Keshav Singh was convinced that katars would be suitable for the task. Brass knuckles; kubatons; switchblades would not do the trick. On the other hand stilettos, karambits, or combat knives perhaps performed the job too well. Though they did not exactly fall under the category of “concealed,” he believed he had found the perfect compromise – a hybrid of stealth and functionality. The Singh family katars, rumored to date back hundreds of years to the Mughal Empire, would not only enable them to die with style, but it would be poetic due to ancestral support.
Having been ingloriously kicked out of Acroterion, a rising blackened death metal band from Long Island, Keshav Singh’s final strings of sanity were frayed. The world of metal music he had discovered during his acne-ridden years of fifth grade was his first occasion of acceptance, his only possible route of salvation. Years of oppressive parenting and a scourge of bullying in public school, compounded by questionable role models and sexual frustration only made Keshav further identify himself with the darkness, the ugly zombie mascot, the murderer and villain that the songs he loved so much sang about. Now a victim of band politics, deceit and betrayal, the salve and deterrent in Keshav’s mind against misanthropy and an urge for mass-homicide had been removed. Anger transformed into action. There was no stopping the flood.
Displaying a resoluteness never seen even when conducting business with the band, he determined that the summer Verdigris festival could not be a more optimal executing ground. Acroterion, although not on the roster, would be celebrating its first (and last) anniversary with the label. He would join the celebration. Whether they liked it or not.
With two of the opening bands being stoner-doom metal bands, a substantial portion of the crowd would be doped up. Every single feature of the festival, from the stage production, the crowd and the music itself was to buy him precious time to allow him to fulfill his objective. The smoke and state of high would hide him for only so long, so he knew that more than anything, the symbolic attachment and simple, undying love of fans for the music would be the ultimate opium. He hesitated slightly on delaying his act of justice until Kronosaur headed to the stage, even though he adored their blackened sound he could not risk the unification of the crowd during the headline or conversely, people leaving. The final song of Grindcore band NanoSatan transitioning quickly to Grind-Death act Demifili would be the time for him to make his entrance.
Keshav needed no preparation other than mental reinforcement. He did this by staring at the photos and listening to the old music of Acroterion to manifest his will into a grim reality. For a week before the festival he lay on his bed in a semi-vegetative state. His focus and animosity never faltered. The morning of the festival, however, his mother came into his room delivering breakfast only to receive a thirteen-inch Indian push dagger between her sagging breasts. Wiping the katar on her saree, a low growl began to emit from Keshav’s throat as if he was a bear awakened from dormancy. Acroterion will die. It may as well been written in stone. He will die, too.
Ah. “Multiple stab wounds.” What a fitting soundtrack to the demise of his enemies. The double-bass had the effect on his heart like the knocking on the glass of a rabid animal. The solo itself (which he will time perfectly) involving generous abuse of the whammy bar will be most idyllic in its accompaniment of entrails and viscera flying atop the crowd.
Keshav allowed his thinning hair to droop over his eyes like the curtains before the climax of a play. He was front-row menace. He was viking avenger. He was cannibal. He was dragon-slayer. He was serial killer who preferred prepubescent children to the fully-developed human herd. He was all of these, in one. One cannot simply call such zeal “delusion” anymore, as Keshav entered the crowd to become an entity metal bands would eventually sing about globally.
Matt was with his young girlfriend, it would be difficult to end them without attracting attention immediately. Bryan, however, was spotted sulking in his usual corner to the right of the bassist, arms crossed and scowling.
Keshav stood two yards away regarding his six-foot tall prey as an art student would an exhibition of modern art. Bryan, Bryan. Your body language and your favorite spot relative to the stage always betrayed a certain type of arrogance, as if the current band playing – normal people – did not deserve to be in your presence. Now that arrogance shall earn you the privilege of being the first to be offed.
The intense single off NanoSatan’s sophomore album, the tossing of hair, blinding lights and the film of smoke enabled Keshav to sink one katar deep between the shoulders of Bryan without diverting any attention. Steel severed the nerves in the third and fourth cervical vertebrae and his legs went taut like the cut strings of a puppet. Clumsily, Keshav attempted to lodge his right fist free of Bryan’s shoulders, but ended up comically stabbing his back multiple times in the attempt to push off with the free katar. Time was of the essence. The moment Bryan’s husk hit the floor the clock would start ticking.
Dan was next. He was surrounded by bandmates and girlfriends with varying levels of intoxication. His sensory organs registered the vibrations of turbulent ecosystems, the static of the northern tundras. The roar of the steppes. He saw nothing but a kaleidoscope of neon lights and misplaced human anatomy as the shrooms he had taken an hour before scrambled his vision. For the briefest moment he sensed a disturbance in this “harmony” of his, the occipital lobe itself grew an eye to sense the portent of doom fixated behind him. He wanted to turn around but his legs were not obeying him. He was looking down, his chest and Kronosaur shirt wet from his slit jugular. He would have kissed the alcohol-soaked floor had Abigail not been in front of him.
