I Felt Him
by Annika

High pitched cries of adulation, trembling screams on the verge of orgasm assaulting me as I stood upon that dimly lit stage. Admiration and affection crackled through the hall like a live wire severed at its source, emitting snapping, crackling bursts of high voltage energy. The sounds of eight prolific guitarists and four drummers that have mastered their craft created a cacophonic symphony, the loud crash of cymbals intermingled with the plucking of a bass superimposed over the sounds the vibrating thrum of electric and acoustic guitars. Voices were raised in song, a beautiful harmony of varying vocal ranges melding into one single sound, each separate voice playing an essential part in the collective. A small quartet of violinists played in the background, the shimmering vibration of strings adding a haunting melody to the fierce roughness of the band.

Yet, I did not hear a thing.

Feather light acoustic guitar in hand, I gazed blankly into the darkened faces of the crowd, my eyes unblinking and glazed over as my fingers mechanically strummed an endless chord whilst lyrics penned by another moved past my lips. The lights were gently dimmed, the auditorium awash in a gentle haze of illumination, the low burning lights bathing everything it touched in burnished gold, the mellow colours melding with the scent of sweet jasmine incense, fragrant smoke and light moving silkily through the hall. Smiling faces with eyes glittering as bright as kerosene lamps in a darkened hallway shone bright in the faded darkness, disfigured shadows playing upon the richly upholstered walls, looming large and threatening.

Yet, I did not see a thing.

But I felt. I felt the power of the music rise within me, lyrics long forgotten and rarely sung stirring memories deep within, memories that had been long buried and long forgotten. The strength of a dozen voices calling forth a spirit that had been long departed.


You're asking me will my love grow. I don't know, I don't know. I could feel the stirring of something preternatural inside of me, something that rose deep within the recesses of my soul, a feeling hauntingly and achingly familiar. Old feelings of love, friendship, jealousy, and enmity stirring like forgotten embers, slowly burning in the dying light. My gaze locked on a point of brilliant light in the distance, my thoughts concentrating hard on that one point, focusing all of my energy into feeling, seeing, and hearing nothing. A movement to the right suddenly caught my eye, and unbidden I turned as the music around me faded into nothing, replaced by the chaotic sounds of applause and the distinct shrill of catcalls filling the cavernous hall.

An apparition materialized before my eyes, dark locks of thick hair falling haphazardly into a set of dark soulful eyes, a fringe of long black eyelashes framing each eye. Gasping softly, I took in the impossibly fair face, English tanned, seemingly soft lips providing the only colour, a light dusting of rose in a pale face. Dressed in dark trousers and a simple, loose-fitting tunic he glided towards me, hands spread in greeting. I stood fixated by the image in front of me, frozen to the spot when suddenly, I started to move against my own volition. My movements were lethargic, each step seeming to take a lifetime, as I moved to meet him halfway. All sound faded around me as I placed my hands upon his shoulders, a desperation taking hold as I pulled the phantom into my feverish embrace.

Hands grasping the silky white material, I buried my face into his neck, inhaling a scent that was both different and strangely familiar. Memories of old accosted my mind, a jumble of images flashing by in rapid succession. Bus rides and childhood talks about guitars. Hitchhiking through Northern England. Silently battling over the affection of the eldest. Hamburg. The trappings of touring. Sharing a microphone on stage, a gentle harmony to complement the rough tones of another Cramped hotel rooms. Sharing ciggies in the toilet...

Illicit kisses, stolen between rehearsals, in the backs of vans and airplanes. Heated embraces in darkened corridors, the fear of getting caught palpable in the air. Nights spent on itchy hotel sheets, white material wrapped around legs, moans escaping dry, parted lips while hands frantically grasped smooth, heated skin. Lips fused in passion, words of love flowing unspoken, evident in actions rather than mere words. Late night talks, long nights holding each other close as if it were the last time we would ever be together...

Abruptly I was forced to tear myself away, my body shaking slightly as I looked at the figure before me, the memories fading in a matter of seconds. The ghost looked at me questioningly, eyes wide with concern, looking so familiar and yet so different.

"Is everything all right, Uncle Paul?" he asked, Dhani's voice erasing the last vestiges of the remembrances that had held me spellbound.

I nodded my head slightly in answer to his question, and in an effort to regain my senses. He smiled slightly as he turned away as I watched on, longing to reach out and...

But it was not him. Yet, I felt something. Something so hauntingly familiar, so real and true. A feeling I had not experienced in so long.

All I felt was him.


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