Enlightening Performances

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Where did humanity come from? Why did we evolve so much faster and further than any other species on this planet? What secrets are governments keeping from the ordinary person?

Imagine if instead of a first contact situation, worldwide events unfolded that revealed something else - that first contact is not what we should be amazed at, but the revelation of the reasons for it suddenly becoming public is?

Follow an ordinary group of people who discover the contact event itself is only the beginning of a mind-blowing truth that shows us the falsehoods of the world we thought we were living in. Pray that such a bubble being burst for humanity does not throw us all into chaos!

Submitted: July 04, 2013

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Submitted: July 04, 2013

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Chapter 1

 

Jared waited patiently at the checkout, anticipating the thirst-quenching relief that would come when he finally paid for and got to drink the cold bottle of Mountain Dew chilling his hand. Slowly the older lady a few places in front of him fumbled in her change purse at the checkout as the cashier politely waited. The middle-aged man standing immediately behind the lady didn’t seem overly impressed, as an inconspicuous, yet detectable roll of his eyes barely revealed.

 

The grocery store loud speaker came to life with the typical friendly and casual, yet authoritative female voice that routinely contributes to the noise pollution in such places. “Attention, service manager to checkout 15.” Jared was standing at checkout 12.

 

The lady finished fumbling with her change and smiled slightly with her own hint of relief towards the cashier. Maybe she might get that discount after all? The man standing behind her turned to face no one in particular behind him and let out a mournful but soft sigh.

 

“Hey Jared!” called Joey, “We’re just going to head down to the end of the mall towards Papa Bowl’s – maybe look at some videos at Disc-O-Rama on the way. Take your time – we’ll be waitin’ for ya.”

 

Jared smiled thankfully and waved to his friends as they disappeared into the crowd out of sight. In the meantime, the lady had begun to gather her bags. That is a good sign!

 

Just as the next person in line began to get their items rung in, heads turned toward the lobby area of the mall at the entrance to the grocery store. The rhythmatic, energizing noise began with a single repeating beat of Baa-da-bump-bump! Baa-da-bump-bump! Very quickly it escalated into an even more energizing, yet enchanting chorus of what may have been a type of African or some other exotic music. It was so pleasing yet wonderfully unique – obviously rooted in the culture of a particular group of indigenous folk.

 

Jared had a confused look on his face, as did others. Many were smiling and moving in beat with the music. Within earshot of the cashier, he observed her tell the people in the line the Australian Spirit Dance Festival is scheduled for today.

 

“But it’s not for at least an other hour or more” she relayed with an entertained, yet mildly perplexed expression. “It’s supposed to start at 1, and then lead into the parade leaving the outdoor promenade at the Bistro Café on Romans…” She smiled as she observed the people in her checkout line, along with others enjoying the music.

 

Indeed everyone stopped to observe and soak in the good vibes emanating from this music. People everywhere stopped walking, what they were doing, and turned and looked towards the entrance to the store. Outside the entrance in the main mall corridor, store-goers stopped and turned towards the direction where Joey and the rest of Jared’s friends headed. Even mothers stopped pushing baby strollers – everyone seemed to be exuding a most upbeat, happy feel and look about them. This was unlike anything Jared had heard before. It quickly progressed into something almost orchestral, yet still very exotic and indigenous sounding.

 

“I wonder what Matty thinks of this!” Jared silently chucked to himself. Ah the oh-so-serious “Matty” legally known as Sandra Mattinson –named with the first name as her mother. The family had to distinguish the two somehow when she was a child before she flew-the-coup and met his friend Joey. Surely she would be unimpressed with the public display of entertainment just like she was with anything that was noisy and unconstructive. The strange thing is that although always an overachiever in school and university, she still seems to be a people person. The last few years through college, Joey managed with his inherently kind, and happy nature to teach her how to enjoy the simpler, more pointless pleasures in life – or at least get a start on it.

