“The Maestro” (Morning Fiction 5/15/2018)

“I’m just not connected to it, I don’t see the point. I want to believe that everything happens for a reason, that there is truth and love is real…

But, I feel nothing.”

The Maestro sat back and looked at his pupil, eyes moving from his face to the cluster of galaxies unfolding behind them.

He shuffled in his chair, titling his glasses forward.

“Do you think it’s wrong to feel nothing?”

The pupil’s face flushed red as he spit venom:

“Do you think your constant barrage of questions is helping?”

The Maestro smiled and motioned to the side of the observation deck.

“Get out.”

Earth had been decimated.

Their best estimates assumed it wouldn’t happen for generations, but it happened all at once.

Families, communities, and cities purged from the planet in a flash of heat.

Continents burned and molten lava spilled forth from every crevice.

The only humans that survived were those underground, and those above, adrift amongst the stars.

She woke up in a cavern, the smell of sulfur purging her from a dreamless sleep.

She crawled from her corner and began to shimmy herself through the walls of the cavern.

She used her body to feel the way. Her stomach grumbling for sustenance, she proceeded to the open chamber where the rest of her people resided…

If you could call them people.

After the planet ignited, those who’d been underground had evolved into a race that could hardly be described as human.

Their faces had stretched over where their eyes should be and their mouths had puckered into tiny slits.

They crawled the caverns deep beneath the planets crust, feeding upon the multitude of insects that stay thriving in the earth’s soil.

Their bodies had been reconfigured, but their minds were still in tack. They felt everything.

The pupil stormed from the observation deck and whipped out his holo recorder:

“I’m done. I’m sick of the tests and the challenges. I just want to be free, I want to feel. I’m tired of being logical, and sentient, and aware…”

The pupils face boiled over in frustration, anger pulsing through his core like a warm flame.

A voice pierced through the holorecorder:

“Anger is an emotion.”

The pupil stopped abruptly. He felt the heat, the frequency of his heart rate. He put a hand to his face and felt the temperature, an irrefutable data point for a physical response to emotional stimuli.

“Return to the observation deck to continue your lesson.”

The pupil felt his body start to cool. He felt himself reconfiguring for homeostasis. His mind began to race, connecting the experience with what he knew to be true.

The pupil turned around, his face purged from all emotion, and proceeded back into the observation deck.

The humans above the planet had survived the gamma burst, but they had lost their home. Loved ones disintegrated in a flash of heat.

For centuries they mourned, adrift amidst the cosmic ocean.

Over time, they could no longer grieve. All of their fears had been purged and their emotions had been spent.

They lived in spaceships and traveled the galaxy in search of knowledge. They found planetary systems to sustain themselves for technological improvement.

They formed a galactic collective, seeking to discover another race of sentient beings, another species that could help them rationalize their own existence.

They lived in starships and pushed their intellect forward.

Their home planet was a distant memory, along with their ability to feel…

Until they encountered The Maestro.

She arrived in the cavern and felt her family. She felt her friends and her community. She felt love and companionship.

She could hear a discussion taking place. An exchange of emotion as her people planned a burrow.

In the back of her mind she saw the plan and it frightened her.

They wanted to go upwards, towards the surface. But it was hot up there. Down here, it was cool.

The discussion amplified in her mind as they exchanged feelings with no plan. Just a desire. An urge…

Go up.

The Maestro smiled as his pupil entered the observation deck.

“I have news for you…”

The boy sat down, cross legged in front of The Maestro.

“On the other side of the galaxy is a planet. A seemingly lifeless orb rotating around a single star….”

The boys eyes widened as he prepared to receive new information. His mind craved it. Needed it.

“And in this planet, deep beneath the crust, are your people.”

The pupil sat still as his brain digested the information. His bodied acclimated itself for total stillness, his mind connecting data points and recognized patterns within the depths of his consciousness.

Like a rock, or a stone monument, he sat.

His mind worked through equations, historical context, and experiences. Siphoning energy from the collective data as he processed a new piece of information.

The Maestro continued to speak:

“What you felt earlier was anger. Your species knows of emotion, but until today, none of your kind have been able to access it…”

The pupil sat still, eyes staring forward as his mind absorbed information.

“On the other side of the galaxy, your people are on the move. Feeling their way forward. And amongst them is another like you…”

The conversation continued to amplify as their bodies crawled upwards towards the burrow.

She felt excitement from her community, the rush of movement as they united in purpose. Go up.

Her body tensed as her fears amplified.

“It wouldn’t work, its too much, it doesn’t feel right. There’s gotta be…

There’s gotta be…”

Her mind projected images, flashes of doom and despair, the love they felt amongst one another destroyed in a pile of hot rubble.

And then, all at once, she saw something.

She felt a shift of energy and an idea bubbled forth from the recess of her own mind.

For the first time in forever, her brain connected the dots. She knew why they had failed last time. And she knew they were about to make the same mistake.

She tensed her body to prepare for communication. She dove into her fear and amplified it.

She projected the emotion at her community.

Movement halted and they stopped crawling, bodies vibrating in expectant urgency.

She didn’t know what she could tell them, she just knew they couldn’t do what they were doing.

They crawled towards her, pulsating love and concern as they awaited her next message…

She huddled close and felt for an answer.

Then all at once, she had it.

She knew what they could do.

The Collective held a meeting and made a decision…

They would journey to this planet.

The pupil sat quietly as The Maestro observed.

One by one, their starships pulsed energy.

And all at once, they were on the move…

They were headed home.

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