Lex Turner picked lazily at his guitar. On the other side of the green room, Vince was pacing, glancing up now and then at the clock on the wall as it ticked closer and closer to their cue. Bonnie B, from where she sat slouched across one of several plain leather couches, watched him with a bored expression.
The room was small, a lot smaller than some of the other places they had been told to wait before they were called on stage. It was furnished modestly, with a few mirrors on one wall and a two guitar stands in the corner. One of these had been neglected. Lex liked to feel his instruments weight in his hands, it grounded him. The second held a shiny bass guitar with diamonds studded down its neck and its strings tinted with silver. None of the band's other equipment was quite so embellished.
The world was quiet inside the three by four meter space. The only silence left on the planet because everyone else was partying like the world was going to end. Which it was.
The door opened and a girl with a face like a mouse poked her head into the room. “You're on in twenty,” she said before ducking back out again.
Vince groaned, and his pacing intensified. “Where is she?”
Bonnie B shrugged, “Probably out partying with the rest of them. You know she’s never been able to resist a drink.”
“And a bottle, and a pill, and a whole bloody surgery.” Vince collapsed into a chair, his leg still bouncing.
“Sammy wouldn’t miss this,” said Lex. “Supernova’s singing out humanity, it’s the biggest gig in history.”
Bonnie B spun her almost 40-year old drumsticks nimbly through her fingers. She had played with them ever since their first performance in a rundown pub’s open mike night, singing a messy version of the Beatles ‘Here Comes the Sun’. “This is the last gig in history.”
The room became quiet again. They all knew this, but the words aloud had rubbed salt into the wound.
The door opened, it was mouse-face. “15 minutes.”
Vince leapt to his feet as the door closed once again, “That’s it! I’ll drag her here if I have too. This time she’s gone too far.”
He swung open the green room’s door with more force than Lex had ever seen from the wiry keyboardist. Bonnie B twirled her drumsticks, slid them into jeans that were far too outdated and skin-tight for any other near 60-year old woman to pull off, and followed him out.
“You coming Lex?” she asked. It was hard to hear her with the door now open. Music, laughter and the occasional scream of either glee or hysteria invaded the quiet and made it a distant memory. That’s what quiet was now for humanity, a memory.
Lex sighed and pushed himself off the wall he had been leaning against. “I don’t see why we have to go after her. We could just play without the bass for once.”
Vince stared at him in disbelief. “Mate, we’re gonna play ‘Man’s Salute’. That song’s all bass!”
Lex grumbled his agreement and the three middle-aged rock stars walked down the hallway to look out on the swarming mosh pit of insanity outside.
“Can you see her?” said Bonnie B, straining her eyes. Her sight had dulled with age, but she had refused to wear her glasses because they weren’t ‘rock n’ roll’.
The heat radiated from everywhere after the crisp coolness in the green room. Lex was sweating already. “She’d be with the other drunks.”
“Everyone’s drunk,” said Vince.
“Well, the druggies then.”
“Still everyone, end of the world and all that.”
Lex groaned and took off his leather jacket. He had no idea how they had convinced him to put it on one more time. On the back, written in a shining daggy font designed to draw attention, was the name of the band; Supernova. Behind the word was an explosion of colour meant to depict their namesake.
He shuddered. Sometimes he wondered if they had only booked them as one last joke.
“I see her!” cried Bonnie B, pointing into the crowd.
The three climbed down to the ground and began pushing through the stadium of sweat-slicked skin. The only smell in the air was a combination of beer and human bodies. It was suffocating.
Eventually, they found her, jumping up and down out of time with the music and planting a kiss on anyone who came near, a bottle in both hands. Sammy Silver, once John Richner, had transformed from just a guy who liked to play the guitar into a gal who had sampled every illegal substance under the sun.
“Guys!” she cried. Stretching the word out until it became a meaningless drawl.
Bonnie B rushed over to support her swaying bandmate. “It’s worse than we thought.”
Vince joined her, shaking his head in disgust, “Seriously Sam. The most important day in all of history and you go and kill off half your brain.”
“It was the bad half!” Sammy shouted back. “The bit with all the gooey gross stuff.”
Lex gazed at his friend. Her bleached blonde hair hanging in dreadlocks and her eyes sunken deep. “She can’t go on guys. Her blood’s probably pure alcohol by now.”
“Is it?” Sammy’s eyes widened, and she began to madly suck on her wrist.
While Vince and Bonnie B struggled to stop Sammy from drinking her own blood, Lex felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see that it was mouse-face again.
“You need to go on now,” she told him.
Lex looked back at his broken band.
The last forty years had been so draining for all of them. Vince was more often stressed than relaxed these last few days. Bonnie B had once had enough sass to make a tree feel self-conscious, but now she could barely muster up a sarcastic comment. And Sammy, Sammy was a wreck.
Lex felt tired of it all.
He nodded to mouse-face. He was the oldest of them all and had been the first one to suggest the idea of ‘Supernova’, it made sense for it to die with him too.
He rose a hand and waved a final goodbye. Bonnie B noticed and he saw the understanding dawn in her eyes. She smiled and waved to him farewell.
He moved quickly back to the green room and grabbed his guitar from where he had left it lying on a chair. The stage was large, already set up for Supernova’s last song. The drumkit and keyboard looked strange without someone hitting out a tune on them. The sun had the best seat of all, looming over him. The giant ball of flame searing the sky.
Lex ran his fingers down his guitar’s strings and began to play. He didn’t sing ‘Man’s Salute’ as they had planned;
“Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right…”