Mike and Joe finally found the shop they were after. It was a small stuffy place called “Trash Threads”. The shop-front was painted black and the door was wrought iron. When they walked in, they were immediately hit by a musty smell, like old cabbage, Mike thought. As soon as he heard the ring of the door-bell, the shop guy came out from a back room. He was well suited to working in a metal shop; he was covered from head to toe in unimaginative grim reaper and skull tattoos, every orifice of his body was pierced. His ear lobes were stretched from years of heavy jewellery tugging at them. His lengthy frizzy black hair and long, bushy beard made him look like a member of ZZ Top. “Maybe he was!” thought Joe with a chuckle.
The guy raised an eyebrow when he saw two members of N*Sync walking towards the counter.
“Last I heard, the beauty salon was three blocks from here”, he said sarcastically, his voice gruff.
“Yeh, I know this must seem weird but you see we’re not really…” Joe/Joey tried to explain before Mike/Chris gave him a painful elbow in the ribs.
“Shut up!”, he hissed, “The less people that know about this the better”. Mike turned to the guy behind the counter and in a hesitant voice asked
“Eh... we need, like some masks or something... for... like... a disguise or something...” The guy frowned, confused.
“Halloween isn’t for months, but I think I have some out back. Just lemme check”. He disappeared into the room he came out of before. He returned later with a box, which he placed roughly on the counter. In it were about a half dozen full-head masks of various kinds, from freak-clowns to devil-horned beasts.
“This is exactly what we’re looking for”, said Mike/Chris triumphantly.
“It is?!”, cried Joe/Joey. Mike ignored him and picked out five masks and laid them on the counter in front of the register. The guy noticed Joes bleeding shoulder.
“What happened, did your little sister beat you up?” he teased. Joe clenched his fists by his sides but said nothing.
“How much is it?” Mike asked wanting to get out of there before anything happened.
“Fifty bucks”, replied the man, amusement apparent in his voice. “Now make sure your mommy knows where you’re going ‘cause trick-or-treating can be very dangerous you know,” he added in a mocking tone as he handed Mike his receipt.
“Look I’ve had enough of your smart-ass remarks! Say it again and I’ll kick your ass ‘till it’s a whole new shape!!” spat Joe/Joey in rage.
“You wanna take me on pretty-boy?! ‘Cause I wouldn’t like to have to ruin that lovely face of yours!” he growled back. The two guys squared up to each other, glaring with fury into the others eyes. Mike jumped between them.
“Hey hey hey, lets all just calm down” he turned to Joe “We don’t need this ok?” Joe nodded and silently the two walked to the door leaving the shop-guy staring after them with a look of pure disdain. On the way out Mike took two masks and handed one to Joe.
“To avoid a repeat of our last attempt at walking down the street.”
They put on their masks. Joes was an evil clown. Complete with red, blood-covered nose and wicked grin and Mikes was a face with no skin, just muscled flesh covered in gore. They stepped from the dull, musty shop back into the street. Immediately they noticed people sneering, staring and just laughing at their appearance.
“Great!” exclaimed Mike, “Either we get mauled by hormonal pubescent teenie-boppers or we get ridiculed by every bastard on the street!”
“I’ll take the ridicule any day”, sighed Joe/Joey looking at his ripped, blood soaked t-shirt.
When they arrived back at the bus, they found that nothing had changed. Chester/JC was still smoking like a chimney and now Rob had joined him. Everyone was looking very distressed. Mike distributed the masks, ignored the raised eyebrows and grunts of exasperation coming from his band-mates while Joe tried to clean himself up.
“What happened to him?” asked Brad.
“Long story”, sighed Mike rolling his eyes.
“What’s the story with our schedule man?” asked Mike/Chris, “Could you cancel anything?”
“I put the sound checks off till later this evening” replied Brad/Justin, “I cancelled the photo shoot, obviously enough.”
“What about the interviews?” asked Joe/Joey.
