Inich crouched against the red monoliths and gazed into the empty enclosure. It was pockmarked with millennia of use. He’d heard once that the Dead Ones sang and danced in this enclosure. Shortly after their arrival, his father had said that this collected and incomprehensible energy of “music” had called Inich’s people to this planet. They knew it could be harnessed, but had not been able to touch it yet.
In the presence of three tribal elders, Inich had replied that the world could be arranged precisely and eaten with the heart, allowing anyone to touch the strange energy.
“So illogical!” The tribal elders’ words may have been admiring or depreciating. To them, the bones and manuscripts of the Dead Ones were trifles in comparison to this world’s rich natural wonders. Whoever they had been, they lost their inheritance and were now inconsequential. When Inich wandered into their ruins of stone piles and metal beams, he occasionally found artifacts, but they rarely made sense. He brought home certain stones and metal shards, arranging them on the floor. His family watched his pursuits nervously, fascinated. Inich frequently arranged things – words, clothing, food – in inexplicable ways that pleased him, rather than in the most efficient manner. That’s when his father had spoken to the tribal elders, who seemed uncomfortable with the topic. However, they explained that children manifested such behavior occasionally. As long as they always displayed efficiency in public , no harm came from infrequent indulgence. ”But efficiency comes first,” they cautioned, “not vague personal preference that cannot be justified.”
Inich understood. His people had created a grand society capable of feats that lesser societies called “magic, and to uphold it, he must follow its rules. He could do that. But he came to the Red Rocks when he needed to explore or destroy his own rules. At the Red Rocks, he felt for vibrations stored in objects, walls, and earth.
Inich was skilled at vibrational interpretation. It was no magical act, just basic science of the mind. But the ancient texts indicated that vibrational interpretation was different than “music.” Music, he understood, drew up the heart into the mind and out through the mouth or the fingers. It could produce tears with no discernible cause, and lift moods from low to high. He had tried repeatedly, in solitude, to mix vibrations and produce mood alteration, but all he could do was create frustration at his own failure. He took this as a small success. After all, frustration was a mood.
Everyone knew that places held vibrations and the rocks held ages’ worth of music. The healers could put their fingertips to an object and know who had it last, and which ailments that person suffered. Easy. Simple vibrational interpretation, something that every child could do at least a little. Surely he could do the same here, dredging up the ancient songs and rhythms! He pressed his palms and forehead against the rough red rock, but no song came. He concentrated as the sun slowly crossed the sky, but he was not a gifted healer. Such skills traveled through generations, and his mother had been a mathematician.
At noon, he didn’t bother to wipe away his tears but instead let them flow and mingle with the red dust. Frustration again. Was it really a small success, or a simple reaction to the stimulus of failure? Inich was a skilled meditator and daily opened himself to emptiness and pureness of being. He did not care for wilder states of mind, and so this outpour of grief and frustration seemed both novel and disturbing. He slumped against the stones and tried to think, as orderly thought leads to calm behavior. So he thought about the electrical conductivity of the water that rolled down his cheeks, and recalled that some of the Dead believed water carried other fluid energies. They claimed that it carried the emotions, song, and visions.
He felt each tear travel down his face and pool in the hollow of his throat. And with each tear, he heard something indescribable. In his clear state of mind, each splash of water sent a shock of what could only be music coursing through his bones. The vibration he knew, of course, but the notes as they were called, created shivers in his belly and tingled up his spine. The tingling grew greater and more vivid, sending colors spinning into his vision. He felt song explode from his throat as he tried to mimic words he’d never known before, and beneath the roaring waves of precisely-arranged sound, he sensed he was trying to express something too deep to quantify, something that the words only minimized. Arranged just precisely, it communicated. It immersed. It filled his being.
And he knew he was dying as his brain and body struggled to process what they were not meant to enjoy, yet he didn’t care. Couldn’t care, no more than one of the Dead could shield their eyes from their angels, only disintegrate in bliss. With each note, the gray dust of his body mingled with the red dust of the monoliths.
The singer opened his eyes to the stars, fingers strumming his guitar, singing to the first song hunter.
Musical Inspiration: The Autumns – Pale Trembles a Gale (remix). The Autumns are a fine California band, atmospheric, intelligent, and fully capable of rocking out. Red Rocks refers to the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, home of many wonderful concerts. The photo is actually of Pike’s Peak, which is in the vicinity but not the same thing. I just really loved that photo.