apologies about the code. i hope it didn’t come off as pretentious. i want to share my story, but i can’t be too public with it. i want to make sure that the right people find it and that they take it as the warning it’s meant to be and not as an invitation to make the same mistakes my family did. that i did.
my name is nicolae pastore. i hear music from outer space.
if that didn’t make you roll your eyes, then i know that i can trust you. i’m writing this as my family prepares to do something dangerous, something that threatens everything that is. it must be done, though. we have to find my son lex. we can’t leave him where he is and live with ourselves. i’ll try being as thorough as i can in the hours i have left. even if we pull this off without destroying the universe, my family and i will be fugitives for the rest of our lives. they’re coming for us regardless of what happens, so i have to be quick.
i’m writing this on the night before we rescue lex, who is adrift in the fog space behind the outward-facing facade of this universe. my brother-in-law, that ghoul, is responsible for sending him there. i don’t know what will happen to us when we try to rescue my boy, so take this as your first warning: if you ever come across a man named lucius selig, who perhaps goes by the title “master” lucius, please use what you read here to destroy him.
a second warning: i’ve read the papers. mendocino is going crazy with reports of storms and sightings of strange government agents spying on people. there were articles about it in the mendo mercury just this morning. my father-in-law, emerson selig, read one and almost fled town. he thinks they’re looking for us. they know that something is about to happen and they’re trying to put a stop to it. they could throw us in prison. or worse. dad calls them “the charter.” he says they run everything that exists. they are order and oppose people like my family, who they say represent chaos, or children of the anomaly.
my father-in-law has been afraid of the charter for years and until recently i always suspected that he was starting to lose it in his old age, but once you watch your son fade out of tangible reality over the course of weeks, as I have, you’ll never doubt anything again. i’ve attached the charter’s insignia here. if you’re anything at all like my family you should run the moment you see it.
the third warning is this: fear your gifts and fear how you use them.
you’re more powerful than you can imagine. as a human being you are a carrier of creative chaos, a gift(?) that comes directly from the anomaly. how you choose to apply this gift(?) will determine whether you do amazing things with your life, or if you end up like my family— divided, hurt and hunted by the charter.
i’m afraid the third warning will take some explaining, but the last few days have fundamentally changed how i perceive the universe and humanity’s place within it. not just my place, or my family’s, but your place as well.
i say yours because before she died i heard my mother-in-law jean telling my kids that everyone had a special ability, something that connected them to the creative power that made the world. at the time i assumed it was one of mom’s hippy, new age platitudes— something that sounds big and important but doesn’t say much of anything. i know differently now. our ability to create, to generate something from nothing is a kind of chaos. this creative chaos is so powerful that people can use it to change the universe however they like. some people are better at this than others. i used it to build the laser harp. my father-in-law used it to resurrect our pet hamster. lucius used it to become a third-rate god and a cult leader. my family are special cases, chaos runs deep in our family, but the more i think about it, the more i realize that everyone has this gift. creative chaos a beautiful, dangerous thing. it’s so dangerous i think that’s why the charter is stalking us right now. maybe they’d be right to take us all away.
i must sound crazier than dad.
my name is nicolae pastore. i hear music from outer space.
i always knew that music had power, and not just in a poetic way. music and i have a relationship that you could describe as stockholm syndrome. mom and dad forced me to play the viola when i was a kid and eventually i grew to love it. they thought music would focus me. it did, but then again it’s easy to focus on any stimulus at all when you’re alone and growing up in kansas.
the viola was my introduction to creative chaos. it happened like this: i got into a fight with my mother one day. even then i always tried to keep a lid on my emotions. i didn’t want her to know that she had gotten to me, so i tried to numb myself out with a few hours of practice. it didn’t work. i was playing like crud. my anger was coming through the instrument. palpable. as i played i could feel something else in the room with me, something that wasn’t sound but was connected to the sound. as my anger reached its peak i sawed one particularly ugly note into the viola.
and my door slammed shut with a bang.
