Songs in the Silence [Sci-Fantasy Story pt. 2 of 5]



Sometimes, all it takes is a song. Olovia, having lost her voice, is the last person she'd have thought would be able to save the ship and return everyone to the Earth.


G'day, Scribes!

Part 2 of Songs in the Silence and we learn how Olovia lost her speech, how she was caught between two primordial forces. And not all onboard the ship is perfect, either.


| PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 |




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The virtual clock flashed its numbers, beeping its insistent tone until Olovia waved away the alarm. She gazed at the tablet perched upright against the wall, the immortal storm ever evolving. Silis would have needed it back for tonight, in case some other natural event piqued his interest. She wondered what he’d paint next or if she would see him on the viewing deck again.
      Olovia swiped the painting to her own tablet and sent it to the screen within her apartment wall where it continued its life without interruption. With a hurry, she slipped into her uniform and grabbed the toolkit bag before rushing out her apartment, down toward the nearest maintenance hatch.
      Her heart picked up its pace as she neared the viewing deck, hoping, perhaps, that Silis was there this morning. Unless, more likely, he slept during the day shift. The doors sighed when they opened and, as usual, the deck was empty. Olovia adjusted the bag over her shoulders and pried open a hatch. The pitch black of the maintenance tunnel faded as the red glow of the service bulbs came to life with each step up the steep ladder.
      She crawled along the wide beams of the dome until she reached the scorched area from the night before. The solar flare wasn’t as intense and the damage to the electronics was minimal, only a day’s work. Where the flames had licked last night, a large gap formed, big enough that she could slip through if she wasn’t careful.
      She disconnected the panels from the grid, isolating the damaged sections and rerouting the cables to bypass the area. The screens would still work, as designed by their ancestors centuries ago, but the gap would be visible. An eye-sore during the day, upsetting the smooth flow of the clouds. A black hole at night that swallowed the unchanging stars. At least the moon’s trajectory didn’t cross this part of the dome. In her distracted thoughts, she placed the wrong coupling into an open socket she was instructed never to couple.
      The ship hummed, louder than usual, the metal plates of the hatch vibrated and joints creaked. She tugged at the coupling, but it wouldn’t release. The clip of the cable failed to bend in enough. The humming grew the more she panicked. She’d get a reprimand for this. With a final tug, the coupling detached and the ship winded down again.
      Her tablet chimed with an official message. Olovia wiped her forehead with the sleeve of her uniform then opened the text. An infraction. And her evening ration revoked. It could have been worse, losing a whole week’s evening rations. She sighed, slipping the tablet back into its pouch attached to her belt.
      With the panels sorted, the damaged parts scavenged and in her bag, she climbed back down the tunnel into the viewing deck. And Silis was there, painting. Olovia dropped her toolkit beside the hatch door and walked to him. A cold front hovered over Central Africa below and Silis had captured its every detail.
      Scattered clouds streaked across the green-brown landmass. She watched his fingers slide over the screen and listened to his humming, a crescendo followed by a dip and a long vibrato before a succession of staccato for the fine details of the painting. He ended the painting on a legato and rapid finger twitches, saved the work, and handed the tablet to her with a smile. The clouds, at first a few puffed balls, stretched and blurred like an invisible hand had smudged the titanium white blobs of paint over the sky.
      “Cold fronts are silent,” he said when she looked up at him, as if he could read her mind asking why he was painting during the day.
      “I need the noise of the ship to help me paint it. Sort of a contrast to when I painted the storm. But I can’t describe it. It’s like there isn’t enough space for two sets of noise, but no noise is just as cramping.” He laughed, shaking his head. “I know, it sounds crazy.”
She nodded and returned the other tablet holding the storm.
      “Glad you liked it.” He smiled, averting his eyes. “We should do this more often, talk.”
      At least he had a sense of humor. Maybe she had judged him too soon, that the pity was just a reflex and not something he actually felt.
      “I haven’t met anyone without speech before. You’re my first. So let me know if I cross the line or something,” he said while rubbing his shaven head. “Like now, perhaps, seeing as I’m about to ask you how you lost it.”
      Olovia bit her lip and typed on her tablet, glancing at the cold front streaking across the screen beside her.
      “Oh,” was his initial reaction, “I’ve never heard of that happening. How strange, and fantastic.”
      What was so fantastic about being exposed to the vacuum of space in a faulty airlock and having your mind so disrupted it forgot how to turn thoughts into words? Olovia frowned. While it happened several years ago, it was still fresh in her memory. The absolute quiet except for the symphony of the universe at war with the song of the Earth, and she was caught in the cross-fire, a collateral between order and life.
      She clung to that feeling, and again pushed the niggling in her brain that promised a suggestion to get the cacophony inside her mind’s ear through the severed connection to her tongue. But it faded before she could grasp it.
      “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend,” Silis said, taking her hand and rubbing it. She smiled, nodding, and he relaxed.
      “Oh, good. Phew.” He grimaced. “I get carried away at times.” He turned his attention to the view of the planet and they sat in silence. But this silence she enjoyed. It was comforting and noisy.
      “I envy you,” he whispered, “that you got to hear how the universe sounds.”
      Olovia placed her hand over his and squeezed gently. She didn’t think it was worth it, and she’d have given anything to regain her speech. To have noise, and sing. So many people could, but they didn’t know how to listen, not like she could. Like Silis did. He heard the songs, even if they were probably his imagination.
      “You may have have lost connection to your tongue, but everyone has lost their connection to their mind’s ear,” he said, again like he could read her mind. Or they shared the same thoughts. He turned to face her. “We still have it. Listening is better than speaking, more beautiful, too. Can you imagine how their lives are, dulled to the colour of music?”
      She nodded, still staring at the now clear surface where the west coast of Africa met the Atlantic ocean.
      “I want to show you something.” He took her hand and led her out of the viewing deck, through the city to his apartment building a block away from hers. It was smaller than the one she had, but filled with motion paintings of thunderstorms, tornadoes, whirlpools, tsunamis, the fight when two oceans met, and winter becoming spring.
      Between them were tapestries that looked ready to unravel at the slightest of breezes, and ornaments she’d not laid eyes on before. It was a home if ever there had truly been one. She felt it against her skin, warming her. Even the air smelled fresh.
      “Ever wondered what causes the Silence?” His grin reminded her of a boy she once knew before he tried to scale the tower in the centre of the city, and when he succeeded. “Not many do. Ha, I’d put rations that no one does. But I do.”

to be continued...



| PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 |



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Anike Kirsten lives in the dead centre of South Africa with her spawns and spouse, cat, and spiders. She is an amateur scientist and artist who also enjoys exploring the possibilities, as well as the improbabilities, within her stories. Fragments of her imagination have been scattered across to Nature: Futures, Avescope, and other fine publications.

• Copyright © 2022 Anike Kirsten •




An infraction. And her evening ration revoked.

That's some real Big Brother shit goin' on here.

"... but no noise is just as cramping."

I'm enjoying how front and centre these themes are, but without overwhelming the story or character development. Feels like Part 3 is gonna have nice reveals in it :D



5 years this has been happening to me, it started here, around people that are still here. Homeland security has done nothing at all, they are not here to protect us. Dont we pay them to stop shit like this? The NSA, CIA, FBI, Police and our Government has done nothing. Just like they did with the Havana Syndrome, nothing. Patriot Act my ass. The American government is completely incompetent. The NSA should be taken over by the military and contained Immediately for investigation. I bet we can get to the sources of V2K and RNM then.