, alcohol’s melody the superior life-coach to humankind, and when the container returns to its place on the table a crossbreed
        noise of laugh and giggle rolls from her tongue to her teeth. “Dears, be hard on yourselves, and maybe we’ll see you next year – chin up!” She calls, hand waving with languid benevolence, and though she does not speak falsehoods, her sincerity is stunted, half grown and doesn’t shutter the conscious, everything instead pleasant and warm.

        But she was prepping, preparing herself for a gala worth of the twenty-first century, where the sky is caressed by fingertips and crystals are desserts swallowed whole, needed the ballroom to stretch her legs after this excruciating inertia.

        “I think that went relatively well, my ears aren’t bleeding, which is impressive enough. I give them a two point three.” Wicked, senseless
        rambling churns from her, a finger running through hair coddled into soft nightsilk, twirling the strands around the slim appendage of a doll.
        Is she the only one having fun around here? Sparing a glance to her bandmates she senses her vexation squirm and relax in the pit of her
        shrunken, raisin stomach, Gio beside her mesmerized by empty space and Logan tending to a dog that, despite her adoration for the slobbery
        canine creature, she refused to sit next to due to the hair that would cling to her clothes. Maybe today was a bad day for the sundress of floral
        dusk – and Alyosha exhales in a slow demonstration of theatrics, smoothing the wrinkles of the garment as she mentally begs an abandoned
        higher power to convince Leo to return to the land of monotony.

        Strangely enough, her endeavor in summoning magick seems to work, the blonde bombshell sashaying into the auditorium within her next
        breath. And all she does is wave, fingers curling towards her palm, corner of her mouth quirking - tugging into her cheek, transitory smirk
        vanishing in a second in her act of real magic, just as she buries the fallout of an old, bitter jealousy that it won't be her that Elenora sits next to
        - and damn, does she know the filter of brazen entertainment she'd experience if she did.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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#, as written by Layla
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She hadn't helped them out of the kindness of her own heart, not that anybody ever did. Everybody was selfish, it was only a matter of how well one disguised it with pretty words and plasticine smiles. Some aided the poor to feel better about themselves, others did it for the grandeur of having their names printed on flimsy plaques, she did it because it would be an inconvenience if she did otherwise. She noticed the way they stood, like statues carved of the very floor on which they stood, eternally embedded to the ground. Their eyes sparked like embers, laced with the cold, hard flint of contumacy. If she'd abandoned them to John Warren, born January 26th 1990 in Brandon, Mississippi, U.S.A., credited with a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from Stanford University, blood type O-negative, employed 5th of May 2014 in internal relations, they would never leave the premises for an extended period of time and their actions would disrupt company order. Thus frazzling some employees and creating an environment of discordance which could heighten the frustration of individuals, likely leading to an increase in poorly disposed waste like loose staples, scrap paper and the like. The janitors would struggle to maintain the building's sanitation, having adverse effects on her health.

Besides, she was not particularly pleased with the way John Warren was expressing his illusive familiarity. "Leo is quite fine, thank you." People were almost too easy to wield. It eradicated much of her daily entertainment. They were goldfish in bowls, stupid, pretty and predictable. In a few minutes she had John Warren compressed in her ceramic mould and freshly baked in a 1,100 degrees fahrenheit cremation chamber. Now the candidates before her were much more interesting.

A smile teased the corners of her full lips as she cast her eyes upon Ilyas Naqvi, born February 20th 1994, instrument voice and guitar, band Hoodrats, pakistani-caucasian, who was openly gawking at her. He seemed interesting enough. His costume was certainly unusual, as was that of his companions. She noted the material of his fraying shirt - 90% polyester, 10% cotton, the poor boy - in her peripheral vision. The sole female in their band, Iris Fulcon, age nineteen, 5'6", European-caucasian, instrument synth and backup vocals, looked to be the sort that trimmed her own hair or didn't. The jewellery, if that was what you could call those nickel and copper pieces, that graced her ears were likely produced in Shenzhen, China. Johnathan Walker Pierce, best known as "Zayne," age seventeen, caucasian, instrument bass guitar, was probably the worst for wear, if that could be possible. His clothing was faded and marred with sweat, and something that looked suspiciously like blood stained the corner of his shirt. He had what appeared to be a young girl attached to his back. They were all either astoundingly impoverished or effectively dressed to convey the rodent in their name.

