This story was originally a bonus in the YA Scavenger Hunt, which was kinda like the game “Guess” in Twinmaker but without the machines that could take us anywhere at a simple command.

It’s a creepy conspiracy-style urban myth about boy bands and the birth of d-mat. Enjoy!



Encore - imagePop stars are figures of legend. And you know what they’re often legendary for? Dying young.

Drugs kill a lot of them, of course, but a surprisingly large number bought it in transport accidents. Cars, planes, motorbikes, and helicopters did for Marc Bolan, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and Aaliyah, and many, many others. Their careers were cut tragically short simply because they chose the wrong way to get from A to B.

Now we’re living in a world where all these things are obsolete, that kind of tragedy is no more, right?

Back when d-mat was relatively new, there was a boy band called Dee’z Guyz. Seven members, each one hotter than the last, collectively bigger than Jesus. Your mum probably had their posters on the wall. Your dad probably did, too. They were huge. There was Karim (the innocent), Mason (the bad boy), Benjamin (the clown), Marc (the romantic), Alesandro (the songwriter), Oliver (the wise), and Dee, the most beautiful of them all, who rarely sang but when he did whole auditoriums fell silent to listen.

Or so they say. I never saw them live. But my aunt did. In fact, she was at their last concert, the night d-mat nearly died.

Here’s what happened.

D-mat was new and amazing, but very expensive. Not everyone could afford to use it. More to the point, not everyone would. Lots of people had philosophical objections to being taken apart in one spot and put back together again in another, which isn’t entirely unreasonable, I guess, except for the fact that it works. Mostly. Anyway, d-mat needed a big bump in popularity, and who better to provide it than Dee’z Guyz, the biggest band in the world?

The stunt was simple. One world tour conducted entirely by d-mat and, what’s more, entirely on one night. Massive mirrored stages were constructed in twenty-four locations around the globe–stages that were also d-mat booths, so the band could travel from crowd to crowd without taking a single step. All they had to do was draw the curtains and jump once every hour, and they’d own the entire planet.

Of course, twenty-four hours is a long time to play. Already burned by rumors about lip-syncing, the official line from Dee and his Guyz was that so dedicated to their art were they that they would play the night through, come rain, hail or shine. For their fans, and for the brave new world of d-mat.

And so they did.

Except . . . on their thirteenth jump, from Belfast to Reykjavik, something went wrong. They left on schedule but didn’t immediately arrive. Eager fans became anxious, then alarmed. Rumors flew thick and fast through the Air, fueled by official silence from the band’s management and the people behind d-mat. No one was saying anything, but that didn’t stop people speculating.

D-mat has failed! Dee’z Guyz are stuck in transit! Their patterns have been lost and will never arrive at all!

My aunt was there in Reykjavik. She was one of the ones who panicked. It could easily have become a riot, she says. She and five thousand other teenagers were ready to tear the place down if something didn’t happen soon. And the consequences could have been far worse than that: if d-mat killed Dee’z Guyz, the world as we know it wouldn’t exist. Who would ever trust the machine that erased the Handsomest Boys On Earth?

Of course, that wasn’t what happened. After twenty-three minutes of terrible silence, the giant booth on-stage came to life. Seven sets of data became the material reality of seven devastating boys, and music kicked in with the force of a nova. Using every iota of charm in his perfect voice, Dee launched the megahit power ballad “A Man (to Love)” and the crowd grew instantly calm. News spread like wildfire: Just a glitch! Dee is back, and better than ever!

My aunt remembers it well. It’s one of the few things she does remember. The greatest night of her life, she’ll tell you if you let her. I’ve certainly heard her say it more often than I care to think.

So often that I’ve begun to wonder . . .

The footage of that night is freely available, if you want to look at it. You can see the band arriving in Reykjavik looking confused and uncertain. They only begin to warm up when Dee hits the chorus. If it hadn’t been for Dee, they might never have pulled it off.

Pulled what off? Well, here’s one theory. Lip syncing was nothing. Dee and the Guyz had been using body doubles for ages, and they were using them that long night. You can see slight differences in the costumes and chiseled abs from one concert to the next. The originals almost certainly played the opening set, but from then on it was fake.

Dee’z Guyz in disguise, you might say.

Then there was the mistake, a technical glitch with terrible consequences. The fakes that left Belfast never arrived. They died, and the real ones were called in to finish the tour, because someone had to. Subsequently, the families of the dead performers were bought off and sworn to silence. No one could ever know, because that would ruin the reputation of both d-mat and the band. The hottest group and the hottest new tech could not go down at the same time. They were too big to fail.

So d-mat went on to take over the world, and Dee’z Guyz? Well, their ending wasn’t so happy. After the tour’s triumphant conclusion in Tokyo, the band fell apart. First there was Karim’s sex tape and Mason pounding on a journalist, then Benjamin took a drug overdose, Marc was hit with a paternity suit, Alesandro lost a plagiarism case, Oliver was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Dee’s solo career tanked. They never played together again.

Which doesn’t make sense if this theory is right. Why melt down after such a spectacular event? They’d weathered storms before. What went so suddenly wrong this time? What happened to their famed dynamic and sense of family through thick and thin?

It was almost as though they were different people . . .

The more plausible theory, if you ask me, is that, sure, someone died tonight, but it wasn’t the body doubles. Dee’z Guyz are true legends, like all those other musos who died in their planes, trains or whatever. The real deals were killed by d-mat and the doubles took their place. They bumbled on afterwards as best they could, because what else could they do? The truth couldn’t come out. Genetic tests were faked. Lies were told. Vast sums of money changed hands until eventually enough time passed and people stopped caring. But it was never the same.

Dee’z Guyz died. And the truth about Dee’z Guyz died too, so d-mat could live.

There’s one more theory that I’m sure my aunt would subscribe to, if she had a shred of curiosity as to what happened that night. Maybe Dee’z Guyz had had enough and decided to call it a day halfway through their last tour. Instead of using d-mat to go from Belfast to Reykjavik, they jumped somewhere else instead. Maybe even now they’re living lives of contemplative solitude in Atlantis with Elvis, having grown tired of all the gossip and faked their own deaths at the grand old average age of 25.6.

Pop stars are figures of legend. And legends never die. In this case, it’s probably deserved. Not because of their music, but because if no one had arrived in Reykjavik that night, the future would have been a very different place indeed.


(With thanks to my stepson Finn Monteath for his power ballad-naming skillz.)

Image: morguefile

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