I’m not quite sure I really like this story, and yet I’m the one who wrote it. That’s why I’m sending it out by paper airplane here and giving up on selling it to the birds. Only a mother could love this one, and maybe the people who follow the blog will be more forgiving like only a mom could be. Without further lowering of expectations, here it is:
length: 1,000 words
The Song From Outer Space
by Bryan Perkins
I dropped the pick and rubbed wet palms on skinny jeans, clenching my eyes tight, waiting for any response. After an eternity of silence, it came.
A chuckle? My heart sank into my stomach. The beat stopped. My knees knocked, probably a more rhythmic performance than I could ever play on my guitar. It was shit. I knew it.
“Stop it!” Erin said. I hear hand slapping jean jacket. “That’s so rude.”
“Sorry,” Phil said, trying to stifle his laughter. “I was laughing at something else, not you. Your music was…well…your music.”
I opened my eyes. Only Zane was left to respond. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me, hiding behind his swooped black hair.
“Well, what do you think?” I said, unable to wait longer for his verdict. My life was in his hands now.
“I don’t know,” he said, flinging his hair to the side with a tic of his neck, revealing his piercing blue, lined eyes. “It’s like–and I never thought I’d ever say this–but it’s like, too out there or something. Alien almost. Am I right?”
“Oh, yeah. For sure,” Erin said, nodding too hard. She always went along with Zane’s opinion, no matter how stupid it was. She wanted to get into his pants. Well, guess what, girl. They’re too skinny. There’s not even room enough for him in there.
Phil chuckled. “Outer space,” he said, probably because he was so high that’s where he was. Maybe I’d join him in the clouds when this was all done.
“Right,” Zane went on, nodding and swiping his hair to the side. “Like it was from outer space. It gives me a weird feeling. I don’t know. I don’t like it, bro. I’m sorry.”
“But–You said–” I said. “You said you were tired of the mainstream. You said you wanted something new, something different. Well, here it is.” I played a few notes.
“I don’t know what to tell you.” Hair swoop, sending all my hopes out the window. “I guess you’ve shown us today that there is such a thing as too unique. Let that be a lesson for all of us. C’mon guys. Let’s go. We’ll talk to you later, bro.”
Zane walked out first, Erin followed right up his ass, and Phil lagged a few steps behind, chuckling to his own joke.
My knees ended their performance once the three hipster stooges were gone, giving out entirely, and I fell to a heap on top of my guitar.
It doesn’t matter how long I laid there, almost sleeping. When I awoke, I lined the room with candles, lighting each one by one, and sat in the middle of the circle of flames with my guitar in my lap and pill bottle next to me.
It wasn’t that bad, was it? I started to play, staring into the fire. Sure, the time signature was overcomplicated to the modern ear, but what of the future ear? The melody followed patterns and progressions with alien logic but logic nonetheless. It produced–
The lights changed color. A rainbow chorus of candles sang out in perfect harmony with my melody. I couldn’t stop playing.
The colors flickered and danced in geometric patterns while the flames grew and shrunk. Smoke billowed. I almost stopped playing before the smoke resolved itself into physical forms. Standing atop each colorful flame were tiny, barrel-bodied figures, singing in chorus with each other, in chorus with my guitar, my song.
I stopped playing. My muscles grew too weak to carry on. The stupor produced by the vision was too much. The song kept going, though, with the little visitors keeping it alive.
One of the figures, standing atop a green flame, grew larger and larger as the chorus sang, to about the size of a toddler, dwarfing all the rest. “You sing more beautifully than we have ever heard,” it sang, and the chorus crooned their agreement.
I blushed. The whole lot of them flashed red with me. “Oh–well–I wasn’t really singing,” I said, feeling a little light headed about everything. “That was my guitar.”
“Your song was beautiful,” the green one sang. “It opened our pathway here. We had to come see what perfect creature could have such an angelic voice. Please, sing it again. For us. Bring us closer to your presence.”
“Yes, sing for us,” the chorus sang.
I tried to play something, anything, but it took too much energy to even lift my pick. All that came out was randomness. The chorus and the green one, whatever they were, flickered and squealed.
I dropped my pick, dropped my guitar, knocked over the empty pill bottle, and the aliens–I was convinced now that’s what they were–flickered back into solidity, standing atop their flames, singing my song better than I ever could.
“Come with us,” the green one sang over my own alien melody.
I couldn’t even lift my head, slumped over the dead guitar, to respond. I tried to move. I think I waved.
They sang my song louder, giving me energy. I raised up, reached for my phone, clicked the last call, and it rang.
“It doesn’t work as well from this side,” the green one sang. “Come with us or keep playing. The connection will be lost soon.”
“Hello?” said the voice from the other side, Zane. “You there, bro?”
“Come with us,” the green one sang, flickering, still singing my song, the song from outer space.
“Do you hear that, Zane?” I mumbled. “It’s so beautiful.”
“We’ll be awaiting your voice,” the green one called, blinking into nothingness along with the rest of the chorus, blowing out the candles on their way, and leaving me in darkness.
“Did you hear that, Zane? They’ll be waiting for my voice.”
The phone fell to the floor in a clatter. So did I, humming my melody, waiting for Zane or the green one, whichever came first. My life was in their hands now.