How fascinating.

"Shall we?" she purred.




J.

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“That’s it. No more. Audition’s over. Everybody out."

J tensed to spring from his chair but thought better of it. This entire Battle of the Bands was not in his domain. If it were, half the musicians they'd heard would not have been given even a fraction of their time. He was there merely as the manager of the winning band's mentors - Paradox - and as an established talent scout. He could cut bands short every now and again but ultimately, it was up to the board of judges to vote, which included the four Paradox members, six Gold Cuts' staff members - including two of their main songwriters, a few board of directors, and incredibly, the personal assistant of Gold Cuts Inc.'s founder and owner, Evelyn Jones - and two external experts. If they decided auditions were over, they were.

Dammit.

"We should admit the remaining candidates," he began over the murmurs filtering through the door. "Since they're here anyway. They might turn out to be what we're looking for."

"We've heard enough," Evelyn Jones admonished, standing to pile her endless array of documents into her stiff briefcase. Despite being only in her mid-thirties, streaks of grey decorated her otherwise strawberry blonde hair. It seemed working for the elusive President Burns. Unlike most organisations, Gold Cuts did not have a vice, rather, Miss Jones appeared to do everything a vice or a president was supposed to do. Few people knew of President Burns' first name, much less his appearance. J was amongst the few. He realised in the first moments when he met the President that he was... Interesting.

He parted his lips to present his argument but before the words escaped, a soft, familiar crooning trickled into the room like sleeping gas. The stress visibly ebbed from limbs, even Jones seemed to slow in her packing. He could not for the life of him understand why. There was nothing at all relaxing about Paradox's lead singer's presence. Her voice would not be what he'd choose for a meditative trance. She could give a robot a run of its money.

“I’ll bring them in.” J's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Was she helping them? Moments later, she glided into the room in all her platinum blonde glory, looking all in the world like a magazine cover brought to life. She was disgustingly self-assured, directing her gaze to him as if to bait him further. Fight me, her eyes said. He always found her stare unnerving. Whilst Gio's gaze was dark and warm in the normal light but a brilliant crystalline emerald when the sun returned his smile, his twin's was in a perpetual state of deathlike stillness. Her eyes were so pale, they didn't seem entirely human, rather they were a shuddering glimpse into a watery Hell. It was like all the colour had been bled from her body and soul. Before he could look away, a rare, dazzling smile that dimpled her cheeks overcame her features.

He choked on the bottled water he held to his lips. Turning around, he realised the uncharacteristic expression had not been directed to him at all. Jones shook her head slowly, but sat down, placing her briefcase carefully beside her. What price had the candidates she'd saved paid for her help? It was likely they'd sacrificed a leg and an arm each, along with everybody they loved. She was the devil and he prayed they still had their souls.

The candidates shuffled in then and J had to restrain himself from tackling them to the ground. To give them a good beating or a bone-crushing embrace, he wasn't sure. Probably both. The three Hoodrats members stood in the room, looking jarringly out of place between the pristine ivory walls.

Leo said nothing as she took her seat beside her twin. Her chair didn't so much as grown or scrape against the floor. He had to wonder if she weighed anything at all. He noted Alyosha's longing watchfulness and the envy that wove through her smile. The Twigs as he called them might've been a fan favourite of the men but he knew they had to be careful. Infatuation was a dangerous thing, especially when the reckless were involved. Although the paparazzi liked to portray Logan and Leo as being "intimate friends," such a thought was enough to make J snort. He'd known Logan for years and Leo was about as far from his type as was humanly possible. Logan seemed about ready to sleep but J knew it was an illusion. He wondered if Logan slept at all.

Documents were placed before them, detailing the three figures before each of them - lead singer and guitarist Ilyas Naqvi, synth and backup vocalist Iris Fulcon, and bass player Zayne Pierce. The file was remarkably thin in comparison to the previous ones they'd been given. Prior bands had been more than happy to provide a detailed account of every bloody moment of their lives from their times of conception. Hoodrats' files offered minimal information - age, gender, education, names...

Then it began.

"Are you alright, Miss Santoro?"

