Gymnasium - Show Time
The audience reacted. They were all either pumped up, in pain, or trying to ignore the commotion on stage.
Exactly the kind of reaction Jackie lived for.
The Rocket Surgeons began to shuffle on stage behind Jackie. They each took their position around Jackie, grinning with anticipation. Johnny had a bounce to his stance as he excitedly gripped his guitar, and Sid was twirling his drumsticks about. Tammy was the only one who was grinning directly at the audience, as if gloating to it.
Once everyone was in position, things went silent (or at least it felt like they did) as Jackie slowly rose the megaphone up to her mouth. She stared out for a moment more. And then...she laughed.
"HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAA HAAAA HAAA HAA HA HA HAHAHA HA HAHAHAHA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
She doubled over laughing as hard and as loud into the megaphone as she could, leaning over as the echo of her cackle lingered in the air of the gymnasium. Then, she straightened herself back up, and, megaphone to mouth, eyes trained directly on the audience, she sang, yet almost whispered...
A short, quiet riff rang from the bass.
Another riff from the bass, this time with a lingering final note.
There was a short moment of quiet, broken by Sid beating his sticks together, and then-
The band burst out into full instrumental as rest of the spotlights finally popped on and lit the stage up. Tammy put more energy into riff while Sid kept the beat on his drums. Johnny bided his time, clapping to the rhythm. Jackie pumped her free fist as she shouted into the megaphone.
Some of the audience began to clap in sync.
Some started to sing along.
Whether they liked it or not, there was hardly a soul in the room that could look away from Jackie's piercing gaze.
The band seemed to be soaking it all in and loving every second; they clung to their instruments like life support, and they weren't even out of the hook. Their grins were almost devious.
Jackie lowered her fist and gripped both hands tightly onto the megaphone.
And that's when Johnny grabbed his guitar, and things really got started.
"City's breakin' down on a camel's back!
They just have to go, 'cuz they don't know whack.
So all you fill the streets, it's appealin' to see,
You won't get out the county, 'cuz you're BAD AND FREE!"
There was something different from Jackie's singing here compared to her first performance in that pep rally talent show n the first day. She was good then, but she felt more like she was puking out her soul to the audience then, letting it direct her. But now she was commanding. Her voice was firm, her gaze, her presence...they were commanding. There was no shaking in her voice. Standing up there in front of a real audience, surrounded by her band, dressed up like a literal clown...she was more confident and composed than anyone had ever seen her.
"You've got a new horizon, it's ephemeral style!
A melancholy town, where we never smile...
And all I wanna hear is the message beep!
My dreams, they gotta kiss it, 'cuz I DON'T GET SLEEP, NO!"
The music died down to a calmer level, led by surprisingly mellow guitar work by Johnny. Jackie tossed her megaphone aside, finally approaching the microphone stand. She gently put a hand onto the microphone...the glare of intensity in her eyes dimmed down...there was something soft about her appearance now, even in spite of the outfit. Softly, and kindly, she sang...
"...Windmill, windmill, for the land...
Turn forever, hand in hand.
Take it all in, on your stride,
It is ticking...falling down...
Love forever, love is free!
Let's turn forever...you, and me.
Windmill, windmill, for the land..."
The intensity in her gaze returned as the guitar and the bass suddenly began to pick up.
"Is everybody iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin?!"
Sid stepped in, leading with the drums and a CRASH of the cymbals, as Jackie took a deep breath, and, at an alarming speed and at full volume-
"LAUGHING GAS THESE HAZMATS!
LININ' 'EM UP LIKE-"
"Lay these ponies at the track,
It's my chocolate attack!
Shh, I'm steppin' in the heart of this here!
Care bear reppin' in the heart of this here!
Watch me as I gravitate, HA HA HA HA HAAA!"
Sid increased the beat of the drumming, as if challenging Jackie to go faster, and harder. Jackie complied.
"WE GONNA GHOST TOWN,
WITH YO' SOUND,
YER IN THE PLACE!
YOU BITE THE DUST, CAN'T FIGHT WITH US,
WITH YOUR SOUND, YOU KILL THE INC.!
So don't stop, get it get it,
Until you're cheddar header,
Now watch the way I navigate,
HA HA HA HAHAAA!"
Jackie leaned back, practically screaming into the mic. She let out another piercing, haunting laugh, as the rest of the band quietly repeated the chant of "Feel good".
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH HAAAA HA HA HA! HAAA HAHAHAHA HAAAAAHA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAA!"