“I cancelled all but one. MTV were persistent” Said Brad impatiently. The five donned their masks and stood looking at each other. They simultaneously exploded with laugher.
“Fucking hell” howled Chester/JC, “We look like fucking Slipknot wannabes!”
“Yeah like a tribute band or something!” added Rob.
They got off the bus, ignoring the shocked and confused looks of the driver, who at this stage was questioning his sanity. The five retrieved their bags from the trunk of the bus (In Chesters case: suitcases – on wheels!) They walked from the hotel car park in through the front entrance of the posh hotel. As the entered the lobby, they noticed a hush of voices followed by frantic whispers. They started blushing underneath their masks.
“Fuck this thing is hot!”, whispered Brad to Mike
“Yeah tell me about it, stick a fork in me, I’m done”. Chester approached the reception desk. The concierge was standing looking at them with a look of absolute horror on his face. He was a man in his late thirties, with a bouffant of dyed black hair, a thin moustache, and a big frilly cravat. His red waistcoat and black pants were immaculately pressed with not a crease or wrinkle in sight. His white shirt was practically day-glo, with its starchy collar sticking into his slightly chubby neck.
“I don’t think we would have rooms for gentlemen of your …kind here. Our clientele are quite particular about retaining a classy ambience around the hotel. I’m sure you understand.” He drawled in a patronising tone.
“So tell me, do you stuff your own shirts or do you have them sent away?” asked Chester sarcastically. This guy really pissed him off. Mike could see another confrontation coming and knew it wouldn’t do any good. Just as the concierge was about to open his mouth, he stepped in.
“We have rooms reserved here, under Linkin Park.” The man reluctantly stepped up to the computer and typed the name in. He smirked.
“I’m sorry there are no reservations here under that name” he said not trying too hard to disguise his relish.
“That’s spelled L-I-N-K-I-N” replied Mike/Chris acidly. He went back to the computer and frowned as the name came up. He sighed and collected five keys from the rack behind him. He blew a shrill whistle, summoning the porter.
“Please bring these men’s cases up to their rooms please Hubert” The young porter looked no older than 18. He loaded the guys’ suitcases onto a trolley and wheeled it towards the elevator. They followed him and stepped in. After a second he spoke
“Hey I’m a big fan of you guys but …why are you wearing those masks?”
“Long story”, sighed Brad/Justin. “Don’t get me started!”
Phoenix had been watching his friends now for about an hour. His eyes were smarting from the glare of the TV screen. His mind was a maze of confusion and it hurt when he tried to grasp the magnitude of what was happening. Some lunatic in a cloak who was now holding him prisoner had disfigured his friends somehow. He felt anxious also about the last thing cloak-dude had said to him. He didn’t understand it. Phoenix had asked him what he wanted, how it could be fixed.
The only reply Phoenix got from his captor was “I want your essence.” He shuddered visibly now thinking about it. Cloak-dude has sounded truly evil when he said those words over an hour ago, and what was his ‘essence’ anyway? He decided not to think about it because it could mean one of many things, none of which was something he was willing to part with.
He was disturbed from his thoughts by that familiar sound; the bolt being drawn back from the door. The feeling of dread in the bottom of his stomach returned. The cloaked figure floated into the cellar as if floating in an impalpable gust of wind. Phoenix watched in silence as cloak-dude moved towards the cage containing Ricky Martin's decaying body. He poked it with a bony finger.
“Hmm, this one is taking longer to rot” he mused, “he must have a higher level of hairspray in his bloodstream that the others.” He looked towards Phoenix who was glaring at him with a frustrated look on his face. Every time cloak-dude spoke, Phoenix would listen intently, searching for any clues to his identity. Phoenix had no luck though even though he definitely recognised the voice.
“How are your friends?” asked the man with obvious amusement in his voice. I see your friend Mr. Hahn had a little scuffle with some vicious thirteen year-old girls. He burst out laughing. His cackling made Dave sick to his stomach.
