Turning into A Real Boy

Harmonics, fractal sine waves (wire rendering)

Barret has an idea that maybe Dance wasn’t joking when he said that turning the pages for him, helping him play Locatelli’s music in the little Moleskin notebook, might not be the safest thing in the world.

But when Dance grins, and asks him if he wants to risk it, he grins back. “Hell yes!”

“Anybody else want to leave?” Dance says, lifting the bow.

Emma just folds her arms and snorts at him. Drin chuckles, wraps his arms around her, kisses her.

“Pen?” Dance says then, looking down.

Pen shakes his head. “I can at least stay to see what we, together here, created.”

Dance nods. He looks at Barret, and the tail raps the floor with the rhythm like a conductor’s baton.

Barret hears the first three staves of music, turns the page, and grins up at Dance. It’s good. It’s so damn good it hurts. Dance’s concentration is just as ferocious as before, so complete that his facial expression is almost neutral, as before. But the playing is totally different. There’s a swing and softness and eliding of notes. Dance is easing one bit to the next in the very tight quarters that his beautifully re-built Locatelli collaboration demands. It is not just a wild hostile jumble of identical Dresden roofs now.

Dance the artiste emphasizes one part over another, presents something to view, and then the next, making sense of the complexities in a way that a precise mechanical recital cannot. It is very human.

Just once, Barret has time to glance away, and to see that Emma is crying, wiping tears from her cheek; and he understands completely, with a deep unfolding happiness, why it would do that to her.

This music teaches you something. There’s some surprise on every last damn page of it. He remembers working with Dance on the repeated motifs, and marveling, but it’s not the same as hearing the threads rise and fall and surface back to view, rotating and changing hypnotically, like a kaleidoscope.

He is on the second to last page when he notices the rest of them tensing, shifting position. They’re expecting something.

Pen struggles up on his knees, breathing hard.

When Barret glances up on the very last page, he sees that Dance is grinning, a very wide grin that shows all his teeth, and there are a lot of teeth. There is abandon, joy, as that deadly runup of sixteenth notes become rapid pounding full-out sprinting into those demonic thirty-second notes–and Dance flies through them as serenely as if he’s capable of playing so fast he can’t be seen at all. Perhaps he can. Perhaps he can make sounds that become too fast to hear at all.

The bow flings itself joyously off those weather vanes at the top of the roof– and Dance gives a happy, “Oh!” of pleasure into the silence, tossing the viola away at Drin and the bow at Emma. He does it so perfectly that both of them catch the pieces, astonished.

pastel spiral fractal design
fractal in pastels

Then Dance gives a little sigh, and arches backward, and his entire body begins to glint, to flicker, to spin prisms of light. His skin glows out through his clothes. His whole body glows, his face, his hands, his tail, the keeling and ridges, everything he is, all of the details are brilliantly lit up.

Everything glints of rainbows and flares and startling playful runs up and down chromatic levels of light frequencies, and then he opens his mouth and it’s not singing that comes out of him. Noise is coming out of him. Loud, loud noise.

Orchestral, not just a single man’s voice singing, but entire batches of stringed instruments all roaring at the world at once.

Barret covers his ears, grinning.

When Emma looks round at him, Barret’s lips move. She knows what he’s saying, under the racket: “Pachelbel’s Canon.”

Emma just nods at him, squinting a bit against all the light glaring out of Dance’s body.

Dance hangs there as if he’s being held up by the backbone, shimmering, and when the Canon finally releases them all, the noise stops. The lights stop boiling along his tail quite so intensely, and his head droops forward, and then his hands rise up, and he roars, “Yes! Yes!” across a dozen different harmonics, with a bass note in it loud enough to thrum echoes through the timbers of the house.

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