Today I did another writing prompt using Pitchstorm, and it rapidly turned into Velvet Goldmine fanfic. I may (or may not) eventually post it to AO3, and if I do, the title of this post will be the title of the fic there. It comes from the opening narration of the movie, which includes the line “While everything forgotten hangs in dark dreams of the past, ever threatening to return…”
Though Pete didn’t know it until years later, it had started the day before he was born, February 6th, 1974.
The day before his tenth birthday, he’d seen a “Ten Years Ago Today” feature in one of the local newspapers, talking about how a rock singer named Brian Slade had pulled the cruelest stunt of all times, tricking his millions of fans into thinking he had been murdered. Being nine—almost ten!—Pete actually thought it was pretty cool, getting to play dead like that. But more than anything else, he couldn’t get the image of Brian Slade out of his head. The face, the poise, the costume: that full-color photograph stuck in his mind as vividly as if he had been there himself.
When he turned eleven and still couldn’t stop thinking about Brian Slade, he started looking for copies of his music. It was hard to find—a clerk at one of the music stores he went to related the tragic story of enraged fans burning their Brian Slade records in the street when they found out the shooting had been a prank—but Pete eventually managed to get a hold of all of Brian’s records. The music spoke to him in ways he didn’t know music could.
By the time he turned fifteen, Pete had amassed enough old books and magazine articles from garage sales and library cast-offs and used book stores that he knew Brian’s brief flash of a career like the back of his hand. He took to wearing an iron-on patch in the shape of two cherries on his jean jacket, as a signal to anyone else who was in the know.
No one paid any attention to it until the summer of Pete’s fifteenth year, when his family took a trip to New York City. His parents and his older sister were going to see some stodgy Broadway musical revived from the 1950s, but Pete begged off, claiming a headache, a stomachache, anything that would let him get out of going with them. As soon as they were gone, he put on the snazziest clothes he had with him, and snuck out of the hotel, headed for the one place he was sure he would finally fit in.
He was feeling a bit nervous by the time he finally got to the bar and saw the sign with the famous name “Stonewall.” What if he was wrong? What if he didn’t fit in there, either? Maybe he just didn’t belong anywhere.
Still, he had to find out, so he went inside, ducking past the person checking IDs when they were busy with other guests. Pete was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds in front of him, and headed towards the bar, hoping he might be able to con the bartender into selling him a drink.
There was only one empty seat, right on the corner, next to a tall, slender man with dark hair. Pete slipped onto the chair quietly, hoping the man wouldn’t notice him until he’d gotten a bit of liquid courage. Assuming he could get any.
“That seat’s taken,” the man told him, a heavy accent on his vowels. “My partner’s just off in the loo.”
“Oh…sorry.” Pete looked up at the man, and saw that he was surpassingly pretty. Whoever he was, he had the same effect on Pete that the photos of Brian Slade did, setting his heart to thumping in his chest. He wasn’t in the wrong place after all! “I just wanted a drink…”
“Little young to be drinking, aren’t you?” The man looked at him more piercingly. “Are you even old enough to be in here?”
Pete smiled helplessly. “Maybe not…?”
“Do your mum and dad know you’re here?”
“Of course not! They think I’m back in the hotel. They’re seeing a play.”
The man sighed. “Wish I’d had the chance to come to a place like this when I was your age.” He shook his head. “Enjoy it while you can. But not from that seat.”
Pete nodded uncomfortably, and hopped down off the stool again. As he did, the man’s eye lit upon the cherries on his jacket, and Pete could see his eyebrows raise.
“Nice jacket,” he said.
“Thanks.” Pete smiled proudly, stroking the cherries. “You like it?”
“It’s very nostalgic,” the man said, with a sigh.
“Um…” Pete bit his lip a moment. “Did you — were you — uh…” What could he even ask? Even if this handsome man had been a Brian Slade fan, maybe he didn’t want the name mentioned. Maybe it was painful for him.
While Pete was dithering, he noticed the man running his fingers along a pin fastened at the throat of his shirt, with a bright green stone on it that seemed to shine from within. The man’s sad, nostalgic smile was suddenly replaced by an uneasy look and wide eyes, moments before a voice from behind him said “You’re in my way, kid.”
Pete turned to see another handsome man, with bleached blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. Even in the low light, Pete couldn’t mistake that face. How many photographs had he seen of those lips kissing Brian Slade’s? “You’re—” he started, but couldn’t get any further before he was edged aside as Curt Wild resumed his seat at the bar.
“You should probably go back before you get in trouble,” the English man said, patting Pete on the shoulder. Then he took the pin off his shirt, and held it out to him. “Here. So you don’t forget who you really are.”
As Pete stared at the pin in surprise and wonder, Curt looked at his boyfriend almost suspiciously, then glanced at Pete. His eyes, too, seemed to light on the cherries, and he suddenly let out a low chuckle. “Someone’s being a real softie today,” he muttered.
“Are you sure it’s okay…?” Pete asked, even as his hand fought to reach for the pin.
“It’s fine,” the man assured him, with a warm smile. “I’ve had it too long, anyway.”
That made Curt laugh, even as Pete finally accepted the pin. The metal was cool to the touch, but the stone had an inner warmth to it. “Just take care of it,” Curt said. “It used to belong to Oscar Wilde.”
“I will!” Pete promised.
