Author: Lewis, Sid

Guitar Trek III

“Banjos versus robots…” Seth mused, trudging through the red dust of the wasteland. The orange sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows behind them. “Who would have ever thought it would come to this..?”

“I still think you’re crazy, dude.” Skullet rasped. “I wish I never told you about Buttercup!What an idiot I am.”

Seth stopped, jabbing his walking stick into the dirt.

“Listen man. This is our last chance. Do you want to live the rest of your miserable life in hiding, watching those bastard robots enjoy the planet they stole from us?!”

The little DJ cowered on his leash.

“There are no more banjo players, they’re all gone. The robots made sure of that! So if this little girl is the only one left, then by God, were going to find her!”

Skullet shook his wispy hair, sun glinting off his dome.

“And what then?!” He spat. “Us and a banjo playing girl, against a city of robots?!”

Seth blew out a long breath. “Skullet…” He said, measuring out his words. “It’s the only plan we’ve got. The Robots fear the banjo. We don’t know why, but that’s what our little captive here tells us…”

Seth turned and glared at the DJ, who shrunk away whimpering.

“So, we’re going to find Buttercup, sneak her into Robot City, and get her playing the banjo!”

Skullet shook his head and growled.

Continuing across the sands, they entered a canyon capped with ancient bristlecone pines.

The DJ snuffled and stopped, peering ahead.

“Aha! It’s the Eastern Caves…” Seth said, pointing.

Their eyes followed his finger toward a row of mossy cliffs. Tiny shapes of people milled about, and on the wind came the sound of bells. It was an entire village nestled into the mountain.

The DJ scrambled ahead, leading them to a wooden gate adorned with an ancient bell. Seth gave it a tug. CLANG! A hobbit looking fellow with a furry hat popped up.

“Who goes there?” He inquired.

“We have heard that Buttercup, the banjo player, dwells in your village.” Seth announced, “We are here to pay our respects…”

The hobbit scrunched his face and nodded.

“Enjoy your visit, fellow humans!” He burbled, opening the gate and gesturing them in.

Brushing past him, they headed up toward the caves, adorned with ivy and moss.

Then they heard it.

Twang twang plunk! Twang twang plunk!

Sitting on a log cradling a giant banjo, sat Buttercup. Her sandy blond pigtails stuck out like springs, and freckles surrounded her upturned nose. She was cute as a bug’s ear.

“Hi guys. Wanna hear a song?” She chirped, swinging her legs.

Before anyone could respond, she launched into a blazing banjo tune. The notes poured out on a silver cloud, and Seth began stomping and clapping.

The DJ shrieked and cowered behind them, looking as if he had been kicked.

She finished with a flourish and a grinned.

“That was AWESOME!” Exclaimed Seth, applauding loudly. “So…hey, would you like to come with us on an adventure?”

Buttercup wrinkled her nose. “Is there candy?”

“Yep, lots of it!” Seth lied. “C’mon, lets go play!”

Buttercup slid off the log swinging her banjo over her shoulder. “Yay, candy! Let’s go!” she piped.

They started off down the path, Buttercup skipping ahead.

“You are a bad person, Seth.” Skullet mumbled. “I can’t believe you just bribed her with candy.”

“Whatever works man, this is war.” Seth shot back. “Now we just gotta get her into Robot City before she changes her mind!”

After an hour of marching they emerged from the mountains. In the distance tall black towers rose from behind a metallic wall.

“Home! DJ go home!” The DJ barked, jumping up and down pointing his bony finger.

Buttercup began charging across the sand. “Candy!” She shrilled.

When they reached the wall it was like nothing they had seen before. A solid forcefield of energy, swirling with numbers and blinking lights. They stared in amazement.

“Ooooooooh!” Said Buttercup.

“Great! It’s the freakin Matrix. I don’t see any way to get past this thing…” Skullet moaned.

“Well, that’s where our little friend comes in!” Seth said, gesturing at the DJ. “Show us the trick, little man!”

The little creature wrung his hands and moaned.

“Remember our deal? You show us the way, or…Wagon Wheel!” Seth threatened, reaching toward the guitar on his back.

The DJ screamed in terror. “No!!! Not Wagon Wheel!”

“That’s what I thought…” Chuckled Seth. “Now, get us through the wall!”

“DJ not like this…nasty humans are mean to us…” The little creature whined, shaking his enormous head.

They stood and waited, faces flickering in the light of the digital wall.

Then the DJ rose up on his haunches, running his fingers across the surface. Suddenly a keypad appeared. Snuffling with excitement he began tapping out numbers. To their amazement a door appeared, opening into a swirling tunnel.

The DJ scampered in, Buttercup bounding after.

Seth and Skullet looked at each other, then plunged in.

The tunnel curved down then spit them into an enormous room of computer screens and blinking lights. They quickly took cover behind a towering LCD screen.

Buttercup clutched her banjo and whimpered.

“Don’t cry, it’s OK…” Seth whispered.

Skullet turned white as a sheet. “Dude, were in the control room of Robot City!” He breathed.

Suddenly the DJ snarled and lunged away, yanking the leash from Seth’s hand and vanishing amid the stacks of computers. A terrible alarm began to shriek, and the room was flooded with flashing red lights.

Seth grabbed Buttercup hoisting her onto his shoulders. “PLAY, BUTTERCUP, PLAY!!” He bellowed. Buttercup instantly smiled and began playing. Her little fingers were a blur as she launched into Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

From every corner of the room Robots came clomping out, filling the floor. Then one of them tilted his huge square head, listening to the banjo.

“Beep beep boop?!?!?” It said. Then it began to move.

“Oh my God..! It’s starting to dance!!” Breathed Skullet.

Indeed, it was doing the “robot”!

One by one the other Robots followed suit, their cathode eyes turning into spirals, their arms jerking in time to the banjo.

And then, KABLOOM!!!

In a shower of sparks and blue smoke, the Robots head exploded. Buttercup screamed with delight and played faster. POW! another head exploded, then another. More Robots streamed into the room, heads exploding like thunderous popcorn.

As quickly as it began, everything fell silent. Buttercup plunked one last note as Seth lowered her to the ground. They stood and stared. Through the smoke, a sea of headless Robots stood frozen in dance positions. The air was as still as a graveyard, except for an occasional snapping spark.

“We did it….” Seth breathed. “We turned the tide…”

Skullet pumped his fist in the air. “Yeah man! We did it!! And all because of us!!

Seth shook his head, looking down at Buttercup.

“No man. Buttercup did. And…her BANJO!”

Buttercup wrinkled her nose and stomped her foot. “Where’s my candy?!”

Musical Tip Never underestimate the power of a banjo!
Posted:  12/20/2013

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
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