The Quartet – a short story for an installation

This text was written as part of a workshop based on a series of five randomly-selected images that were originally sent into space as part of the Voyager Golden Record in 1977.

The Quartet. 19/03/2018

The quartet played in the parlour. They are interpreting the sounds they heard the evening before, when they watch the moon landing on their neighbours’ tiny black and white screen. They played from memory and the sound bounced around the small room repeatedly. For this reason, they played softly, sparsely, tenderly. The people stop outside of the cottage they are playing in stopped occasionally to listen to the sounds they made. Without the context of the screen and the flickering moon shots, the sound made little sense. But they found it beautiful, and intense, despite seemingly-random and scattered notes. 

Families gathered outside in the street. At the gate. Stopping for a while to take in the music. Many others also came to listen. Standing still. They wondered at the sound. They too had seen the moon landings. But it took some time to connect the sounds of the instruments to the pictures from the night before. The grainy capsule. The crackling voices beamed down, announcing the moment that would change us all. Or at least most of us.

 

Out in the Desert, a lonely figure wandered with this horse, scanning the horizon for signs of life. At his side was a small listening device. A radio, tuned to static, waiting to receive some sound. Occasionally the rider stops, tunes, looking for signals. As he tunes, he once again see scans the horizon. Once or twice he looks back at his trail. Where he came from. As he had little idea where he was going. Just had to find the end to this desert. He rode, stopped, tuned, rode again. He had food and water for a few days more.

 

Hopefully the signal would come before then. Another day passed. More static, more water, more food, some rest. And then, slowly, as he turned the dial of his receiver, he had it. The sound he had been searching for. The concert have begun. Sat on his horse, still, squinting against the Sun a little, he heard the sound of the violins, the cello and the bass. Being from another place, and sounding like another time.  An easier time. Before space was conquered. Before we landed on the moon. The sound was being beamed around the world. Into space and back again. It was his cue to ride towards home. He had found the signal and reported back to the city that the mission was complete. He is unsure of the purpose of the mission, but he knew the part he played.  Had to relay the message home, and the council would do the rest. 
There will be a fanfare. A celebration. A parade of vehicles of all kinds. Some riding horses. Some driving. Others on foot. But all happy that finally they could leave this place and fly to the stars.