bizarroVIGNETTE: radio citadel

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

*The opening tale from the collection ‘ellipses…a compendium of peculiarly dark and droll vignettes’ by Christian David Anderson, a fragmentary fiction writing project for 2013 available exclusively here at the Fanboys And Soulmen blog.

Burning_City

Radio Citadel

 power

red-light

…click, buzz…ermmm…ohmmmm…mmmmmmmm…

The VUs kick, left and right, in unison, like chorus girls of the Moulin Rouge. Their footlights, faulty, short and sputter rhythmically to the ohmmmm…of broadcast beginnings, somewhere in time, tomorrow.

Our Broadcaster picks up the arm of the record player, delicately, as if it were an old man in a retirement home being led for a walk in the garden for one last time. He drops the stylus head gently on a stagnant piece of acetate, a long unplayed record. A micro-particle of ancient dust, dormant for years, maybe forever, at this very spot in the revolution, awakes with a sonic twitch and pops up into the stylus’ delicate tentacle. The meeting births a short high pitched yelp, but this is quickly swallowed. The VUs do a swift dance to commiserate.

The Broadcaster switches on the turntable, adjusts the volume dial, and a record rotates slowly into life, reaching 33 and a third at a measured, dignified pace. Wraith’s piano plays in a dark corner of 197?

“When the night shows,

The signals grow,

On radios

All the strange things,

They come and go,

As early warnings…”

Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp attempt to hold back the Flood, but Here it Comes.

The music fades out onto the ether, leaving just as soon as it arrives. The Broadcaster cautiously hopes it all may be picked up somewhere down the line, listened to, heard, remembered. Perhaps not, most likely not at all, but maybe just one other living being in this goddamned world, that is all you can do to get the stories heard.

His lips graze the DJ’s noose, a cheap black microphone hung down, duct-taped, from the low ceiling like a slothy black mamba plugged directly into the outside world.

His first words, tentative, almost inaudible, seemingly unsure if they are heard, dance in between the echoes of the dwindling music

“Perhaps there is another way of speaking, a better, and more civil method of communicating, of expressing myself. Maybe there really is another way, a more seemly technique and suitable avenue of finding a voice above everything else, above all this…shit, above the noise. Yet, all I know is that those opportunities are now closed to me and their methods are congested and corrupt. “

A short pause, and uncertain glance up towards the heavens, beyond these walls, and the moment of fortitude transforms His voice into a frozen block of concrete covered in hot chocolate fudge syrup that instantaneously sizzles across the speakers as he resumes:

“The only way I know is this one: in the night, when fear does not let me sleep, up here on the massif, where they cannot stop me from recounting the stories of our world, those stories they would rather slaughter than allow survive tonight… ”

Louder now:

“…it is futile to postpone the insurrection, citizens, if you can hear me, remember this, the cataclysm is not imminent, it is here and now.”

Mussorgsky’s Gnome dances now, on the spinning black funeral pyre on the corner of 33 and third.

He takes a quick, nervous sip of warm, oily whiskey from a short, dirty glass, and lets the pregnant pause in his voice carry to full term. “Hello and welcome…”

New-born feedback screams out into the dark.

“…welcome to the last song on side B. The Desolation Row, the When The Levee Breaks, the Something In the Way, the Ree…dem…shin Song of our earthly human existence. These are the final few revolutions towards the spindle in the middle where the groove finally stops. End of Days, the apocalypse, the rapture, whatever you and your gods call it, this is it, the end, my beautiful friends.”

Another quick and nervous of the warm and oily from a short and dirty, and a pensive lunge of an almost-forgotten cigarette. Stubbed out dead, He continues:

“Rest assured, citizens, as we all wait for the final, silent boatman, me and my, me and my, me and my friends here tonight,” He swings his view around the room, surveying the overfilled bookcases, filled with books, vinyl records, and other paraphernalia. He is alone in the room.

“we will be with you all the way, holding your hand through these troubled times, and attempting to help you all, indeed us all, to tell our story, find the answers, and ask just how did it all go wrong…in the end…in the end…”

The Broadcaster falls silent for a moment, lights another cigarette. Exhaling, He calmly reminds: “Dylan Thomas chose not to go gently into that good night, and neither shall we, we will share together this agony of solitude, together we will loudly take back these long, cruel, endless and dead nights from these cruel dark lords of our captivity.”

He flips a switch on a tape machine and Mussorgsky is suddenly surrounded by a martial stomp of drums, fluttering between a confident snare canter and steady splashes of cymbal crash, pauses break and suspend between hurtling bass drums and pulsating percussive flourishes. The loop does it all can do to sustain, to postpone the end of the world. Around another dark corner, down another murky channel, a gang of gloomy guitar feedback broods in wait, threatening to dismember proceedings indiscriminately.

Our Broadcaster stands up from his bureau and walks towards a door. He wrestles open the solid slab that keeps the outside world in. That world tears into this vacuity, revealing a night sky scarred with a muddy orange and red glow of a city ruining down below Him. It scorches and smoulders, yet seems peculiarly alive. The city skyline serrates out against vigorous flames and a bedspread of smog. Above him, as he straddles the doorway, reluctant to step further out into this world, a triad of pterodactyl-like Blackhawk helicopters screech like zealous murderclerks towards the burning city.

The Broadcaster looks back at the microphone, as if it was an old treasured comrade he was seeing for the last time, and declares: “everywhere I look I see a dark satanic sadness; everywhere I look I see the beginnings of the end. I see the end of music, of art, of man’s kindness, tolerance, love; I can see these leaders leaving the scene of the crime, their thoughtless weapons of choice thrown carelessly on the ground, next to the bloodied corpse of our insignificant moral accomplishment. I see the end of me and you; I see the end of the record. Tell the stories, citizens, tell them to your children, so that they may hear them one last time. Tell the stories; record them for whoever may remain.”

The city below him roars like an MGM lion, and he steps back with dread through the cellar door, enfolding himself into the safest place he has ever known. He loads another cartridge into the chamber, and pulls the trigger on side A, track one of Dark Side of the Moon.

(fin)

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