Challenge #02186-E357: ProwesssteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction3 years ago


One more Queen prompt, not BoRhap-related this time. The story of the recording of "The Show Must Go On", the last song Freddie recorded for the band, barely a year before his death. He was so ill when the band recorded the song in 1990 that Brian May, who wrote the melody and much of the lyrics, after he and Freddie had sat down and determined some of the crucial lyrics Freddie wanted in there, had concerns as to whether he was physically capable of singing it. Brian May has said: "I said, 'Fred, I don't know if this is going to be possible to sing.' And he went, 'I'll fucking do it, darling' — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal."
The song was the story of Freddie's long slow death to HIV/AIDS, in a time when that was still a certain death sentence, and his fight against it and determination to still live his life. This video has the isolated vocals track, with Freddie as lead vocals and May as most of the backing vocals. And even separated from the rest of the song, it still raises goosebumps.
(Wikipedia link for the song) -- RecklessPrudence

Stage people are something else. Some people would take the news of a fatal illness and sink wholesale into depression. Others would insist on experiencing as much as possible of the world before taking the ultimate journey into the beyond. A rare few dedicate the rest of their briefer existence to creating as much as possible of their legacy before going ungently into that good night.

Many spit and rage, devoting some of their energy into flipping the bird at the Grim Reaper. Some can do two of those at once.

Freddie Mercury was one of the rare few, made even more special by channeling a justifiable rage into the music he made. The last song he recorded was The Show Must Go On. A common stage saying amongst those whose rent came from performing, back in the days of rent. The show was more important than the prima donna. More important than the leads. More important than the orchestra, the understudies, the crew... anyone who made the show was less important than the co-operative product itself.

The show was what paid for the food and shelter. The show was what the audience paid for. That and an assortment of snack foods that merely went to bolster the coffers. The show was the industry. In this case, the show was all that Freddie Mercury had left.

Betrayed by the government he'd voted for. Betrayed by the society in which he'd lived. Abandoned by moralistic, pompous sorts who claimed to protect the sanctity of life whilst ignoring the teachings that told them to care for the sick and aid the poor. Left with little but his friends as a means of support. Slowly dying from a disease that others insisted was the judgement of their god.

Rael could hear it in the song. A dying man raging against the dying of the light. Fighting the disease that ebbed his strength but not his fury. Fighting to give his all for an audience who wouldn't know he was sick until he was dead. Leaving one last message for those who cared to listen.

Six weeks after he recorded these lyrics, he died. Six weeks in pain. Six weeks in growing sickness. Six weeks... dying. Six weeks of knowing it.

Rael had spent quite a significant amount of time with the uncertainty of his own lifespan looming over his head like the sword of Damocles. He had decided to keep working because that was all he had. There was nothing else he had as his own. He couldn't imagine a Human, who should have lived anywhere between eighty to a hundred years, knowing that he was going to perish, choosing to work until work was no longer possible. Cranking out creative work after creative work until creativity was no longer an option.

After all that... withering away inside of six weeks. Leaving behind enough works to keep making albums for five years after his death.

That... that was why Humans had such a reputation. They could, had, and would go down fighting. Even when the fight was unwinnable. They would take the enemy with them, spit in the Grim Reaper's eye, and give a rude gesture as their last conscious action in life.

The show had gone on.

Because this one man decided it would.

Humanity remembered heroes like that, long after the alleged moralists were forgotten and their venal policies ground into the dirt where they belonged. They remembered words of power, and struggles against the unconquerable foe. They passed the heroism on. Inspired, they moved onwards to fight other battles.

There was more than one Human who used a particular song by Queen as their battle anthem. Many a Vorax had learned to fear broadcasts of rhythmic guitars, relentless drums, or the admiration of fat-bottomed girls. They certainly learned to fear the awesome vocals of Freddie Mercury, regardless of the subject matter.

Having heard his honest fury, wrapped in soaring notes, Rael could understand the terror.

He never wanted that kind of rage aimed at him.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / vectorpocket]

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