Chapter 5: Haunted Cave Basement

Let's Hear It
Let's Hear It
Chapter 5: Haunted Cave Basement
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The girls find some surprises in the underground world.

Transcript

Connie, Yuna, and Belinda crawled from wreckage, helping each other stand. The collapse of the sunken fairground had caused considerable damage to the stadium, and whole swaths had been swallowed by the earth. The trio of groupies had been unlucky enough to be in one of those areas, and had fallen through to an unfamiliar place. As they collected themselves, they heard a voice behind them.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

Hi y’all ladies, can I lend a hand?

Turning, they saw Jeff Lynn and Bob Dylan, hands outstretched, both in their country phase. Taking their hands and taking in their surroundings, they stared in wonder. They were in a natural cave, the rubble they had fallen with blocking their exit, above. The cave wound in a curved line, twisting ever downward, long cylindrical calcified protrusions jutting from the walls like bones, giving the impression that they had found their way inside some impossibly large snake. The darkness of these depths would have been complete, save for the slice of faintly stuttering light coming from the imposter Jeff Lynn’s flashlight. Both he and Bob Dylan were grinning widely, wiping rock dust off their hands on their wrangler jeans, and doffing their cowboy hats, as they helped the girls up.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

I hope y’all aren’t too banged up, there. You ladies took quiet the spill.

Said the imposter Bob Dylan, knocking clods of earth from his spurs. Connie was the first to recover. She took him by the shoulders, pulled him forward, and kneed him in the crotch. The imposter Bob Dylan cried in pain, doubling over. The cave went almost completely dark; the imposter Jeff Lynn had used his flashlight to help cover his groin.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

What in tarnation was that for, you crazy marmoset! We just helped you out!

CONNIE

You abandoned us outside the Zamboni locker! You promised to help track down that creepy green-haired clown and find our friend Dixie, not her real name, and instead you used your rich rock star connections to vanish. Liars!

The imposter Bob Dylan was in too much pain to do anything more than whimper, but the cowering imposter Jeff Lynn piped up for both of them, fear overcoming his imposter-senses.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

Lady, I have no idea what you’re talkin’ about!

The end of his sentence curdled into a yelp, as Connie hit him upside the head with her handbag.

CONNIE

Don’t  play dumb with me, whoever you were again.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

You seriously don’t remember my name? Lady, I’m…

The imposter Jeff Lynn had to think for a moment.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

James Lynn!

Connie brandished her handbag.

CONNIE

I don’t care what your name is, you both have a lot of explaining to do. Let’s start with when you disappeared outside the Zamboni locker. And make it snappy!

By this point, the imposter Bob Dylan had recovered enough to speak, which he desperately wanted to do instead of his partner, who couldn’t even remember his own assumed identities name. Luckily, nobody else seemed to either.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

We didn’t mean to leave, honest.

He rasped out.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

We were…kidnapped.

Connie arched an accusing eyebrow, unseen in the dark, but deeply felt.

CONNIE

Kidnapped? You guys vanished instantly. How come we never saw anyone else?

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

That’s because…

Started the imposter Bob Dylan, desperately trying to spin a convincing lie. Before he could, the imposer Jeff Lynn jumped in with an unconvincing one.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

That’s because we were kidnapped by ninjas.

He said, confidently. Connie was too taken aback to be mad for a moment.

CONNIE

Ninjas?

She asked, incredulously.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

That’s right, ninjas.

Said the imposter Bob Dylan through gritted teeth, kicking his partner in the dark.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

There’s a secret cabal of…ninjas, with a hideout deep below the stadium, and they’d do anything for power, so kidnapping rock Gods gets them closer to that.

The imposter Jeff Lynn scratched his fake beard.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

Huh, those ninjas are a lot like us, only they know Karate. Ouch!

He had been kicked again.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

Yes, they are a lot like us.

