Remember When the Music: A DAYLIGHT fanfic

by Dennis

Trent Lane sat alone in the ruins of McGrundy's cradling his treasure. He'd carried it with him since the day the sun's fire came. In many ways, it was it had been all that kept him tethered to life. A moment's peace, a brief relief from the hell that life had become.

Not that life was totally devoid of hope. There was a stable community where Lawndale used to be, about five hundred people, maybe a thousand. They had a cache of nonperishable food, a herd of cows for milk, and gardens growing into farms for occasional fresh fruit. In some ways, his life in their primitive world was more fulfilling that the one he had before. But back then he had people to care about.

Jane, he pounded on her chest, willing breath back into the plague-riddled body. Don't die! Don't leave me! You can't leave me! But she had, and he'd been spared. Sometimes, he wondered why.

A sound behind him made him turn. Jesse Moreno stood behind him. "Hey man," Jesse said, putting a wealth of question into the words. Jesse could do that. You learned when you didn't have much to say to make what you did say count.

"Just thinking about... you know, about them." Trent lowered his head.

"I know, man." Jesse took a seat behind him with his own treasure. Jesse's had been scavenged, rather than saved. Nothing had been left of the Moreno house after the original riots, not even people. Jesse had come back to find himself an orphan, but not alone in the world.

"The sun's getting low," Trent said, looking up to where thee paneled roof once was. McGrundy's hadn't done too well either, but the remains of the walls made it a good gathering place. "Think we should get ready?"

"Yes," Jess said. "I'll get the others. You get the food."

"No need," Nick said, as he came around a break in one of the walls. "The others got the food. It's around back." It wasn't much, Doritos, Twinkies, and canned soups and vegetables, but it was something they should share.

Max appeared behind him, boxes and pails in his hands. Even after all this time, seeing Max hair with was still weird. Trent had always assumed Max was hiding a bald spot or a receding hairline by going the other way, but his long blond hair was full and naturally wavy. Trent's own hair had gone long and tangled. No point in keeping it neat, or even artfully messy, not in the world they lived in now.

"Give us a hand," Nick said. "I wanna get set up." Max nodded, focusing his dead eyes on Trent. Gone was all the criminale bluster. He and Jess had hooked up right after the riots, and Nick had met them on the road, but they hadn't found Max until they came back to Lawndale. Max never said, but Trent thought he'd gone through some pretty bad shit out there, shit to make Nick losing his daughter—or me losing Janey—seem like a day at Disneyworld.

The four of them dragged some food up where the stage used to be. Trent did it one-handed; he refused to surrender his treasure. The others understood.

Words from his past floated through his mind as they often did. "Would you say sleeping with a guitar in your hands counts as practicing?" "As long as you don't drop it." An ache hit him. He knew Jane, but he still wondered about Daria. When the riots had ended, her house was... empty. No damage, no corpses, no struggle... no people. Maybe they'd made it out. Maybe pigs flew.

People began straggling in, the same faces he saw every night. He could see signs of life, of hope, returning to empty eyes. Maybe they could build something that would last, not forever but long enough—a space in the chaos of humanity's dying throes.

Here, everyone did what they could, and what Mystik Spiral could do was make music. Most every night, they played in the ruins of McGrundy's Pub. Trent cradled the neck of his treasure, his battered old acoustic guitar. Electricity was gone, amplification was gone—hell, civilization was gone—but music was too strong, too primal. Music survived as long as one person survived.

Nick set the beat on the washboard, and Max played pans instead of drums. Jesse's odd little hand-harp—Trent had no idea what it was really called—played counterpoint to his guitar. And the sound brought more of a response than it had ever done in the old days. Then, he'd mourned wasting his art on dead souls and their empty mating rituals. Now, dying eyes came alight, and embers of hope blew into full-fledged humanity.

It wasn't art, he thought, as he got ready to sing. It was something deeper, more necessary. Maybe someday they'd have art again, but for now, this was enough. He sang.

"Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire,
For we believed in things, and so we'd sing."

"Remember When the Music" c. 1981, by Harry Chapin.

Disclaimer: Daria and all characters are copyright MTV 1997–2002. I own nothing and am merely along for the ride.