Johnny stepped forth from his spot on stage as Jackie's laugh faded away for the instrumental break. He slammed one of his boots down onto an amp near the front of the stage and tossed his glasses to the side. His fingers less glided across the strings of his guitar and more tore them to shreds; his intensity during the solo was more than the song even needed, and it was a shock his strings (or his skin) didn't break. Tammy seemed to just roll her eyes at his showmanship and scan the audience for reactions again. Jackie seemed dead-focused on the act, however. Even as Johnny flaunted his guitar licks and improvised a little more than necessary, she kept her eyes straight towards the audience. Not with the glance of curiosity Tammy had, but with that same glare that pierced through anyone who dared make eye contact. She almost looked possessed up there; like somebody else's soul took over that awkward little girl's body and made her the most terrifying annd entrancing creature in the world. When Johnny's solo finally screeched to a conclusion, the crowd gave a cheer, but Jackie gently holding onto the microphone again snapped their attention back to her.
"Windmill, windmill, for the land,
Turn forever, hand in hand.
Take it all in on your stride...
It is ticking, falling...down!"
She grabbed a hold of the mic stand itself and pulled it in closer, as she started to get more intense.
"Love forever, love is free!
Let's turn forever! You and me!
Windmill, windmill, for the land!"
She pulled the mic stand in, put a foot forward, and, with a ferocious expression on her face and a roar in her voice.
"IS EVERYBODY IN?!"
The band picked up the pace and intensity. Jackie practically danced with the microphone stand, swiping it off the ground and leaning into it as she sang.
"Don't stop, get it, get it,
We are yer captains in it,
Steady, watch me navigate,
AHA HA HA HAAA!
Don't stop, hit it, get it,
We are yer captains in it,
STEADY, watch me NAVIGATE!
AHA HA HA HAAAAAA!"
Sid upped the tempo of the song, challenging the entire band to keep up with a devious grin on his face. Not to surrender lightly, the bassline got faster and harder, and the guitar followed suit with some clear improvisation. Jackie, of course, sped up, and tried to drown out the others with the chants of the audience.
"DON'T STOP! GET IT, GET IT!
WE ARE YOUR CAPTAINS IN IT!
STEADY, WATCH ME NAVIGATE,
AHA HA HA HAAAAA!
DON'T STOP, HIT IT GET IT,
WE ARE YOUR CAPTAINS IN IT,
STEADY WATCH ME NAGIGATE,
This was becoming less of one group performing together and more four people trying to one-up each other all at once, as if they were all waiting for the others to slip up to steal the show. But it seemed such a familiar feeling to them that somehow, the maelstrom of chaos they played somehow managed to balance into something utterly entrancing. And they were all grinning.
Even Jackie, face made up and screaming the lyrics from the depths of her chest, seemed to have a sinister smirk as she sang.
It looked to be something between joy and sadism.
And if this was a battle, she was winning.
As the instrumentals all echoed together into a cacophony of madness, Jackie leaned back and howled one last laugh into the microphone.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAHAAAA HAAAAA HA HA HA HAAA...HEH HEH HA HAAAAAAAAA HAHA HEH HEH HEHEHEHAA HAAAAAAA!"
Jackie nearly collapsed to the floor, out of breath, wobbling on her legs. She planted the mic stand back onto the floor to lean against as she panted heavily. Despite all that grandiose showboating and intimidation during the song, she seemed to switch back to being...well, Jackie, pretty quickly. Her last laugh, though louder and more intense than any before it, seemed to fade into a genuine giggle fit by the end, and she had a big goofy grin under her makeup. She was sweating like crazy, to the point her makeup was starting to run a bit more, but she didn't seem to pay it much mind. She just looked over the audience with a big smile on her face. She didn't seem to be paying mind to if they were cheering or booing or whatever. She zeroed in on Gwen in the crowd, and her face went red (easier to see now that the makeup was falling off) as she flashed the girl a warm smile. Not far behind her, Tammy, wiping her brow with her arm, shot Gwen a smile as well...though it wasn't quite as kind or cute as Jackie's.
"YO!" Jackie shouted into the mic; her voice sounded a bit scratchy, so apparently the song took more out of her than she let on. "We're the Rocket Surgeons! And that was Feel Good Inc., by Gorillaz! Google it if ya don't know 'em, 'effers! Buy our album! Peace out, assholes!" She enthusiastically kicked the mic stand over and flashed two 'I love you' hand signs to the crowd (nobody ever told her the devil horns don't involve the thumb, apparently) and practically skipped off stage. The other bandmates followed, with Johnny having to be practically dragged away by Tammy to be kept from showboating any more.
And so the Rocket Surgeons exited the stage. Hardly a word to the audience, no bother waiting for cheers on encores. Just a performance of increasing catastrophe, and then out of there. With a lead singer that seems to go from a terrifying devil raised from Hell with the range of a siren to a bumbling dweeb of a high school girl in seconds. Long-time fans probably just saw this as business as usual, but in a school full of some of the strangest elites in the entire world...? Well, it was certainly different, that was for sure.
Back of the Gymnasium
The young man watched the performance quietly, gnawing at the tip of his thumb anxiously.
"Hmph...what a travesty..."
He marched out of the party as quickly and quietly as he entered it.