Fiction: Measure of Silence


The stars fell out of alignment. Across the earth, repercussions rippled throughout the animal kingdom. Jaguars retreated to their temples. Mosquitoes went still all along the equator. Whales beached themselves. Criminals turned on each other.

But the jazz played on.

The bass kept an easy heartbeat. The drummer brushed the skins. The piano drove the melody and the atmosphere: something melancholic, something human.

The stars fell, and they were noticed all across the galaxy. On one distant planet, bells tolled, Russian Orthodox bells – replicas, actually – in lamentation. On a battle-riven battle cruiser orbiting a binary singularity, a temporary cease fire occurred organically.

On a distant gleaming rocketship, hurtling through the vast void to a mysterious destination, a man named Hooker broke out his saxophone for the first time in an age. His song entwined with the jazz piano so many, many astronomical units away.

From the earth’s oceans, great old beasts arose. From the earth’s seas, ancient creatures emerged. Dark figures crawled out of the rivers. Shapes crept loose of creeks. Shadows overtook the atmosphere and hid the sun from cities. Military arsenals were let loose with a collective effect of nil.

But soon, on ancient wings not meant for seas or skies, the old, ancient, and alien gods abandoned the earth and sailed toward unknown and unknowable universes, parallel, perpendicular, close, distant, and impossible.

On his gleaming rocketship, Hooker reached a measure of silence. In a bar on Esplanade in New Orleans, the piano reached the same and the bass paused. Only the drums brushed through the next moment. Only the sweep of rhythm.

When the earth’s core cracked, they heard it in New Orleans and they heard it in New Haven. They heard it in Wales and New South Wales. They heard the crack in Tibet, and they heard the crack in Tierra del Fuego.

Hooker also heard the crack, despite the distance, despite the years, despite the laws of physics and metaphysics alike.

The measure of silence ceased, and Hooker played on, solo and unaccompanied, his saxophone talents unmatched in all the universe.


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