And he did. He guarded the pin jealously all the way home, cradling it in his hands and stroking it as if it was the One Ring. He didn’t dare to put it on his jacket and wear it until he was safely away from the dangers of the big city, back in his dismally dull but comfortingly crime-free suburban home.
The following school year, Pete’s growth spurt gave him the edge he needed to become captain of the basketball team, and he felt like suddenly everyone wanted to be his friend. But only girls wanted to date him, and he hid away his true soul deep inside, terrified of what would happen if anyone found out why he wore that pin and those cherries on his jacket.
Senior year of high school, Pete won a scholarship to go to a special event in Japan during Spring Break. His parents wanted to go with him, but thankfully the scholarship only covered travel for one, so he boarded the plane alone, and soon the land disappeared beneath a bank of clouds, letting him drift away through the skies.
Pete fell asleep in his seat at some point after the plane flew out over the Pacific Ocean, and dreamed of flying saucers filled with beautiful, glittering alien men. When he awoke, he could smell smoke, and his stomach was rising up into his throat.
People were screaming, and there were garbled announcements coming through the speaker system asking the passengers to remain calm.
The crash itself was a blur in Pete’s mind. By the time he was scrambling to get out of the sinking airplane, he wasn’t even sure he had been conscious during the crash; he might have blacked out. The seats didn’t function very well as flotation devices, no matter what the airline had claimed to the contrary. Survivors who couldn’t swim had better luck clinging to floating pieces of luggage.
But Pete could swim, and he thought he could see smoke on the horizon from nearby. He set out swimming for it, promising to send help back for the others, if there was any help to be found. It took him nearly a day to of swimming to reach the source of the smoke. He didn’t know it, but the other survivors were rescued mere hours after he left, and his name had been added to the list of casualties of the crash.
The smoke, it turned out, came from a small island covered in beach and palm trees, with only a few buildings on it, all built from fallen palms and palm fronds. As he collapsed on the sand, he became aware of people running towards him, but he didn’t even care anymore.
He awoke in a shaded room, being fanned by a palm frond. Sitting up, he found that there were about half a dozen girls in the room, all staring at him eagerly. “Ooh, he’s awake!” one of them exclaimed, setting off choruses of giggles outside.
“What…where am I?” Pete asked.
“We used to call it No Man’s Island,” one of the girls said. “Guess we’ll have to change that. What’s your name?”
“We could call it Pete’s Island,” one of the others suggested.
“How about Pete’s Harem?” another giggled.
Pete’s stomach lurched, and he almost threw up right then and there.
The next week was spent seeking spots of refuge. The island, it turned out, was peopled entirely by the survivors of a shipwreck. The ship had belonged to a sorority from a southern Califorinia college, and all the crew had gone down with the ship, leaving only the sorority girls, who had been alone on this island in the unrelenting sun and heat just long enough to go — as far as Pete could tell — entirely mad. They all seemed to want only one thing, and Pete was determined to keep any of them from getting it. The idea of sleeping with a girl at all was bad enough, but to become the sexual plaything of a whole island full of them?
He was trapped in a horror movie. He felt like the lone survivor trying to evade hungry zombies, or maybe trying to keep aliens from implanting chest-bursters in him.
Ironically, when Pete saw lights in the sky above the island on his third grueling, terrifying day there, he was not afraid. Even as the lights drew lower and made themselves plainly obvious as a flying saucer, Pete welcomed them, and ran giddily towards the saucer. It was the same one he had dreamed of so many times, dripping glitter from its lower vents.
The flying saucer hovered just a few feet off the beach, and let down a gangplank. Pete had only to step on the end of the plank for it to begin retracting into the saucer, taking him with it.
Inside, he found a hairless being in shades of blue and turquoise, covered in glitter and gems that seemed to grow from him, part of his skin. The being smiled at him, but didn’t speak.
“Um, thanks for rescuing me,” Pete said. “I, uh, I’m Pete.” He was trying not to stare; the alien was only wearing a feather boa, and he kept getting tantalizing glimpses of his very impressive genitalia.
“Maxwell Demon,” the alien replied, with a lecherous smile, before the ship took off into the stars.
The one thing that bothers me about the story is where I have Arthur call Curt his “partner.” That feels anachronistic for 1989, particularly inside a gay bar. While talking to someone straight and trying to be cagey about the sex of said partner, maybe, but at a gay bar? Just doesn’t feel quite accurate. But I don’t want him to call Curt his “boyfriend,” because that feels really weird (in part because Curt is ten years older than he is, and in part because Curt is a rock star and Arthur is a former fanboy), and “lover” sounded even weirder in that context. Not sure what would have sounded right, but…well, doesn’t matter. Anyway, the prompt this time was:
Character: The most popular kid in school hiding a terrible secret [from the Creature Feature expansion]
Plot: gets stranded on a desert island full of horny co-eds. [from the NC-17 expansion]
Notes: I think it needs more aliens. But not dumb aliens… Cool aliens… You know?
As you can see, I barely gave any of it more than a lick and a promise (except the terrible secret part), but considering this is not even how the game is supposed to be used in the first place, does it even matter?
Anyway, the wordcount on this was 1,952, bringing my total up to 50,424 words so far in November. Yay! I broke 50k! Of course, it’s not all one novel…or registered with the NaNo website…but who cares! I won! 😛