i dropped my viola. nearly broke it. my immediate concern then was the instrument and not the display of esoteric musical power it caused. my terror of my parents was bigger than my terror of the unseen world. once i knew the viola was safe i had plenty of time to freak out about what happened. i’m in my 40s now and I’m still freaking out about it.
what made my door slam? wind? ghosts? i was too afraid to practice for weeks. the slamming door was accompanied by a vision, something that scared me even more. as i played that note i saw a glimpse of the multiverse at a foundational level, down to where all the gears and pistons were. i saw a battery of sonic energy powering everything around me. it not only made my door slam, it also did everything from starting my mom’s car that morning to fueling the continents-wide, millennia-old storms in jupiter’s atmosphere. i devoted my life as a musician to understanding that epiphany.
that research has given me the tools to either rescue lex or to erase everything in our neck of the multiverse. i’ll find out which tomorrow.
emerson summarizes chaotic musical phenomena better than i can: “sound is the key to the universe.” his theory is that sound gives shape to all matter. sound guides all energy. if we could learn how sound works, we could accomplish —hell!— anything we wanted to. there are plenty of researchers like emerson; the fringe science world is full of them. i’m different. my experience with the viola led me to approach this field as an artist. i am an esoteric musician.
that name sounds ridiculous, but i didn’t come up with it. it was coined on a forum i visited in the 90s. esoteric musicians compose music that tampers with the physical laws of the universe. we’re all obsessed with john dee, who in the 1500s suggested that there was a musical language that powered creation. i borrowed his alphabet for the code you solved. esoteric musicians work on the border between art and the supernatural. we trade mixtapes of music that can raise the temperature of your apartment or reverse the polarity on a magnet.
you’re probably familiar with an esoteric musician named doctor kim. he built speakers that could levitate bowling balls and the VHS tapes of his demonstrations were traded among conspiracy theorists and fringe scientists in the dark days before youtube. he was even interviewed by the great art bell on an old episode of coast to coast.
(doctor kim’s videos have since evaporated from the internet, but the above video illustrates his peculiar branch of research)
i saw the levitating bowling balls for the first time when i was in high school. it was just a 200-pixel wide video i downloaded from my forum, but it was the most exciting thing i had ever seen. it gave me context for what happened while i practiced my viola that day. more important than that: it showed me that if one person could control that power, then i could, too!
i spent months trying to slam my door by playing my viola badly. it never worked again. i wonder what that experience was like for my parents. i competed in state music competitions in school. they must have wondered why i was intentionally playing noise whenever i practiced.
i eventually got frustrated and gave up. i spent the time i would have spent practicing in wiggy’s plasma plex, an arcade in my town’s strip mall. i think it’s abandoned now. i’m an obsessive person by nature and back then i focused all the attention i once spent on music on one game: galaga.
my name is nicolae pastore. i heard music from outer space in an arcade cabinet.
if you thought levitating bowling balls half a centimeter off the ground was a lame thing to do with music, get a load of this one: i used esoteric music to become god at galaga.
i started to see the game as a musical composition. the aliens on the screen played one half of the melody and my ship’s lasers responded with the other half. before long, though, it wasn’t just the enemies on the screen feeding me information; i could hear the cabinet. i could hear current passing through its circuitry, timed like a metronome to the action taking place on the screen. the cabinet was telegraphing its every move to me. it was like almost cheating, like seeing your opponent’s hand in poker.
for a couple of years i was the world record holder in galaga, the best player on planet earth. don’t believe me? read the article about me in the lawrence times register, april 20, 1990. that’s me standing in wiggy’s plasma plex with a bigass trophy.
i had to quit because every cabinet in the arcade started speaking to me. i could not only hear galaga, but also defender, arkanoid, crystal castles… all 150 machines in wiggy’s screaming at me at once. it made me anxious, so i quit.
i heard the machines long after i quit. they formed the background hum of my life, running under everything i did. some people experience hum for years and for them it can be very disruptive. the esoteric musician forum had a different view on it, though. for them, hum is a sought-after condition and some of them really screw up their hearing trying to cause it. they think it’s a way to get in touch with reality-melting sonics, like a pitch pipe in your brain that can shortcut your understanding of esoteric music.
