It was a surreal picture. The five members of N*Sync (in Linkin Park bodies) and five members of Linkin Park (in N*Sync bodies) sat around Brad’s hotel suite. Britney sat cross-legged on Brad’s big king-size bed similar to the one they had fucked on just a few minutes earlier. Brad still had the taste of chocolate mousse in his mouth. Well that and the taste of blood since Justin had split his lip when they were fighting.
“Right so we’ve compared stories and they are identical. No one has any idea precisely when we changed or how.” Mike was stating the obvious.
“Yeah so how are we supposed to figure out how to change it back if we have absolutely no idea what happened?! It’s hopeless,” whined Justin, tears threatening to fall again. Chester looked at him in disgust.
“I know what happened,” he said sarcastically, “we woke up this morning to the most disgustingly repulsive sight of our lives. Not only do we have no clue how it happened or how to change it back but our bassist is missing and nobody knows what could have happened to him. You dumb fuckers have been crying and whinging all day while we have been attacked, ridiculed and abused. We had to come and sit in a fucking room with you lot for half and hour and still at the end of it all we are no further on than this fucking morning!!” He spat his last sentence with violence and jumped out of his seat short of breath and eyes blazing. “And YOU!” He turned to JC sitting in his body, “What the FUCK are you making me wear?!” Mike could tell the pressure was finally getting to him and stood beside him offering a calming hand on Chester’s shoulder.
“Dude,” he said gently. “Why don’t you go out on the balcony. Have a smoke, get some air, whatever”. Chester looked him in the eyes and, even though they weren’t Mike’s eyes, he could still see the concern in them. He picked up his cigarettes and strode out to the balcony and lit up. Taking a long drag of the cigarette managed to calm him some but his still felt on edge.
The guys’ interview with MTV was in 15 minutes and they were worried.
“Can’t we just blow it off?” asked Joe. He was feeling weird looking at Joey and his delirium. It was as if he was looking into a mirror and seeing himself, except he saw what he was feeling on the inside; confused, scared, a little crazy. Mr. Hahn wasn’t falling apart like Joey though, he could keep his exterior looking relatively cool even though his insides were in turmoil.
“Nope” answered Brad shortly, “I tried this morning but the tour managers won’t let us.” He sighed in frustration.
“I guess it’s the masks again,” offered Rob, scrunching up his face at the prospect of more time spent roasting in that thing.
“Unless…” Mike began…
“Oh no, not another one of your brilliant ideas” interrupted Joe sarcastically. Mike gave him a withering glance and continued.
“I’m sure you guys have interviews too right?” he directed at N*Sync. They nodded.
“Well then I suggest we swap interviews,” He sounded unsure.
“This is even worse than the masks thing Mike really you are the king of bad ideas” laughed Joe; half thinking Mike was just teasing. But he wasn’t, and his stern face confirmed it. Joe groaned agonizingly.
“Well that’s all gonna look fine and dandy but as soon as we open our mouths then our cover will be blown”, said Rob.
“Blame the sound equipment”, answered Mike.
“We know nothing about each others music!”
“We’ll make it up, joke around whatever.”
“What about our clothes?” Rob looked around the room. JC looked drowned in his own clothes and one look at Chester standing hunched over the railings showed why. JC’s body was about fit to burst through Chester’s clothes. The other guys had similar fitting problems not to mention style differences. They decided to swap outfits with each other. Mike felt uneasy as he saw Chris strip his body and put on the clothes Mike handed to him.
While this was going on, Britney had wandered out onto the balcony. She didn’t know how she was feeling. All she knew was that the sex she had with Brad in the room earlier was the best she had ever had. Brad had used Justin’s meagre apparatus to the best possible effect she thought and giggled. She sighed, now she was questioning her feelings for Justin. Secretly she hoped that the bodies never switched back and she could carry on seeing Brad and no one would know any difference. But she knew it was a stupid wish, and unfair but she couldn’t help it. She closed her eyes and smiled, licking her lips at the thought of more time with Brad. She was disrupted from her fantasising by Brad. He stepped out onto the balcony with her looking nervous.
“Um, I want to apologise for earlier. I shouldn’t have slept with you, it was selfish and wrong and I’m sorry,” He said awkwardly.
“Don’t apologise. I… liked it, it was better than before and somehow I knew it wasn’t Justin because he could never make me feel that good.”