Said the imposter Bob Dylan, fuming.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

In that we are both extremely passionate about what we do, which in their case is martial arts, and in our case is music!

He practically yelled the last word in the imposter Jeff Lynn’s face, who scoffed.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

Oh yeah, I know music. I’m super famous for my music.

The imposter Jeff Lynn lied with real arrogance.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

Everyone knows my big hit…come around…around…and over. That’s right, Come Around Around and Over, by James Lynn.

He said proudly, retreating out of kicking distance. Blithely unaware, he plunged on with his story.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

We were kidnapped, but then we escaped into the sunken fairgrounds. We tried to pass ourselves off as…ourselves, to infiltrate our own band.

He winked at the imposter Bob Dylan, who winced.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

But then, we ran into ourselves in the mirror maze and things got out of control, and then everything collapsed and then we ended up here randomly for no reason. Bob, you silly goose, I don’t need your boots, you don’t have to throw them at me.

The shock of the preposterous story had worn off, and Connie was now properly mad.

CONNIE

What a crock. That’s your story? You honestly expect us to believe that nonsense? Give me that flashlight.

She snatched the light from the imposter Jeff Lynn’s protesting grasp.

CONNIE

You’re both dirty rats, but right now all I want to know is whether you saw Dixie, or that clown.

The flashlight beam shone in the two fake musicians faces, forcing them to squint. Both of them shook their heads in the negative, relieved to not have to think up a new story.

CONNIE

Typical.

Connie said coldly, and the two men were subjected to another clocking from her handbag. Connie glowered at the two cowering frauds.

CONNIE

You really seem to know your way around here, what with all your ninja adventures. Why don’t you lead the way out? I’m not letting either of you out of my sight this time.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

Ma’am, please, we can’t do that.

Said the imposter Bob Dylan.

IMPOSTER BOB DYLAN

We don’t know where we are neither.

CONNIE

You seemed to find us well enough.

Connie replied curtly.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

Yeah, but that’s because we followed you.

Said the imposter Jeff Lynn. The imposter Bob Dylan bleated an involuntary moan of frustration and defeat. The imposter Jeff Lynn heard it, tried to course correct.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

What I mean to say, is we followed the idea of you, then the cave in happened, we landed here, where we really have never been, and then we saw the actual you, and we said hi.

The imposter Bob Dylan shrugged; not bad, considering. Connie grunted angrily.

CONNIE

Fine, have it your way. You’re still walking ahead. Come on.

Connie pushed the grumbling non-musicians out in front before hanging back a few paces with Belinda and Yuna, who despite their predicament, seemed impressed. Connie played the flashlight over the rough terrain ahead as the troupe slowly picked their way forward along the snaking cavern path.

After a several minutes of quiet walking, punctuated occasionally by low curses following a stubbed toe on the unforgivingly unexpected rock placement, Connie’s flashlight flicked over something on the wall.

CONNIE

Hold on, what’s this?

Getting closer, it was unmistakable: elaborate narrative artwork rendered in primal silhouette. The pictures continued on down the passage, and told a story as you followed them. At the start, humanoid figures worked in a village, then moving on they fell down a hole into the earth, and finally were eaten by a giant thorned-smudge of a monster. The drawings writhed and wormed, almost coming alive under the flickering light of the flashlight. Connie bit her lip.

CONNIE

Seems heavy. Belinda, what do you make of this? You took archeology course, right?

BELINDA

Close, I took an archaeologist.

Belinda stepped closer, talking to Connie without removing her studious gaze from the artwork.

BELINDA

It seems like some sort of prehistoric warning. From the look of it, I’d say its telling us to watch out for Hep-C.

Connie raised an eyebrow.

CONNIE

Yeah?

BELINDA

Yeah, either that or some other evil thing. Either way, I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about it.

Connie didn’t look comforted, but since there wasn’t much else to do, she nodded and started walking again.

After a few more minutes of walking Yuna suddenly grabbed Connie’s shoulder.

