Play or Die – Stories from the Fast Layne (part 1)

Play or Die

Stories from the Fast Layne (part 1)

By Eric Zimmerman

Layne climbs the final few feet to the top of the rubble pile. Once at the top he looks out at what lays ahead.

Emptiness, destruction…

He surveys the landscape. Empty building as far as the eye can see. Some are nothing but piles of rubble, others are crumbling, and some stand straight and tall. Everything is black, white or grey, making the scene appear to be from some old time movie.

A ghost town…

Layne slips the weapon that’s strapped across his back, to his front, getting it ready. He’s been to dozens of places just like this; he knows there are enemies within. There always are.

He walks towards the abandoned city, weapon at the ready, looking for a challenger, just as he has in the past, only no one has yet been able to challenge Layne…


Akoi watches from his hiding place as the stranger enters the city. He watches the stranger walk down the middle of Main Street, right into “his” house. Asshole!

He looks to his right, checking on Pansy. She’s crouching down behind her rubble pile, she’s anxious. She’s idly fidgeting with her weapon, a habit of hers when she is nervous.

He gestures to her to try to calm down.

It doesn’t help.

He turns his attention back to the stranger; he’s one hundred yards away. Just a little closer, it’s almost time to rock, cowboy


Layne senses danger ahead. He surveys the area and spots two rock piles a hundred yards ahead. He knows his opponents are waiting there.

He calmly walks forward, prepared for another battle.


Akoi watches the stranger stop twenty feet away. He looks over at Pansy, and gives the signal that it’s time.

A smile spreads across her pretty face just before they stand…


Layne stops when he sees his opponents stand.

The man in front of him is tall; He has long wild blue hair blowing in all directions even though there isn’t a whisper of a breeze. He holds his weapon at the ready.

Layne studies his weapon- it’s old and well worn. This opponent has seen many battles with it. Its body is dark natural wood, maybe mahogany? Its neck is steel, and it’s an eight string. I’ll have to watch that eighth string, he thinks, knowing the eighth string is the key to this weapon.

He turns his attention to the girl. She is normal height; her hair is bright pink and tied in two long ponies, pink bangs frame a petite, very cute face. She is fidgety, itching for the competition to begin. Her weapon is longer than either Blue’s or his. The entire thing is painted bright pink; the body is the shape of a cat head, with the ears pointing down. It sports four heavy, long strings- it’s a bass!


Akoi stares down the stranger.

Dust billows up from the stranger’s high top green sneakers, swirling around faded, ripped jeans.

The stranger has chrome-welding goggles pushed up into his jet black and orange streaked hair.

He carries a simple, five-string solid body; it’s in decent shape but nothing to write home about. It’s adorned with a single sticker right above the bridge which reads “Play or Die.”

Well you are about to die my friend


Layne watches his opponents- watches for the muscle twitch here, the head movement there that marks the start of the contest.

Pink girl moves first, the tension too much.

Her strum hand twitches a fraction, that’s all it takes. Layne locks his left fingers on a solid D and strums hard with his right, a bright red stream of music shoots from his weapon at the girl, missing her by inches but striking a building behind her, shattering concrete, sending rubble pouring down behind them, throwing dust swirling through the air.

Pink sends a jamming bass groove back. Red, blue and purple notes hitting the spot he was at a fraction of a second before, scorching the concrete.

Blue rocks a weak B towards him. Layne easily dodges the weak orange note and sends a hard riff back. The yellow riff strikes Blue in the left leg, dropping him hard to the tarmac. He’s hurt but not out.

Layne hears rumbling in the distance and quickly glances around. Dozens of stragglers are hanging out the windows of the surrounding buildings clapping and cheering at the show the three competitors are putting on.

Pinky’s still rocking the bass groove; she sends a wicked virtuosic bass line at him. A shower of sparks accompanies the rainbow of colors. Layne dodges to avoid the deep attack. She’s good! The missed note strikes a building, rocking it on its foundation, sending it toppling.

Layne steadies himself and rocks hard, sending a wicked riff followed by some whammy bar action at Pinky. The whammy action catches her off guard, the shimmering silver notes strike her in the chest, sending her flying backwards, landing a good fifteen feet away, where she lays crumpled, unconscious.

He’s so focused on his battle with Pinky, he misses Blue sending a devastating, flaming red note scorching through the air and pounding him in the side. The eighth string. Layne staggers to one knee, his head is pounded by the wicked riff; he fights to not black out.

Blue rocks the eighth string, but it’s sloppy, he can’t keep the pressure up, he’s not that good. His fingers slip and he misses a single note, but one note is all it takes.

Layne throws has best secret out at Blue. He strums out a hard riff followed by a rocking vamp. Blue is unprepared for the unknown notes and is overwhelmed, falling under the brightly colored barrage.


He goes to Pinky, just as she’s coming to. He extends his hands; she looks into his eyes, then lets him help her up.

“Nicely played,” he says.

“Thanks,” she smiles before stepping forward and kissing him…


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