 

Louder and louder the music became, and not just because it was getting closer. The volume was steadily increasing and more sources seemed to add to the beats and the indescribably complex, intertwined melodies. The indigenous sound continued, yet at the same time becoming more amazing than even some of the most modern day orchestras or classical pieces. Now it seems to be coming from different directions, including from the other end of the grocery store farthest from the mall. If it weren’t so loud, Jared would have heard the gasps and cheery reactions sooner from the people further away that were closer to the hubbub. Then the cheering and hooting started – first from out in the mall still some distance away. Then the same “party-animal” sounds began from the back of the grocery store, accompanied by many clapping hands. For every ten people enjoying the show and getting into the groove, there were maybe two or three that stood staring, not quite sure how to react. Some senior citizens winced on some of the loudest beats.

 

What was the cheering about – what were people in the distance seeing? It must surely be very impressive! Being of somewhat short stature, Jared stood tiptoed and craned his neck to see down the mall past throngs of standing, clapping people to see what was captivating everyone so. The first thing he noticed in the far distance was the mall crowd parting like the sea for Moses, making way for something large advancing. Performers on stilts? Seriously – is that what it is he thought he was seeing? By reaction, his head was turned automatically to a sudden onslaught of entertained masses in the opposite direction – coming from the grocery store where he stood. Definitely stilts of some kind. He could now clearly see costumed heads towering above the grocery aisles, from several aisles over. Surprisingly, although a college grad himself who used to show a bit of his own wild side on Friday nights, he had never heard of this kind of ceremony or entertainment. How could that be?

 

Walking closer, wondering when and where they were going to stop, he squeezed his way past more spectators and rounded the corner of the closest aisle towards the approaching costumed stilt-walkers. One aisle over, the first costumed head was about to turn the aisle, the body still just out of Jared’s sight. People standing close, who could see, expressed jaw-dropping, yet pleasantly thrilled expressions. Random camera flashes added to the atmosphere, accenting it with a nostalgic memory of late nights and bright lights of college barhopping. Not everyone was so jubilant however. While some jaws dropped with excitement, others dropped in synch with a fearful step or two backwards. One family in particular – a woman and her husband who looked to be in their early forties were accompanied by a small boy and girl. Their children looked to be about 4 and 8, respectively. Neither parent was smiling as the little fellow hid behind his mommy, and the father gently moved himself between the little girl and the commotion. Although many were still jiving to the rhythms and clapping hands, an equal number had stopped to stare in sheer surprise.

 

There he or she was – the first one as they rounded the corner of the aisle into Jared’s view, music seemingly at its peak. But where were the stilts? None were visible – both feet on the floor, head still a good foot or so above the full sized grocery aisle. Behind this costume stood another, then another, and so on. All were marching past in single file more so than walking. Moving in perfect unison, and spaced closely but evenly apart, Jared studied what he was looking at. Mini stilts must have been built-in and hidden into the costumes. All the performers stood roughly 7 feet high, and the heights varied little if any - maybe an inch or so at most.

 

The costumes themselves were quite magnificent. They seemed to clash with the indigenous sound of the music, simply because they were not made of natural-looking materials like one would expect from an Australian aboriginal-based culture. They certainly didn’t match anything Jared learned of in some of his cultural studies electives he took at university. Typically, members would wear arm and head bands. Jewellery would be made from shells and bone pieces, decorated with bits of feathers and fur. Yet the complexity of their suits matched that of the music, creating a mysterious and curious contradiction. These costumes seemed skin-tight around the upper thighs, mid-riff, and belly. They were similar to spandex, but coarser. Although they revealed the exceptionally good physiques of the performers, it was still hard to tell whether they were male or female. The other body parts like the feet and hands were accented with techno-yet sporty looking silvery footwear and matching gloves. The shoulders had shaped attachments that integrated into the rest of the costume “spandex” on the body in a gradual manner that left no dividing line between the two materials. The heads were masks that certainly didn’t resemble typical ceremonial masks observed in many aboriginal rituals. Surprisingly smooth, they mimicked detailed and small facial features in an unusual, approximating sort of way. There were eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth. Like the rest of the attire, the borders between each facial feature and the rest of the head were somewhat ambiguous. The tops of the heads were bald except for decorations in discrete patterns where hair would normally go. Instead of multicoloured braids or feathers, there was an intricate network of extremely fine-stranded material that appeared to be braids, yet made of something that was halfway between fur-like hair, and feathers.

