A creaky clockwork of fading ebony and steel cut strings were all that was left. My wrinkled hand grazed over its once smooth fixture as I let out a wheezing sigh. No longer was the sound of music a relevance in my life, but now, the painful cries of death and disease. With my cancer moving so fast and my hair falling out like dead weight, I was bound to be a balding, toothless skeleton in a mere week.
Tucking the wooden instrument under my arm, I grasped my black cane and hobbled to the nearest recliner, pack with a footrest and a heated cushion. I sank slowly into a blissful world, long gone with the pass of time. Memories were my only company. Thunder rumbled and rain began to tap steadily on the kitchen window, casting a rhythmic melody in my head. After turning to face the dying light, my face wrinkled with age, I looked up to see puffs of clouds gathered like roisin dust in the performance theater. I looked away and back at the instrument in my hands. For an eternity, I simply sat, my heart heavy and mind blank.
“Pluck!” A resounding D echoed the room, and I was sucked into pitch back, my head hitting the back of the seat with a thud.
I cried out as I landed hard on my back, the wind knocked from my lungs. My arm was pinned beneath me as a cloud of dry dust parched my throat. Small grit crackled among my teeth. Strangely, I felt rejuvenated, filled with the gift of youth and mortality. Before long, I saw my hands, smooth like caramel and my skin, bright like pure gold; however, my greatest gift was my profound sense of hearing, capable of detecting the faintest melodies from afar. Rising to my knees, I looked around, eyes wide. The land was desolate, marked with cracks among the dry sand and wilted weeds. A small breeze was the only sign of life as the sky cast a grey blanket upon the Earth. Devoid of emotions, life, and beauty, I took a pitiful step and heard a faint crunch and pop. A carcass, like my soul, lay crushed beneath my leather shoe.
“Get away! Get away!” I hissed, scrambling back, my hands wide and disgusted. A perfect message-a world with no music is no world at all.
A clap of thunder drew my trembling chin towards the sky, eyes defiant and brimming with tears. Strings crisscrossed the world above, scratching and screeching like the cries of a thousand lost souls. Soon came a downpour. Droplets of water dripped down my cheeks, turning the dust beneath my knees into a muddy mess. Perhaps I was dead, cast to a living hell for my sins, left with eternal suffering.
I stared at my reflection in the mud.
“Come, my dear. Come,” a voice rasped into my ear.
A hooded figure appeared in the ripples, and I yelped, whirling around to see a small, crooked woman with stringy hair reaching out toward me. Her nose, dented like the scroll of an instrument, curled with anticipation.
“Who are you?” I questioned and waved her away.
“Come. The land here is a silent killer, a disease of the mind that eventually takes over. You shall not wish to succumb to such feelings of emptiness, so come.” She beckoned softly, and I hesitantly reached out and took her hand before fireworks exploded before my eyes and I black out.”
The resounding D faded to silence as I blinked. I was back in my dreary living room. I took a deep breath and shakily wiped that sheen of sweat from my forehead. That seemed all but too real. Slowly, I realized, meandering down and scraping past the fingerboard and the steel cut string worn down with use, that despite my pain and suffering, my heart glowed with wisdom and experience. I thought back to my grand performances that moved both me and my audience to tears. There was never a day that went by without a practice session, which ultimately granted me with expertise and staggering skill. Suddenly, as I smiled to myself, a felt a sharp prick like needles at the base of my neck before I fell back into oblivion, my head hitting the back of the chair once again.
“Have a seat!” An elegant velvet chair glinted in the moonlight. My living room had transformed into a dark, empty room opened to the starry night sky. Ominous grey clouds soon blurred out the peacefulness of the stars and a chill, unbearable shiver ran down my back. The hairs on my arms stood like frosted trees. Something sinister was present. My brain fumed with the worst case scenario, and my eyes darted in furious pursuit of an explanation.
“Please, I said take a seat,” the voice repeated. A hand gestured to the empty space awaiting my presence. Hesitantly, I sat, trembling like a leaf.
“Whoosh..” A hair hanging languidly from my forehead moved with the suddenly breeze, but I saw no one.
“You know, you are the epitome of a true musician,” a dark raspy voice praised.
“The way your fingers dance and your expression flourish with each rhythm is impeccable.”
It was as if a spell was cast upon my brain, leaving me immobilized; I could not mutter a single word. A leather hand guided my chin toward the speaker’s face, and I flinched. A tear streamed down my face. The angel of death. My time had come.
To be continued...
Disclaimer: People and places are purely fictional.