“Bullocks, would you tell that cameraman to fuck off?” George Harrison cursed under his breath. He threw an angry look at the man aiming his movie camera at the Beatles as they huddled in the back corner of the Twickenham Film Studio.
“I thought you already did,” John Lennon replied testily.
“I did, but nobody ever listens to me,” George said with a sigh. “I’m a second tier Beatle, remember?”
John rolled his eyes and stood up from his chair. Yoko immediately stood up from her chair and grabbed John’s hand. She walked with him towards the camera operator.
“We’re having a private discussion,” John informed the cameraman. “So back off. There’s food in the break room. Go eat some, and leave my mates and me alone.”
“But Michael Lindsay-Hogg wants us document everything,” the camera operator protested.
“Then document this!” John shouted. He unzipped the fly on his trousers, pulled out his cock, and aimed it at the camera lens. “I needed to take a piss anyway.”
“Alright, alright man,” the cinematographer replied. He wheeled his camera away, then stepped out of the room.
“I still like the idea of performing on a ship,” Paul said once John and Yoko reclaimed their seats in the group huddle at the back of the sound stage. “Maybe even the QE II.”
“Yoko thought it might be more interesting if we gave a concert in an empty auditorium,” John retorted. “Then we could explore the concept of what a live performance actually means. You know, like if a tree falls in a forest, but nobody hears it, does it make any sound?”
Paul scratched his beard and pretended to nod thoughtfully. George covered his face with his hands and mimed the motion of wiping sleep from his eyes.
Ringo turned his head and coughed a few times, then looked back at John. “I see how that might make an artistic statement, but if we’re going to book the London Palladium like we talked about yesterday, it would make a lot more sense to me if we sold some tickets. That way we could recoup our investment.”
“Does anyone still want to perform in front of the pyramids in Giza?” George asked. “Or did we table that idea?”
“I thought we were waiting to hear from those locations scouts we sent to Tunisia, to check out the possibility of our playing at that 2,000-year old amphitheater,” Paul replied.
“Oh, right, I forgot to tell you lot,” John apologized. “They called me yesterday. They said it would take months for us to get approval from the Tunisian government to perform there. We’d have to commission a team of archeologists to survey the amphitheater and report on any possible structural damages our concert might cause to the ancient rocks.”
“Great, thanks for sharing that,” George said irritably.
John threw George an angry look.
Yoko squeezed John’s hand, then turned towards George. “John and I think we should play in Australia.”
“In Australia?” Ringo challenged, raising his right eyebrow.
“We should play?” George added, raising his left eyebrow.
John flashed Yoko an adoring smile, then looked back at his bandmates. “Right. Yoko and I saw a feature on the telly yesterday about a music festival that’s being staged in the Australian outback later this month. At a massive stone formation called ‘Vampire Rock’.”
Paul started to laugh. “Seriously? The Vampire Rock Music Festival? Who’s headlining that show? Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers?”
George cut him off. “Actually, I think the music festival route is a good idea, John. I saw that feature on the telly last night too. The logistics are already in place for the concert, so we wouldn’t have to get involved in any of the planning. We could just show up and perform.”
John smiled at George. “And remember the reception we got when we went to Australia in ’64? A quarter of a million people lined the streets to see us!”
Paul scratched his beard again. “Yeah, okay, this could work. But if we play at a festival, we’ll have to share the spotlight with all the other acts already booked for the show. We’ll have to make sure we secure the closing spot.”
“That won’t be possible,” Yoko said.
Paul and Ringo both turned towards her and frowned.
“Hey, lighten up, mates!” John admonished them. “She’s only repeating what she saw on the news yesterday.”
“Right,” George agreed. “There’s going to be an amateur band contest running simultaneously with the professional festival. Whoever wins that competition gets to perform last at Vampire Rock.”
Ringo looked back at George. “Why is it called Vampire Rock?”
“Because the stone formation looks like a vampire profile in silhouette,” George answered. “I saw a picture of it in the news feature. It’s pretty damned cool.”
“And the whole area surrounding Vampire Rock is haunted by an aboriginal spirit called ‘Yowie Yahoo’,” John added with a laugh. “He spends his days in the caves near the rock, but comes out at night to suck the blood out of anyone who cheeses him off!”
Paul frowned. “This hardly seems like an auspicious place to stage a music festival.”