"How are you feeling?"

"Are you sure you should be back?"

"Do you need a drink?"

"What can we do-"

"You may introduce yourselves and the songs you'll be performing," he interrupted the chatter. He could not stand the way everybody fawned over her. Have some dignity, he thought. His face remained impassive as he regarded the band before him. He could barely contain his anticipation but he didn't want anyone thinking the only reason they won - and he knew they would - was because he favoured them. He knew without a doubt every judge would be blown away by their performance. If anything, their music would be so extraordinary, they would be overwhelmed. He gestured to the tens of thousands worth of musical instruments behind them.

"Please begin."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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Iris Fulcon:

Ilyas hadn’t offered much comfort, although Iris hadn’t high expectations anyways. Comforting others was more her own department, when she wasn’t micromanaging their lives - or trying to at least. She held herself tight, unmoving with her eyes darting from the doors where bands had been walking in and out of all morning and to Ilyas. Time was ticking, and it was now or never. The minutes seemed to drag as she continued to stare onto Ilyas as if he would conjure up the solution out of thin air.

The man who had called their names only minutes ago spoke out again, annoyed as he called the day to an end. A weight slammed into Iris’s chest, causing her to cringe. “What?! No!” She called out as Ilyas crumpled beside her mumbling "Holy shit, we're going to die."Iris gripped his arm, pulling him back up. ”Think, think FAST.” was all she could say. Her brain was scrambling for ideas, any idea - just something that could give them a chance.

His eyes suddenly lit up, she could see the Eureka moment before he even spoke. “Yuki!” He said, rambling on about how it all made sense. Iris squirmed, looking around in confusion. ”Yuki? She’s here?” With his arms still gripping her shoulders, Iris gave him a questioning look as he continued. ’It is official,’ she thought to herself ’I broke him.’ Ilyas spoke indirectly to a slight figure clad in a hoodie. Squinting, all Iris could tell was that this figure was a woman, and possibly asian. ”Ilyas, you can’t just assume that’s Yuki, that’s racist!” Iris hissed, half playfully, half just as a reassurance incase the woman wasn’t Yuki and Ilyas had just offended her.

In truth, none of them had met Yuki, at least not to Iris’ knowledge. They’d seen glimpses, but nothing more. The girl was practically a myth, the phantom of The Hoodrats potential success. Before their bickering could progress a different sort of phantom interrupted. Eleanora Santoro emerged from the doors, looking every bit as flawless as any picture Iris had ever seen of her. Her ethereal beauty almost disturbed Iris, making her unable to directly stare at “Nora”, which Ilyas seemed to have no trouble doing. Although her actions were in favor of Iris’ situation, there was something in her cold voice that made Iris’ gut twist with discomfort. ‘Don’t trust her. the little voice in the back of her mind told her.

But why shouldn’t she? Here, the pale goddess had saved their day, and for some reason Iris wasn’t jumping for joy kissing the path the woman left as she led them into the room. Once Eleanora was out of sight, Iris seemed to snap back into reality, locking eyes with Zayne and seeing his little sister beside him. Her anger only flashed for a moment, before relief flooded her expression. He met them as they walked toward the room, apologizing off the bat. Iris ruffled his hair and pulled him into a half hug as they walked, kissing the side of his head. “I’m just happy you’re here.” She stated simply, following Ilyas into the audition room.”Next time though...answer your fucking phone.” she whispered so that Eli couldn’t hear her.
She tapped the Eli on the head, waving enthusiastically when she looked up and smiling. The girl smiled back, scrunching up her nose.

As they rounded onto the audition stage, the bright lights and mass of equipment overwhelmed Iris. She had never seen such an elaborate set up. Certain she appeared every bit as naive as she felt, she took no shame in looking around with a sense of wonder. Everyone looked so polished, and they were all clad in thrift store get ups. An authoritative and familiar voice broke the silence. Iris looked up to recognize J, the man who had personally invited them to the auditions. She almost waved as a greeting, but the penetrating stares of everyone else stopped her. Suddenly Iris felt very aware of how vulnerable she was to these people. She was about to give her all in a few short minutes and be told wether she was wasting her time and if her dreams were meaningless. Her breath became more rapid, and her palms sweaty.

