Is this the... yeah, is this for the superhero team tryouts? Sorry, yeah, I guess I should have guessed from your outfits.

What? No... no, I don't have a costume. I figured if you really thought it was important I could get one after I got the job. Oh. Okay, I'll bear that in mind.

So I'll just sit on this chair, then? Cool.

My name? Er... I'd rather not say, there are several international law agencies currently looking for me. Just call me... Jimmy.

My superpower? Okay, this is going to sound really weird, I'm going to sound like a complete loony tune and I know you probably get a lot of timewasters and homeless people that make similarly ridiculous claims, but stick with me, because this is totally true, and I'm totally sane, and it sounds so weird that you know I wouldn't ask you to believe something so obviously ridiculous unless it was true.

I have the power of Rock.

What? No, I don't mean earth elementalism, I mean the power of the Rock Out. Rock music. Hendrix, the Stones, electric guitar, that kind of thing. Yes, I'll explain it better.

About ten years ago, when there was that weird meteor shower and people started getting superpowers - sorry, yeah, I guess you knew about that - I was one of those affected. I wonder, though, if it was really intended for me. I never even liked rock much. My brother did, though. He was always playing his classic rock and his hard rock on the stereo system in his bedroom, so you could hear it anywhere in the house. He even saved up and bought an electric guitar, and kept trying to learn how to play it, but he was always pretty crap.

Anyway, it was the night after the meteor storm. I was 14 years old, and I was lying on my bed reading when my brother started playing his music. And before this I could always shut the sound out and concentrate on my book, but not this time. It was like... someone was talking to me. You know how you look at those 3D magic eye pictures and an image leaps out at you? It was like that, with sound. I think he was listening to Jeff Beck, Hi Ho Silver Lining, and you know that guitar solo near the end that goes 'widdly widdly widdly widdly wa-wow'? It was like all the notes were just merging into a voice. Deep, and booming... but kind, you know? The kind of voice you imagine God having. And it was saying my name, over and over again.

I tried to shut it out, but it was impossible. From then on, every song he played, the guitar notes would form that voice, speaking my name. Yes, I realise it sounds insane. No, they didn't command me to kill women, I'd ask you to take this seriously.

It took a few weeks before I gave in. My brother was out at work, and I snuck into his bedroom. He wasn't going through one of his phases of self-improvement at the time so his guitar was propped up against the wardrobe, gathering dust. Somehow, I could sense how the guitar was feeling. It felt neglected and miserable. I wanted to comfort it. I reached out a hand to pet it like you would a dog...

...and the next thing I knew I was holding it in both hands, and I was playing. I'd never even touched a guitar but there I was. My fingers were dancing over the strings like charmed snakes. My other hand was going up and down the neck like... what are those things called, you get them in ocean liners, they go up and down? Pistons? Yes, like that.

And the sound coming out of that instrument... it seemed to transcend the boundaries of notes and pitch and rhythm. It was something pure, something... glorious. It was like a bottle of golden champagne pouring over the auditory centre of the brain.

Lay off the what? What's a 'simile'? Oh. Sorry.

Once I came out of the trance I was... dazed, I guess. You know how you're always kind of giddy and woozy right after an orgasm. I put down the guitar. I could almost hear it sigh, just on the edge of hearing, a sigh of relief or pleasure or something. And then this horrible smell reached my nostrils, and I recoiled. It was coming from my brother's music collection.

Every CD, every LP, every cassette... all of them had melted in their cases. His MP3 player was just a puddle on the desktop. I knew then that the power was dangerous, but at the same time, I wanted to feel it flowing through me again.

I resisted. I started hearing on the news about people getting superpowers after the night of the meteors, and put two and two together. Some kid burnt down his entire apartment building. Another one flew off into the sky. I swore I wouldn't end up like that. From then on, as a precaution I wore earplugs whenever my brother was playing his music. I knew that it wouldn't try to call again, though. I was already infected.

