CHAPTER ONE: A FRIEND IN NEED
The quiet of the north was broken by the usual morning drone of cars, trucks and the activity of the modern world. Covered with a light dusting of snow, the grass and leaves woke from their nightly slumber. As the frigid tundra of Thunder Bay Ontario slowly warmed in the rays of the July sun, the citizens of the city emerged to begin their daily routine.
Except this day was hardly routine.
Thunder Bay is the great Canadian crossroads. One cannot drive from one side of the country to the other without passing through frosty Thunder Bay, the land of perpetual winter. Other routes involve going off the beaten track, but only fools dare cross into the United States of Chaos. The level-headed travel the Trans-Canada Highway. All roads eventually wind back to Thunder Bay.
Down the highway, came the Caravan. They came from the warm southern reaches of the province, unprepared for the sudden July cold of Thunder Bay. They called themselves “The Sausagefesters”, a merry band of rock and rollers who adored the taste of red meat and distorted guitars. The Caravan powered its way through the Canadian shield, the tall majestic evergreens shading their journey. Bound for a new music festival called Sausagefest West (an offshoot of the original southern variety), their spirits could not have been higher. Happy songs rang as they made their way to Thunder Bay. If only they knew the dangers that lay ahead, they would not be singing so merrily.
Their trip had started peacefully enough, but now, travelling at speed down the cold asphalt, they found themselves careening towards a dark, towering figure ahead.
“Watch out!” yelled the passenger in the lead vehicle, a big meaty man with a scruffy exterior.
“I see it!” exclaimed the driver. “But I don’t know what I’m seeing!”
The driver, normally quite the brain, found himself frozen in shock. For what was ahead would chill the bones of any man. The massive figure ran towards them.
“It’s a sasquatch!” answered the meaty man. “Swerve!”
It was too late and the beast swatted the lead vehicle like a fly. The rest of the Caravan came to a screeching halt behind.
“Stay in your cars! Stay in your cars!” came the chorus of voices from behind.
Unconscious, the driver hung limply from the broken window. The meaty man got out the passenger’s side only to find the giant beast waiting for him. Its roars nearly deafened the man, who fell back to the cold ground. He managed to grab his phone from the snow. Retreating, he dialled a number as the beast advanced. It lunged again and the phone fell, hanging up the call.
He heard the phone immediately begin ringing back.
“Beth? I hear you calling!” the man screamed trying to reach the phone.
The beast crushed it with a mighty big foot.
“I can’t come home right now,” the man whimpered as the sasquatch moved in for the killing blow. The cars behind honked and flashed their lights trying to distract the sasquatch, but no one dared get out.
Then, suddenly, the beast looked up, his eye caught by a flash of colour.
A sound approached: a sonic boom, and then a roaring melody of distortion from the sky.
The beast began to retreat as the sound grew closer, and louder.
Like a bolt from the blue, a figure appeared overhead. From his back he pulled an electric guitar and the sound grew deafening. He flew towards the sasquatch.
Now truly afraid, the beast backed off, retreating to the treeline. The guitar-wielding figure landed and ripped out a wicked solo. With a shriek, the sasquatch ran into the woods.
The flying guitarist moved his weapon around to his back, as he leaned over to help the meaty man up. “Here,” he said extending his hand. The meaty man noticed that the hero wore a mask bearing a distinctly stylized “VH” logo. He clasped the extended hand, and then as if by summoning, a motorcycle could be heard approaching, and soon rolled over the hill.
“You took quite a tumble!” the hero said with a heave-ho.
“Woah, thanks man. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, except covered with hair.”
The man on the motorcycle, clad in black, pulled up. The dark rider dismounted and unlocked the compartment on the back of his bike. The meaty man was stunned to see that it contained ice, and cans of beer.
“Drink this. This will make you feel better.” The rider handed a cold can of beer to the meaty man who eagerly cracked it open and sipped its nourishments.
“Thanks man,” he answered. “My friend driving, he’s knocked out. Can you help him?”
“Sure can!” answered the black biker. Stepping over to the driver’s side, he checked the brainiac behind the wheel.
“Hey man, you awake?” The driver opened his eyes. “Here, inhale this. This will make you feel better.” He handed the driver some kind of heated inhalant, which revived the man immediately.
“Woah! Thanks…what happened?” he asked in confusion.
The flying hero with guitar on his back, sauntered over. Below the mask, he sported bright spandex and a cape with a drawing of a steak bone. His voice boomed when he spoke.
“You guys ran into a sasquatch on the highway, a particularly nasty sasquatch. Not your fault, we get a lot of that up here in Thunder Bay.” The black rider nodded his head knowingly.
Feeling just as confused as before, the meaty man asked, “But who are you? Where did you come from? How did you know we were in trouble?”
The hero, with a kind look behind his glasses, answered simply.
“I’m Tee Bone Man.” A crack of thunder broke overhead. “The guy on the bike is my partner Superdekes.”
“Hey guys,” said the new arrival as he removed his sleek black helmet. “Me and Tee Bone here are powered by the fusion of arena rock, good Scotch, and guitars. We were sipping some drinks and rocking some Van Halen on the old turntable when we got a vibe that something bad was going down at the old current river. We play vinyl exclusively, because those danger vibes only come through the grooves. That’s how we knew something was up. So I hopped on the bike — Tee Bone can fly, but I can’t, and I’m not exactly sure how that happened.”
“It’s complicated,” shushed Tee Bone. “Origin stories can be told another time. The point is, anywhere my fellow rockers need help, I’ll be there. Wherever evil threatens rock and roll, I will answer to it. Tee Bone Man stands for music, lyrics and rock and roll! When any one of those things are in danger, you can count on me!” He paused. “And Superdekes too, if he’s within motorcycle riding distance!”
“We really gotta talk about the flying thing,” retorted Superdekes.
Then, there was a painfully long pregnant silence.
“Are you…are you pissing?” asked Tee Bone Man of the meaty one.
“Heh. Yeah. Had to go, you know.” Zipping up, he thanked the guys once again for their help.
“No problem,” the heroes answered. “No handshakes though. You take care of your buddy and drive safe! And don’t drive until that stuff wears off, give it a few hours.”
“We will!” they both answered, as Tee Bone Man lifted off. Waving goodbye, the hero flew. Superdekes kicked his bike into motion and was gone in mere seconds. The two friends watched them disappear into the distance. Their entire Caravan observed from the windows.
“Do you think that’ll be the last we’ll see of Tee Bone Man and Superdekes?” asked the driver to the meaty one.
“No way,” he answered. “Not even if hell freezes over!”
To be continued in Chapter 2: Hell Freezes Over…