prompt: return, title: quantum entanglement in "the next big thing" flash fiction

  • Nov. 17, 2021, 8:12 p.m.
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  • Public

“So, why did you study us in two separate disciplines?” I asked Frank, trying to change the subject from my own flaws, foibles, folly. “How do you mean?” “I mean, you taught human music and human religion, right? In academia as I’ve been forced to experience it, the beat-down adjuncts would be laser-focused on one field. Were Sasquatch academics so different from ours, the ones that scared me clear off any possible return to grad school?” He laughed.

“Academia, no, ours isn’t, wasn’t that different. Sadly. I think grinding anyone who wants to make a living off just learning stuff down into a fine paste is a function of any society, really. Keeps power in the hands of the people who had it the generations prior, don’t you know.”

“No,” he fluttered his hands, trying to figure out how to put things into English, “you gotta understand, to my people, music and spirituality aren’t… weren’t wholly different things, as they are in most of your societies. They overlap almost entirely, are totally intertwined,when there’s a difference between those spheres at all.” He paused. “Until a robust study of human culture was undertaken, there weren’t separate words for them. Your cultures showed us that music and religion could even be theoretically understood as discrete concepts, which is… mystifying from our… their perspective.”

Their songs, he said, were all prayers or charms or spells or offerings or rites or curses, one way or another. To divinity, to each other, against divinity, against each other. Their religions were almost totally conducted in song, at a worship circle or communion with divinity, the only things that weren’t musical were the announcements at the end. Where they were meeting afterward for food or discussion, who was sick and needing healing songs, what children’s sporting events we should feel guilty enough to attend.

“I studied and taught both because, as far as my, you know, our equivalent of college freshmen would understand them, they’re the same thing for you as they were for them. Maybe a few of those kids would take Human Studies as a minor, I’d explain the difference in the 201 course and blow their hairy little minds.” He paused. “Not that many did. Most of them found humanity incredibly boring.”

“Which we are,” I said, “unless you really squint.” “Mike,” he said, “I was born squinting.”

“And that’s the thing,” he continued, “the best I can say for my singing voice is I can stay in key and the most I can do with an instrument is play drums a little. But I discovered I was really good at fixing other peoples’ instruments, which came in handy both when I was young and as an undercover roadie later. I need to be near the power of music however I can and, as the old ones say, those who truly know the holy do the holy work, and those of us who can’t, we preach.”

Last updated November 27, 2021

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