“Oh, c’mon, it would be better that that daft idea Ringo was floating around yesterday about performing on a rooftop in London,” George countered. “It’s cold enough to freeze a witch’s tit here in England. But the seasons are flipped in Australia, so it should be warm there in January.”
Ringo shrugged. “Should we call those location scouts back and ask them to check out this venue now?”
George flashed a quick look at Yoko, then stood up. “No. I’ll go. I could use a little break from this interminable recording session.”
“But you can’t leave!” Paul protested. “We’re filming a documentary about the band!”
George laughed. “I’ll just be gone a couple of days. How about you and me fake a row, Paul? That’ll add some drama to these hours of endless footage of us just farting around with our guitars. And it’ll give me an excuse to leave town for a while.”
Ringo glanced at Yoko as well, then turned towards George. “I could go with you if you’d like.”
“Nah,” George insisted. “If two of us left, it would raise too many questions. You stay here and mind the fort for me.”
“Right,” Ringo sighed. He glanced at his drum kit, then stood up from his chair. “Let’s start rehearsing ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ again for the eighty-seventh time. It’ll give you and Paul something to fight about.”
* * *
“I’d really rather not wear that rubber mask,” George Harrison told Daniel Illiwara, the manager of the Vampire Rock Music Festival. “It’s rather uncomfortable.”
Daniel shifted his pick-up truck to a higher gear as he drove down the deserted road through the Australian Outback. “But you don’t want anyone to recognize you,” he reminded George. “You said the Beatles want to make their appearance at my festival a complete surprise.”
“I’ll take my chances,” George replied. “You said nobody’s come to Vampire Rock yet except for the stage crew and a few of the bands. I’ll trust them to extend me their professional courtesy, and not act like complete idiots just because a Beatle has suddenly popped up in their midst.”
Daniel shrugged, then looked ahead and downshifted his truck. “Talk about extending some professional courtesy. It looks like that gang up there needs our help.”
George looked out his window at the rag-tag group of travelers gathered in front of a dilapidated green van, stalled along the roadside. A blonde man – dressed in bright blue bellbottoms, a tight-fitting white sweater and an ascot – was standing in front of the vehicle’s open hood. Beside him stood a short, bespectacled woman wearing a miniskirt, sensible shoes and socks, and a dazzlingly bright orange sweater. The two of them seemed to be inspecting the motor. A gangly, long-haired hippie in an oversized green t-shirt was helping an enormous Great Dane blow a billowing gust of smoke away from the van’s engine. A gorgeous red-head wearing a violet mini-dress and pink tights waved frantically at Daniel’s truck.
Daniel eased his vehicle onto the road’s shoulder and rolled down his window. “You folks need some help?” he asked.
“Do we ever!” the red-head exclaimed in an American accent. “My friends and I were driving to Vampire Rock to see the festival, and our rental car just broke down!”
“The festival doesn’t start for another two weeks,” Daniel replied irritably.
The woman in the orange sweater approached the truck. “Yes, but we were hoping to do some spelunking first in the caves around Vampire Rock. We’re on vacation.”
The man in the ascot jogged up beside her. “We’re celebrating, because we just solved the mystery of the Sea Serpent Smugglers! We’re using our reward money to have a little fun in the Outback.”
Daniel nodded at the trio. “Right. I read about that case in the newspapers. Well, I can drop you heroes off at the nearest petrol station so you can arrange a tow for your van. Or if you’d prefer, I can give you a lift to Vampire Rock. I’m heading that way.”
The hippie in the green shirt approached the truck. “Hey, man, a lift to the Festival would be great. I think we should just leave this old rust bucket where it is and let the rental company collect it themselves.”
Daniel threw a wary look at the van. The pillar of smoke pouring out of its engine had swelled into a small black tornado. The Great Dane was dancing beside the van on his hind legs, covering his eyes with his front paws. His knees were shaking and making a noise like castanets.
Daniel laughed. “Well, whatever you think is best, mate. Throw your stuff in the back of my truck. I can probably squeeze the two Sheila’s into the cab here with my friend and me. But you blokes and the dog will have to sit in the cargo bed with your ports.”
The man in the ascot scrunched up his nose. “Our ports?”
George leaned towards the window. “He means your suitcases – your portmanteaux.”
“Oh, right,” agreed the blonde man. He extended his hand towards Daniel. “Thanks for the lift. My name is Freddy Jones. And these are my friends, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Shaggy Rogers and Scooby Doo.”
Daniel shook his hand. “I take it Scooby Doo is your pet’s name?”
