Author : Philip Berry

My music teacher, Miss Herenka, gesticulated through the blue-tinged, sound-proofed glass. I watched her thin hands glide. Her voice came down from speakers in the circular ceiling of my training cell.

“Jenna come on! It’s not enough to go through the motions. Close your eyes, use the full length of the bow.”

I sighed. I gripped the bow more firmly.

“No. Soft hands! Tease the charge from each string. Find the frequency that maims.”

She could sense that my motivation was off.

“This simulator, I accept, offers little satisfaction…but in battle… oh, the chords will resonate.”

So passionate, this old musician. And I had to accept, she had seen it all. And survived.

“Death will dance forward. Together, Jenna, we’ll watch a black tango weave through the ranks, leaving doubt on every fingertip she touches.”

Yes. The power I could wield. I had seen glimpses of it.

The first school concert, high summer, out in the field. My playing caused half the school to collapse in a swoon. Three children and two parents died. I was taken to the mountains where I joined the Conservatory at the age of eight and entered higher training.

The nature of my gift was explained to me – the ability to match the frequency of the music I made to a person’s emotions… and more, the power to manipulate those emotions. As the first year progressed the broad strokes of feeling were dissected and re-arranged, through tiny adjustments in technique: the speed with which I sawed the horse-hair bow, the pressure of my fingers on the cat-gut strings, the way my body swayed. Soon I was able to give instructions, or orders. Prisoners of war were made to stand within earshot, and I watched them tremble. My orders could not resisted, because they were packaged in strong emotion.
My music had been weaponised.


My first friend.

Miss Herenka sensed my sadness. Yet, monster that she was, she seemed to have forgotten his name.

“Oh Jenna. Your friend, the boy. I know you are sad. But you should have seen him last week. He requested the Eastern front, he knew we were weakening there. Dropped into the field, he didn’t even look up. His parents watched from the orbiter with me. So proud.”

I knew the truth. He had understood the child soldier’s fate, so he chose the most dangerous theatre.

“The chords, they were beautiful, entered their collective consciousness… and led the sixth army off the Galen plateau. Victory! After two years of bloody attrition!”

It was true. He induced mass hysteria and ran a feared army off the high ground. I had seen the war report. But it had not mentioned Danny. And he had not come back.

“His name will live long. You have that talent Jenna, more. I am confident in you. It has been privilege. Now, come out of there and follow me. The General is here.”

The time had come.

My parents.

Would they sit in the orbiter looking down into the fire-lit smoke? Would they see me standing alone behind the enemy lines, playing, playing, playing… hoping to find the resonant frequency before a patrol picked me off with a single bolt.

“Come Jenna. Come.” She brushed my head affectionately. I knew Miss Herenka was genuinely fond of me. A bond existed. This would make it easier, I knew, to throw out a few toxic notes just for her during the final performance. Relayed to the orbiter, they would enter her mind and avenge each child doomed by her lethal tuition.