J motioned to the instruments behind him, and before anyone could speak, Iris awkwardly walked away from her band as if to eliminate herself from speaking first. Pretending to be seriously selecting an instrument, Iris waited until one of her bandmates began speaking that Iris finally felt calmed enough to actually comprehend what she was looking for. Calling her name was a keyboard, synthesizer hybrid - sleek design and bright colors calling to her. She could hear her other band mate introducing herself as she reached for Kraken - the name she had decided to give the instrument. “Come here, Kraken.” she mumbled to herself, attempting to break down the instrument so that she could carry it.

Two men rushed to her side as if to shoo her. Startled, Iris leapt back, arms up and letting out an ‘Eeep’. Confused, the men then proceeded to carry the instrument to where her other band mates were still speaking. Her cheeks reddened, realizing that they were only doing their job by carrying the expensive material instead of having some scrawny teenager drag it to the stage. Shaking her head as she pinched the bridge of her nose, Iris turned to go back to the stage.

Something about the energies in this room were all wrong. Hypersensitive to her surroundings, Iris felt ill at ease in this room. It wasn’t the type of anxiety that one has from performing in high pressure situations, it was more like the type of anxiety from being put into a room with an obvious tension in the air. Caught into her own thoughts, Iris wasn’t watching her feet as she came around some loose wires. Stumbling, she caught herself on a keyboard that only buckled under her weight. The loud noise caused a few heads to turn her way, making Iris wince with embarrassment. One of the men that had moved her instrument to the front before helped her up, a look of mild exasperation and amusement striking his features. ”Oh, God - I am so sorry..I am so so sorry.. she wanted to offer to pay to replace it, but she knew she couldn’t afford it.

He mumbled something along the lines of, ‘Don’t sweat it’, pushing her back onto the stage with her bandmates. Flustered, Iris stood beside Zayne, almost leaning into him. She figured he would understand that she wasn’t doing to good, but if that wasn’t enough she whispered ”I’m going to cry.” It all was so overwhelming, one small thing could ruin everything, and it felt like she had already done several very big things that would definitely ruin it all.

It seemed like the spot light was now on her, she was the only one left to introduce herself. It almost felt impossible to function. Laughing awkwardly, Iris clasped her hands together. “Iris.” She said simply, pointing to herself. Wincing inwardly, she cleared her throat before continuing. “I’m Iris Fulcon, back up vocals to the, erm - handsome Ilyas Naqvi and synth.” At this she stood behind her instrument, doing a brief tune for effect.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Yuki Misora Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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The continuous comments form the seemingly benevolent Alyosha eased the pressure of having to say anything himself. She could definitely make up for his offstage silence.

There was still a low chatter between judges and J and other staff hurrying around back stage. Every other band had been early or perfectly on time. This sort of opportunity would not wait for just anyone. The paperwork behind it was incredible as well. He glanced again at J's paper filled table. Sitting behind a desk is not where Logan belonged, which aided to making dropping out of college such an easy decision. He did his best and stayed out of the bureaucracy and politics of the Gold Cuts. In that aspect, he did rather well. The problem was always the media and the rumors, but he really had no control over that. Those viewers who believed so deeply in the media were always disappointed whenever Leo and he appeared together, but not together. Many people liked to assume they have a history together, when in reality, they've avoided each others' private company completely.

He glanced around the all too familiar auditorium once more, remembering when he first came here with J to show the rest of the Gold Cuts staff his skill and worth. It didn't take much convincing. Besides, the need for a drummer in Paradox was crucial and completed the band. Now, more than ever, did he feel like the band was missing something.

“That’s it. No more. Audition’s over. Everybody out." The voice raised above the murmurs in the auditorium. He didn't really care for whatever was going on. Good, we can leave. Logan stood for a moment, Briar Rose shifting her head off his thigh and following suit by standing, reaching 38 cm at her shoulders. Then he realized Leo, walking down the aisle to the judges' table with the rest of Paradox. Voices rose again and footsteps echoed onstage as crew and contestants scrambled for to get the situation in order again. As Leo walked past to the empty seat next to him, he couldn't help but feel a chill run down his spine. He had history with many people, mostly women, but Leo was not one of them. She was a phantom. A ghost of a person. She haunted him. Of course she was incredibly beautiful and talented, there was no denying that. However, there was something missing within. Heaven knows how much Logan has going on within himself, mentally especially. He always thinks. His ability to read people is lacking, to say the least, but not so much is his ability to simply tell people what they want to hear. My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred; And I myself see not the bottom of it.