“Oh, no, Scooby’s not our pet,” Velma insisted. “He’s one of the gang. He helps us solve mysteries!”
“Like the mystery of why we rented this crappy old van instead of a nice, new shiny car,” Shaggy said in a warbling voice.
“That’s no mystery,” Fred insisted. “I chose this van because it reminded me of the Mystery Machine back home. But let’s not worry about that now. C’mon, gang. Let’s grab our stuff and get in the truck!”
Daniel threw an anxious glance at George. “You sure you don’t want to wear that mask I brought along for you, now that we have unexpected guests?”
George shook his head. “I’ll try a false name and see if that sets this lot off track. They seem a little dim.”
Daniel nodded in agreement. He stepped out of his truck so Velma and Daphne could climb over his seat into the small collapsible chairs in the back of the cab. He helped Fred and Shaggy lift their bags into the cargo bed. Then he returned to the driver’s seat and started his engine back up.
“Vampire Rock Music Festival, here we come!” shouted Shaggy from the back of the truck.
“Rooby-rooby-roo!” howled Scooby.
Daniel sighed, and drove the truck back onto the road.
“Hello, ladies,” George said, looking over his shoulder at Velma and Daphne. “I’m Jeremy Clyde. My partner Chad Stuart and I are considering playing at the festival, so I asked Daniel here to show me around the place.”
“Ooh, I love your music, Jeremy!” Velma exclaimed. “‘A Summer Song’ was the first record I ever bought!”
Daphne eyed George quizzically, then smiled. “Right. You’re Jeremy Clyde. Okay. I’ll call you that.”
George winked at her, then turned back to face the front windshield.
“I’ve heard some of the indigenous tribes aren’t too happy about this festival,” Velma called up to the men. “I read in The Sydney Morning Herald that the Alyawarra people consider Vampire Rock a sacred spot, and they’re afraid the loud rock music will disturb the spirit that protects their land, Yowie Yahoo.”
Daniel chuckled. “I think, miss, that you’re referring to my grandfather, Malcolm Illiwara. He doesn’t want me to host this festival. He thinks the large influx of visitors will disturb the delicate ecological balance of the area. He’s afraid the tourists will use up too much of the drinking water supply, and might damage the ancient rock formations. But the spirit you’re talking about is called ‘Yara-ma-yha-who.’ The reporter who wrote the article you read made up that stupid nickname, because he was too lazy to spell out a long Aboriginal word. And now everyone’s in Oz is making jokes about ‘Yowie Yahoo.’ Granddad’s furious!”
George turned towards Daniel. “I didn’t realize this music festival was so controversial. I wouldn’t want to be involved in any concert that might damage the environment.”
Daniel lifted one hand off the steering wheel for a moment and made a dismissive gesture to brush away his concerns. “There’s nothing to worry about. We had an exceptionally heavy rainy season, so the water supplies are overflowing right now. And I’ve hired a security team to make sure the fans don’t go climbing on any of the delicate rock formations. Trust me. We need to stage this festival to bring in some money. If this concert is the success I think it’ll be, the Alyawarra will be able to build a new hospital and school with the money we raise.”
“Hhmm,” George sighed, settling back in his seat. “I guess there’s two sides to every coin.”
Daniel nodded, then pointed to a mob of kangaroos hopping alongside the road in the distance. “You ever seen anything like that, ladies?” he asked Daphne and Velma.
Suddenly the truck started to shake. Daniel slowed the vehicle down. “What the bloody hell…?” he cursed under his breath.
Velma and Daphne started to giggle.
“Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with your truck,” Daphne called up from the back seat. “It’s just Scooby!”
George turned around in his seat while Daniel cut his eyes to the rear view mirror. They watched the Great Dane bounce up and down like a Mexican jumping bean in the back of the truck. Then Shaggy threw back his head in laughter and started bouncing up and down beside Scooby.
Daniel swore again, then called to the women in the back of his cab. “Open that sliding window, would you please, dearies? And tell those friends of yours to settle down. We have a long way to go before we get to Vampire Rock. I’d like to keep my truck’s suspension in working order!”
Velma apologized on her friends’ behalf, then opened the back window and told Shaggy and Scooby to behave themselves. Daphne stared out the window at the mob of kangaroos, then rested her head against the cabin wall and closed her eyes so she could nap.
* * *
Daniel pulled his truck into an empty parking lot at the base of a huge, black stone formation. “Here we are, mates! Welcome to Vampire Rock!”
