Violet Vance is living her best life. Surrounded by good friends and colleagues at her thriving life coach and therapy business, Alternative You, she wants for very little. Maybe a night out here and there, but certainly nothing too fancy. As long as she's helping people, then she's good.
When her business is asked to take on a crumbing rock band called Dis-Chord after their lead singer is arrested, everything changes. Mick is not coming back, which leaves the three remaining members of Dis-Chord -- Clint, Red, and Lucien -- stuck in LA, re-recording an album and in desperate need of help. There are angry fans. A hot-head record exec. Past and present victims. Plus the general malaise that comes from destruction at the edge of fame. Can Violet and her team solve this issue? Or has simply too much happened?
For once, Violet's not sure there's much she can do. But Lucien, the guitarist of the band, is quiet and intelligent. Kind and caring. And he really loves the movie The Wizard of Oz, which Violet thinks is endearing. He's not what Violet expected at all from a rock star -- and that just may be perfect for both of them after all.
But if, and only if, Dis-Chord manages to make it out of this mess alive and intact.
Violet turned over in bed. She heard the voice from a distant memory. Good girl. Yeah, good. You know what you're doing. Just let it happen. Chad’s voice. His breath. His ... Violet felt ill even in her sleep. She turned over again. Her consciousness tried to cling to the forefront of her mind. She tried to wake up, but she'd been up reading too late. She'd been up on the phone with Katrina, giving insight into some of the cases they still had in Ontario at Alternative You. Then she'd been up with Darla and George, talking about yet another shitty thing abbot their case, which as her case.
“We may want you at the trial.”
“It’s a maybe right now,” Darla had affirmed. “Probably won’t happen ...”
Darla went on and on, and while Violet had nodded, said sure, and agreed, when the dust from the meeting settled, she'd felt ill. An expert witness? To what? She'd not seen a thing.
Yet, of course, she'd seen everything. If she was called -- and she hoped it was an if -- she would be called as an expert witness into trauma. The trauma was not her own. It was an abstract trauma, the kind she'd studied in school, the kind that her textbook talked about. It was not personal, George even said as much. "And it might not happen. But still, we're exploring all options."
She heard George’s words in her dream. We’re exploring all options. It twisted into Chad’s voice, light and jovial and almost friendly. We have lots of options this weekend on how to spend our time. Violet felt the lapping of the lakeshore water. Then she felt the grit of sand as Chad was behind her, pushing her into the ground.
Violet wanted to throw up. She tasted sand, but it was the rough thread count of her pillow. She'd been biting it in her sleep.
She rolled over. She tried to wake up, but something pressed against her chest. This was not Chad, not even a memory of Chad, since his attacks had always been from behind. But something was there, in the room. Mick? No. Impossible. She panicked. She tried to open her eyes, but it was still darkness.
A blink. Another. Out of the darkness came a sudden light. A breath. A man. A shadow.
“Fuck,” she mumbled. Her mouth was choked by air and horror.
Mick stood before her, his grin as wide as Chad’s that weekend. They were in a courtroom. She was on the stand, while Mick was where the lawyer should have been. Representing himself? Of course. That was like Narcissism 101.
Violet was forced to speak, a hand on a Bible, and all eyes of the other participants trained on her. Their faces were empty and hollow, save for those eyes. She tried to open her mouth, but it felt like a flap of skin. Nothing there, nothing at all.
“Violet Vance,” Mick called. He walked towards her place on the stand. With each step, his physique changed. Feet into hooves, legs hairy and massive. Waist wider and redder; a face with a pointed chin and sharp, jutting cheekbones. His frosted tips stood on end, twisted into horns.
“Devil.” Violet spoke as a whisper. “Devil.”
With each step, Mick smiled his satanic smile. He’d now fully transformed from the rather pathetic human being he normally was to an otherworldly creature that was eight feet tall. Leather was draped over his body, ripped and torn over the muscles. Where his genitals should have been was a massive phallus, more akin to a baseball bat than anything resembling a man.
Violet swallowed hard. Three buttons down Mick’s middle caught her eye. One was the colour red, with a wide and flat surface. With a single blink, that button -- no bigger than a loonie -- became the size of Red’s head. And it was Red. He stared out at her from a button on Mick’s court outfit, like some strange and muted accessory. Like the people in the courtroom, he too had no mouth.
The next button was yellow. Almost copper, like Clint's beard under some lights. Another blink and that button became as big as Clint’s head. He stared out, mourning on his face, his pale eyebrows making his entire countenance seem like snow.
The final button was black. It became Lucien in one, last slow blink.
“But you have a mouth,” she whispered. He held the Bible in front of her like a shield. Lucien’s eyes were dark, black like the buttons, and though his mouth was open, no sound came out. “Talk,” Violet begged. “Talk to me.”
"What do you say, girlie?" Mick stepped forward. His height was astounding. It took Violet’s breath away as he leaned down. His engorged and horrific cock landed on the wooden stand with a thump that made her jump. He lifted his dark eyebrows and wiggled them. "Want a ride? Want to be a good girl all over again?"
Violet opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came. She rose from her seat, hoping to run, but she was paralyzed. She turned to see Lucien, to beg him for help, but his mouth was now sewn shut with guitar strings. He closed his eyes as Mick lunged forward.
“You didn’t answer me,” Mick said. He hissed. His fetid breath caught Violet off guard. She wanted to throw up again. “Answer me.”
Violet said nothing.
Mick smashed the witness box. Shards of it fell around her like ripped pages from a notebook. She watched as Clint and Red’s eyes also shut. She bore the pain as Mick scraped his nails down the walls and spat against her face.
He asked again. “Do you want a ride, girlie?”