The story included here is similar to the work found in New Noise Managing Editor Addison Herron-Wheeler’s first official short story collection, Respirator, and will appear in the next short story collection in her trilogy, Chasm. In addition to these collections, she is also working on a book on LGBTQ participation in metal to follow up her book on women in metal, Wicked Woman, as well as a novel, Parallax. She is also co-publisher and editor of OFM (OUT FRONT Magazine) and a staff writer for High Times.
We were gathered around the speaker at the end of the block, under the last, flickering streetlight in the neighborhood. I kept my eyes down and wrapped my oversized army jacket tighter around me, trying not to draw any unwanted attention. A few skinheads pushed each other around in front of the speaker, shouting, and one broke a bottle, but none of them looked my way.
The Damned’s “Neat, Neat, Neat” crackled through the constantly shorting aux cord to the ancient PA system, and a few different groups huddled and talked by the fire behind them. That’s when I saw her. Up by the front was the first other woman I’d seen in days. Her faded, denim jacket with the Bikini Kill back patch was wrapped tightly over her shoulders, just like mine was, as if she was trying to hide. But the slope of her shoulders and the angle of her fade stood out to me.
Slowly, she moved out of the crowd and began to drift further and further away from our little corner of light, warmth and sound, drifting towards one of the alleys on the edge of the street. Without knowing what I was doing, I began quickly moving through the bodies in front of me and towards her as she headed into the alley between two burned out, abandoned buildings.
Suddenly, I felt myself running faster and faster, almost sprinting after her, but I couldn’t seem to catch up. The sounds of the gathering faded out behind me, getting more and more quiet as I ran down the seemingly endless alley. The lights blurred together in a technicolor streak that changed from red to purple to pink before my eyes. Then suddenly, we both stopped.
I found myself in a woody grove under starlight, surrounded by the twinkling light of fireflies. The night was cool and quiet, the smell of lilacs and honeysuckle on the wind. The girl from the crowd stood before me fully naked, her curvy body shimmering in the moonlight. Her mohawk seemed high enough to pierce the stars, and she was framed by a pair of glowing, red wings.
In a flash, she moved closer to me, and it was as though all the air was sucked from the grove. Her face moved closer to mine, her eyes closed, and I was wrapped in a kiss and embrace that physically lifted me off the ground and into the trees. My body started to glow, and I felt weightless as we soared above the clouds.
Suddenly, the shattering of glass brought me back to earth, and I opened my eyes to some graffiti and an old mattress up against an old building at the end of the alley. Snapping back to earth, I quickly ran around the corner as I heard the rough group of eyes from the bonfire headed back to where they were crashing. Safely out of sight, I bent over, panting to catch my breath and recover from the last few moments.
There on the ground in front of me was a faded, denim jacket with a Bikini Kill patch lying next to a bottle of gin and a pack of cigarettes. I picked up the jacket, tucked the cigarettes inside, and walked back toward the crowd and the bonfire.
Check out her short story collection, Respirator, here.