Everyone climbed out of the pick-up and admired the unusually shaped rock.
“That does look like the silhouette of a vampire, doesn’t it?” Velma exclaimed.
“Ramp-rirer?” squealed Scooby. He jumped into Shaggy’s arms and buried his face into the folds of Shaggy’s green shirt.
“Actually, I think it looks a bit more like a statue I’ve seen of the Hindu god Shiva,” George remarked. “Though Shiva is the god of destruction, so that still doesn’t portend well.”
“What’s the deal with that big cloud of smoke?” asked Fred.
Daniel sighed. “My granddad must be burning wood from a Red Gum tree to appease the spirit of Yara-ma-yha-who,” he speculated. “C’mon. I’ll introduce you to him.”
Everyone fell into place behind Daniel and followed him up a narrow dirt path to a flat outcrop of Uluru stone a little further up the side of Vampire Rock.
“I recognize that song,” George said, turning his head towards a stage area a few hundred yards in the distance. “I think it’s called ‘Earth, Wind, Fire and Air’.”
“You’re right, Jeremy,” Velma agreed. “That’s the Hex Girls playing. They’re friends of ours. We helped them solve a mystery in their hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.”
“You kids sure get around,” noted Daniel.
“The odometer on the Mystery Machine just passed the hundred-thousand-mile mark,” Fred noted proudly. “It’s never let us down before.”
“Not like that lemon you rented from the dealership in Sydney,” Shaggy grumbled.
“Granddad!” Daniel called out when he reached the end of the path. “Come meet my guests!”
A thin, grey-haired man turned towards the small crowd. He stood up from the bonfire he was tending along the shore of a lake that sat in the shadows of Vampire Rock, and approached his grandson.
“This is Geor..erremy Clyde, from the pop duo Chad and Jeremy,” Daniel said, introducing George Harrison. “He’s thinking about playing at my music festival.”
“I hope you sing better than that trio of off-key warblers performing down there,” Malcolm Illiwara said. He shook George’s hand begrudgingly, then raised his hands and covered his ears.
“Chad and Jeremy have more of a folksy sound than the Hex Girls,” Velma informed Malcolm after she introduced herself and her friends. “Thorn, Dusk and Luna are members of an ‘eco-goth’ rock band.”
“Well, whatever you call them, they’re too loud,” Malcolm replied. “The vibrations from their amplifiers are damaging the delicate rock formations. Look, they’ve already caused a crack in the northern face of Vampire Rock.”
Daniel, George and the Mystery Gang turned their eyes towards the fissure Malcolm was pointing to. Seconds later, the crack expanded into a wide crevice. A beam of light escaped from the inside of the rock and projected a ghostly image against the cloud of smoke that had formed above Malcolm’s bonfire.
“Jinkies!” Velma exclaimed. “That looks like a demon!”
“It’s Yowie Yahoo!” shouted Shaggy.
“Rowie Raroo?” echoed Scooby.
“Actually, his real name is Yara-ma-yha-who,” Daniel corrected him.
“Actually, it looks more like the demon from the Walt Disney film ‘Fantasia’,” George countered. “Look at the way his dark wings unfurl as he stretches out his arms. It’s almost like someone copied the animation from that film frame-by-frame, and projected it onto this cloud of smoke.”
“I think you might be onto something there, Geor-emy,” Daphne replied. She winked at him knowingly.
“Look, something else is moving through the smoke!” shouted Fred. He pointed to three human shapes that seemed to be flying out of the crevice in the rock. Each man was dressed in garishly colored clothes, and appeared to have a demon’s face.
The three devil-creatures swung down to the stage area. Each man grabbed one of the Hex Girls. Then they swung back up through the smoke and vanished inside the giant rock. The image of Yara-ma-yha-who dissipated into nothingness. Then the light beam projecting from the crevice retracted and the fissure in the rock closed back up.
“What in the devil…?” Daniel cursed.
“You mean, what in the three devils!” Shaggy protested.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Velma piped in. “But I do know we have to try to rescue the Hex Girls! C’mon, gang, let’s solve this mystery!” She took off running up the side of Vampire Rock, towards the now-sealed crevice.
“Hey, wait for me!” shouted Fred. He bolted after her.
“Let’s split up,” Shaggy said to Daphne. “Fred and Velma can catch those demons, while you, me and Scooby stay here and protect Jeremy Clyde.”
