Chapter 6: Ritual Habits

Let's Hear It
Let's Hear It
Chapter 6: Ritual Habits
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The band tries to talk their way out of a cult and save their humility, Dixie vents her anger, and Bob Dylan does battle with a very special opponent.

Transcript

Dixie sat up straight, pulling against her restraints and in a clear voice said…

DIXIE

Alright perverts, fun’s over!

The cultists quieted down, wearing shocked expressions. Clearly they had not been expecting any outbursts. Then, the realization of what Dixie actually said rolled over the crowd, and the cavern echoed with a swell of indignant muttering.

CULTIST 1

She can’t say we’re perverted, that’s a value judgement.

CULTIST 2

Pervert? Really? She’s one to talk, the kinky harlot.

CULTIST 3

Yeah, we’re not perverts. Now we have to start the ritual over. Let’s take it from the pouring of lambs blood on our genitals.

A cultist in the back stood, holding up a cult recruitment pamphlet.

CULTIST 4

I am offended, madam! Some of us joined this sex cult for the articles!

A pious round of here-heres followed.

DIXIE

Shut up, you hooded little creeps.

Dixie hollered.

CULTIST 4

Hey, you can’t say that. I don’t have a hood.

Dixie ignored him, noticing the band.

DIXIE

Oh my Gawd, is that the Traveling Wilburys back there? I thought I’d never get to see you guys after that clown sliced me, but then again, I never thought I’d get sliced by a clown, so just goes to show ya. Well, come on guys, untie me.

The crowd of cultists turned, parting ranks until the entire room was starting at Tom, George, Jeff, Bob, and Roy. The band shrunk back, worriedly glancing over the mostly hooded faces, not daring to move. Another cultist spoke up, peering over her glasses.

CULTIST 5

No, come on, that’s not The Traveling Wilburys. We’ve wanted them for a ritual for a long time, and these guys are way too old to be the Wilburys.

The band frowned, vanity momentarily taking over their fear, except for Jeff Lynn, whose fear remained at an apex. He leaned into the lie.

JEFF LYNN

That’s right, we’re not the Traveling Wilburys, and we have really no reason to be here, no sir, so no reason to put us in whatever ritual, no sir. We’re just lost travelers looking for a way out. Being travelers is just about the only thing us and the Wilburys have in common. You said it yourself, we’re just too old to be the Traveling Wilburys. I mean, look at us, we’re ancient, and those guys are super young, and relevant, and amazing musicians, and great in bed. But we’re not any of those things. We’re older than dirt. We’re older than dust. We’re older than the dust brothers.

TOM PETTY

Oh, that one’s true.

Said Tom Petty. Jeff Lynn continued; he was on a roll.

JEFF LYNN

We’re older than rock and roll. We’re older than the blues. We’re older than music. We’re so old, we think all music is a dangerous influence on the youth. Even opera. Especially opera. Look how much I’m rambling? That proves I’m old. We all are. I’m the youngest, though.

The cultist who had spoken before rubbed her forehead, not in the mood to pick apart an old man’s ramble.

CULTIST 5

Yep, got it, you’re not the Traveling Wilburys. We need to get back to the ritual, so can someone show these losers the way out?

JEFF LYNN

Woohoo!

Whooped Jeff Lynn, not hearing the part about being a loser. The rest of the band did, however, but grinned anyway; they were getting out.

DIXIE

Liars! Liaaaars! You Traveling Liar Berries!

Accused Dixie, spitting from her place tied to the alter. George Harrison looked guilty, and was about to say something, but Jeff Lynn cupped a hand over his mouth and started herding the band towards the exit.

JEFF LYNN

Thank you all for your wise decision. Pay no attention to her. Sacrifices, always flapping their gums, am I right?

The cultists all chuckled in agreement, the sound mixing ominously with Dixie’s scream of rage.

EDDIE MONEY

What are you guys talking about?

