Once upon a time, there were alien creatures that wanted nothing more than to suck out human voices like chocolate milkshakes. Fortunately, groups of people called “musicians” had stopped screaming and running around in circles long enough to realize how they could combat these aliens. One such group was a five-man band called Tally Hall. And like many others whose line of work required sweating profusely, the men of Tally Hall wore ties.
Rob Cantor’s yellow tie stuck out like a big, fat, annoying ray of sunshine. Although it is a cheerful and friendly color, certain people can be annoyed with yellow after awhile, if for no other reason, because it is so bright. The tie that most rivaled Rob’s when it came to sticking out in a crowd was the tie of Joe Hawley, which was a loud shade of red. It had once been even louder, but the color had mellowed after too many tumbles in the wash. This fading of red, however, did not disassociate the color from love, warmth, or clown noses.
Gray, the color of Ross Federman’s tie, is thankfully not related to clowns at all. A calm color, it is not extreme in one way or another. It is neither black nor white, neither catlike nor doglike, neither peanut butter nor jelly. It’s just gray. And there’s never any harm in making fun of such a color because, again, it’s just gray. The same could not be said for the color tie of Andrew Horowitz. His tie was green, which for some may bring grapes to mind, and most people don’t feel a need to belittle food.
Grapes, for the most part, are sweet, but you come across a sour one every once in awhile. Of course, Andrew’s tie was not actually grape green but grass green, and grass cannot be used as a metaphor for someone’s personality, unless that someone is a corpse.
Then there was Zubin Sedghi who, being unable to find “sarcasm” on a color chart, decided that blue was sensible enough.
“Sensible,” however, was definitely not the word one would’ve used to describe what Zubin looked like at 6:00 in the morning. Shuffling into the hotel room kitchen with bleary eyes and messy hair, he looked like he’d just been shot with a tranquilizer.
Joe stood at the window across from Zubin, aware of his presence but not of his struggle to stay awake. Gazing through the glass drowsily, Joe took in the sights of the city. He wondered why the tall, metallic buildings before him seemed so out of place. This was Pittsburgh after all. It shouldn’t have struck him as odd that there were cars zooming past the windows of every story. The artificial lighting and holographic billboards shouldn’t have looked so foreign. Even the mech that stomped past the window shouldn’t have phased him. None of these were new sights to him, but it seemed that more and more mechanized things like these could be found in “rural” areas. Since teleporting out of Michigan the day before, Tally Hall hadn’t seen anything green. Joe sighed.
“Hey, Zubin,” he said wearily, “you ever get tired of all this?” Initially he received no response from behind him, but after a moment there was a rhythmic thumping noise followed by a robotic voice repeating, “Denied. Denied.”
“Zube?” Joe turned around. Zubin was trying to stick a Hot Pocket into a rather agitated toaster.
By then Rob had returned from the breakfast hall with a cup of coffee in his hand, and he was just about to ask what Joe was laughing at when he saw Zubin.
“Here,” Rob said, handing his friend the Styrofoam cup, “you need this more than I do.”
Zubin attempted to give a grateful smile, but he only succeeded in making it look like half his face was falling off. Rob held back a chuckle and walked over to watch TV. Ross had left it on and, for whatever reason, had thought that the news was going to wake him up. One of the others would’ve changed the channel, but Ross, apparently power-hungry, had taken the remote with him into the bathroom.
Rob “fwumped” onto the couch in defeat and Joe took the cushion beside him. On the TV screen was a woman far too chipper to look at so early in the morning. All her teeth showed as she enthusiastically greeted the audience, telling them about a popular band she was interviewing. Her hand shook with the fuel of black coffee as she held a mic towards the group’s designated speaker, their one and only girl.
“So, tell me,” the woman asked her, “what’s it like being in a teen rock band?”