“Oh”, said Brad, surprised. He didn’t think it was his best work especially considering the lack of tackle he had to work with. But a bad workman always blames his tools.
“But I love Justin, I really do. I think this whole situation is making everyone a little crazy so lets just forget about what happened ok?”
“Yeah, you’re right” replied Brad sombrely. But unknown to each other, what they had just agreed on was the complete opposite to what they wanted. Britney walked back into the bedroom coming face-to-face with Justin. She looked him over deciding that the whole Brad parcel was something she could definitely live with.
“Hi babe, I know you’re sorry about the whole thing with Brad but you don’t have to be. I know how hard this must be for you.
“Yeah it’s hard” She looked away thinking to herself “Hard?! Huh, not something you experience a lot eh Jus? You have problems with ‘hard’. But not Brad…” She stopped herself thinking those wicked thoughts again. She was with Justin and that was the end of it.
The two groups gathered back in one place again once all the clothes’s swapping was finished. Now they looked more like themselves.
“Now everyone be cool, try not to talk too much, joke about anything you don’t know how to answer. Lets not screw this up”, urged Mike, trying to keep the groups from falling apart.
“Yeah go team”, said Mr. Hahn indifferently. He was glad to see that Joey had pulled himself together a little. He was no longer curled up in a ball, ranting to himself. He was standing upright, unaided, not saying anything. They left the room, the n sync guys heading for Linkin Park’s MTV interview and Linkin Park heading for N*Sync's interview. They were told it was for a teen girls magazine called “Girly”.
“Great! Here we go!” thought Chester, entering the interview room. The interviewer was a woman in her early twenties wearing a pink dress with flowers on it. Her blonde hair was tied up into little pigtail bunches. Her eyes lit up when she saw N*Sync enter the room. Rob turned to him and chuckled cheerlessly, echoing Chester’s sentiments.
“Half an hour of mindless prattling about how incredibly dreamy N*Sync are and how their music is just soo brillo” he whispered. He rolled his eyes and exhaled noisily puffing out his cheeks. They sat down while the interviewer fidgeted annoyingly at her hair, fingernails, paper, whatever she touched.
“Will you RELAX!” said Mike to her a little too forcefully. He tried to cover it up by laughing good-naturedly. “We don’t bite,” he said gently this time. The interview started badly as expected.
“I’m here with the gorgeous N*Sync, how lucky am I?” she squealed ecstatically into her tape-recorder. Mike raised an eyebrow.
“Not as lucky as we are to actually be N*Sync” he said with mock-seriousness, which fooled the interviewer (whose name was Candy).
“So guys, I know some of you are taken” she began, looking directly at Brad/Justin, “But do any of the rest of you have girlfriends yet?” she giggled.
“Yeah actually, I just got married in Las Vegas to an exotic dancer called ‘Ivana Suck’. We’re extremely happy”, replied Chester sardonically. Mike had to cover his mouth to stifle laughter. Candy looked crushed but eventually she got it.
“Haha gee you had me going for a minute!” she gasped.
The interview went on like this for about 30 minutes, the guys never seeming to run out of sarcastic answers to Candy’s brainless questioning. Meanwhile in another hotel room, N*Sync were struggling with their MTV interview.
“So guys, you’re playing tonight here in Chicago. The tickets for this gig sold out within a couple of hours. How does it feel to be this much in demand?” asked the interviewer. The N*Sync boys were extremely tense and the presence of TV cameras and crew didn’t help matters!
“Well, its really great”, replied Chris/Mike, lacklustre. Silence.
“Eh, ok tell us how the tour’s been so far. Are you feeling the effects of too many late nights yet?!”
“Yeah, I try to go to bed early cause I need my beauty sleep. Some of the other bands party all the time but we don’t”, replied JC/Chester. They were making Linkin Park out to be a right pack of lushes. And it only got worse. When questioned about the album, they called it ‘Hybrid Thingy’, asked who the hell the ‘dust brothers’ were and said that they wrote most of the songs themselves “words and everything”. Things couldn’t carry on like this. They couldn’t even bluff their way through an interview, how the fuck would they do a concert?!
Dave had been busting his ass trying to think of a solution for hours now. He had no ideas that didn’t involve either his being beaten to a bloody pulp and hung in a cage to putrefy, or, losing his soul to an evil psycho. Seeing as getting his ass severely kicked wouldn’t do his friends any good, he decided to give cloak-dude what he wanted; his soul. Now he was staring into space in a hypnotic trance, trying to grasp his essence. He kept interrupting his daze by giggling hysterically. The stuffy, dark, damp cellar was getting to him, scratching away at his nerves. He felt like he was losing his mind.