A couple of years passed, and it grew inside me. I kept it bottled up, but it bided its time, growing in strength. Sometimes it would manifest in weird ways. One time I caught myself humming along to Purple Rain as it played on the PA system in a department store, and when I got home, all my teeth had been perfectly whitened. My mum persisted in buying me trousers two sizes too big, but they shrank and became incredibly tight within hours of me putting them on. And then there was the time there was a music festival three streets away and I woke up the following morning to find that my hair had grown down to my shoulders.

Overall, it was harmless. I thought I had kept it repressed. I should have known. It was just waiting for its chance.

Eight years ago. I was 16. I was appearing in the school play as a member of the background crowd. The play was just some Shakespeare crap so my mind wandered off, and I found myself staring at the audience below us. There were so many faces, and they all looked so... bored. I remember wondering if there was a way to make them all less bored, and that's when it happened. Something trembled in the pit of my stomach, and it quickly became a rumbling. My fingers were twitching, playing at strings that weren't there. My heart was pounding a bass rhythm in my ears.

Somehow I found myself walking up to centre stage. People were complaining, but the sound was muffled, as if coming from miles away. I could feel the power, trailing out of me invisibly and linking up with everything in the room. That's when I knew... that's when I knew that the power, the rock, it wasn't in me; it was in everything. I was just the conduit. I stood there and I felt the music in everything - the people, the chairs, the nails in the floorboards, the bricks in the wall, the very stars in the sky - all watching me, breath bated. They wanted me to let it out. And by God I wanted to oblige.

That's when the earthquake started. There was no chaos, though. There was a rhythm to it. I could feel rocks in caverns far beneath my feet dancing and clashing in perfect time. I heard concrete buckling, then wood smashing, then a great pillar of stone rose from beneath my feet, elevating me high above the crowd. No-one panicked or screamed or ran for the door. They could feel it too, now. They could feel it coming.

I held my hand aloft, and lightning struck me. No, I don't know how it happened indoors, that's just what it felt like. And then there was something in my hands. A curved, silvery blue guitar that shone and sparkled with brilliance. It was like I was holding, not a guitar, but the idea of a guitar. At the same time, it was one guitar, and it was all guitars, all the guitars that had ever lived, that had ever been smashed up on stage by the Who.

I realised that rock, true rock, didn't need instruments. Oh sure, nylon-stringed guitars and piano keys and drumsticks could make something resembling rock, but the true rock, the spirit of rock, when it wants to be played, can play itself through the universe, through the very particles of the air around us. The clashing stones of the Earth were my drum solo. The rumble of a gathering storm was my bass. Between them, they introduced the song, the song of true Rock. My eyes were closed as I plunged my hand down upon the quivering milk-white strings.

The first chord tore the shirt from my body. The second shattered every window in the building.

The music swept through me, through us all. The movements of my hands, guided by the spirit of Rock, were shaping tidal waves of sound. Everyone was on their feet, dancing and moshing like it was the end of the world. The entire school was shaking, partly from the earthquakes, partly from all the stamping feet. Possessed, I played. The guitar and I fused together like lovers. After opening the chorus with a particularly harsh riff, the entire school disintegrated. The walls and ceiling broke off and flew away into a gigantic swirling vortex formed by the clouds directly above me. All that remained was me, my stone perch, and the crowd. The moon and stars lit me up like a spotlight. I was Rocking Out.

I don't fully remember all the events of that night. Later, I was told that the people in the nearby houses showed up to complain and ended up joining the crowd. The police came in, then the army, and all of them were hypnotised by the power of Rock. They tried using snipers from a safe distance but the bullets were just vapourised as soon as they got too close.

At one point I rocked myself out of my body. I was floating about a hundred feet above the ground, looking down at myself as I continued to assault the guitar strings. I rose higher and higher to the very peak of the vortex, and there I met the Spirit of Rock.