“This is seriously fucked up man! It’s not the least bit funny, we have shit to do, gigs, interviews and look at them!! How are they gonna do that? Huh? Now what do you want?!!” he yelled with vehemence.
“I have already told you, I want your essence” he replied calmly.
“What the fuck is my essence?!” Phoenix screamed in frustration at cloak-dudes vagueness.
“Your essence? It’s YOU, your soul, your spirit, your psyche. It’s everything you are and I need it.”
“Why do you want it? You have your own fucking soul, I need
“if only……” he whispered in longing. He quickly realised that he was showing his weakness to Dave and immediately he stepped up to the TV screen alongside him.
“I think its time for some relief,” he said frivolously. He picked up the remote control and pointed it at the screen. Again the picture became fuzzy, Phoenix squinted making out five figures, five familiar figures. He gasped; he was looking at his five friends.
“Hey did you change them back? Please say you did,” gibbered Phoenix but cloak-dude wasn’t listening, he was busy banging the side of the television.
“God dammit I called the TV repair shop last week”, he growled in rage, “But the bastards sent some dumb fucker out who didn’t know his ass from his elbow”, he swung around to face a cage containing the body of a young man, not long dead wearing TV-repair overalls.
“Did you?! You couldn’t improve my sound quality and now look at you!” cloaked-dude shouted at the corpse “won’t even get to go to community college now though eh?” he sneered. Finally after some more pounding on the TV, the sound returned. Phoenix’s’ eyes were wide in anticipation of hearing his friends voices. But it wasn’t the voices of his friends that he heard. First of all he heard the high-pitched whine coming out of Brad’s body.
“Why has this happened? Look at me I have facial hair! My face, my beautiful face, someone stole it!!”
“Oh shut up will you, we all feel the same but you don’t see us screaming like babies… anymore” snapped Mike’s body, which had Chris’s voice to match.
“Yeah man, I mean look at me for god sakes, I’m plastered in awful tattoos and my hair is all weird, I look like an idiot!” sobbed JC’s voice coming from Chester’s lips. They stopped arguing as they heard the soft voice coming from the corner of the room. Joe’s body was curled up into a foetal position, with his thumb stuck in his mouth. He was rocking himself back and forth and hugging his arms to his chest.
“No..no..its all gonna be fine….just ok….really hunky dory….yes just fine..” he was whispering to himself, his eyes wide. The other four looked at each other in dismay.
“I think he’s broken”, ventured Lance/Rob.
“Dude get a grip”, Chris shouted at Joey but he continued his raving, trying to comfort himself. Saying everything was going to be ok.
“He’s seriously gone mental guys!”, cried JC/Chester.
“I can’t say I blame him, if that’s what it takes for him to cope then who are we to stop him?” shouted Justin/Brad.
“Hey breaking down in hysterics isn’t going to do anyone any good!” screamed Chris back at him, looking him in the eyes. The pair stared at each other with hostility for a few seconds before JC/Chester stepped between the two.
“Guys look at us!”, he whimpered, “We’re falling apart, we have to stick together to get through this”
“yeah whatever”, agreed Chris reluctantly.
“I need to get out of here!” shouted Brad/Justin he stalked towards the door.
“Dude wait, what about the body thing?” called JC after him.
“I don’t care”, replied Justin almost in tears, “I just need to be on my own right now”, and with that he ran out of the room with salty tears stinging his cheeks.
Phoenix looked up from the TV set still not feeling any better. He turned to cloak-dude.
“How is this relief?!” It was just distressing him further seeing his friends’ bodies being invaded by these whinging pricks!
“I didn’t say it was relief for you”, he replied still laughing at the picture of Brad’s body sitting in a corner with tears running down his face.
“Just take my soul!” said Phoenix wincing in embarrassment. He knew it wasn’t Brad crying but he couldn’t help cringing.
“I can’t just take it”, replied cloak-dude suddenly serious.
“You have to give it to me” he replied matter-of-factly.
“How the fuck do I do that?”
