Songs in the Silence [Sci-Fantasy Story pt. 5 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.
We're here, Scribes!
This is the final part of Songs in the Silence and Olovia executes her plan, but the outcome and consequence is more than she could have ever dreamed of.
Olovia hurried down the maintenance shaft, running past the viewing deck and into the main street toward the city centre. Silis was sitting on the cement at the foot of the tower, pulling blades of grass near his feet. He looked up and gave the warmest smile Olovia had seen. A confirmation that this was the only way. It had to be.
“Going to tell me what you have planned yet?” He patted down his pants and followed her away from the trees. Olovia shook her head and pointed to the dome above.
“The sky? Yeah, it’s not working for some reason. Really throws off the internal clock.” His frown was almost comical and Olovia stifled a giggle. If only he could read her mind.
The streets were flooded with bodies, shuffling and squirming against one another to get to the front rows around the food printers. The humming of printing joined in on the usual humdrum of life, making Olovia’s chest a little tighter.
She'd lost her housing privs, and she'd lost count of how many rations. Effectively, sentenced to death, but she didn't care. The printers were all working as they should have been. And most importantly, everyone was in place. They were ready.
She typed a command into her tablet, the one she'd synced with the panels through the ship’s mainframe earlier before dawn, and the black of the digital sky dissolved into a bright white. Murmurs and questions hovered across the crowd. She had their attention now.
“Olovia, what’s going on?” Silis’s voice was barely a whisper. With another command, before everyone pulled out their tablets and polluted the ship with too much light, the panels switched on, all at once, with each of Silis’s paintings, synchronized to grow and die and loop. The city was cast in a myriad of blues, whites, greens, and browns, as though it were underwater. Drowning.
People stopped their panic and watched the dome. First their whimpers faded, then the sounds of the animals, and the wind was hollow. The Silence came, but it wasn’t true Silence. Not the dreadful agony of uncertainty like before. And it was thanks to Silis.
The song, the only noise, soft and melodic, echoed across the city and people looked to each other. They heard it. They were listening! This new Silence continued for several minutes and counting, the song getting louder. Demanding. Olovia met Silis’s stare, seeing the song swirling in his irises and casting rainbows in unshed tears. He took her hand and mouthed a wordless ‘thank you.’
The symphony began to build to a climax, the panels quivered under the vibrations of the music, and the floor rumbled. Olovia tore her eyes from the panels and checked her tablet, afraid of another surge, but the systems were fine. Her freedom, on the other hand, was in peril, judging by the threatening messages from the Overseer she'd never heard of being issued before. But, strangely, it didn't bother her. She no longer feared their repercussions. Not when hearing the Earth sing.
The music rose in pitch and volume, strong but not deafening, still getting louder, and the ship trembled more. It was moving. Something was happening and yet still, and against her rational mind, she wasn’t worried.
Olovia watched Silis’s soundless laughter and realized she was laughing, too. Not only them, but everyone in the crowd, young and old. The song came to an end with a clashing cymbal that knocked them from their feet. That or a quake. Or the ship was crashing. But in the slowed seconds as she fell, the message was clear. It was there and all she had to do was reach out.
Silis caught her before she met the flooring, before the message came and it was lost. The panels had gone dark and few hover-globes still glowed around the city, red instead of the usual blue-white. The Silence was over, shattered, but a faint remnant of the music remained, low in the background. And no one spoke. Olovia's tablet lit up with a red notification and, scanning around, hers wasn’t the only one to receive it. She glanced at the text, seeing only a couple of words before a rough quake hit the ship again.
She brushed it aside when Silis helped her up, thinking it a malfunction in the system, and surveyed the city as she stood. He took her hand and nodded to his right. Olovia followed the gesture, seeing the gap in the hull from which soft yellow light poured in.
Real light, sunlight not filtered through pixels. They weren’t the only ones who saw it.
A landing sequence, the message wasn't meant for them. But for the ship.
Her stomach felt like it had dropped deep into her pelvis. She was the one responsible for bringing them to ground. What if it was too soon and she’d doomed them? She couldn’t shake the dread of doubt around the message as Silis had interpreted it.
Shock and confusion quickly made way to realization and the crowd raced to the breech, Olovia and Silis in tow. A soft breeze invaded the ship’s belly, carrying scents like nothing Olovia had smelled before. She paused at the breech where everyone had stopped and were hesitant to cross over, and took off her shoes. Silis’s brows furrowed, asking her why she’d done that. It was now or never and if she could breathe, surely it was safe. She winked at him then pulled him through the crowd and out of the ship.
Stretching far into the horizon in every direction was a field of long golden grass that tickled her fingers. Olovia dug her toes into the warm, dry sand and closed her eyes. She felt the songs of the earth snaking around her ankles and up her legs, cloaking her in warmth and cold at the same time. She shivered and sweat.
Silis’s grip tightened when the song’s warmth wrapped around their hands and fingers. She watched him take off his boots and shuffle his feet into the sand. Behind and around them, the rest of the survivors had left the ship, barefoot and quiet, eyes fixed on the world. A new song arose, this time from the crowd, a hum unfamiliar, but it brought tears to Olovia’s eyes. Silis added his voice to the choir.
And once more, she was left out, an outlier of this new community, this new experience. Another she wouldn’t be able to feel. Her fingers slipped out of Silis’s hand as she tried to withdraw, to leave them to enjoy the sensation, however it felt. He caught her before the touch was severed, drawing her closer to him. The vibrations of his chest reverberated through her skin, down her arm and into her neck.
She let the song wash over her, through her, becoming a part of her. Let herself become a part of it, a part of the whole. Silis took a deep breath, amplifying the sensation. The humming had stopped, but the melody kept going, coming from the grass, the trees, the clouds. Clouds. Real ones unrestrained by screen resolution.
Olovia looked back at the breech in the ship, a crater that appeared to be caused by something sharp hitting it. That had been the only home, the only world they’d known. No one had the knowledge or skills to survive outside of the automated systems and controlled atmosphere. A sharp pang of guilt and fear crept up her limbs, draining the warmth from her toes.
That knowledge had to have been in there somewhere. She knew it. And the ship was fine, barring the hole. It would be enough, would be something to keep them going. They could start building a life. A real life. Real home.
She looked to Silis once more for confirmation, hoping he'd somehow heard her thoughts through the song. He was fixated, unmoving, unchanging. In bliss. Surely, this was meant to be. And with the songs of Earth, uniting them for the first time, truly uniting them, there was hope.
There would be no more Silence.
It was just as Silis had said when they first met, what felt like a lifetime ago. No one needed to speak.
Listening was enough.