YUNA

Wait, there’s more.

CONNIE

What is it, Yuna? Did you see something about the cave drawings?

Yuna pulled the other two women closer, eyes darting around and lowering her voice, so the men couldn’t hear.

YUNA

You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel like somethings off about Bob and what’s his face.

CONNIE

Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting, but do you mean more off than being dirt bag promise breakers and not even acknowledging our missing friend?

Connie sniffed.

YUNA

Yes, all those things are bad and true, but I’m sensing something beyond even that.

Belinda scrunched her brow.

BELINDA

I think I know what you mean, Yuna. Somethings not quite right. I don’t know if it’s some new vocal tick they’re effecting, or a new fashion designer they hired or I don’t know, something.

She said, squinting as if to peer through her own uncertainty. Now Connie was squinting, too.

CONNIE

Yeah, that could be, but we’ve only been separated a few hours, and all that seems like a lot to pull of in the time frame, even for them. Come to think of it, when I kneed Dylan’s crotch, I don’t think I felt a circumcised one, I’m pretty good at detecting that kind of thing, even with me knee. Obviously, we all know Mr. Robert Zimmerman attended his briss.

The others nodded knowledgeably.

BELINDA

So what are we saying here?

Hissed Belinda.

BELINDA

That Bob and the other guy aren’t who they say they are?

YUNA

That case is getting stronger and stronger.

Intoned Yuna.

YUNA

It’s hard to tell in the light, but don’t their beards look fake?

Connie shrugged.

CONNIE

Dylan’s beard always looked fake.

Belinda grimaced.

BELINDA

True. What about the other guy?

Connie shrugged again.

CONNIE

There’s no way to know. No one knows who he is, right? None of you slept with him?

The other two shook their heads. Belinda sucked her teeth.

BELINDA

No, I don’t think so.

Connie thought for a moment.

CONNIE

Well, there’s only one way to be sure: we’ll have to test them.

YUNA

Ask them a question that only they would know?

CONNIE

No.

Scoffed Connie.

CONNIE

We don’t want to talk to these jags, whether they’re the real guys or not. Besides, that would take too long. We all know Bob’s body; I say, we rush him. I’ll hold his arms, Yuna, you pull his beard, see if it’s fake, and Belinda, you pants him. That should get to the bottom of this.

Yuna and Belinda nodded solemnly. They were all in.

CONNIE

Okay good, on the count of three…

But before she could continue, the world was flooded with bright blinding light, the sudden transition forcing everyone to stop and shield their eyes. Then a high-pitched droning screech pierced their ears, the gibbering of seemingly hundreds of twisted denizens of the depths.

And then they were struck.

At first one by one, then all at once, a torrent, an onslaught. Something – somethings – collided with the group, striking them all over their bodies. The things were pointed and light and traveling at incredible speed. The group cried out in unison, making a gang vocal of unappreciation.

As soon as it started, the noise and the hits stopped, accompanied by a gentle whirring sound. A thick nasal voice echoed through the chamber.

MARTIN

Bob, is that you?

The light was as bright as ever, but as they were able to uncover their eyes, their sightly slowly adjusted. The light came from several large flood lights mounted on  sturdy metal tripods, black metal flaps on hinges mounted around each light angling the beam more precisely on the party.

All around them were heaps of paper airplanes, folded on heavy paper, all of which seemed to have already been typewritten on. A 35 millimeter film camera was pointed at them, resting atop another, smaller tripod, it’s twin reels turning inside their case, creating the whirring sound. And then that stopped, too.

Out from behind the camera stepped the unmistakable figure of legendary director Martin Scorsese. Dark black receding hair still long around the nape of the neck, and full beard now shot with flecks of grey, in the dramatic lighting Martin’s shadow was significantly taller than he was. He broke into a wide smile.