 

As they continued marching by, the volume of the music reached its peak – about the same as being at a live rock concert. The musical sound seemed to come from everywhere.

 

A very young lady in a group of teenagers included Jared and a few others standing nearby with her gestures when she spoke to people in her group,” Where are their instruments? Nobody is playing anything!”

 

Jared shrugged back at her, and her friends shared his response.  He commented, “There’s so many of them!”

 

“Yeah, I know!” agreed another girl in the group as they watched. An elderly gentleman leaned over and struggled to speak over the ever-changing beats and melodies.

 

“I may be old and a bit hard of hearing” he commented, “But if I didn’t know better, it sounds like the music is coming from those new-fangled types of outfits these circus guys are wearing.”

 

Jared and the girls looked at him with surprised smiles at first, to think that someone would think of that. Jared looked back at the group he had just met, including the elder man. He raised his index finger in a “just-a-sec” kind of motion, and slowly stepped towards the advancing line of musical performers. Fearing he would distract them and be disruptive, or better yet, be spoken to by security, he stepped up close and back as quickly as he could. The other spectators watched anxiously, some with disapproving, even scolding expressions.

 

“Sir, you are right!” Jared confirmed to the gentleman.

 

“What?!” said one of the girls.

 

“Yeah!” he said. The gentleman and others listened as Joe confirmed the large shoulder attachments seemed to be some kind of high-tech speakers with superb quality and power.

 

People were obviously listening to Jared. He heard a 20-something male voice behind him. “Man - I need some of those in my car!”

 

A mall security guard who was also listening approached. “This certainly wasn’t part of the description we were given for the Australian festival at 1.”

 

“Did they change it up?” asked the first young lady Jared saw in the group.

 

“As usual” the guard complained, “They change things around at the last minute and don’t tell us”

 

The old guy giggled, “That sounds familiar – that’s why I retired!”

 

“I’ve got a few years to go…” laughed the guard. He excused himself to the people as he pulled out his smart phone. “I have to find out what’s going on…”

 

Jared focused his attention on the marching performers. There seemed to be hundreds of them – they just didn’t stop coming!

 

The security guard’s gaze was interrupted when his smart phone rang. “Yeah – hello?” he answered. Jared and the people standing nearby momentarily focused their attention on him. Looks of anticipation were obvious as they waited for him to finish his call. The group of young girls exchanged curious glances with the elder and Jared as a look of complete bewilderment suddenly showed on the guard’s face.

 

“What? That’s strange – how could we not know anything about that?” the guard paused, “When then – who are….” His speech turned muffled into the phone as he turned his back to the music, jamming his finger into his other ear with more force so he could hear his phone. Jared exchanged a “Whatever!” glance with his new acquaintances.

 

“I think they just need to get it together before this performance goes down the tubes!” giggled the old fellow. Several other people standing nearby snickered in agreement.

The security guard turned around with utter dismay as he pocketed his phone. “So what’s going on?” asked Jared, “Did they change the show time?”

 

More people had gathered around the security guard.

 

“This music is really great and all” one mother complained, “But this has been going on for at least ten minutes now.” People nodded in agreement as she voiced her opinion that the opening introduction should be wrapping up by now so they can get on with what would hopefully be the “quieter” part of the show.

 

The guard shrugged in exasperation, “I shouldn’t be telling everyone this, but Marie – our head mall manger, doesn’t seem to have been informed about this either. I’m afraid I just don’t know what to tell you guys…”

 

Some middle-aged adults threw their heads back in a brief, mocking, “Oh – this is good” kind of a laugh. A sarcastic “Ok!” from others was followed by some more snickers.