Unfortunately for Keshav, Abigail happened to be the most sober of Dan’s stoner friends, having crossed shrooms off the list of her vices. Oh, how right she was to feel a chill that was not an effect from the warm, wet slap of Dan’s face between her scapula, which slid and burrowed down to her ass and then to the ground with a damp plop, but from the burning sensation of a stare. Her sixth sense was aflame. She glanced behind her and the sound out of her mouth was like a broken siren.
He had intended Matt and his girlfriend to be the cats out of the bag, but this would do. Abigail ate an Indian push-dagger that pushed past between her hard and soft palate, conveniently into her brain. Her pupils rolled to the back of her head, eyes becoming as glazed and out-of-body as her peers that still lived. With the jerk of Keshav’s wrist Abigail slumped to the floor like a heap of dominoes. Her friends barely noticed, as their chemically-altered consciousness interpreted the lukewarm intrusion of steel into their bodies as an alien sensation of liberation.
Phones and cups were falling. More vomiting. Not a man nor girl in the crowd knew self-defense. Hair matted from sweat soon became congealed in blood, the ammonia mixing with bodily musk, weed, booze and vape. Keshav had envisioned himself as a human rotary blade, effortlessly spinning and rowing down humans as if trimming buckwheat but the katars proved ineffective tools for slashing. He found himself wildly chasing after intoxicated individuals attempting to rapidly stab them sewing-machine style, while using his non-dominant hand as a guard against grabs or any other desperate display of self-preservation. The mosh pit had quickly lost its harmony. Its fixed circular motion collapsed in disarray as panic spread outwards from Keshav like a cannonball dropped into a pond. The confusion allowed Keshav to dispatch Clayton who was blissfully stomping to the breakdown and unaware of the warning signs all around him until it was too late.
Must not forget Matt. Keshav swung and thrusted with a zeal befitting that of a samurai who knew no surrender. He sliced and diced with purpose. He had a mission. Matt and Kelsey – or was it Casey – were somehow buried within the front. Now this drew Keshav’s ire, for Matt was always a pussy who could not handle the shoving and crushing of front row. Keshav had lost the katar in his left hand, probably embedded in the midsection of an unknown headbanger somewhere near the locus of the pit. He found having a free hand much easier to work with, being able to push, drag and manipulate the crowd in ways a weapon-encumbered hand could not. People did not drop as fast as he expected them to, the pain from the daggers more likely to jolt them to recoil. Many managed to stagger away with lacerated torsos or spilling stomachs, to survive their wounds outside of the concert. For Matt and his girlfriend, however, it would be the end.
The security itself was too busy catching the flow of crowd surfers towards the front row. It had been less than two minutes since Keshav commenced his act, and the yellow-uniformed muscle men struggled to contend with and comprehend the reason as to why the mass of fans have ceased their “surfing” and metamorphosed into a body of clawing, hysterics that tried to climb over each other in the attempt to escape over the front barrier. The band onstage was oblivious to the shrieks or aberrated behavior of the crowd, who interpreted the frenzy as testament to the monitors and sound being engineered to perfection that night.
When a tired-looking couple splattered the front row crimson it barely escaped notice, as Keshav had darted into the folds of the crowd where pockets of the mosh pit still remained. It took a disgraceful two songs and five-minutes for security to enter the concert to locate and attempt to contain the maniac, but by then Keshav was sated, out of breath and exhausted. No one could see the expression on his face as he slit his own throat.
The funerals received national television coverage, issues involving second amendment rights were raised, the security at the venue were fired. The venue would hold charity events for weeks to come. On a positive note, Acroterion received the Facebook coverage it had always longed for.
Local writer Henry McGregor for the Long Island Courier racked his brains for the perfect language and imagery to describe the carnage without treading on any landmines. His puritan background demanded there to be something extra, something special for his readers to take away from the incident. A long-repressed ambition of writing a novel, unfortunately, inhibited his journalism from achieving that professional and objective prose he was grasping for. So far he has one solid sentence on paper.
Amidst the distortion and high-trebled audial carnage stalked a real psychopath whose victim’s cries were simply unheard.
Kicking his spruce desk in frustration, he banged out an inspired paragraph without inhibition, then read the concept to his dog :
“In many ways, the metal concert could not be a better killing ground. Fans are blinded by visuals and pyrotechnics on stage, and the cries of their ‘brothers’ are drowned by a wall of shrieking vocals and fan-screaming. Their attention is fixated either on the band onstage, the incessant bobbing of their heads or making out with their partner in a haze of smoke or stimulants. Let this incident be a warning for all venues, musicians, and fans in the future.”
Bio : Dustin He is an English Major at Rutgers University, as well as a metal musician and martial artist. His works have appeared in The Anthologist and Crimson Streets online.