with that as my reference point, i became a better musician almost overnight. my practice sessions knocked pictures off the walls of my house for weeks. i was eventually able to use my viola to make light bulbs blink and to flip playing cards into a hat. even that small dose of power made me feel like a god. i started college the next year, but i had already found my life’s work. i wanted to get better, to focus until i could make an esoteric composition like no one else could. juggling cement trucks with a dulcimer or something. i didn’t know then.
i studied radio broadcasting because it seemed like the easiest thing to accompany my interest in esoteric music. radio could fund my true calling in life (or it used to… stupid internet). after college i became the mod of my esoteric music forum and when i wasn’t being a benevolent and just tyrant there i continued to learn more about my art. i traveled across the country, crashing on the couches of people i knew from the forums. i talked to a lot of musicians, people who build their own synthesizers, people who build speakers that can rattle the fillings out of your teeth. i spent my 20s in and out of warehouses, listening to techno and ambient music for ten hours on end, grinding my jaw and yammering at anyone who would listen about my plans to build a sound system powerful enough to lift a schoolbus.
my life needed focus, so when a rinky dink AM radio station outside of santa fe, new mexico put out a call for a production assistant i sent them a resume and got the job. the best part? dr. kim, who i mentioned earlier, supposedly lived somewhere near santa fe. i packed my suitcase along with a box of half-built synthesizers. i left my friend’s apartment in the middle of the night for santa fe.
kim was difficult to track down. he had a notorious temper and he stopped making public appearances after he got into an argument with a panelist at a UFO conference. i searched for him as best i could though old bbs message boards for esoteric musicians but it was slow work. i would look for him all day and then go to the radio station at night. one of my favorite blocks to produce for was a program called from beyond, a conspiracy call-in show. one night one of the callers reported seeing strange lights in the sky in the desert south of santa fe. the lights were accompanied by a rumbling, low-frequency hum. could have been kim, even though i had chased many dead-end calls like that before. still, i waited until the caller was off the air to take down the exact location of where she saw it.
i camped out on the hills overlooking the desert for the better part of a week, leaving only to make my shift at the station. i passed the time most nights huddled under a blanket with a hacked casio keyboard on my lap. i was trying to compose a song that would light a campfire. one night, after many failed attempts, i played a chord and saw a 20-foot tall column of fire rise somewhere over the next hill. thinking i had caused a wildfire (is esoteric music limited by distance? i didn’t know then), i grabbed a pathetically-small fire extinguisher and hurried off in the direction of the flame.
as i crested the next hill i saw him. dr. kim was wearing a weatherbeaten duster coat and a pair of goggles with dark blue lenses. he held a small keyboard in his palm, which he played through a semicircle of speakers directed at a campfire that jumped and spat balls of flame in time to the music. i stood watching him with my mouth agape until he had finished performing. most of my compositions were strictly experimental, but kim’s esoterica could just as easily work for an audience, assuming he didn’t fry them in their seats. just outside of the semicircle i could hear a new resonance, similar to the one always buzzing in my ears, but fuller and more powerful. i could feel the power fueling the fire display buried within the cycles of that buzzing sound. kim’s keyboard merely touched on points of contact with this resonance and he used it to sculpt the fire into columns. within the few frantic closing bars of kim’s performance, the fire spat one sphere of flame that rose high into the air, arcing in the direction of the moon.
i applauded, scaring the hell out of the man who was to become my mentor
my apprenticeship under dr. kim was nothing more glamorous than me sleeping on an air mattress inside his doublewide trailer. i kept his adjacent workshop clean, roasting in the summer months because kim claimed the rattling vibrations from the air conditioner would disturb his research. that might have been true, but then again kim was notoriously cheap.
but —my god— his sound system was like something from an ancient myth, a force powerful enough to make thor run away crying and flapping his hands. we’d take his setup into the desert behind his home and go bowling— that is, we would use the keyboard to bowl rocks at junked refrigerators we found in the arroyo. for christmas kim flash-fried a turkey using a speaker playing my favorite underworld albums. i was one step above homelessness back then, but i was in heaven. i still think about dr. kim whenever my tinnitus keeps me awake at night.