MARTIN

Bob, it is you! You know, at first I wasn’t sure, because I seemed to have misplaced my glasses, which makes them a lot harder to find. Oh wow, and Jeff Lynn from the Electric Light Orchestra, fantastic. I’m so glad I noticed because otherwise I would have let my booby traps tear you all apart. You can never be too careful. You two are Jeff Lynn and Bob Dylan, right?

Martin squinted. The imposer Jeff Lynn looked to the imposer Bob Dylan, who looked to Connie, Yuna, and Belinda, who looked to each other, all simultaneously coming to the same conclusion.

ALL

Yes.

They all said, together, without hesitation.

MARTIN

Thank God.

Said Martin.

MARTIN

I’d hate to go through some mistaken identity fiasco. But Bob, what’s with the cowboy get up? You’re not going through another Christian phase again, are you?

Bob shook his head, not wanting to show off his not-very-Dylan Bob Dylan voice; Scorsese seemed like he paid attention to details and it was his eyes that were impaired, not his ears.

MARTIN

Thank God, thank God. Ever since the last temptation of Christ opened, every Christian with a radio’s been driving around looking for crucify me. The last thing I need is for one of my idols to start throwing the Bible around. Where are my manners. It seems you’ve brought some lovely lady friends with you as well. And it looks like there’s one extra for me. Ha! I’m only kidding around, I’m married. Although, she’s wife number five, so clearly it’s negotiable. Any takers? No? Okay.

Belinda shuffled her feet through the paper airplanes, pulling one from her hair.

BELINDA

What is all this?

She asked.

MARTIN

I’m glad you asked.

He answered.

MARTIN

This is one of my booby traps. Helps to warn me of invading Christians. At least, that’s one of it’s functions. I couldn’t help myself. While building it, I decided to have it serve a double duty to get some test footage recreating the famous scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds. Only I didn’t have any birds, so I ended up suing paperwork form my four previous divorce proceedings folded into paper airplanes. I thought it would add a dark comedic touch, but it’s not working, I can see it’s not working. Which is a lot like my marriages. Ha! It’s actually very sad.

Connie rubbed her shoulders, looking around for potential hazards.

CONNIE

Where are we?

MARTIN

My basement. One of them. I have several across the country – Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Manhattan, everywhere. This one’s very special. New York’s changed, not as much as it might in the future, but still a lot, so the only way I can immerse myself in the amount of darkness and violence I need to make my films is living in a haunted cave in New Jersey.

IMPOSTER JEFF LYNN

This place is haunted?

Squeaked the imposter Jeff Lynn, forgetting Martin Scorsese might know the real Jeff Lynn well enough to recognize his voice. He didn’t. Martin nodded.

MARTIN

Double haunted, if you want to put it that way. Some forgotten ancient people told of an unknowable primal force buried deep beneath the earth here, deeper than here even, so that’s scary.

Belinda nodded.

BELINDA

Yeah, we saw the Hepatitis drawings on our way in.

Martin bobbed his head enthusiastically. Yuna jumped in.

YUNA

The second haunting must be the sunken fairground.

Martin cocked an enormous eyebrow.

MARTIN

Oh yeah, I completely forgot about that one. With the land developer and the vengeful dunk tank clown spirit. It’s tacky. Feels cheap. You can call it whatever, but you can’t call it a haunting. That’s not a haunting.

The girls glanced at each other, confused, noticing that the two imposters were nodding along in agreement a little too enthusiastically.

YUNA

What’s the other haunting, then?

Martin perked up.

MARTIN

This is great, you’re gonna love this. I build my basement here out of the gutted remains of Studio 54. You know, the legendary nightclub renowned for it’s celebrity debauchery. Look.

The flood lights switched off, and next to them, multi-colored light bathed the first floor of the  famous nightclub, cobbled together within an inch of it’s life. The sheen of grandeur and opulence that must have once permeated tis place was now crusted over with neglect. Not just in the actual structure, although that was also true. The bar’s bottles were all broken, glued back together to various degrees of success, the turntable was cracked in half, and the dance floor looked like it had been broken up by a jackhammer, then vainly pieced back together with cement, yielding a rough, un-danceable surface.