“We can’t just leave our friends in danger,” Daphne protested.
“Are you referring to Fred and Velma or the Hex Girls?” George asked.
“Both!” Daphne cried. “C’mon, Shaggy and Scooby! Let’s save the day!”
“If I were you, I’d take that path to the right instead,” Daniel suggested. “It leads to the entrance to the biggest cave inside Vampire Rock. I don’t know how your friends are hoping to squeeze inside that other crevice, now that it seems to have closed up.”
“Good idea!” Daphne exclaimed.
“No way,” Shaggy said. “I’m not going inside Vampire Rock to search for demons!”
“Ree reither,” added Scooby.
Daphne put her hands to her hips. “Would you do it for a Scooby Snack?”
Scooby exchanged a nervous look with Shaggy, then turned back to Daphne and shook his head.
“Would you do it for two Scooby snacks?” she continued.
Scooby stood up on his hind legs and begged. Daphne pulled a packet of treats out of the pocket of her mini-dress and tossed two into Scooby’s mouth. Then Shaggy lifted his hands into a begging pose. Daphne threw him two snacks as well.
“Roobie-roobie-roo!” howled Scooby. He took off running down the path towards the cave’s entrance. Shaggy hurried after him so fast that his legs appeared to spin like a blurred wheel.
George stared at them in disbelief. “That’s the daftest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Daphne grabbed his hand and started pulling him down the path. “You’d better come with me, Jeremy! I wouldn’t want those demons to fly out of the rock and grab you too!”
“But…” George protested.
Daphne tightened her grip on his hand and refused to let him go. He threw an exasperated look over his shoulder at Daniel and his grandfather, then followed Daphne helplessly, down the path to the cave.
* * *
“Wow, look at all the light streaming out of this hole in the rock face,” Daphne said when she caught up with Scooby and Shaggy at the cave’s entrance.
“I thought caves were supposed to be pitch black,” replied George.
“Maybe there’s an illuminated chamber inside this cavern,” Shaggy suggested. “Like the one where the Freak of Crystal Cove kept his treasure of cursed diamonds and crystal doorknobs!”
George stared at Shaggy aghast. “Like what?”
“Like, wow, man,” Shaggy replied, shaking afresh at the memory. “That Freak freaked me out!”
“Ree roo!” added Scooby.
“Well, we’ll never find our friends if we stay outside,” Daphne pointed out. “C’mon! Let’s see what’s creating that light!”
She pulled George into the cave. Shaggy and Scooby followed close on their heels.
“The light seems to be coming from over there,” George said. He pointed to a glowing area in the back of the cave’s first chamber.
“Let’s check it out,” agreed Daphne. She tightened her grip on George’s hand and started walking towards the light. Then she accidently stepped on a protruding rock. The cave’s floor opened directly beneath Daphne and George. They both fell down a chute, through the chasm in the floor.
Shaggy dropped to his knees and called into the hole. “Don’t worry, Daphne! Scooby and I will stay up here and guard this room until you come back!”
Daphne and George slid into a huge, arch-roofed chamber, filled with lighting and sound equipment.
George walked up to one of the projectors. “Would you look at this? I’ve never seen such an enormous A/V system! Do you suppose this is where Daniel is storing the equipment he’s going to use to light up the stage at his festival?”
Just then, a man with a brightly painted face and an extravagantly colored costume stormed into the chamber. He looked back and forth between George and Daphne, as if deciding whom to attack first, then stretched out his arms towards Daphne’s neck.
“Hey, no strangling the Ginger!” George shouted at him. He grabbed an extension cord that was dangling from an electric generator and wrapped it around the stranger’s neck.
“No strangling the vampires of Vampire Rock either!” shouted a voice from the far end of the room. A second heavily-made-up man ran into the room and grabbed the cord away from George.
“Bloody hell!” George cursed. “Everyone here is mad!”
Daphne grabbed George’s hand once more. “Let’s get out of here!”
“But where can be go?” George replied.
A third painted man stepped into the room and stared at Daphne and George with a menacing scowl. “There’s only one way out!” he shouted. He flipped a switch on the generator. The back wall of the chamber started to lift up. Sunlight flooded into the room from the outside of Vampire Rock.
The trio of demons linked their elbows together and started leading Daphne and George towards the widening hole in the wall.
Daphne looked over her shoulder and noticed the lake that lay beneath the chasm in the rock. “Can you swim?” she asked George.
“A little,” George replied.