Eddie Money asked, genuinely confused. The Wilburys turned, having  momentarily forgotten about Eddie. The musician and their former friend’s cult robes did not paint a comforting picture.

EDDIE MONEY

You are the Traveling Wilburys. I’ve known you all for years. I saw you only a few hours ago. We were talking just now. And yeah, none of us are spring chickens anymore, but you’re not older than music. That’s ridiculous. Besides, none of that has anything to do with why you’re here, which you all said several times was to rescue Dixie.

DIXIE

Awwww, really?

Dixie yelled from the alter.

EDDIE MONEY

Yeah, absolutely. Although, come to think of it, that does make you guys interlopers, technically speaking, so you should all probably stick around.

The cultists growled obscenities at the Wilburys, pushing the band through their ranks towards the alter.

TOM PETTY

You sold us out again, Eddie!

Yelled Tom Petty.

TOM PETTY

First, you conveniently disappeared right before I got jumped by that clown, making up that lame excuse about having to brush your teeth, and now this!

Eddie looked concerned.

EDDIE MONEY

Oh my God, I didn’t know you got jumped by that clown, I feel horrible. But I did have to brush my teeth. Dog breath is no joke, for real.

He said, gargling mouthwash before spitting it into his ceremonial goblet, and the Wilburys were unceremoniously shoved onto the alter.

GEORGE HARRISON

Don’t worry, lads.

Said George Harrison, as they picked themselves up.

GEORGE HARRISON

We can take solace that we eventually didn’t run away, so our karmic debt is paid.

DIXIE

Oh wow, I’m so grateful. Maybe you can use your late-breaking morality to untie these knots?

Dixie scoffed.

JEFF LYNN

Ooh, ya burnt, Harrison!

Hooted Jeff Lynn.

DIXIE

You’re all burnt.

Shouted Dixie.

HUNCHED CULTIST

Silence!

Cried a hunched, hooded cultist. Everyone got quiet.

HUNCHED CULTIST

Sorry, I mean “Silas,” not “Silence.” Brother Silas, please pass judgement on these trespassers.

An old man hobbled to the alter, milky eyes half-fixed on the band, half beyond fixing.

SILAS

According to the bylaws, trespassers must be dropped into the lake of fire.

A gasp went up from the cultists.

JEFF LYNN

We’re gonna be literally burnt!

SILAS

If only. Unfortunately, the lake of fire died out years ago, and now all that’s left is a relaxing hot spring. If we dropped them in there, we’d be obeying the letter of the law, but not the spirit; punishment is key.

JEFF LYNN

Oh, come on!

Yelled Jeff Lynn.

SILAS

Don’t worry, it’s not perfect, but I have a solution: we just bash their heads in with sticks.

A cheer went up from the cultists, along with a terrified groan from the band. Tom Petty cut threw the noise.

TOM PETTY

Wait just a minute! Beating our heads in with sticks isn’t in the bylaws at all, is it?

SILAS

Well, no, not exactly…

TOM PETTY

Exactly. You may want to follow the spirit of the law, but you can’t just invent new ones. Can you?

Old man Silas frowned, shook his head. Tom Petty looked relieved.

TOM PETTY

Thank God. We’re not bothering anyone, just let us take a hot spring dip, let Dixie come back with us, and we’ll be out of your hair. Everybody wins.

Immediately, screams of dissent filled the cavern, the gist of which was that the cultists did not feel like this a win.

SILAS

You can’t take Dixie, if that is her real name, because we need her for the ritual. Even suggesting that makes me want to beat the hell out of you with a stick.

TOM PETTY

Okay, let’s just chill for a second. What if we played a concert for you? We can’t do that if we’re dead.

Old man Silas shrugged.

SILAS

Eh, you’re too old. I think we’ll just hit you with sticks, thanks all the same.

The cultists started jumping up and down, chanting something that sounded like English, but that was still somehow indecipherable. Maybe because of the jumping.

