It’s the Silurian’s fault Janex thought setting up her gear, if only I’d ignored him. “It’s easy” he said, “nothing to it, candy from a baby”. Oh yeah. “Make a mint” he’d said, so I jumped off here at Carson’s World and what do I find? The hardest damned crowd, intellectual, rational, boring as batshit. Not that they aren’t friendly, just no heart, all mind. Janex looked at her credset and sighed. And they don’t pay, four weeks and still short of my ticket off this rock. Dammit she thought, I should be somewhere else raking it in.
She tapped her throat mic and guitar to make sure they were charged, setting the credset on the ground in front of her. A small crowd had gathered, thirty or forty dressed in the same plain, drab, functional garb. At least they’re curious she thought, it’s a bigger group than usual too. She coughed gently, cementing her audience’s attention.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, fine citizens of Carson’s World, today I present for your education and interest music from worlds gone by, histories decayed, empires fallen!’ The crowd stirred gently. That always gets them, I’m living proof they’re superior, outlasting, better.
‘Today I bring you music from the most fabled, decayed, tragic world of all. Earth! Yes, old Terra, birth place of man!’ She held the n as long as possible, a long, menacing trail setting the audience’s antennae vibrating in anticipation. She singled out a juvenile in the front.
‘Today I take you back to that place, to the height of their consumerist era as they wantonly squandered their offspring’s future to satisfy their own lustful pleasures.’ Janex drew shocked gasps from the crowd, the juvenile pressing back against the adults with a mix of fear and fascination. ‘I bring you an anthem, a rallying cry from the heart of that degenerate society as it plunged headlong towards oblivion!’
She hit the first note clear and strong, vocals and guitar augmented subtly. She scanned her audience and saw the first flickerings of interest, and as she ramped up the sound and started the characteristic strut that interest grew. The minutes flashed by and with a flourish on one knee she was finished, letting the last chord linger. One song was enough she knew, just at the limits of their patience and curiosity.
‘Thank you, thank you, you’re a wonderful, intelligent audience. If you found my small gift interesting please return the favour’ motioning to the credset.
This time, instead of the odd one or two ponying up, most of the crowd flashed one forearm or another over the credset. Finally, after an animated discussion, the juvenile’s adults touched its forearm and it scuttled over to the credset, chattered unintelligibly at Janex, and ran off after them.
Janex looked down and smiled. Finally enough she thought, the price of a ticket out of this dump, maybe enough over for some food too. She started packing.
‘Did we not say we understand the alien but it does not understand us?’ Dontrax asked the child as they walked away from the strange musical human.
‘You cannot speak BasEng and it cannot speak Mazkad.’ Thrmyn, the other parent, continued.
‘But I did try.’ their child replied, one arm wrapped around Thrmyn’s leg and the other two mimicking Janex’s guitar work, happy to have seen such a strange being first hand.
Dontrax looked at Thrmyn. ‘Much of their “music” I have heard, but this one never. It fills a gap. It was worth the creds to just hear such a contradiction.’
Thrmyn shifted half its gaze to Dontrax on the right, and half to the child behind it. ‘Conflicted and illogical, as is all its kind.’
‘Unable to understand that what it wants it has. Thankfully all that is left are the wanderers, the story tellers.’
‘How did it go again? the child piped. ‘Can you repeat it?’
Thrmyn cleared its triple windpipes and started up, sounding much like a piccolo bagpipe. It rendered the tune and lyrics as best it could, millennia after the composer and its planet had turned to ash. Surprisingly Thrmyn found itself taken with the tune.
They continued their walk home through the indigo blue city, the shadows growing long as the bloated red sun bathed the landscape in russet sunset tones. The ancient tune from the long dead composer wafted gently after them.
‘I still fail to see why,’ Dontrax muttered to itself, lost in thought and falling behind, ‘if it’s goal was to get no satisfaction, it could not see that the act of trying to obtain satisfaction ensured that it was unable to secure a lack of satisfaction. What a strange, strange species.’
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