“Then, let’s GO!” Daphne pushed George through the widening hole in the wall, then arched her body into a perfect swan dive position. They flew through the air together and landed in the lake with a big splash.
“Fuckin’ hell!” George cursed after he swam to the surface.
“Jeremy! Daphne!” shouted Daniel. He left his grandfather to tend the bonfire and ran to the edge of the lake.
George and Daphne started swimming towards him.
The bright beam of light started streaming out of the hole in Vampire Rock once more. The image of Yara-ma-yha-who danced over the dark cloud of smoke above Malcolm’s bonfire. The three painted demons flew out of the hole in the rock and landed on the ground beside Daniel.
George turned towards Daphne. “Maybe we shouldn’t swim to that part of the shore,” he proposed. “I think it looks a little crowded there.”
Daniel raised his fists and attempted to punch the demon who was threatening him. But before he could hit him, Velma, Fred and Shaggy swung out of the hole on the face of Vampire Rock, clinging tightly to three sturdy cables. They kicked the three demons to the ground as they landed, then pinned them to the sandy shore with awkwardly executed wrestling maneuvers.
“Roobie-roobie-roo!” shouted Scooby. He flung himself out of the chasm in the rock wall, twisted his long body into a series of tight flips, then landed on the surface of the water in an enormous belly flop. A huge wave of water splashed out of the lake and drenched everyone on the shore.
Velma stared into the face of the ‘demon’ she was straddling. “You don’t look so frightening with your face-paint washed off, do you?”
Fred climbed off the ‘demon’ he had tackled to the ground and examined his face. “I knew you weren’t really a serious threat. You can’t even apply makeup properly!”
Daniel stepped behind Fred and inspected the face of the man on the ground. “I know him! He’s one of the security guards I hired to patrol the rocks during my music festival!”
Shaggy looked down at the man he had caught and sighed. “I dunno. Even with his makeup washed off, this guy still looks kind of creepy.”
Daphne emerged from the lake and ran up to the ‘demon’ Shaggy had caught. She pinched his nose, then smiled and pulled off his rubber face mask. “How about that for a change? Our villains were wearing both makeup and masks!”
Velma and Fred unmasked their victims, then looked up at Daniel.
“Do you recognize these men now?” Velma asked.
“Yes, I do,” Daniel said, his voice ragged with irritation. “They’re members of a band called “Wild Wind,” who signed up for the festival’s new artist contest.”
“And we would have won that contest too, if not for you meddling kids!” groused the man Shaggy had knocked to the ground.
Malcolm Illiwara left his bonfire and approached the assembly on the shore. “I’m disappointed in you boys,” he scolded the downed demons. “I hired you to scare off the crowd. And now I hear you wanted to perform for that audience?”
Daniel turned towards his grandfather. “What do you mean, Granddad? You were behind this charade?”
“Of course I was,” Malcolm boasted. “I set up that projection of Yara-ma-yha-who, so I could scare you into canceling this music festival. But then I caught those security guards you hired rock-climbing and repelling off the surface of our sacred stones. So I gave them a choice – I could either turn them over to the tribal authorities for recklessly endangering Vampire Rock, or they could work for me, kidnapping your acts.”
“Which reminds me,” interrupted Fred. “Whatever happened to the Hex Girls?”
“We’re here!” exclaimed their lead singer Thorn. She jogged down the last leg of the path between the cave and the shore.
“A little banged up, but no bones broken,” added the Hex Girls’ drummer and back-up singer Dusk, who followed close on Thorn’s heels.
“Though I wouldn’t want to relive that experience anytime soon,” piped in the band’s keyboardist Luna, bringing up the rear of the procession. She focused a steely gaze at Daniel. “This is not the gig we signed up for!”
“I won’t be signing up for it either,” added George. He emerged from the lake and started wringing water out of his drenched shirt. He threw a sad look at Daniel. “I’m afraid you still have a lot of kinks to work out before you stage this festival for the general public.”
“Though I loved that special effect you created, with the image of the dancing demon projected against the smoke,” Thorn said, smiling at the two Illiwara men. “I’d like to commission your services for my band’s next tour. Your lightshow could add a cool new dimension to our live performance!”
Daniel frowned at his grandfather. “I can’t believe you went to such lengths to derail my festival!”
