34 Big Bang: song of death

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34   Big Bang: song of death

This time the three lenses are angled in relation to one another—one straight ahead of me and one on each side at forty-five degrees to that, like the mirrored panels of a vanity mirror on a dressing-table.

Aside from ratcheting up the intensity a notch above last time, we've decided that tonight Alaia will be dominant, with me taking my lead from her vocal input; then for the remaining two sessions she'll return to taking her lead from the face on the monitor in her sound booth.

There are the last-minute technical checks and double-checks, like the first time; there is the same quiet, inexorable progress towards a state of utter calm and focus, like an empty round spotlight on a black floor inside me; and at last Rik's countdown. He has made the opening wrap-around material similar to last time, as a kind of branding technique, and here it comes: the distant murmur of the audience, the ten giant floodlights above the stadium, the dizzy fall of bluish-white light across the landscape of heads, the dimming floods, the rising cheer, the scratch of blue filaments against a starry sky, the growing quiet, the faint light behind me, silhouetting me on the big screen. I feel the outward pull; I slide my outer gaze aside, baring the sensors that can feel the spiders' silks; the night shivers, then I burst onto screen with the lights around my face, while a spotlight like a hair picks Alaia out, tiny on the stage far below...

Strange that I never thought to wonder, until now, how Rik included that tiny image of her down there, when there's no camera pointing at her. Since it's only from this great height that she's ever seen by the television viewers (or by the digitally-created stadium audience, indeed), her image is probably small enough for Rik to have got away with just importing and animating a still image of her.

I fling this distracting intellectual analysis away, since her voice is now taking the lead as planned, with my gaze as responder and back-up, in a subtle overture ... and to every one of you who can hear her and see me, it seems you are walking over fields with a mystery friend to whom you cannot turn but who feels like a part of you, and from this companion a full, swelling voice wails and keens. This friend is yours alone—exotic, from an ancient place, with eyes that see what you see and silence swelling loud beneath the wailing of its passage through the fields with you. It constitutes a procession in itself, dark, bejewelled and smiling at you, though you still can't turn to face it.

Warmed up now, she accelerates. Her voice pushes outward, and hollows out sound, out of silence—volume out of nothing, as the Big Bang pushed out brand-new space at the speed of the light that was born of it. She carves out a bowl of sky and mountains with her song: you who listen find yourselves standing on a mountain pass, looking down at Lop Nor, the deserts all around it and the mountain bowl around those, wider in enormity with every passing second. Clouds boil and bubble on a level with your feet upon the pass. While you watch, cities sprout, proliferate and die, miles below you. Her upturned black face flings its inexhaustible magic out across galactic space-time, where (at her will) powers of ten collapse and stretch, collapse and stretch, collapse and stretch, in icy-golden ladders out of sight into infinity...

This being her journey, we take a darker turn than anything I'd have served you by myself. It's as if, having just sketched the birth of space, she now bewails with tangy glee your wretched place within space—her song nearly cheerful in its rhythm but evoking the sound of your soft human lips on your hard stone planet, where you cling like red-nerved molluscs on a rock. Obviously those soft lips shouldn't have been housed in this cold glinting song of death and planets, glass and rock and falling steel: what vicious force inflicted that upon you fleshy squirts?

Her sphinx voice curls around your dreary snarls and mocks them, with goddess-like serenity and power. Through the litter and the dirt, round the jagged little corners of your fibreglass and concrete and your gaudy plastic shop-fronts, behind the stench of fates and minds, their limits, spite and hate—can you hear the haunting wail of her unfair perfection, huge and dark and female in the lower sky? Always seeing where you're at, but not inclined to save you; apt to raise you up but leave you hanging; heavy and oppressive, but alluring as a drug. She's Alaia—but she's gone, just an instant before you see the form of her. She draws you on in anguish that you'll always fall short of her, and yes, you always will ... but then again she might just be lying when she says that, or lying now in saying this. Reach for her (she'll make this very difficult), and some of you she'll break in two and some she will caress, while seeming to imply there's a reason for these differences—and yet she may be lying by implying so. Reach for her, she'll kiss you, lick your ear or make you kill yourself. Reach for her, she'll undulate a tentacle of shivers through your flesh or lick your eyeballs. She'll light you up with wine, or burn your mouth away with acid, making certain that these outcomes are not in your control. When the sun blasts fire on the globe's other side, you may hear her. Catch her late tonight, behind the siren of the train in the distance, when you half-wake: the train roars along the blasted viaduct, screaming, and drowns out a screech from an arch underneath it as the siren blares on for a whole long minute, stops a moment, then returns for another blaring minute ... and you'll arch through her colonnades and spin your hula-hoops along her yellow-twilit viaducts among your sweaty sheets, every one of you. But when at last you see her, then she's gone! Did you ever feel led-on? D'you think she lies? Listen hard.

Her notes grow in violence—huge hammers smashing down on every beat, as if to kill it, and slamming in to crush your heads and bodies. Whatever words you try to say, she melts them to a primal scream. You bounce up cliffs on the surge of her sound, while the hammers swing relentless through the blood-spattered stadium; and up above the carnage, the angles and the curves of my face float serene...

At last you can face your mystery friend upon the fields, and you find, too late for rescue, that this friend is her too. Beyond the horizon, gun-beats billow, dry as thunder and as heavy as the Pyramids—a grand weight of cosmic sound that gives the planets gooseflesh. Then she leaves you dead and steps away through the fields, across the plain, staining the horizon with a spired plume of emerald smoke and icy flowers of mist. She slopes away a sudden hundred miles to a cavern where a different moon sets, pale and vast above a tiny crash of waves, and majestically she vanishes; and there we end.


For some nice reviews and interviews about The Imagination Thief, in The Guardian and elsewhere, see http://www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-imagination-thief-reviews-media/

For a quick synopsis of it, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/synopsis-and-characters-list-the-imagination-thief/

For the 12 Films in The Imagination Thief, see http://www.rohanquine.com/video-books-films/12-films/

For the Audio-book version and the Video-book version of each of its 120 mini-chapters, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/audiobook-tumblr-wattpad/

For links to the retailers, see http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-ebook/ and http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-paperback/

And for its Amazon pages, see http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909

The Imagination Thief is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

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