Uhl sat placidly in the dark sphere of his vessel, the only lights white Liliputian luminosities exuding from the smooth-surfaced control panels that made up the inside of the Gap-ship. He often enjoyed the periods of observation in relative darkness, his multi-faceted eyes relaxing, resting from the harsh stimuli of light his vessel would otherwise assail him with. His head ached after long periods of brightness, so much so that he no longer enjoyed the day in the homeworld. It was a good thing that he rarely had to return, since he had no obligations but to observe here in the vast reaches of archaic space and transmit his notes quantumly.
He listened with acute, trained ears to the incredibly slow and low frequencies to the notes of the Cloud Giants, those wondrous, sentient pillars of gas and star dust, their communications like the groans of the first explosion. The tones of their songs always soothed him. Such wonderful creatures!
Uhl thought them sublime, the epitome of space-native fauna. Like the gargantuan, noble creatures from the seas of the homeworld, they appeared to languish through space at such a rate that most other sentient species had no perception or notion of their dance. So many of them had been there almost as soon as this universe came into being and still roamed the dark stellar ocean, birthing new stars, like Terra’s seahorses, spouting stellar offspring out into the far reaches, who would someday, in turn, become part of a cloud conglomerate, a gas-and-dust hive.
Their tones were a marvellous work to hear, for beings such as Uhl for whom time was malleable, perpetually mutable and non-causal. He could play them over and over.
But there was here now a change. There. A moment, a change in frequency from one of the gas pillars, the nebulae. There! Oh, what could it be? A change occurring and growing gradually into more changes to the tones. What was this?
The song sped up, the frequency modified ever-so-slightly, yet remaining in a similar range as before. But it was faster. And it was increasing in the shortness of the intervals. This was unprecedented, a change to the tapestry of this universe’s fabric.
Why was this Nebular being communicating thus, and for what purpose? Surely it must seem alike to gibberish to its similars, this mad-song, terrifyingly fast and reckless. Would the giant’s understand it? Was this one showing signs of some form of madness? No, it was not erratic. It was not haphazard or disjointed; there was still that joyous harmony threaded through the groaning notes.
Why was it behaving that way?
Mark was annoyed at Danny and Chyaki. They had been discussing his research on the so-called music of the spheres, the tones all celestial objects appear to emit at frequencies imperceptible to the human ear, but when he turned to his somewhat unorthodox ideas the conversation had devolved into jocular mockery of his posits.
In between puffs of a joint, he decided to devolve into farce himself and he joined in the fun.
“Yeah, ok, well…” he said while holding a drag of marijuana smoke, his voice squeaky with effort, like he was pushing to drop a big load of número dos in the porcelain throne. “I think I could make this a thing, you know, like a subgenre. I could make it… not classical… but something like dubstep!” He blew out a thick, sluggish cloud of smoke.
Chyaki began to laugh hysterically. Danny chuckled and snorted a little, as he reached for the joint that Mark proffered between pinched index and thumb.
“That could be your claim to fame, man, forget about naming a star or comet,” said Chyaki, having recovered from his bout of cannabis-fuelled laughter. “Mark Cronenberg, Cosmic Dubstep D,” he continued gesturing with his hands as if reading the fictional billboard.
“Wouldn’t that be something!” Mark said. “My parents would be so proud of my having wasted all of their money on tuition for a career I gave up to be a pseudo-musician.”
“You gotta think about it a little though, no?” Danny added, passing the joint to Chyaki, whose slanted eyes must be red under the heavy lids. “I mean, if there is a tune there, it would be so slow and plodding that we would never appreciate or understand them in our lifetimes,” he said slow and plodding in slowed-down, lower key for exaggerated emphasis.
Mark had thought down that kind of avenue before,” Yeah, It wouldn’t be something we could likely decipher of find even remotely intelligible. Hell, it sounds like a monotone to me all of the time. It would be the world’s most boring, monotonous beat ever! No amount of molly would make it digestible to the human ear!”
More uproarious laughter exploded from the three.
After a minute more the joint was consumed down to a roach and Danny put it out carefully by brushing the lit tip on the sole of his black moccassins. He and Chyaki stood up from the swivel chairs of the room, said their goodbyes and left Mark to his long night of vigil to continue listening for the song of the stars.
Astronomy was still his passion and he knew he was lucky to be who he was, where he was. He got plenty of time with the Galileo VII, the most powerful telescope ever assembled yet, and this was a very exclusive club. The people he worked under in the university were pretty laid back and allowed him many liberties, visitors and soon-to-be decriminalized substances among those perks.
The music of the spheres… what a lovely concept, he thought to himself. What if there were other species out there, intelligent beings, wouldn’t music, it being mathematical, be the way to communicate with them? Soooo… what if the tones were musical messages that we can’t quite grasp? Would that be sweet? Fuck, if only he could-
His train of thought was interrupted by a change registered by the equipment, specifically that which he employed to listen-in on the tones of celestial bodies. He checked the readings and thought he must be stoned to retardation or madness. There had been a change, more than just gradual, in the tone, the note being received from a nebula, one that was thought to be relatively young. He was about to check for a quick recalibration of the instruments when another change came. He nearly jumped out of his swivel chair, like someone had just said “boo!” from behind him. Some seconds later, another change, then another came more quickly, then another, until the readings looked like they were coming at the rate someone types, at the rate someone… speaks.