before he disappeared kim was trying to create an instrument that could manipulate linear space, the physical distance between two points. i remember one afternoon at his workshop. i was reading a paperback sci-fi novel, one with an elaborately detailed boris vallejo-painted starship on the front of it. kim pointed at the starship and said, in his brusque manner, “obsolete.” he showed me his notebook and i saw the schematics for a harp, an instrument that could use sound to seep into the pores of reality and pry them apart, creating a tunnel of sonic energy that could start at point A and end at point B, which could be anywhere you wished. it was a device for wormholes, for traveling across space. no giant starships required. kim, who could often be as bland as he was inventive, simply called it the harp.
sound is both a vibration and the programming code for the multiverse. by soaking an area with the right frequencies you can pull back space like a sheet. stepping through the portal is like being backstage at a concert, only the exit will spit you out anywhere you wanted. you could open a portal that ran from your living room to a planet on the other side of the solar system. i heard rumors* of these kind of instruments on the internet, but had never seen one in person.
*apparently emerson’s war buddy, seventeen, had a similar instrument. but i like to think that my laser harp is the ultimate expression of this idea. 😉
the problem: conventional harp strings couldn’t handle the power running through the instrument and would melt long before they opened a portal. we needed something with the tensile strength of a bridge cable even to do something as simple as transport a toy car from one end of kim’s workshop to the other.
this isn’t to say that we didn’t attempt the instrument. i returned home from the radio station one night to find dr. kim hanging in a harness from a steel beam high off the ground outside of his workshop. he was threading a two-inch-thick cable through a hole drilled in the beam.
it was his plan to build a larger-than-life harp to power the wormholes. he visited a wrecking yard a few days later and returned with three junked trucks. to the front bumpers of these he fused metal arms with a hook. the trucks with their hooks would pluck the strings of his massive harp. kim, myself and one other person would have to perform the wormhole composition by driving the trucks. such a piece of music would require months of practice since the timing was as essential as it was difficult to execute. we needed a third musician so i put out a call for volunteers on my forum. we got a response from someone in albuquerque. to this day i have no idea who that volunteer was and what they had to do with kim’s subsequent disappearance.
the day kim was to meet with our volunteer i spent the entire day in santa fe. i hadn’t completely given up my love of all-night raves and i attended one deep in the pecos mountains. it was at this party that i met piper, my wife. she drank plain soda water the entire night and i did my best to talk to her through the cheek-chewing speed in my own biochemistry. piper moved to rural new mexico from mendocino, california. a painter, piper described her relocation to santa fe as an “artist’s retreat,” but as we talked throughout the party it became clear that she moved out here seeking a calmer pace, a place where she could dry out a little, stay sober long enough to produce a body of work she could shop to art galleries back home.
she said she painted layers of reality. when she was a young girl she could see other possibilities playing out all around her. if you were to flip a coin she would see it come up both heads and tails. she could sense multiple outcomes of the same conversation around her family’s dinner table. information overload became a problem for piper and she used to spend hours in her room with her head buried under her pillow until her mother jean encouraged her to take up art. better to paint every reality than to try to live in all of them, she said.
i felt like i had found someone who was like myself, a rare thing since most of my friends came from internet message boards. piper understood the chaos hiding behind vanilla reality. she saw the world as it appeared as well as the river of gooey possibility running underneath it. she plumbed this river to create artwork that dealt with similar themes as my music. she smelled like lucky charms and she had pretty eyes.
i took her out to breakfast the morning after the rave and we exchanged phone numbers. that was lucky for me because when i returned to dr. kim’s workshop i learned that i was homeless. his trailer was nowhere to be found. there were tire tracks leading from where the trailer once sat toward the direction of the road. the harp was laying on the ground, a twisted hunk of metal.
i walked into the shed that served as kim’s workshop and found that it was empty of anything useful. there was a guitar pick by the door, but that was all. i called the sheriff’s office to report a missing person, but they said it was more likely that kim picked up and left. there was nothing tying him to the area.
