When Muses Die

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
An alien composer becomes dangerously obsessed with his gift. Sequel to SCARLET BEAST. Continues in REDEMPTION and FORWARD TO THE PAST.

Submitted: May 15, 2016

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Submitted: May 15, 2016

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2897 AD, Planet Lalande 21185 a (Voznesenye)

 

Ivan knows he has to kill her again.

An hour ago, she crawled out of her shallow grave to haunt and torment him, pestering him with incessant demands, sucking out his life force, demolishing his vision, crushing his dreams.

This has to end, once and for all.

Ivan casts a quick glance at the large brazen candelabrum towering over severed, wilted rose heads scattered over the desk. The first pages of his Fifth Symphony in B flat major, creased and torn beyond recognition, lie hopelessly in the corner, covered by thick cobwebs. He has salvaged his favorite part, where a powerful crescendo takes the exposition towards a sudden key change, twin oboes and a bassoon transfiguring the ecstatic fortissimo con fuoco into the sublimely serene, meditative dolce espressivo of the second theme. The rest was destroyed by her.

She is a woman. A human woman. His gravest mistake was letting her into his life in the first place.

 

***

 

As a young man, Ivan tasted the bittersweet poison of romantic love. Klava and Rozo. Even now, the rhythmically rolling sounds of those names echoing in his mind, he feels the familiar twinge in his upper heart. He used to be a clumsy, awkward youth, both his faces cleanly shaved, diligently trying to gain recognition in the cold, unforgiving world of music. The two renowned masters nurtured him, fostered his art, doting on him as if he was their only begotten child. They became a classical triad – the virile, physically imposing Ivan; the gentle, fragile Klava; the inscrutably neutral Rozo. A perfect union of man, woman and boman.

Then Rozo lost its sanity and spent the last few years of its life in an asylum. Klava and Ivan drifted apart, both unable to cope with the tragedy, alienated by the world and estranged from each other. Ivan grew two bushy beards to symbolize his resignation. From that point on, only music existed for him, into which he poured his anguish and his despair.

Until he met Lyuba.

She was one of the very few humans still dwelling on the planet Voznesenye. Living in a tiny secluded settlement, those humans were a weird bunch – grotesquely tall, slender beings morbidly reminiscent of simplistic dolls disfigured by enraged hyperactive children, lacking essential features and organs. There is something intrinsically repulsive in a creature whose liver and kidneys are hidden from plain sight. The scariest thing about them is the fact they only have two genders. The thought of coitus involving only a male and a female has always disgusted Ivan. How could anyone talk seriously of love if the highly coveted, mystical fusion of flesh involved nothing but a crude combination of two primitively shaped gadgets?

Lyuba and Ivan developed a strange relationship, born out of her fascination with his music, which reminded her of the works of some prehistoric composer back on Earth, the deserted planet of her race. She would closely study the manuscripts, give him astute advices, inhale vitality into lifeless sketches, boldly harmonize timid melodies, condense ephemeral passages into laconic, powerful phrases dressed in robust textures. She was his inspiration, his muse.

Then he tried to kill her.

It wasn’t his fault! She was gradually becoming unbearable. A great composer is a genius who does not belong to himself, fully dedicated to his art. Since love brings nothing but pain and desolation, a true artist is not allowed to let this treacherous emotion into his heart. Ivan recognized the dangerous symptoms when he realized how peaceful Lyuba made him feel, how comfortable the world was becoming when she was around. Creative souls abhor tranquility, and comfort is the mortal enemy of a genius. She had no place in his life anymore.

After his futile attempts to repel her with harsh words and expressed disdain, she dared tell him his fanatical dedication to music was turning him into a monster. A monster? Surely his music was divinely inspired, which made him more of an angel – a higher, more valuable being. She then quoted some ancient human book that compared people who felt no love to resounding gongs and clanging cymbals. She sounded much like her famous ancestor Alexei Men, the human space traveler who had brought science, ethics, and art to the local Vozs over seven hundred years ago. Ivan was grateful to Men for that last one, but that didn’t mean he could tolerate such sacrilegious words from his deranged descendant.

He told her he would kill anyone who stood in his path to musical perfection. In response, she grabbed the manuscript of the Fifth Symphony and began to crumple the precious paper. He lunged at her, trying to pry the pages from her horrible hands, yelling and cursing and calling her names she had undoubtedly deserved. It was after that disgraceful scene that he firmly decided to get rid of her for good.

One day, when she barged into his room, violating his private space, he patted her on her posterior, which would certainly prove lethal to any Voz. To his astonishment, he discovered that human buttocks were infinitely less fragile than those of his own race. Repeatedly slapping her derrière elicited nothing but foolish laughter and giggles. She didn’t even understand that he was trying to kill her.

Ivan read a few books that described human anatomy in gruesome, graphic detail. He almost puked when he understood that humans actually swallowed, digested, and then disgorged decomposed organic matter. So the traditional dish from Lyuba’s ancestral homeland, a fiery substance called borsch, was, in fact, made out of dead animals and plants! Overcoming his repulsion, Ivan found out that the middle region of the human body was relatively vulnerable, inexplicably unprotected by bones even though it contained much of the aforementioned complicated digestive system.

The next time she started one of her incessant rants about his declining morality he punched her hard in the abdomen. She fell onto the sacred floor of his composition chamber, her misshapen body twitching in agony. Feeling encouraged, Ivan kicked her with all his feet several times, cracking a few ribs in the process. Her howling sounded almost melodic, and Ivan made a mental note of using that inspiration for the concluding section of the scherzo, perhaps with the piccolo flutes carrying the shrill descending scale on a diminished chord of the seventh degree towards the inevitable resolution in the minor tonic.

Vozs can’t lose their consciousness unless they are asleep or dead. Ivan thought that Lyuba had passed away, so he dug a shallow grave and tossed her body into it.

A few hours later, she crawled out.

 

***

 

Ivan holds the brazen candelabrum firmly in his hands, the magical hands that used to make audiences weep with joy at his piano recitals. Now those hands have become the tools for writing down his own music, the loftiest of all arts. Creation is far superior to interpretation. Creators are flawless, blameless, purified by their supreme gift. To them, everything is permitted.

Her dirty, bruised hand is shaking as she tries to reach the surface of the desk. She can’t even stand up, but she has dragged her pitiful carcass all the way to the composition chamber in order to destroy his masterpiece! A murderess, that’s what she is!

Ivan raises the candelabrum above her head, prepared to strike.

She lifts her head and looks at him. She is trying to form words with her lips, but they are too swollen to obey. With great effort, she clutches a pen and scribbles something on an exposed part of the manuscript.

Righteous fury consumes Ivan. He bashes her head repeatedly with the heavy candelabrum. Bone fragments are driven deep into the cracked skull, and impure brain matter soils the virginal beauty of a newly written introduction to the tender second movement, Larghetto cantabile.

Ivan inhales the stale air of the chamber and accurately puts the candelabrum back on the desk. He takes the page with her words written on it and reads them absent-mindedly.

There are only three words.

I forgive you.

For some reason, Ivan recalls one of Alexei Men’s maxims, apparently taken from the same ancient book Lyuba liked to quote. It’s a vulgar aphorism worded in the pithy style of primitive literature. Thou shalt not kill. Probably a rule for an uneducated tribe that did not know the heavenly joy of art.

Ivan carries out the corpse, then returns to clean up the room. He sits down at the desk and is soon greeted by the blissful voices of the muses in his exalted mind.

The Fifth Symphony in B flat major has to be completed. It is the work of a genius composer, the great Ivan Ivanovich Brhwxzgn.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

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