“It’s different for everyone, it can’t be described in words. You must look inside yourself and grasp your essence. Pull it to the surface and offer it to me”
“What?!” cried Phoenix in disbelief.
“You have some….soul-searching to do!” howled cloak-dude, amused by his own sick joke, “Don’t let me rush you though ‘cause I really want to see how these guys cope!”. With that he left the cellar again, bolting that big door behind him. His awful cackling could be heard fading as he distanced himself from phoenix’s’ prison. Phoenix stared at the door feeling powerless.
“Great” he said aloud. He knew he would never be able to grab his soul, I mean come on! What a load of crap! Well that was what Phoenix was thinking anyway. He’d have to think of an alternate plan.
Brad was feeling like shit. He and his friends had been changed into people he hated, and it was just his bad luck that he was the one to get stuck with the stupidest looking and most annoying member of N*Sync! Worst of all, there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. But just to put a cherry on top, Dave, his good friend, was missing.
No one had seen him since last night and Brad was getting seriously worried about it. After the guys had been shown to their rooms, Brad decided to get some air. He couldn’t stick that damn mask anymore, his head felt like it was exploding when he wore it. Now he was walking down the hotel corridor as Justin Timberlake and at this stage he didn’t give a shit who saw him. But he wasn’t going to feel this low for much longer…
He saw a slender female figure walking towards him but he was in too much of a bad mood to be checking out girls so he didn’t even bother looking at her face. He kept on walking, ignoring the girl, and looking at the floor. He was halfway past her when she stopped him by grabbing his arm gently. He looked up and his jaw dropped. He was faced with an angel, the woman of his dreams, his fantasy girl, his heart started racing. She looked puzzled at his shocked expression.
“Hey baby are you ok? You were supposed to be in my room half an hour ago!” said Britney, concerned.
“Uh, I got delayed with some… stuff,” replied Brad/Justin hesitantly, he felt excited. Britneys expression became even more puzzled when she heard Brads voice.
“You sure sound weird Jus, did your voice break or something?”, she asked innocently.
“Eh… yeah that’s what happened” replied Brad/Justin raising a perfectly tweezed eyebrow.
“Hey good for you, now you can talk dirty to me like a real man” she said seductively. Brads heart pounded faster, he felt as if it would burst through his chest. He changed his mind, there were perks to being a dumb-fuck like Justin!
“Lets go back to my room honey, I got your favourite for you” she teased.
“My favourite?” asked Brad/Justin, confused. She giggled shyly, leaned in and pressed her lips to Brad’s ear lobe.
“Chocolate mousse” she whispered softly. She stepped back and laughed, enjoying how she could always turn her man on. She led him by the arm down the corridor towards her hotel room. She hastily opened her door with the key and roughly pushed Brad into the room. She leaned against the back of the door to close it and with a sexy smile, locked it again.
She strode towards him, grasping the front of his shirt. Pulling him close she licked her lips and pressed her moist mouth to his, running her tongue along his lower lip. Brad, aroused, ran his fingers through her hair and stroked her tongue with his own. She ran her hands down his back and massaged his butt, he did the same to her pulling her closer to him, she moaned softly with pleasure. She stepped forward, thrusting her thigh between his legs. Brad immediately feeling his body’s reaction to the move jumped back from Britney, breaking the embrace. His conscience was plaguing him, Britney, sweet Britney, thought he was someone else, someone she loved. How could he carry on, taking advantage of the situation? She was another guy’s girlfriend, someone he loathed, true but what he was doing was wrong. Britney looked exasperated.
“What’s wrong honey? If you’re worried about your little problem coming back, don’t. It hasn’t happened for ages, but it’s ok ‘cause it happens to lots of guys at some time in their lives” she said sympathetically.
“No its not that…I just don’t feel right, you know I think I should….” He tried to make an excuse but he didn’t get the chance. Britney pushed him forcefully onto the bed.
“I know what you want” she said sharply, with mock anger, “You want ‘Nasty Britney’ back”. Brad propped himself up on his elbows.