The next words were probably the first phrase he'd spoke all morning. "Bienvenue, Eleonora. Je vois que vous faites bien," he spoke at the moment she silently sat down. He didn't even have to look to know that Giovanni's eyes would light up at the appearance of his sister. Logan would often speak in many other languages, French being the most common for conversation, since every Paradox member could speak it rather well. He'd speak in other, less well known languages when he mumbled comments to himself. It wasn't intentional, rather habitual since he knew so many different languages that none felt like his own.

He let out a short sigh and sat back down, crossing his arms against the table in front of him. Briar Rose, again, followed his movements but this time lied down and rested her head on his shoe, something she'd done since she was a small puppy. She wasn't visible from the stage while lying on the ground. Last one. This group would have his attention for the next few minutes simply because he was now anxious to get back to the penthouse and his room.

Flipping open the thin folder than had just been placed in front of him, he scanned over the basic information and matched names to the faces on the stage before him, a slight smirk on his face. --

Ilyas Naqvi. Lead Singer and Guitarist. Even from this distance, Logan could tell he was staring directly at Leo. This guys wasn't the first one to become infatuation with her upon first encounter. Physically, the only thing he noticed was the amount of seemingly random tattoos Ilyas had. For his sake, Logan hoped they had a sort of meaning instead of useless stains. He seemed confident enough on stage, as a lead singer should.

Iris Fulcon. Backup Vocals and Synth. As he looked up to identify her, a clamor was heard off stage followed by her stumbling and apologizing. He smirked. They're really out of their element, aren't they? The girl's long blonde hair and slim limbs appeared to make her taller, even though he knew the tricks of being on stage. After all, though he was not short, people often thought of him as a lot taller. Height was relative anyway. She was pretty, simply pretty, suiting her nature girl vibe.

Zayne Pierce. Bass Guitarist. He was obviously the late one. With who could only be assumed as his little sister aside off stage, Zayne had rushed out onto stage, sweaty and panting as though he ran the entire way here. He better get used to that. First impressions are almost always judgements on someone's appearance. Tall, messy, slouched; even his mannerisms gave off an arrogant vibe. Does he deserve to be so prideful? Then again, who really deserves anything...

-- His thoughts were sidetracked. Logan flipped over the band's profiles to the last paper. Incomplete. There was no useful information on the last member of this group that was auditioning. He glanced back up to the stage, only counting three contestants, until something caught his eye off the edge of the stage. Someone had followed Leo before she took off to sit with the rest of Paradox. Logan almost didn't notice, but now he caught a glimpse. A figure slumped back against the side wall, barely visible behind the edges of the stage. Beneath the baggy clothes, Logan figured it was a thin, fragile frame. Oh, who is she? She wasn't about to pick up and instrument like the rest, but simply observe. As the group introduced themselves, Logan kept his gaze on the figure that blended into the shadows.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Yuki Misora Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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ilyas naqvi
chapter i - a guide to actually getting somewhere



        Reality’s fractal image expanded its fissures, enveloping them in the divine pandemonium; it’s a whirl of a foreign spectrum, forbidden
        for them to experience. Eleonora graced him with acknowledgment, the upturn of her lips a ripple in time itself, shattering all beautiful
        things in its wake, and it fed to him the tangible dream they had fallen into. Their lives materialized in this room of palanoia, suspended
        on the spiral of adrenaline, he felt it rotate in his knees and shutter within his origami heart. His daze shattered, glass pieces littering the
        ground, and from it transpires a nod to Zayne and a smile of muted elation – the grin extending further when waving to Eli, and beneath
        his soul he felt clouds push against one another and rumble raucous thunder, the ballad of a dream in the making, ten seconds closer,
        so close that he could taste it.