Despite all that, what most gave the place it’s ghostly quality, was it’s emptiness. Where once the rich and famous desperately clamoured to be let in, now there was no one, in or out, to keep that mystique alive. Studio 54 was gone, the re-assembled pieces merely a reminder of that hard truth. Martin Scorsese cackled with glee.

MARTIN

Isn’t it incredible? I was never allowed in when it was open, but now it’s all mine.

He trotted on to the dance floor, tripping on the uneven surface, catching himself just before he fell.

MARTIN

Wonderful, wonderful place. Haunted, obviously. It has that duality.

Connie and Belinda could barely hide their grimaces, but Yuna stepped inot the dessicated nightclub, a studious look on her face.

YUNA

Yes, it is haunted, I can feel a presence. Did someone die here?

Martin shrugged.

MARTIN

Not that I’m aware of, but probably. Nobody famous, though, I’m sure of that. What you’re feeling is the ghost of carefree ’70s decadence. At least that’s the sense I got whenever I communed here.

Yuna snapped her head around to stare directly at Martin, her gaze boring into him.

YUNA

How did you commune?

Martin looked scared.

MARTIN

Well, I have a Ouija board.

YUNA

Take it out. We must commune now.

Connie rubbed her nose, exasperated.

CONNIE

Yuna, I don’t think we have time to do some magic spell, or whatever.

YUNA

We will make time.

Said Yuna in a strong, authoritative voice the others had never heard from her before, commanding attention.

YUNA

A presence here knows where Dixie is.

Connie and Belinda’s eyes got wide. The two imposters looked at each other uneasily.

In short order, Martin Scorsese had lit an array of black candles and arranged them in a circle in the middle of the dance floor. Inside that, the group sat in another circle, the Ouija board in the center.

YUNA

Everyone put your hands on the planchette.

Instructed Yuna, and they all complied.

MARTIN

This is so exciting. I haven’t had this much adrenalin in my system since I quit doing coke. Which has got to be, wow, almost a week ago.

YUNA

Silence!

Cried Yuna, her voice echoing.

YUNA

Everyone close your eyes, and focus on the shadow plane.

(to spirits)

Spirits of Studio 54, I am the one they call Yuna, from Bridgeport. I beseech your guidance. Are you there, spirits? Can you hear me?

Immediately, the planchette moved. Everyone gasped, except for Yuna, who kept her eyes fixed on the middle distance, her gaze glassy. The planchette under everyone’s hands moved swiftly and surely, clearly indicating each letter.

First, it moved to “Y”, then “E”, and finally to “Z”. There was a pause.

CONNIE

Yez?

Connie asked, confused.

MARTIN

Yez is not a word, correct?

Asked Martin.

MARTIN

Does someone have a dictionary?

Yuna sighed impatiently.

YUNA

Clearly the spirits meant “yes”.

(to spirits)

Thank you, spirits. We seek our lost friend, the one we call Dixie, but which is not her real name. Is…Is she alive?

Again, the planchette moved immediately. “Y”, then “E”, then “Q”. Belinda scowled, but Yuna nodded, relieved.

YUNA

The spirits mean “yes”.

(to spirits)

This is wonderful news. Do you know where Dixie is, spirits?

The planchette moved with unequivocal assurance, first to “Y”, then “E”, and finally “B”. There was a brief silence, before Belinda broke it.

BELINDA

Okay, what the hell. Yeb?

YUNA

Shush, the spirits mean “yes”.

Said Yuna, raising her voice a bit. Belinda didn’t look convinced.

BELINDA

Yeah, but they spelled a three letter word wrong three times, three different ways.

CONNIE

Maybe the ghosts are illiterate.

Suggested Connie, sardonically, receiving a harsh look from Yuna.