“What?” he cried, unable to stop a giggle from escaping. Britney ripped off her own clothes, tossing them carelessly on the floor.
“Oohhh…” Brad/Justin exhaled sharply. Britney turned around and walked towards a chair with an open suitcase on top of it. As she bent over to rummage around the suitcase, Brad couldn’t help admiring her physique. Her ass was even nicer than he had imagined, her hips and breasts; the perfect definition of womanly curves. He found his resolve crumbling, he wanted her and, if he wanted, he could have her. She found what she was looking for in the case and stood up straight facing him with a mischievous look in her eyes.
His eyes fell on the objects she was holding and widened. The sunlight reflected off the handcuffs and he squinted, once the glare passed he saw that she also had a leather whip and a blind-fold. She threw them onto the bed alongside a dish of chocolate mousse. Moving towards Brad again, she roughly pulled off his shirt, tearing it slightly and pushed him onto his back. Then she pulled off his shoes, pants and boxers until he was lying completely naked (except for his Bart Simpson socks) in front of her. At this stage Brad/Justin was getting very excited and his breathing became shallow.
Britney grabbed the bowl of chocolate mousse and smeared a generous dollop across Brad/Justin’s chest and stomach. She glided her tongue from his navel to his left nipple, sucking it lightly. Brad groaned in satisfaction. She stuck her chocolaty tongue into his mouth; Brad enjoyed the rich flavour and moaned some more.
“Mmmmmmmm more more!” he shouted. Britney did as she was told, only this time smearing the mousse across her own chest and allowing Brad to lick it off. She reached behind her and grabbed the handcuffs.
Violently grabbing Brad/Justin’s wrists she clamped them to the bedpost behind his head. She straddled him and started bouncing up and down as if she were riding a rodeo horse.
“Yee Haw!!” she screamed excitedly, “Who’s yo momma! Who’s yo momma!”
“Oh yeah!” screamed Brad/Justin in reply “You are, you are!”
They were going at it hammer and tongs when they heard the sound of a key being turned in the lock of the hotel room door. Britney turned around in a panic.
“Who the hell is that?! You’re the only person I gave a key to!”
“Uh oh…” said Brad in a panic, “Get these handcuffs off me!” Britney unlocked Brad just as Justin, in Brad’s body walked into the bedroom.
“Sorry I’m late babe...” he began before looking up to see Brad in his body naked with his girlfriend.
“Oh my God!!!” he screamed in desperation, “You bastard, get off my girlfriend!”. Britney recognised the voice of her lover.
“Justin?…. what the…who’s this guy…I mean which one of you is..” She furrowed her brow, trying to figure out which one was her boyfriend. She screamed in frustration.
“I think I better go now…” Said Brad quietly, putting his clothes back on and heading for the door.
“Oh no you don’t” Shouted Justin, “I want my body back!” He dived for Brad, pinning his own scrawny body to the floor. Brad tried to head butt his own body but the mass of curly hair on his head cushioned the blow and it had little effect.
“No no stop it stop it!” screeched Britney as Justin threw Brad across a table, smashing it into pieces. She dived between the two, separating them. They stood panting, glaring at each other resentfully.
“Now I have no idea what in Gods name is going on or why you two seem to be changed around and stuff but fighting won’t fix it” She said unwavering.
“Yeah”, the two grunted their surrenders in unison.
“Are you guys in the same boat as us?” Brad asked Justin. It felt so weird for him to be asking questions of his own body.
“Yeah, you got any idea what’s goin on?” replied Justin grudgingly.
“Nope. But I suggest we all meet up and try to work things out. We’re just as pissed off about this as you are!”
“Agreed”, said Justin
“Well I’m coming with you”, interrupted Britney, pulling on the last of her clothes. The three walked out of the room, Brad collected his band mates from their rooms, and Justin did the same with his. They agreed to meet up back at Brad’s room to try and sort the mess out. Little did they know that it was beyond their control or what price would have to be paid for it.
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|