Songs in the Silence [Sci-Fantasy Story pt. 3 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.
Well met, Scribes!
We're heading into Part 3 of Songs in the Silence and the secret is revealed. But only more questions open for Olivia. Along with a plan.
Olovia narrowed her eyes, waiting for him to blurt his secret, half not wanting him to in case it turned out to be something mundane and stripped away the wonder, however unnerving the Silence was.
He took a long breath through his nose, his grin fading, and looked deep into her eyes. “When I’m out on the deck, painting the Earth, it’s around 3a.m and I have to do it every night. There’s just so much going on down there and I don’t want to miss something phenomenal. It gets so intense, painting them, like I’m sucked into another dimension, pocket dimension of my own where it’s as if...” His brows furrowed as he searched her eyes for something. “Like I can actually hear things, down there, the wind and rain.” Silis’s irises were a brighter dark brown now, almost shimmering.
“And each time I do this, the Earth gives me something, info on what’s going on. I think the message is finished.” He smiled, a warm soft one a father would his daughter.
“It says it’s healed.”
Without really thinking, swept up in the moment, Olovia opened her mouth but no words came out. She considered typing her thoughts, the questions wanting to come out, but was it rude to ask him what this had to do with the Silence? If he was sure this was what the Earth was actually saying, if anything at all? She wasn’t sure she wanted to get him back on track, to reveal the answers he promised, that which made his shoulders slump and deepened the circles under his eyes. He guided her backward against wall where they had a full view of the paintings.
“Focus on them as a whole, together in one picture. Listen,” he whispered in her ear, sending shivers down her legs. Olovia unfocused her eyes, seeing but not seeing the movement, the ebb and flow of a world alive by its own agency. She realised she couldn’t hear Silis’s breathing anymore though she still felt it against her skin. Without looking away, she included him in her periphery and hoped he could hear what she was thinking, that she was asking what was going on.
His lips moved, but there was no sound, and with them was a childish grin. A cold crept over her skin and her quiet breaths came quick and laboured, as if the air itself had also succumbed to the Silence. She shut her eyes, wishing away the damned thing, and noise returned to her. Silis wrapped an arm around her waist and led her to the couch near the window.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would do that to you. Just wanted to show you. Wanted you to...” he turned to the paintings. Olovia typed on her tablet and pressed it into his free hand.
“How?” He looked at her again, frowning while gnawing his tongue. “I don’t know, exactly. Sort of stumbled on it. And it’s not like anyone would believe me if I came out with it.” He chuckled then sighed. “I wish they would, because there’s more to it, so much more. Something beautiful, important.”
She patted his hand then got up, repositioning herself against the wall. Silis stared, mouth agape before his lips curled upward, and he joined her.
“You’re stubborn, huh? I like that. Stubborn people can change the world.”
Olovia smiled, feeling the heat tickle her cheeks. There was nothing she could do to change anything, but it was nice to feel, for a little while, that it was possible. Besides, if she didn’t try this again, she’d miss out on something big. She could feel it in her chest, there was merit to what Silis said about the Silence. She didn’t know how she knew this, but instinct rarely followed any sort of logic. And instinct had served her well in life so there was no point in ignoring it this time.
She relaxed her eyes, taking in the motions and various directions of the paintings until it was almost like she was down there, on Earth. Noise started to drown out; the hum of the ship, their breathing. Except for the songs.
An orchestra played in perfect harmony. It was faint but there, inside the Silence. She wanted to look at Silis, ask with her eyes what it was, sharing his delight with it, but the songs had her entranced.
When the sounds returned, it was the usual humdrum of daily life and more. Shouts and whimpers, a stampeding of boots against the steel walkways in the streets. They rushed to the door, peering out at the horde gathered around a nearby food printer. He met her eyes and shrugged before racing toward the crowd. Olovia followed, lingering at the edge of the gathering until Silis returned.
“The food printer, it’s, well, it’s working. Those things have been ornamental for centuries.” He scratched his head, looking back over his shoulder.
It couldn’t have been a coincidence. The wrong coupling, the ship waking, and now this? Was she the only one who heard the humming grew louder? The thought of food made her tummy grumble. Rations were strict enough without losing them.
“I don’t think this was the Silence. Speaking of...” Silis watched her expectantly. “You heard it?”
She snapped from her scattered thoughts about the coupling and nodded. It was probably just a fluke even with the timing. She nodded.
Silis clapped and bounced on the balls of his feet, much like a child when hearing they’d get a big treat. “It’s the Ancestors playing the strings of nature. We couldn't hear them before because the strings were rotten, but now they’re alive again. They say we can come back, at least I think that’s what it says. That the Earth is healed.”
She frowned, using her face to pose the question on how he knew this. Again, he read her mind.
“My mother’s father taught her how to listen, and my parents told me. It’s a tradition my family has kept.” He paused for breath, the last few words trembling as he said, “since long before the climate broke.”
Olovia nodded, looking to the floor then at the screens covering the dome overhead, with the same clouds and movement that showed every day. If what he said was true, and her whole being except for the sceptical part said it was, then this needed to be shared. With everyone. It was never too late to learn how to listen, they just needed a nudge in the right direction. And Silis held the key to doing that.
Maybe the song wasn’t all they needed. Olovia looked at the crowd again, now more dispersed, and watched as people put their rations into the printer and meals delivered in return. Songs didn’t feed anyone. But with a full stomach, they would open up to the message.
Olovia typed on her tablet and slipped it into Silis’s hand. She searched his face for the thoughts that etched in the lines on it while he read her proposal.
“All of them? Why?” His brows furrowed, but his eyes shimmered.
She had a plan, but she didn’t want to tell him all of it, not yet. In case... she didn’t think he would, but just in case he didn’t agree with it. What did they have to lose? She bit her lip and winked at him.
“I guess, sure, you can have copies.” He shook his head. “Of course you can. You at least appreciate my work. And you hear the message. Who am I to deny you the song?”