Michael noticed yet another change in Anthony’s behaviour. They were subtle changes. Not enough for people to notice, other than family and friends, basically those who knew him, and were around him often. Michael was his older brother, older by eleven years, Anthony being fourteen. The age where they cannot be given advice, because they knew it already. Michael kept a watchful eye over him, mostly for their mother’s sake, as their father had absconded abroad after the police had picked up the scent of his involvement in illegal cigarettes.
In a way, Michael thought of himself as a kind of father figure to him, although Anthony would never admit to that. When they were that age, they liked to think of themselves as mature, even adult. The age where they were too big for toys, and too young to indulge in adult pleasures. They often looked up to adults who displayed the types of behaviour th ey were familiar with, the ‘screw the system’,anti-social type of person who appealed to both adults and youth. One such person, AK Anvil, real name, Boris Princeton, was somebody liked and respected by Anthony. He was a singer, in the lightest meaning of the word. To adults who could see through him, he was just a talentless shouter. He would strut about on stage, shouting illegible words into a microphone and passing it off as music. Of course, teenagers loved him, especially Anthony, who had joined his fan club. Occasionally, through the post, along with loyalty certificates and posters, there would be an invite to a get together of AK Anvil’s fans. Michael thought it odd that there was one every month. Off Anthony would go to a different destination every time to discuss his idol and listen to his music with other fans. Today he was particularly pleased because Anvil was touring, and coming to town on the weekend. So the club had organised another get together, and had invited the man himself, who accepted their invitation to go to the hotel where the meeting was to take place. So it was obvious that Anthony was going. There was no way he was going to miss the opportunity to meet the man in the flesh and actually talk to him. After each fan club meeting, Michael had noticed Anthony came back a little more distant, brooding more than a typical teenager which Michael attributed solely to his obsession with AK Anvil. His room had two small patches of wallpaper, the rest of it covered mostly with Anvil posters. He wondered just what type of people he was mixing with when he went to these meetings. What sort of influence where they having over him? They reminded him of a cult, where new members became embroiled in their ways and mannerisms as they grew to accept and believe what had been preached to them, and altered their behaviour accordingly.
As the time grew closer to when Anvil came to town, Anthony was becoming visibly nervous, or jittery, rather like the approaching day of an exam, or the long walk to the boss’s office when he was in a bad mood to ask for time off, or a raise. When the day did come, Anthony was surprisingly relaxed. Michael wondered just what sort of effect seeing him in person would have on him. Would he come back completely changed? For better or worse? Or would it be a case of being a huge anti-climax when he met him. Would his on screen and stage persona reflect what he was like in real-life? Would he be whacky and crazy as he would have all his fans believe? Perhaps he would, when in the hotel amongst the members of the fan club, but when he was alone in his room, he would probably return to being Boris Princeton, who enjoys country and western and old romantic black and white films.
Anthony left early to meet up with the other members of the fan club, and everything went as expected. Anvil performed on stage, with Anthony as close as an audience member could get, loving every minute of it, and when it had finished, he walked, along with the other fan club members, the hundred yards to the hotel where Anvil was staying, showing their special passes to the security guard who had to turn away non members. They waited approximately two hours in the hotel lounge before Anvil walked in, all of them dumbstruck with awe. They had arranged the seats in a makeshift circle. There was approximately forty altogether, and one in the middle for Anvil. When he sat down, he looked around at all the expectant faces and said:
“Who’s first then?”.
When Anthony returned home at around half twelve, Michael was in front of the stove, cooking scrambled egg. When he turned around and saw Anthony standing there, holding forth a plastic bag with an indiscernible item inside, he realised his obsession had gone too far. Anthony simply didn’t look right. He looked as though he was in a state of trance, or under hypnosis.
“Look,” he said, “I got a souvenir from Anvil”. Michael took the bag from him and looked inside. He instantly recognised it as a human heart. He dropped it and stepped back.
“What have you done?” he said.
“I took a piece of Anvil. We all did. It’s mine”. He picked it up and took it out, staring in fascination.
“My piece of Anvil,” he said, and walked out of the kitchen.
When AK Anvil had started out, two years ago, he and his record producers had concocted a stratagem, or ruse, to basically get the record buying public to buy his records. Taking their inspiration from failed attempts in the past, they expanded on the idea of injecting subliminal soundwaves into the records. They were so subtle, they could easily avoid detection, but they were there, in all of Anvil’s recorded output. They discovered they could alter these waves to affect certain parts of the brain, to tune it to their requirements. They could basically heighten a persons distaste for Anvil music, or heighten their liking. They couldn’t set it to too high a level, or people would get suspicious. Everybody who heard his music would be buying it, from classical enthusiasts to elderly people
who didn’t like anything modern. They set it at an optimal level. Not too low, not too high. Many people who heard his music gradually grew to like it, people who normally would despise such music. Of course there were people who didn’t like it, and those who would just about tolerate it if it came on the radio. They wouldn’t buy it, or borrow it, they simply would not turn the radio off if it came on. Yet, the effect it had on those who would have liked it in normal circumstances was an increase in their admiration to exceedingly dangerous levels. Every time they heard Anvil’s recorded music, it would affect their minds to such a degree as to enhance their devotion. When they were in the hotel, and Anvil had sat down with them, what he said and did were of no importance as they went unnoticed. They could not let him go. He was there, amongst them, and with the subliminal effects at their insecure intensity, unaccounted for by Anvil and the producers, they simply could not let Anvil go. They had to have a piece of him. The fan club members had stood up and surrounded Anvil, and proceeded to tear him apart, each taking their own piece of him as a personal souvenir. How far the subliminal soundwaves could go on its effect on the mind was not something assessed by the experiments. The most devoted fans of AK Anvil were already at an irreversible stage. Every time they played his music, which was every day, the subconscious waves had a slightly increasing effect, rather like dementia, with a gradually decaying state of mind. It was a similar effect with Anthony. Every time his music was played, it would increase, ever so slightly, the effect of the subliminal message: ‘You love this music, you want this music’. Yet with its constant bombardment of repeated playing, the increased effect it would have on devoted fans would be anybody’s guess.