As the girl went on to talk about the difficulties of touring while still finishing high school, a montage played of her and the other band members using their musical abilities. The first few clips were of her singing into a mic, sending Sound Waves out to re-stitch an opening in the Divide separating the human world from that of the Deafcaps. The rest of the band soon came into view, their instruments at the ready. It didn’t take long for the girl’s voice to attract the aliens toward the portal suspended in midair, and the band quickly began strumming up a tune. The Sound Waves produced by their music blasted the creatures backwards in a rather sloppy fashion, the guitarists having not waited for their drummer to properly stabilize the attack. Still, it was a decent performance. The Deafcaps were gone and the Divide was mended. Thus ended the montage, and the screen returned to the band being interviewed.
“I see. That’s quite impressive,” the woman said. Rob noted that she was talking more to the singer than the whole band, and he gave an irritated sniff.
“I’m sure everyone’s excited for the tour,” the woman went on, all her teeth gleaming in the studio’s spotlights. Joe got up from his seat with a bored glaze in his eyes. “It’s amazing how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time “” “ The screen went black as Joe hit the power button, not that this seemed to bother the others. Rob merely got up to stretch while Zubin continued sipping his coffee.
It was as he was popping his back that Rob turned to see the look of tranquil fury on Zubin’s face. Rob furrowed his brow.
“I hope you’re not irritated that band got famous so fast?” he said uncertainly.
Zubin swallowed a mouthful of coffee and shook his head. “You know this is just my default expression before caffeine’s kicked in.”
“That’s your default expression period,” Joe said with a wry smile.
“No, be fair,” said Rob. “Zubin’s default expression is more one of apathy or incredulousness.”
Zubin was somewhat less than amused.
“Is Andrew up yet?” he said coolly.
“I dunno,” Rob said as he stuck his hands in his pockets. “Probably not.”
He and Joe made their way to the bedroom to investigate, and Zubin remained in the kitchen to stare at his frozen Hot Pocket. Walking in, the only light in the bedroom was coming from the crack under the bathroom door where Ross was finishing his attack on one of man’s worst enemies: bad breath. In the bed closest to the window was either a sleeping human or a chainsaw trying to pass as one. Rob was leaning towards the chainsaw idea, but Joe had his money on there actually being a bear under the covers.
“Andrew, you awake?” said Joe.
“Lights,” said Rob, and their hotel room’s interface system kicked in, shedding light over the bedroom and the bear sleeping in it.
Now would be a perfectly reasonable time to use a grass green tie to describe Andrew. It was stated before that only a corpse could be compared to grass, and although Andrew was probably not dead, he most certainly looked like it. Joe and Rob stepped closer to him to see a tie laying haphazardly over his eyes (which must’ve blinded him from some attack), his limbs were wrapped tightly in the sheets (which was probably why he couldn’t get away), and his mouth was agape (evidence of a dying scream).
“Oh, God, Ross killed him,” Rob said flatly.
It was then that Ross emerged from the bathroom, checking to make sure the spacesaver app on his jPhone would have enough room for a drum set. “What’d Ross do?” he asked as he put his phone away.
“You killed Andrew,” Joe said nonchalantly, “but don’t worry. With his insurance we can pay for your bail money.”
“He’s alive! It’s the miracle of money!” Rob exclaimed.
“Come on, Andy, we got a teleporter to catch,” Ross said as he shook Andrew’s shoulder.
“Yeah, seriously, man, you need to get up,” said Rob. “We need to pick up our instruments, and Coz has something to tell us in person.”
Andrew tried rubbing his eyes, but since there was a tie covering them, he didn’t accomplish much. He settled on pulling the covers up to his chin to make himself more comfortable.
“Get up!” Rob said as he ripped off the covers.
Upon hearing his band mates’ squabble, Zubin walked in the room and joined the group around the bed. He then promptly dumped the remainder of his coffee on Andrew’s face, set the empty cup on the nightstand, and exited. Andrew had shot out of bed like a drowning sailor: soaking wet and swearing loudly.
“What is wrong with you?!” he snarled.
“I’m in a band that needs to be in Glenside today, and our keyboardist still isn’t out of bed,” Zubin called back. “And you might wanna wring the coffee out of your tie before we go. There’s a wonky cleaning droid at the front desk that’ll scrub your face off if there’s so much as lint on your clothes.”
Ross looked at the wet piece of fabric in Andrew’s hands and said bleakly, “That’s my tie.”