The First Church of Kurt the Redeemer


J. Edward Tremlett

"Come... as you are... as you were... as I want you to be... as a friend..."

When Kurt Cobain died in 1994, the city of Seattle was paralyzed with mourning. Thousands of young fans of his group, Nirvana, thronged the streets, dead-eyed to the world and unable to find an answer to their questions. He was the most popular rock star of his generation: the Bob Dylan of the Slacker generation. Why had this happened? Why had he done this? What had gone wrong?

Some of the mourners got very creative in how to ask the question. Many ritualistically dripped candle wax on their arms, perhaps to trying to divine the truth through self-mortification. Some claimed they received visions of Kurt in Heaven. Others saw him in Hell. Still others received very singular and weird visions (One fellow claimed he saw Kurt playing in a band with Jimi, Janis and John, but no one ever believed him anyway, and now he's got a band of his own) but the vast majority found nothing but the questions they'd started out with. One by one, then in droves, the mourners went home.

Not all the supplicants went away empty-handed, though. One small group of five teenagers came to an answer, but it was the sort of reply from beyond that sealed their doom. Kurt hadn't just been godlike, they reasoned: he WAS God. He was Jesus' second coming, and he'd pointed the way for the faithful who understood.

They got the message alright. That night they went back to a garage on the West side of town, got out a bag of pot and two cases of beer, and left the car running as they smoked, drank and screwed their way into carbon monoxide poisoning. Come the morning, when one of the kids' parents came down at last to find out what all the noise was, they were long since dead.

All five made it to the other side, somehow pulling themselves, and then each other, out of the Cauls and making it through the first tenuous days as Wraiths. But things weren't exactly what they'd thought they were going to be like over here, were they? There were all these freaky, moapy ghosts walking around, looking for 'infants' and talking about some Hierarchy like it was either the answer to everyone's problems or the cause of most of them. It was real messed-up shit, it wasn't Heaven, and Kurt was nowhere to be seen.

Rather than come to the obvious conclusion - that they'd been stupid, stoned, and then sucked into a mass psychosis - they turned to the next logical irrational explanation they could muster up. Kurt was testing them. They'd come this far on faith alone. Surely they could go a little further?

Thus started the First Church of Kurt the Redeemer.

Many Hierarchs - who weren't aware of the full story - looked upon the Church of Kurt as either a typical Heretic scam, a joke gone hideously awry or a sad commentary on the times. That didn't stop them from trying to arrest their members when they showed up to proselytize at Pike Street, or root out wherever they were printing those little pamphlets about Kurt's birth, death and rebirth to come.

The Church maintains a moving chapel, and the services resemble nothing less than firebrand, radical Gen-X Christian psychobabble, interspersed with Nirvana's songs set to a relic accordion they managed to steal from somewhere. They wouldn't be so troublesome if their members didn't try to recruit in both the Shadowlands and the Skinlands. Quite a few members have been caught trying to nudge still-bereaved fans into making the jump into Kurt's arms. So far they've been stymied at every attempt to do this, but sooner or later someone's going to get there too late.

As for Kurt's actual whereabouts, no one is quite sure. The faithful wait for him to return in a VW van, appearing out of the sky in a beam of beautiful light with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" blaring in the background and the angels in tow. The Hierarchy quietly stepped up patrols in certain areas to look for that certain Wraith - and it's almost certain that he would have become one - hoping to lure him into the Silent Legion for morale purposes. But in the four years between Kurt's death and the start of the 6th Great Maelstrom, there was never any sign of him.

The Church welcomes anyone, though most of its members tend to be young, Gen-X ghosts who either committed suicide or died in spectacularly stupid and mostly drug-related ways (smoking joints in bed and setting the house on fire is common, as is overdosing).

Despite being a small group, they have quite a large pile of relics. Much of it is Nirvana memorabilia that came along with the faithful or wound up here on its own. They have at least one copy of every Nirvana CD ever made, a few tapes, a very precious bootleg of an early jam session, most of the posters and a guitar someone had autographed.

They have also managed to get some more impressive finds. The car the original members died in was scrapped and came over, one piece at a time, and has been lovingly reconstructed. They have that accordion, of course, and are hoping to get their hands on a CD player or tape deck so they can use the musical relics they have. They also have access to a relic Xerox machine, and when they can find paper and cough up some Oboli for soulcrystals for it - it guzzles pathos like a frat boy does beer - they're in business with the pamphlets again.

The fatal shotgun itself was destroyed in a police furnace, and has a place of honor amongst the holy regalia of the church. It's rumored to be a lot like the "Spear of Destiny," but whatever powers this gun may or may not have are unknown to anyone outside of the original five members. The Hierarchy was very interested in getting their hands on "The Hand of Kurt" for obvious reasons.