        The stage is mundane in comparison to the panoramas of neon rain and bellowed fire digitalized and stretched online, but it’s larger than
        anything they’ve set foot on, his echoing footsteps endless reverberations as he is granted to walk across it, each pace akin to walking on
        ice, as if the weight of his eternity could collapse it, swallow him whole. Ilyas finds that time is hardly concurrent; it’s a mish-match
        Frankenstein concept of ripped photographs, seconds luminescent simultaneously, the best and worst of the world radiant and diluted. He
        had to squint, inhale and exhale to register his fingers checking to voice of Aladdin – cliché as the guitar’s name was, but the stories
        woven within One Thousand and One Nights had created a home within him throughout the myriad of days where he had none but the sky
        to his name. Memory brought whispers of the ancient stories comforting him through the agony and bliss, decomposition, resurgence.

        But this was no comfort – he’d lacerate his fingertips playing, bleed out hymns onto the polished floor and suffer from self-chosen
        exsanguination. Music was his IV and siphon, a drug to bring him to his knees, to see God, occupational dimethyltryptamine. The cords
        hum in compliance, synchronized with the collision of good and evil, of grime and peroxide swirling, amalgamating in his soul, and his
        larynx droned alongside the scrutiny, vocals equal to the low frequency wedged in between the slivers of wood. This was it, now or
        never, the universe perched itself on his shoulders as he meandered closer to the panel, faces he had only caught glimpses of in magazines
        and televisions, and he knew all their names, but knew nothing about them. However, by the end of their song, they will know him,
        intimately so, each serenade from his throat an act of ethereal fortification. “We are Hoodrats, and I’m Ilyas Naqvi.” Like them his
        statement is that of the sewer, the abandoned humans that transformed into vermin to survive, he stood with the edges of his mouth
        solemnly curled up to his cheeks – waiting to begin, electromagnetic waves simmering the corners of his eyes.

        “Mortarium.” A lullby whisper for the microphone, caught tangled in a breath, the title of their song. They need no gimmicks to begin,
        no valiant shouts or war cries, no drummer banging thin cylinders to count the time, for they all had clocks in their minds, the incessant
        ticking of one – two – three – four. Aladdin is a skeleton, névé sculpted bones quivering as he plucks life from death, the hollow void
        saturated with ultraviolet violence and love, abhorrent lust and a trillion twine lashes. Notes of e, B, G tachycardia in the successions of
        cadences, he rings the neck in delicate fingers and strums and sinks. Here his eyelids feel heavy, spellbound by the harmony of past never
        forgotten, his eyelashes are oil by design and flutter, those aperture pupils dilating into pinpoints – they must be, it’s the greatest high he’s
        ever felt.

        “Goodbye to sleep,
        I think this staying up is exactly what I need
        We’ll take apart your head
        Take apart the counting, the flock it has bred.”


        The intro is a phantasm’s whisper chased by Morpheus’ fury, lying on a bed of needles, his voice the river curling around jagged rocks,
        molten obsidian and sinfully sweet black licorice. His fingers are of the corpse reanimated, curled around the microphone Ilyas sheds his
        skin, the demeanor of boundless optimism a vague reminiscence from an alternate universe, and in his esophagus bloomed lavender and
        wolfsbane. Each muscle was spun from the coals burned in the absence of love, his shoulders rose and managed ridged relaxation, his body a
        gravesite singing an ode to the treacherous arachnids that stuck them in their syrup coated webs. The air sucked inward was sharp, an
        icicle of a winter he couldn’t recall, missed a note and misplaced his fingers for a beat, the A note arriving a heartbeat too soon, but the
        appendages roll, they recalibrate themselves in quiet, serene ballroom dancing –

        “You walk straight, not like them
        To fool them into our sweet insanity
        Fake it enough, to vanish today
        Not for the first time, imbibe with lies.”


        – As if he was born for this.

        Finite infinity. His fingers extend outwards, curl and grip the microphone and he strangles it, a step back, the subsequent lean forward,
        and already are his lungs singed with the enervation, the alveoli cathedrals of ashes screaming for revenge, recognition, anything from this
        world. The poison perforated his skin and fingernails, it was the mucus in his frontal lobe, the bile of twilights dedicated to the maddest
        of crows, the alcohol to rip them to sheds and sanitize them in a handful of words. In times like these he can’t see, can’t hear – but he doesn’t
        detach himself from the threshold, and instead it envelops him, when he feels everything that’s ii and has ever been in existence; every
        wasted breath, every stray tear and broken blood vessel – he sings and growl in the alcoves of humanity and rips its pancreas out with his
        whittled teeth.

