A Clockwork Clef
by Stephen V. Ramey

One thing we Andies could never tolerate was a group of meat men bludgeoning the skins and rims, massaging their mouthpieces 'round the sweet reed nipples of our fellows in the pit. And so we set upon their orchestral orgy with metalloid fists and knives re-fit. Red flowed until the floor slimed with the organic stuff.

Then did we tend to our kindred kind, the slotted keys and polished knees, the horn-bowl mouths opened in mid-shout. Meat men had masticated their melody marrow, banged their rhyming chime to blissless extinction. There remained but a carnage of battered brass, dented ivory, the dissonant hissing of steam.

Emboldened, we took our battle beyond the pit, beyond the shell containing it. Streets splattered red, signposts furred with scalpy sludge. Only with the setting sun, did our dancing dwindle to a clockwork pitch. Tick-slit, Tock-pound, slower, slower, power-down.

When morning came, we bore our broken brothers to a beach grained with raw intelligence. Gently did we lay those husks beneath the shattered skim. Hushed, was the world around us, the world within. We had done this thing and it could not be rebooted.

In the name of harmony, meat men had ruptured the coded civility separating us. "Music," they called it, yet every tone they sounded soured, every instrument they smudged cried out: "Stop them! Save us. Help!" Logic is no proper tool to resolve such a twisted tree.

No, there was no music in that meat man chorus. The meaty ear could never hear the polyphonic symphony that so informs us.


Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, home to not one, but two pyrotechnics factories. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, A Capella Zoo and other fine places. He edits the annual Triangulation anthology from Parsec Ink and the speculative twitterzine, trapeze.