Orchextra

Knock-knock! Dana ignored it. Knock-knock! She ignored it again.

“Honey, may I come in?” said Tony.

Dana withdrew her mind from Supersoul. The divine colour of water-filled clouds eased into that of pale blue wall. It wasn’t so different – more a question of quality than hue. “Yes, honey,” she said slowly. “Come in.”

“Hey Firecracker” – he’d called her that since she’d gone from blonde to redhead – “I know you are doing yoga, but I thought you’d like to see this.” His lips quivered when he was thrilled about something. She wanted to kiss him right now.

Tony brought over his laptop, hesitantly. “Honey, I need to focus,” she said smiling broadly. “That’s why I could do with a distraction. Go ahead.”

“Are you sitting comfortably?” he said. His lips quivered again.

“Only enough to merge with the Supersoul. I guess that’s pretty comfy.”

“I knew I had it somewhere. Good job I didn’t empty my recycle bin. It was hiding there. Ready?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a historic moment captured on video.”

“Hey, I told you to get rid of that video! You never know where it might end up. Do you really want to see your wife on the internet doing that?” She felt her brow furrow. Sudden tension. Just what she needed to avoid today.

“No, not that!” said Tony, waving his arms as if flapping the idea away. “I got rid of that, honest! Though it was a minor classic of Sea-To-Sky sensuality….”

“Tony…”

“Just kidding you. Look…” he clicked. The Transparent Temple – their nickname for the fancy community centre – appeared, surrounded by crowds. It was last year’s Canada Day. The camera zoomed towards the first floor balcony, showing a dozen people in smart black dress. Amongst them was Firecracker holding her cello. The small orchestra sat down, tuned up, and began playing. It was Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, reworked as a dance tune. It started off gently – flowing like caresses – and then burst with beats – like your brain was your heart. The crowd went crazy, threw their arms in the air. It was classical music renewed. It felt great to move people so strongly and deeply; more than she’d ever done before.

And that was the day when she’d heard the sounds. At first she thought it was feedback harmonics, but listened more closely, and was confused. She wasn’t playing those notes, they were way too deep. Long, long frequencies, like hundred metre strings being bowed. And a big boom somewhere, and mighty clangs, and long whistles like trains. She wondered whether she was going a bit crazy. But others told her that they’d heard the sounds too. The mysterious vibrations resonated with her vision of Supersoul. They had sparked her idea; the one that had brought her here today. She was tuning herself for the biggest day of her life.

“Do you remember what the District said when you suggested it?” said Tony. “And BC Hydro? And the lawyers?” She smiled completely. He liked that red lipstick, setting off her hair. “I’m so proud of you, honey. Tonight will be unforgettable.”

It was only when CBC got involved that things had started moving. Initially she wasn’t keen on the name “Orchextra”, but after a while got used to it.

An hour later, Dana left the house. Cranes and scaffolds were set up along the Meadows Road. They were concentrated at the end of the power lines near Camel Mountain. This was Dana’s place – pole position. The production crew fussed over her. They adjusted her hair, her makeup, and her dress, and then clipped on a microphone and earpiece. Two hours later, she was ready to start.

At 11.30am they did final checks on the power lines. A micro-current ran through them. They put her in a zoom boom and raised her up thirty feet. She was ready. At exactly midday, she put her bow to the neutral wire. From down the Valley she heard the sounds of people striking big boulders, which sang out like clear bells. From up the Valley, others beating the trunks of huge cedars, which hurt like vast drums. Everywhere in the Valley, people used compressors to push air through their chimneys, and blew into car exhaust pipes. A range of shrill, strong whistles filled the air, everywhere. It was time.

The front of her cello was spruce, the sides maple, the bridge pine, the bass bar willow, the sound post fir, the purfling ebony and abalone; all affixed by hide glue. Many fine craftsmen had built that instrument. But her instrument today was an insulated copper cable. Her bow was of brazilwood, stretched with horsehair. Dana drew her bow across the wire, which stretched from here to the Village, an instrument of thirty kilometres, ready for her touch. She was the lead player, with cellists raised up every kilometre to strengthen her sound. It would meet the sounds coming from elsewhere in the Valley to create a mighty circuit of sonance.

Today was September 22nd, 2012, fall equinox. This was the great practice.

The great performance would be on December 21st, 2012: the winter solstice. The “X” in Orchextra came via Ancient Arabic, Old Spanish, and Mathematics. It was used by Malcolm X, X-Rays, Generation X, and the Illiterate to sign their names. In all these cases it represented the same thing: an unknown quantity. On this night, ancient and modern, natural and cultural, vibrations would fuse together. This would be the sound – a last brave howl, as the planet Nibiru approached earth, its collision now confirmed – of the end of the world. What the future held for humanity after this was unknown.

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One Response to “Orchextra”

  1. Music be the food of life and death!

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