“Pull yourself together Dave!” he scolded himself. Again he tried to concentrate on pulling out his soul. The bolt drew back and into the cellar glided the familiar cloaked figure. By now Phoenix found his short visits strangely comforting, it meant he wasn’t as completely alone as he felt.
“I see you’ve been trying very hard but I fear you won’t be successful”, he said wisely.
“No shit”, snapped Phoenix. What the fuck did he expect? Cloak-dude sighed with a sadness that shocked Phoenix. He hadn’t picked up on his captor’s earlier weakness; his mind was elsewhere. Now he was stunned by the emotion shown by him.
“So what now?” he asked cautiously.
“Now? Now I fail… again.” he sighed with frustration. “All I wanted was for him to be proud of me…” he whispered with longing. His frailty was confusing Phoenix, it seemed contradictory to his character. He began to feel uncomfortable, uncertain but also more than a little curious. What could possibly make a man of steel like cloak-dude feel so miserable?
“Wanted who to be proud of you?” he asked gently. Cloak-dude turned his hidden face towards Phoenix.
“Daddy”, the word came from the black void beneath his hood.
“Your Dad? why wouldn’t he be proud of you?”, Dave prodded. He could see weakness and thought maybe he could exploit it.
“He never was, he always said I was a failure.” he whinged. “I’m not evil enough you see”
“Oh… but you’re very evil. Really look at the mess you’ve caused, the misery!” said Phoenix gesturing to the television screen.
“Hah, never good enough for him! He never loved me. When I was little he’d never spend time with me.”
“Oh, well lots of kids have parents like that you’re not alone.”
“Oh I am!, he hated me calling him Dad. ‘Call me Satan damn you!’ he’d shout.”
“Satan, you mean the devil, Beelzebub?!” Dave cried in disbelief.
“Yeah, the very same” beamed Cloak-dude proudly.
“Oh my God you’re the son of Satan?”
“Technically yes. But he doesn’t treat me like a son…” he raised a dirty Kleenex under his hood, walked over to his den and sat on a rickety chair. Phoenix followed him. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Cloak-dude continued his heart-breaking tale as Phoenix sat on a chair beside him.
“He always said he was sorry he’d ever spawned me in the first place” he blubbered, leaning over onto Phoenix’s shoulder. Awkwardly Phoenix wrapped his arms around the slender, trembling body of cloak-dude.
“Shhh….” He soothed.
“Oh I had finally tried to turn my back on him but I couldn’t, not without a soul to call my own. You see I’d taken these peoples souls” he waved at the bodies in the cages, “But it only lasts a little while, if the soul isn’t given freely. I wanted you to give me yours so I could finally turn my back on evil”, he sobbed. Phoenix could feel the tears drop onto his forearm. In that moment he actually felt sorry for Cloak-dude. He really wanted to give him his soul, not only so he could be happy but also so he would turn his band back to their normal, non-shit selves.
Cloak-dude could feel Phoenix’s sympathy and at that moment he saw the soul coming towards the surface, freely and completely. He took his chance and grabbed it, pulling it towards him and into the place where his heart should be. There was a blinding flash of light and Phoenix could feel a tugging sensation deep in his chest. Then he felt nothing, just emptiness…
Cloak-dude felt triumphant. At last a soul to call his own. He leaped out of Phoenix’s arms and laughed that evil cackle again. His plan had worked. Knowing that Phoenix couldn’t give his soul without a little incentive, he engineered the switch of the bodies. But that alone wasn’t enough so he fabricated the whole ‘Daddy doesn’t love me’ saga to make Dave feel compassion towards him. It wasn’t entirely false however. He was the son of Satan but his Daddy loved him, and he was plenty evil to meet his approval. He was interestingly enough, usually a man of his word. He was thinking about changing the two groups back but as soon as he looked at the TV screen again he saw a sight to make him think again.
Mike, Joe, Chester, Brad and Rob were standing in a line, complete with their N*Sync bodies. They seemed to be on a stage, it looked like some kind of rehearsal. In front of them stood a very pissed off looking choreographer.
“What the hell is wrong with you guys?” she screamed in frustration.
“You’ve been doing this routine for months. Now you all seem to have grown two left feet overnight.”