JEFF LYNN

We’re all gonna die!

Cried Jeff Lynn, unnecessarily.

GEORGE HARRISON

Wait, wait!

Shouted George Harrison over the din, managing to quiet the cultists down enough to speak.

GEORGE HARRISON

Now, you have something we want, namely Dixie and our lives, that’s true. However, we also have something you want. Something besides music that you can’t get if we’re dead. We’re some of the biggest rock and rollers in history, and each of us has tons of influential connections. That’s something groups like yours are always after, yes?

There was a murmur of consent.

GEORGE HARRISON

But we can’t both have what we want. The only fair way to choose who gets the pie is to have a contest. Surely there’s something in your bylaws that provides for this?

Old man Silas tugged at his milky ear, which leaked milk.

SILAS

Well, there are the statutes providing for devilishly ironic trials inflicted on interlopers, I suppose that sort of fits.

JEFF LYNN

I don’t like the sound of this

Said Jeff Lynn.

BOB DYLAN

sdlkjfsaldkjfsd!

Howled Bob Dylan. The crowd was chanting, “trials!” over and over, although with how generally incomprehensible they were, it could just have easily been “smiles” or “ploughshares” or “egg salad”.

SILAS

It is decided!

Shouted old man Silas.

SILAS

Each of you will be given your own trial. Best out of five. Starting…now.

And with those words, he jumped a gallon jug of milk on his head. The cultists cleared an area in the middle of the cavern, forming a human ring surrounding the Traveling Wilburys.

SILAS

Since you made the deal, you will have the first challenge, George Harrison. You are the dark horse, the quiet Beatle, and a vegetarian. In a cruel twist on only that last one, your challenge…is to eat this bacon!

TOM PETTY

Alright!

Cried Tom Petty.

TOM PETTY

Easy peasy, Harrison, you can hit the diet again tomorrow.

GEORGE HARRISON

No!

Yelled George.

GEORGE HARRISON

Eating flesh is against my religion, and would despoil my bodily temple. I refuse.

SILAS

Excellent, you lose. One point for us.

Tom Petty was furious.

TOM PETTY

You idiot! It’s one piece of bacon! What’s wrong with you?

GEORGE HARRISON

What’s wrong with factory farming, more like!

George rejoined.

JEFF LYNN

We’re all gonna die!

Cried Jeff Lynn, still unnecessarily.

SILAS

Next, we will test Mr Tom Petty.

TOM PETTY

Oh man, I am not ready for this.

SILAS

Tom, you sing that famous line, “And I won’t back down.”

TOM PETTY

It’s pronounced, “deeeeaaaoooown”

SILAS

Regardless, to pass our challenge, you must back down…this steep cliff! No looking behind you and no falling over. Good luck!

Tom was pushed back first to the edge of a steep subterranean decline.

TOM PETTY

Now hold on a second, I don’t…

Started Tom, but before he could finish the thought, the gravel under his feet gave way and he slid backwards on a small avalanche, screaming all the way down to the bottom, arriving in a cloud of rock dust. Someone, he was unharmed and upright, not having the time to even think about looking behind him.

TOM PETTY

I’m alive!

He cried, overjoyed.

JEFF LYNN

We’re all still gonna die!

Yelled Jeff after him.

SILAS

One point for the Traveling Wilburys.

Said old man Silas, unhappily.

SILAS

Let’s move on. Roy Orbison, you’re famous for your heart wrenching ballads and dark sunglasses, but can you make someone cry…with only your eyes? Staring contest, whoever cries first loses. You’ll be facing sister stone heart.

Roy and the afore mentioned stone hearted sister sat opposite each other. Both removed their sunglasses, and stared into each other’s eyes. And stared. And stared. And stared. And stared. And stared. Then, Roy’s lip trembled, and sister stone heart’s eyes welled, and they both burst out crying, hugging each other through big, wracking sobs.