Hm? Well, what would you expect the Spirit of Rock to look like? Oh, well it's funny you should say that because he did look like Elvis part of the time. It was weird. Like, I'd never see him actually change, but one minute I'd be talking to Elvis and then Elvis would start talking in John Lennon's voice and then I'd realise he'd always been John Lennon, and then he'd start sounding like Jimi Hendrix. Also, he smelled like a combination of sweat and marijuana. He was a pretty cool guy. We watched the concert together from far above and had a conversation.

He told me that, when Buddy Holly's plane crashed and took with it him, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, that the three merged and chose not to pass onto the next world. Instead, they would walk the Earth as a sort of Holy Trinity of Rock. The Father, the Son and the fat guy holding a telephone. Since then they had touched many aspiring musicians, and taken in those who had died, growing in strength with every drug overdose and autoerotic asphyxiation mishap. And with me, they said, they had finally found a vessel to truly spread the message of Rock to Earth.

Then he went into all the 'rules' of having the Spirit of Rock in me. Yeah, I guess this is kind of important to my application. He said that firstly the power was virtually limitless but that I shouldn't get a big head, that I was not the commander of Rock, merely a conduit. The Spirit plays by its own rules. They said the power will probably do as I ask if I do so humbly, but it's not a guarantee.

Secondly he said that even though it can be destructive and people may die in the process, the power of the Rock Out should never be unleashed as an act of aggression, except in dire emergencies or when the audience are really evil guys. Anyone who dies does so humanely while knowing perfect joy, so I shouldn't dwell on it. What? Er... I think around twenty people were killed in the first Rock Out. My geography teacher, Mr. Havers, he was sixty-five, he was headbanging so hard that his neck snapped. His body didn't actually stop moving for another three hours.

Thirdly they said the Rock Out can only be performed in front of an audience of at least 10 people, but more people makes for a more powerful conflagration. Also it helps if it takes place during hours of darkness, and that I should never be in a position of inferiority to the audience - that I would have to be elevated higher. They said I would know when conditions were ideal, just like I had done that night.

Oh yeah, afterwards. Well, I don't know when I stopped playing, it was a few hours before sunrise. I woke up early the next morning in the middle of a circle of scorched and blackened ground about twenty feet across, and most of the crowd were still there, lying around unconscious. Things were never the same after that first manifestation. It feels great at the time, but afterwards things always get worse fast. It's like fucking a fat chick. Sorry, that was insensitive. Sorry, Amazing Spherical Woman.

I was kidnapped by the military after that, once I'd settled down. I don't think my family minded, they were terrified of me after the first Rock Out, the whole town was. The army scientists wanted to see if they could weaponise the Rock Out. I knew it was hopeless, the Spirit of Rock would never go for it, but the devastation at the school was too good a possibility to pass up. I spent a few years there being experimented on. The Spirit of Rock teased them, gave them just enough to keep them interested, like having me play chords that made things across the room spontaneously catch fire.

But time wore on and the funding was running out. Eventually the head scientist actually begged me. Begged me to show him something he could impress his superiors with. I felt sorry for him, so I consulted with the Spirit of Rock, and he agreed to a demonstration on a nearby military base.

What? Yeah, actually, it was Orange Leaf Military Base. Yeah, the one they said was wiped out by a tornado.

So yeah, I've pretty much been drifting since then but I saw your ad and I think the Spirit of Rock is into the idea. It's like, you know, how in the eyes of many people rockstars and superheroes are grouped together, that was how he worded it. No, I don't have any references from other superhero teams. No, I don't have any experience in crime fighting. How could I, for Lennon's sake? They'd have locked me up if I wasn't one of you people. Just tell me if I'm in with a chance. Well, why can't you let me know now? It'd save us all a lot of trouble.

I see. No, I... no, I understand, I guess it isn't a very predictable superpower, I just thought this would be a chance to get my life in order. No, to be honest I don't have a lot of options. I can't really do anything else. I tried joining a band once and six people died. No, I know you don't enjoy rejecting people. I can see how unhappy you all look.


Yeah, I'll just... how many of you are there, by the way? One, two... twelve? That's perfect. Yes, I'll leave in a minute, but first I just want to stand on my chair.

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