MARTIN

That would make sense, actually.

Said Martin.

MARTIN

Illiteracy is one of the common side effects of a lot of the popular drugs at the time.

Yuna pinched their hands.

YUNA

Stop it, all of you! You’re offending the spirits.

(to spirits)

I apologize for my inconsiderate friends, oh spirits. They know not what they do. Please, beings of infinite generosity, spell out the name of the place where Dixie is.

This time, the planchette did not move. Long moments passed. Finally Belinda again broke the silence.

BELINDA

Maybe the spirits are busy.

YUNA

Quiet!

Barked Yuna.

YUNA

(to spirits)

Again, please accept my deepest apologies for my small-minded compatriots behavior, forgiving spirits. If you can find it in your hearts, please grant us this boon: tell us where Dixie is.

At first, nothing happened. Then, slowly but surely, the planchette moved. First, it landed on “S”, then “E”, then circled around the end of the alphabet several times before landing on “Y”. It paused for so long there that Belinda was about to insult the ghosts again, but then it moved to “U”, the finally “P” and didn’t move again.

YUNA

“Seyup”

Said Yuna in a holy monotone.

MARTIN

Seyup?

Asked Martin.

MARTIN

That can’t be a place.

It was clear from Connie and Belinda’s expressions that they felt this had all been a catastrophic waste of time.

YUNA

You’re all too impatient, the spirits must not be finished with the word.

Said Yuna, although she sounded too defensive to be really sure.

BELINDA

Oh come on.

Challenged Belinda.

BELINDA

What place starts with Seyup?

YUNA

I don’t knew, Seyupville?

Yuna threw back.

BELINDA

Listen to yourself!

Shouted Belinda, out of patience.

CONNIE

Guys!

Connie interjected, trying to head off a fight.

CONNIE

This didn’t work, but there’s no need to get…

YUNA

No! Maybe it’s another misspelling. Maybe it’s a command, and they’re telling us to “say up”. Up! Up! Up!

She cried at the cave ceiling, holding up her arms, looking like a childing wanting to be picked up. Other than creating an embarrassing image, nothing happened. Yuna slumped, and Connie gently rubbed her shoulders.

CONNIE

It’s okay, Yuna. I know you just want to find Dixie. We all do. I promise, we’ll find her, together.

Yuna snapped up.

YUNA

I know what we’re doing wrong.

She said, a picture of conviction.

CONNIE

Yeah, this whole thing.

Replied Connie, not unkindly.

YUNA

No. Martin, something you said earlier is the key. We can’t communicate with the spirits because we’re not on the same level – the spirits are high, and we’re not! We need to take drugs.

Connie held her head.

CONNIE

Yuna, this is no time to…

Belinda cut her off.

BELINDA

Well hold on now, let’s hear what she has to say.

Martin chimed in.

MARTIN

Look, I’m a sober guy now, but in honor of Studio 54 I keep a vial of Highway to Space, which is a mix of pure Columbian cocaine and acid straight from Leary’s lab. I’ll give it to all of you if you let me film it. I’m working on a sequel to The Last Waltz.

The groupie’s jaws hung open, and the imposer Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynn looked so eager, they could have been the real guys. After a moment, Connie smiled.

CONNIE

Well, Dixie would have been first in line for this. She was the queen of multi-tasking, so I think if we channel her, we can still find her and get stoned.

The whole group cheered.

A short time later, after that first blissful bump, Yuna saw, and I mean really saw, exactly where Dixie was. Down, down, down, beneath the rock, the Traveling Wilburys gaped at the mass of robed cultists gathered around the stone alter. While they couldn’t have known it for sure, but should have realized it but didn’t, that was Dixie strapped to that alter. The cultist’s chanting rose to a frenzy until Dixie snorted violently, hushing the crowd, and Dixie popped her head up, straining against the restraints and squinting like she just woke up.

Seeming to see the crowd for the first time, she said in a loud, clear voice: