Author: Dr. Ross Clare
The craft is the size of a small country, a monument to the colossal space-missiles of classic science fiction. The humans aboard hope that, as was always the case with those rockets of the imagination, this ship will achieve the impossible and leave Earth forever.
At first, the craft was totally silent.
Then strike the first notes of the orchestra in the nosecone, the frontrunners of the leaderless community aboard. The sombre sound of thick strings on spruce-and-maple instruments larger than their wielders, followed by the gentle momentum of violins and the airy drone of the woodwind section, join forces to set a near-imperceptible rumble into the steel bones of the craft.
Mission Control seize their cue with a raving enthusiasm. Their fingers dance madly across keys on the devices before them. The tools they manipulate whine into frenetic action, producing a speedy, tinny rhythm of electric bup-bup-bups. Monitors whirr to life in response, bottle-green text marching to the beat across deep black backgrounds, and so the ship’s navigation is set – anywhere but here.
This unlikely crossover between timeless and otherworldly sounds is steadied by the ageless buzz of metal smacking against timber now emanating from the deck below. The unpretentious, heart-breaking, raw, quiet sounds of Old Blind Dead Charley Wilson and his Free Crew Band put the craft at ease even as it judders to life, calming and soothing their metal home in a manner akin to the release of liquid coolant.
Hearing this, those with bubble-gum pink skirts and handsome feathery hair leap into spirited action in the sector beneath. The sickly-sweet whizz and jangle of a falsetto Princess and a crooning Prince – upbeat tunes, derided by some, giving hope and joy to others – perform a social function, letting the thousands aboard know that the mission has begun. There is no turning back now, but don’t worry about it. Optimism is key! Remember to love each other, baby.
The pulsing cadence of the ship’s machinery, engendered by the myriad sounds produced by its crew, now tapers off and becomes steady, allowing the women and men on the next floor down to spit their words to its rhythm. Violent, true, aggressive, and beautiful, their voices ride the crescent of the music and hit each beat effortlessly, all style and substance, firing poetics toward the failed society they have all but been forced to shun. The very stability and cohesion of the community aboard would be imperilled without their righteous expressions.
Right beside them, their contemporaries take up sticks, strings, and mics, and issue forth a head-pounding commotion. The snarls and wails and krangs and thumps coalesce to complement one another, to balance each other out until an anthem is formed. The lyrics, shouted out from scrunched-up faces pregnant with attitude, take aim at the failed regime they all hunger to escape. Along with their partners on these lower decks, their crashing melodies let all within the craft know that none are above scrutiny. We all leave this planet free, equal, as one collective soul.
The latter two sounds meet briefly to form a ‘nu’ one, but this is only a passing phase.
Finally, in the bowels of the ship, the perpetually misunderstood thunder into their own singular noise. The creative force that inspires all on board is assaulted and, as a result, fed exponentially by these warlike experimentations with sound. Individuals clothed in jet-black attire roar like wild beasts into the propulsion system they stand atop. Drums like machine guns, the ethereal growls of distortion of a pitch lower, deeper, more primordial than the core of the dying Earth cause the ship’s thrusters to explode into action, a deafening cacophony of chemical reaction to match the human-made sounds of organic catastrophe.
All is set. The conductor of the orchestra at the very head of the craft hears, feels the co-operation of the sounds, the communion of melodic output. Harmony! Tears form in the eyes of one of the violin-players.
The conductor raises her baton to the point in the centre of the nosecone interior. All forces generated aboard lead to this very spot, and to this very moment.
As soon as she lifts her arm, the ship responds. The gigantic feet of the craft pull away from the surface of Earth, steadily but with purpose. The experiment has worked, the collaboration has succeeded.
The ship and its crew rise above, without looking back.