        “I'll find sleep in the end tonight
        I can't shake this little feeling
        I'll never say anything right.”


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Giovanni Santoro Character Portrait: Eleonora Santoro Character Portrait: Zayne Pierce Character Portrait: Yuki Misora Character Portrait: Logan Kenneth Character Portrait: Ilyas Naqvi Character Portrait: Alyosha Ellison Character Portrait: Iris Fulcon
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#, as written by Layla
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The room was entranced. The music reached its evanescent fingers into the audience, grasping each person by the neck and wringing them dry of any memory of ever having heard anything so... Painful. Pinpricks of liquid misery tapped against dilated orbs but were quickly submerged by a different sort of liquid emotion. Excitement. Elation. Discovery. This was what they'd been waiting for.

Eleonora gutted the flaws in the music, a note pitched a fraction flatter than the G natural it was supposed to be, a twinge of a guitar string, the cracks in his voice - although it suited his artistic style - and the graze of two unintentionally discordant chords. As the blinds were pulled over J's vision for the first time in the weeks that they'd auditioned the thousands of amateur bands, he drifted into music nirvana whilst Eleonora's lids remained mildly lowered in apathy. She could see their value and appeal but training them would be costly. Time-consuming. They were volatile, over-emotional little girls who trampled over artistic organisation. She could almost see their musical precision being flung across the room.

She plastered a look of apt contemplation on her face. Mmm, yes? No? How many stars? She would admit the song's composition was interesting. Eleonora had always been able to predict the melodies of all songs and she always knew what note would come next. Popular music in particular followed a set of unwritten rules that allowed for almost everyone to appreciate it. There were only so many notes available on a stave, after all. But somehow she found it rather challenging to glimpse the song's chorus, bridge and ending. When she expected a minor 7th, she received instead a minor 6th. The cadences were odd. The augmented chords were odd. The whole song was odd and yet, strangely perfect. They were simple melodies and it was like art. You might think "hey, I can do that too," and yes. You could've. But you didn't.

The corners of her lips twitched upwards and she swallowed the urge to leap and clap with glee. She expected the composer to be a very, very interesting man indeed. She wondered if it was the lead singer - Ilyas Naqvi - who wrote the song. He certainly sung it as if they were his very own thoughts. The music suited him remarkably well so maybe he did write it. Or the composer was a person close to him, or he was better than he looked at making a song his own. The rest of the band members were decent as well but their body language prior to the first tap of music eluded to their state of pre-epiphany. They didn't realise how good they were, it seemed. Interesting.

As the last trickles of music relaxed its grip on its listeners, J stood. He clapped. Furiously. And the audience joined him. Eleonora smiled and brought her hands together. Pull apart. Collide. Separate. Collide.

"It's very fortunate we decided to wait for you," Evelyn Jones, personal secretary to mysterious Gold Cuts President, said.

Eleonora beamed at her. Of course. As if she hadn't stopped John Warren Jr. from chasing them out of the building not fifteen minutes ago. They'd wanted and waited for them all along.

"I think we can all agree on the winner of this competition," J said, his eyes never leaving the band onstage. Eleonora watched him carefully and noted the slight puff of his chest that suggested pride. He seemed rather familiar with the self-proclaimed rodents. Murmurs consumed the room before it was engulfed in silence and then, tentatively, whispers of "yes," "they'll do," "best band" and firm nods.

"Gio, Logan, Alyosha, Leo," he addressed them. "Will you take these... Four," he said after a pause, casting a glance around the room. Four? Leo could see only three. Ah, maybe it was the mysterious composer. "As your apprentices? Promising to guide them through their contract and stay with us?"

"I do," Leo said, embedding a solemn stare into each individual Hoodrats member, with a nod to the ceiling for the mysterious fourth member - or God - before returning to rest on Ilyas, a hand placed over the layers of flesh and bone that veiled her heart. "I promise to breathe down your neck in sickness and in death."

Laughter rippled across the auditorium; J trampled the urge to roll his eyes. Leo tossed her new singing underling a wink.