Prologue: "Ugh," He rubbed his tired eyes as he saved the last of the track. He'd been up since ten that morning working in the studio. He averted his eyes away from the computer to the clock, which read 3:10. Why me, he thought. He envied the rest of the band, imagining them sleeping their lives away at their houses while he was still up working on their album.
But then again, it was his fault too. He could save it for the morning, but his conscience wouldn't let him. They were almost done with the album, and he was enthusiastic and wanted to get it done as soon as possible. He coughed as he deleted a couple of silent endings in boredom, waiting for the computer to load the burning program. Damn computer, he thought as the computer performed it's orchestra of struggling noises. His Symphony X ringtone sounded, cutting through the quietness of the room. The Caller ID read "Mike Portnoy". Wow, wonder what he's doing up so early...he answered it.
"Hey John, did I wake you up?" Mike's tired, New Yorker accented voice came through.
"No, actually, I'm still in the studio, I'm about to call it a night."
"Oh, wow, you've been in there for quite some time, huh?"
"Psh, you have no idea. Why're you up?"
"Well, I wasn't, actually, I just got a call from James about certain upcoming gigs. Apparently, they want us to cancel a few in Australia, take those and add them to our England tour."
"Really? So how many gigs does that leave Australia?"
"Like, two venues."
"You've got to be kidding me. We've got way more fans all around Australia than we do in one area in England."
"Yeah, I know, but we gotta do what we gotta do, I guess."
"I guess." John rolled his eyes and moved the mouse to wake up the computer.
"Alright Petrucci, well, I'll let you sleep." Mike yawned.
"Alright, talk to you soon." John hung up and sighed. How they planned so far ahead never ceased to amaze him. The album isn't even out yet, and they're already screwing around with tour dates. He popped in a CD and started burning the new tracks. He stretched, yawned, then minimized the document. He got up and started out the door. His shirt brushed slightly against his guitar, making it sing in it's D-tuning. He looked back at it, admiring its faded red and black glory and catching it's beauty in his eyes. He then looked away and headed off for bed.
They all piled in the back, one by one, accidentally running into one another hurriedly to get the hell out of there. They could hear the screaming fans just outside the Pavillion, which only motivated them even more to get going. Sweaty, laughing, and out of breath, Dream Theater celebrated as the truck sped away from the venue and onto the freeway."Damn," said Mike, pouring himself a glass of tequila. "That was a great concert." Jordan Rudess nodded in agreement. "It was crazy, did you see how absolutely insane those people were getting?! I mean, I'd walk out to where Petrucci was, and I'd see about half the crowd on his side trying to get at the stage."
"Oh, you bet," James LaBrie smiled as he drank his Diet Coke. "There was this girl who looked about 14 up at the front who was holding out a pick, hoping you'd grab it," he nudged John, "Did you see her?" "Yeah, I just ignored it," Petrucci laughed. Mike poked John Myung's shoulder. "Hey Myungman! You did great today, I'm proud of you"John smiled and gave him an odd look. "What are you, my mom?" he laughed.
The truck pulled into the Hilton Hotels, and the band got out. Just then, a ringtone of Bohemian Rhapsody went off, and James pulled his Sidekick out of his pocket. "Hello?"
"Hey James!" the person over the phone greeted him with a smile in his voice.
"Oh, hey Gary."
"This just in, we need you guys to play at the Newcastle City Hall."
"Oh, alright, thanks."
"Alright, see ya."
"See ya." James ended his conversation and ran up to the rest of the band. "Hey guys! Gary called, we're playing in Newcastle two days from now." They all mumbled in approval.
The two days went by fast. All John remembers from it was eating breakfast and then getting a call from Jordan that he needed to be there in less than 2 hours.
It was a rainy day for Newcastle, England. Sheets of rain splattered heavily on the cobblestone streets as the tour bus came to a stop at the back of the building. The band expedited quickly and ran for the entrance.
"Whew, it's really pouring out there!" Mike stated, matting down his wet, curly hair. "Aww, now I gotta redo my hair again..." Jordan looked at him sadly. "Aww, poor you!"
"Shaaat up," Mike mumbled under his breath as Jordan snickered.
It was around 5:30 when everything really started kicking up for John. He felt the familiar excitement, the anxiety of going in front of thousands of people who loved and appreciated his music. He went into the hallway, passing Mike's and James' practicing rooms. He heard Mike drubbing out a complex beat on top of James' vocal scales as he made way into his practice room, the one right next to John Myung's. Closing the door, he picked up his six string beauty, turned on his Mesa Boogie amp, and started warming up. It took a few minutes, but he finally got his fingers ready for what he likes to call "ultimate shredding".
Finally, it was time to go out. The opening band, Deep Purple, waved their goodbyes and retreated to the backstage. "Good luck out there, you guys!" Ian Gillan wished them luck as the lights faded and the intro soundtrack started up. Another amazing setlist for the Systematic Chaos tour! thought John eagerly as he walked out on stage and started playing Constant Motion. The crowd went nuts when Mike came in, furiously slamming his foot down on the pedals of the kick drums and snapping the snares and toms with what he did with pure ease. Soon, the whole band was cooking. Shit, this is gonna be great, thought John as his solo approached nearer. His heartbeat rose to a flutter when the last beat was hit, for he knew that this was his moment to shine, this moment was for all the diehard Petrucci fans out there to watch him awestruck as he soloed flawlessly across the neck.
Suddenly, he took a hard blow to the head. He fell backwards, barely having any time to save his guitar from cracking itself on the ground. Dazed and confused, he looked up to see flying, white objects raining down upon the stage. He tried to get up when another one hit him, sending him back to the ground. What the hell?! He tried to get up again, this time pushing himself into a crouched position behind his monitors. He looked to his right to see James dodging the UFOs and Mike running backstage to get help, even thought the crew was already on it. He took off his guitar and set it on a stand, ready to help out when a white object landed right next to him. It startled him, but it startled him even more when it started upward and fluttered furiously in his face. He pushed it away in confusion. It felt soft, but rough. What the...?
They're chickens, he realized. Real, live chickens. He went over to Myung, who was getting pecked to death by an angry hen, getting the hysterical bird out of his hair, literally. The crowd went crazy watching all of this, only making the pandemonium worsen. Jordan came over to Petrucci and Myung, grabbing the microphone stand and started swatting chickens away. "Where the hell- are all- these- CHICKENS- coming from?!" Jordan yelled over the commotion. "Is this seriously what they had in mind for the show??" Jordan's questions were forgotten when they suddenly heard a low rumble. The three of them looked out into the audience to see them running around, trying to get out of the stadium. With a loud crash, a huge animal came flying down from the rooftop and onto the stage. "Oh...my...God..." the three band members looked up in shock at the flying cow heading straight towards them