“That’s not all that’s happened overnight”, muttered Chester under his breath.
“So come on what’s your excuse?” demanded the choreographer.
“We just forgot the routine that’s all”, lied Joe
“You forgot the routines guys, ALL of them!!!” She took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Ok lets try this one again, from the top”, she ordered. The five groaned. This was humiliation of the highest order; forced to do an N*Ssync dance routine by some pushy, jumped up dance teacher.
“Tell me again why we agreed to do this for those dick-weeds?”, hissed Rob at Brad.
“Because they’re doing our sound checks, god help us. If that Timberlake breaks my guitar I’ll break his fucking face”, he replied angrily.
“Great, well I think its safe to say they’re screwing up our sound check as much as we’re screwing up their dance rehearsal!”
The instructor glared at Rob and Brad who were whispering to each other instead of joining in the dancing. They took the hint. She pressed “play” on the small CD player at her feet and out came the familiarly annoying sound of an N*Sync song. Chester couldn’t figure out which one because to him they all sounded the same. They reluctantly started dancing (well an attempt at dancing) but they weren’t a boy band, they had no experience of prancing along to a set routine. When they went on stage they just let loose. It was an embarrassing sight. They were out of rhythm, had no idea of the steps and well, couldn’t really be bothered trying. They dragged their feet along the ground as the choreographer shouted “One two three and step two three…” Mike tried to copy a complicated twirling move made by the instructor but instead landed flat on his ass with a painful thump. The instructor sighed noisily and restarted the song.
“Now, from the beginning” she yelled over the din and they groaned again.
Cloak-dude, still elated from getting his new soul (but still his same old crappy sadistic self) doubled over from the laughter. Dave, still reeling from his experience looked at him with fresh new hate in his eyes. He had been flooded with evil, violent thoughts since his soul had been taken and he had no idea what to do. Cloak-dude still in hysterical fits of laughter, neglected his façade. As he doubled over again, his hood slipped back and for the first time Phoenix could see his face.
“You!!!!” he screeched, recognition plastered all over his face. Loathing filled him up. Cloak-dude, realising he had let his cover slip, stood over Dave sneering.
“Now you know, I have to say, I thought you’d figure it out sooner” he smirked. “But I suppose it was too much to expect from you”. He looked down at him in disgust. Phoenix was truly shocked at the revelation. He looked up into his eyes, those unnatural eyes, picturing the pain he would like to inflict on that bastard.
Linkin Park and N*Sync had gathered back at Brad's hotel room again after their disastrous interview and rehearsal-swapping incident. Nothing had changed, they were still ass-ways; the Linkin Park guys in N*Syncs bodies and vice-versa. Everyone was feeling truly miserable and there was still no word from Phoenix. The guys were due back at their venue in an hour for their show. But there was no way that it could go ahead the way things were. Chester had tried to sing in his mask but sounded as if he was locked in a closet, Brad couldn't see his guitar through his and Mr. Hahn couldn't suck his lollipops through his. N*Sync had already called up to cancel their gig; no amount of explaining could warrant them to wear freak masks onstage, they might scar the teenyboppers for life.
Now Mike was losing faith. He stood up, took a deep breath and addressed his band mates.
"I think we better cancel too. It doesn't look like this situation is going to change any time soon", he said regretfully. Chester looked up at him from his seat on the sofa, taking a moment out from pumping JC's body full of nicotine to answer.
"No way, we wear the masks, come on grin and bear it. We're not quitters we can't drop out now" he said, desperation creeping into his voice.
"No Mike's right Chaz, we have to reschedule the concert to another time when we can play properly. I'm not going to go out there tonight and give the fans a half-assed show!" interrupted Brad impatiently.
"Yeah. Yeah you're right", Chester conceded. Mike stood up and reached for the phone. He began dialling the number when a hand closed gently around his wrist. He looked up to see Rob looking pleadingly at him.
"Leave it a few minutes man, please?" he begged. Mike could tell that Rob was holding on, hoping that everything would revert back just in time. He decided it would do no harm to humour him for a while.
"Ok, a few minutes", he answered, putting the phone back in its cradle. They sat down again in silence; the only sound coming from Chester's cigarette lighter as he lit up another Marlboro.