Dusk and Luna stepped between Daniel and Malcolm. “Oh, don’t be so hard on him, Danny,” said Luna. “I read that interview your grandpa gave to the Sydney newspaper about wanting to protect this delicate rock formation from the dangers of a large crowd. And now that I’ve seen the magnificent interior of Vampire Rock, I have to agree with him. That retractable rock wall along the northern face is truly a miracle of nature! We need to protect our planet, in all its weirdness and wonder.”
Malcolm smiled at her. “I like the way you think, Miss. And I’d be honored to create a light show for your band, as long as you don’t stage your concert at this site which is sacred to my people.”
George put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder and led him away from the crowd. “Thanks for showing me around, mate. I’m not sure how you’re going to work out these new problems, but I’m going to call it a day myself. I’d like to fetch my clean clothes from your truck now, if you don’t mind, and take a shower. Then maybe you could arrange a ride back to the airport for me in the morning?”
Thorn stepped forward and examined George’s face. “Hey, you look familiar. Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”
“He’s Jeremy Clyde, from the pop duo Chad and Jeremy,” Daphne called out from the shore of the lake.
“Oh,” Thorn said, the disappointment showing in her voice. “I thought you looked almost like George Harrison, from the Beatles.”
Dusk giggled. “Remember that scene at the end of the movie ‘Help!’, when each of the Beatles wear rubber masks to pretend that they’re Ringo? Maybe he’s wearing one of those!”
George laughed awkwardly, then tugged at the loose skin on his cheeks. “Oh hell, Daniel, you told me you could hide my identity with that mask you offered me. But it looks like these birds saw through our ruse.”
Daniel chuckled, then frowned at the three unmasked demons. “Pack your things and go!” he commanded them. “You’re no longer welcome at this festival in any capacity – as a security team, as a contest entry, or as my grandfather’s henchmen!”
Scooby dog-paddled to the shore of the lake and shook the water out of his fur. Then he walked up to Daphne and sniffed her pocket.
Daphne pulled out her bag of dog treats. “Sorry, Scooby, these got all wet. I don’t think they’ll taste very good anymore.”
Scooby pawed at the bag and opened it, then gobbled up three damp snacks. He lifted his head and offered Daphne a satisfied look, then leapt back into the lake and splashed a fresh wave of water to the shore, dousing everyone afresh.
“I’m with you, Scoob!” shouted Shaggy. “Soggy snacks are better than no snacks!” He pulled two wet treats out of Daphne’s bag and swallowed them whole, then ran into the lake shouting, “Scooby Doobie Doo!”
* * *
George stepped into the Twickenham Film Studio and smiled at his bandmates.
“So what’s the word from the land Down Under?” Ringo asked him.
George sighed. “I have seen the future of rock shows: Smoke and mirrors, with elaborate light displays and film projections. Concerts are going to become major productions in the very near future!”
“Bullocks,” cursed John. “Then we’d better put on our little gig quick, before people expect us to stage something more elaborate.”
“Ritchie’s rooftop idea might actually be the best venue then,” added Paul.
“The rooftop again?” George whined. “Seriously?”
Ringo stood up from his drum kit and offered George a welcome home hug. “We’ve been talking about our upcoming concert while you were gone, and decided it might just be easiest to set up our instruments and amps on the rooftop of the Apple headquarters, and play our new songs to the public from there. Unless you gleaned some new insight on your journey to Oz.”
George sighed once more. “Well, I did pick up a few ideas. The whole ‘Music Festival’ notion made me think it might be fun to include some more musicians in our show. I thought we could ask Billy Preston to join us, perhaps.”
“Billy’s great!” John agreed. “And then maybe Yoko could sing with us too!”
A stony silence met his remark.
George leaned closer towards Ringo and spoke quietly. “I also discovered this Australian music festival was going to double as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. That got me thinking about doing a philanthropic concert of our own. Or maybe, of my own.”
Paul grabbed a guitar and handed it to George. “C’mon, mate, now that you’re back, let’s start playing some music again. How about we warm up with an old standard? Like ‘That’ll be the Day’? or ‘Hound Dog’?”
George slipped the guitar strap over his shoulder and smiled. “Or maybe we should try that new standard by Frank Sinatra.” He strummed a few chords, then started singing Sinatra’s scat vocalizations from the end of ‘Strangers in the Night’:
“Scooby dooby doo, doo-doo-dah-dee-dah!”
* * *
Inspired by the Direct-to-Video movie “Scooby Doo! And the Legend of the Vampire,” written by Mark Turosz, based on characters created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears (2003).