SILAS

Well, uh, that’s a tie, I guess.

Announced old man Silas, disgusted.

SILAS

We have one for each side and a tie, and only two more Wilburys to test. We could get into an all tied situation, but luckily we didn’t think of a trial for who ever this guy is.

JEFF LYNN

What!

Screamed Jeff Lynn, knowing without thinking that “who ever this guy is” was him.

SILAS

So it all comes down to Bob Dylan. Whichever side takes this takes the whole game. Bob, you’re a legend, so for you, no tricks. We’re going to give you the chance to showcase your incredible poetry skills, in our very first slam poetry night. Common rhymes, over enunciate, you know the deal. You’re opponent this evening…a food processor grinding a rock!

Bob Dylan was escorted to a makeshift stage, along with the food processor. Both were given microphones.

SILAS

You will be judged arbitrarily by three people who didn’t graduate middle school. You’re topic is globalization. And…go!

Bob Dylan and the food processor trade SFX deliveries.

The food processor sputtered, coughed, then died, a thick cloud of smoke billowing from the stage.

SILAS

Come on Bob, you can’t smoke in here.

Admonished old man Silas. Grumbling, Bob Dylan stubbed out his cigarette, and the smoke cloud dissipated.

SILAS

Judges?

The panel of three uneducated judges pretended to look contemplative.

JUDGE 1

Bob seemed like he was consistently rhyming, while the food processor only rhymed a few times, so I’m giving it to Bob.

JUDGE 2

I felt like the food processor stayed on the topic of globalization more, since it had a rock in it that was sort of shaped like a globe. I’m going food processor on this one.

SILAS

We’ve got a real nail-biter here. Judge number three, you’re the tie breaking vote.

JUDGE 3

On the one, the food processor really hurt my ears, but on the other hand, Bob Dylan also really hurt my ears. The food processor seems more committed to the work, since it sacrificed itself for it’s art, but then again, Bob wasn’t made in Taiwan. This is a tough one, but I’m voting Bob, mostly for his pants.

The Traveling Wilburys cheered. Old man Silas’s jaw hung open in angry disbelief.

SILAS

You just handed them the win! Are you crazy? We’ll lost the ritual. This was supposed to be rigged!

JUDGE 3

My opinion can’t be bought, man.

The band hive-fived, whooping with relief at avoiding another horrible fate.

TOM PETTY

I guess you can’t do you’re little ritual now, huh boys?

The cultists slumped in defeat.

SILAS

No, I suppose not.

GEORGE HARRISON

What was that ritual for, anyway?

SILAS

Oh, what does it matter now?

JEFF LYNN

Aw come on, now that we’re going to live, we need something to live for. Go on, tell us.

SILAS

Fine. It was going to be a promiscuity ritual. There is an ancient power under the earth here, and we were going to harness that to unleash the wild bacchanal, an endless orgy on earth.

The Traveling Wilburys stopped in their tracks.

JEFF LYNN

Hold up. That doesn’t sound half bad. Actually, it sounds real good.

GEORGE HARRISON

Maybe we’ve been a little hasty here…

ROY ORBISON

Claudette!

BOB DYLAN

slkdjflsakdfjasdflkjsadf.

TOM PETTY

Dixie, change of plans!

But Dixie was nowhere to be seen, the ample distraction giving her plenty of time to gnaw through her restraints and escape. Just then, Connie, Belinda, Yuna, and the imposter Bob and Jeff careened into the room, high out of their minds off of Martin Scorsese’s Studio 54 supply. Connie stared sweaty and wide-eyed around the cavern full of cultists.

CONNIE

This room’s empty, keep going!

Shouted Connie, hallucinating hard. Headless of her instructions, the fake Bob and Jeff sprinted into the chamber, running straight into their real counterparts. Too started to scream, the pairs stared at each other for a moment, then in strange unison, they grabbed each other by the temples, then they all…