Phoenix was on the brink of insanity. His soul had
been ripped from his body and now the void it had left inside him was
filling up with feelings of anger, thoughts of violence, and impulses
for evil. Cloak-dude, minus the hood, sat forward on his chair watching
with fascination as Phoenix lay on the floor terrified of his own
thoughts now that he was capable
"Why? What have we ever done to you?" he beseeched.
"What have you ever done to me? I'll tell you.
We used to be the biggest, the best. Then you guys came along. We're
having a bad patch that's all but the fans are so fickle. You copied our
music, you took our fans. You're ruining us!! Plus I hate N*Suck,
and I thought
Phoenix stood up and walked towards him. He stood facing him looking directly into the contact lens covered eyes of Wes Borland. Again the violent, evil urges filled him up but he fought them.
"We did not copy you guys ok? Your fans are leaving 'cause Chocolate Starfish was the biggest heap of crap they'd ever heard. But you are still one of the biggest bands in the world. And this stunt with N*Stink WAS NOT FUNNY!!" he screamed his last words; releasing the fury he could no longer bottle up.
"Now." he said quietly, "change those guys back to their normal selves or I will give in to this impulse to rip off your head and shit down your neck", he added calmly. Wes, no longer having the same penchant for evil as he had pre-soul, and not wanting to get his ass whooped by a now, very evil Phoenix, decided to give in. He walked (not gliding anymore) over to his bookcase and took down an old book. Opening it on a marked page, he began reciting an incantation:
"Corpus anus dumbus switchus to corpus kickus anus bandus"
There was a blinding flash of light and Phoenix lost consciousness again.
Mike reached for the phone and again started dialling but he was stopped dead in his tracks. A small blue globe of light floated into the room and hovered in the centre about 4 feet from the floor.
"What the hel-" began Joe but he was drowned out by the sound of the ball exploding. They raised their arms trying to shield their eyes but they, like Phoenix lost consciousness. Five minutes later, they started to come around again.
"Oh man, what the fuck just happened?" groaned Brad, reaching up to rub his sore head. He opened his eyes wide and released a short squeal; his big head of curly hair was gone, replaced by Brad's own short hair, he rubbed his beard and laughed. Everyone else found that they had their own bodies back and sighed, cheered or just laughed with relief. Joe jumped up from the sofa with Joey and the pair hugged each other in a tight embrace before quickly separating with embarrassed looks.
"Wait a minute" shouted Mike over the commotion, "Where's Dave?" Everyone looked around but Phoenix wasn't with them. Everybody's glee faded a little.
Phoenix came around lying in a bathtub with a woeful headache. He figured he'd gotten pretty drunk last night (that would explain his being in a bathtub) and the whole soul thing was just a nightmare. These assumptions didn't last long however as he felt the evil urges and violent thoughts occupying his thoughts. He stood up and got out of the bath. Walking to the door and opening it greeted him with sighs of relief and hugs from his friends. He smiled along with them, but it was false. Inside he wasn't smiling at their relief to see him, inside he pictured the hurt and pain he could cause. Then he smiled.
The ruckus died down and Linkin Park and N*Sync parted company, 'and not a moment too soon', thought Joe, finally glad to be rid of Joey, who had felt the need to hug him incessantly since the switch back again. The guys headed for the elevator, on their way to the venue to perform in a short while.
"You guys go on", said Brad, in his own voice at last.
"I'll catch up in a minute".
"Cool", replied Chester, pressing the 'ground floor' button. Brad didn't wait until the doors closed to walk back up the corridor. He couldn't leave before he did this one thing. He knocked on Britneys hotel room door. She looked pleased to see him when she opened the door.
"Look Britney." he began before she interrupted.
"Shhhhhhh, Justin's in the shower", she whispered.
"Ok, look I can't stop thinking about you since we.. um.."
"Yeah me neither".
"There's one thing I have to do before I
go", he said before moving closer, running his fingers through her
soft hair again and kissing her passionately. Their tongues circled in
each other's mouths. Brad pulled
"I'll see you around sometime", he said as casually as he could.
"Mmmmmm, I hope so", replied Britney sounding sincere.
Brad turned and walked away leaving Britney staring after him but she couldn't see the broad smile plastered across his face.
"Dude!!!! I cant believe you speared Britney!!!" cried Chester disbelievingly. They were back on their tour bus after playing a storming gig. Brad had told them all about his escapade with the delightful Ms. Spears. He hadn't told them EVERYTHING of course, that stuff was between him and Britney. As the rest of the band laughed at story, Phoenix sat in the corner, unsmiling.
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|