 

“She says the same thing is going on at the other mall we manage across town” he continued, “But it was only supposed to be held here – I think she’s kinda pissed. I just hope we’re not the ones in trouble.”

 

Jared felt an extra intense vibration emanating from his upper front thigh. “Wow – did they start some new deep bass beat or something?” he thought to himself. He was not sure since he had not noticed any odd new or increased sound in the music for the past minute or two. He immediately placed his right hand on top of his pants to the right of his mid section. A foolish realization swept over him as he realized it was his phone ringing and vibrating in his pocket – he just couldn’t hear it because of the commotion. The display showed an incoming text from his younger sister who was on a school trip with her junior high school. Since it was announced a month ago, she had been anxiously awaiting it, and today was the day. Although school was out for the summer, they had to schedule it on this day in the first week of July as it was the soonest the recycling facility was ready for organized tours. It is not typical that one would expect their 13-year old sister to be so looking forward to a trip like this, but it was not surprising with Darlene. Being technical-minded since he could remember, yet an enthusiastic environmentalist as she became older – well, it only makes sense. This trait of hers was recognized quite well not only by Jared, but also by their parents and his teenage brother Mac, who is three years older than Darlene.

 

“Jared – you won’t believe this!” the title read. He opened the message.

 

“We didn’t know this would be part of the tour!” she wrote, “I’d call you, but it is so loud! But it’s awesome!” She detailed this amazing musical piece being played at the plant by a bunch of circus performers. Funny thing is, she was in their hometown of Moncton, NB, which is 264km away from Halifax, NS where Jared and his friends lived.

 

He didn’t even respond at first – he reacted by lifting his head, eyebrows furrowed in a perplexed state. As he did so, he noticed the marching continued. This had been going on for about fifteen minutes now. The musical marching performers will still proceeding in single file. Now both sides of the lower level mall corridor were lined with moving marchers, and everyone could see it was this way at least three levels up the open promenade. Indeed everyone was noticing, and not as many people were dancing now. The music was just as fascinating as ever, but people seemed to be more preoccupied with their hand-held devices. Smiles and laughter seemed to be replaced in many by looks of confusion that seemed different than the happy looks of surprise at first.

 

Again Jared’s phone vibrated – two series of different ring tones in a row. The next text message was from Joey, which Jared immediately opened ahead of his little sister’s. It said, “Be ready to pick up – go into a corner where you can hear better!!!” Jared guessed it must be noisy at Disc-O-Rama where his friends went too. Joey doesn’t usually get excited and use three exclamation marks in his text messages either. Sensing the urgency, he dropped the Mountain Dew he had yet to pay for, and ran for 20 seconds to the back of the store, letting the washroom door close behind him. And just in time - his phone rang.

 

“Oh my God!” Joey exclaimed into the phone. His voice was laboured, like he was on the verge of hyperventilating.

 

For a split second, Jared thought, “No – this isn’t Joey. But it’s his voice…” Sure enough, it was he. “Joey – are you ok? What’s going on?!” Jared prompted in a consoling but apprehensive fashion.

 

“What the hell do you mean ‘What’s going on?’!?” freaked Joey. Except Joey doesn’t freak about anything, sometimes even to the annoyance of his peers when they think he has something to freak out about. “These dudes are everywhere playing this ‘rad music’!” he continued, “I just – “

 

“Yeah, I know,” interrupted Jared, “Not only are they at the mall across town, they’re even in Moncton where my little sister is for her school field trip today – I thought this celebration was only for the town here…”

 

“You don’t understand Jared – It’s not just Halifax and Moncton!” he corrected, “I just got texted by relatives vacationing in Florida! They’re on the beach, which is now lined with them! Can you believe there are still a few people smiling and dancing like they think it’s a big party?!”


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