i should have been afraid for doctor kim, but instead i was outraged. i believed that he had skipped out on me just as we were about to perfect one of the most powerful pieces of esoteric music ever composed. at the time i thought he did this because he was trying to hog the glory for himself, but today, as my father-in-law keeps looking between the blinds for charter agents, i’m not so sure. maybe i dodged a bullet by meeting my would-be wife at a rave. i have no idea.
only my anger mattered then and i found a perfect way to get back at the man who stole my work. conventional harp strings would break the moment current passed through them. bridge cables were ludicrously difficult to use. as i sat inside kim’s empty workshop, seething, i saw narrow bands of light shining through the dirty windowpanes. i had an idea. strings won’t work, not physical ones. bands of light, though? lasers that are so delicate and ephemeral they can’t be snapped?
the idea for the laser harp, my greatest work, was born.
my name is nicolae pastore and i engineer music from outer space.
piper and i eventually started a family, moving to her childhood home in mendocino, california with her father and jean, her mother. i packed my few belongings along with a couple scraps of the laser harp into a box and hit the road with piper. my wife supported us with her artwork until i got another production job at a local radio station. our twins, lex and morgan, came next. i guess twins are something of a family curse for the seligs. piper and lucius are twins, so was emerson and his late sister. genetics are strange.
lex and morgan, loved their grandmother and even though she came off as a little too crunchy granola for my tastes at times, they learned a lot from her.
i did, too. jean had an uncanny ability to see into someone’s creative life. she was like a muse. my work with the laser harp nearly destroyed my relationship with my children and my wife, but jean was always supportive of me. my workshop was in a room behind my bedroom. i’d roll in from the radio station at 5 a.m. and continue working. jean was often the first family member i saw each day. she’d knock softly on the workshop door so as not to wake piper and she’d come in with coffee, breakfast and a stack of emerson’s old sound research notes.
“i had a dream about you,” she said one morning. “you were playing music in the attic and it caused all of the furniture and christmas decorations up there to float.”
“i had a dream about you,” she said one morning. “you were playing music at the garbage dump and launched an entire school bus into outer space.”
“i had a dream about you,” she said one morning. “the music you make in this workshop was floating in the sky above the house.”
“i had a dream about you,” she said one morning. “your music will find lost children.”
the rest of my home life wasn’t so validating. if i wasn’t at the radio station, i was working on the laser harp. piper resented this. she accused me of not being present enough for our children. it had gotten so bad that i was sleeping on the couch in the living room up until piper’s dirtbag brother lucius moved in.
i have been trying to perfect the laser harp for years. I had some success moving objects, but i never came close to opening a portal. to this day i don’t know if i can, but i can’t think like that. not now.
to any outside eye the laser harp is a nothing but a box of wires and knobs, a few laser lights. it looks like a toy (dangerously like a toy, i had to snatch morgan away from it when she attempted to play with it).
the lights are working perfectly. one needs a gentle hand to shape sound how i do. shaping notes with the power to move massive objects requires very fine, very precise movements. to try to accomplish that by hammering on a key… it seems obscene to me at this stage of my work. i am working with forces that are so delicate they have eluded mankind forever. so i have to approach them as one would approach a deer in the woods: softly, moving so slowly as to barely move at all.
this is how one shapes music. this is how one grasps the most powerful force in the multiverse, creative chaos.
this is a dangerous art, lethal to both life and relationships. you must practice to the exclusion of all other responsibilities. you must tweak frequencies while the sun is rising and you have to take morgan to her tee ball game in a few hours. you must call off sick from actual work so you can work on your music. you must work through weekends and holidays. you must work when your wife “accidentally” knocks your instrument to the floor and breaks a component that took you six months to build.
but it’s worth it. because when you play the whole of the multiverse harmonizes with you.
you will listen. you will learn. please indulge me, because i may not be here tomorrow. the following track was recorded in my attic while my family was away. i removed certain tones from the final mix for your safety. use headphones at your own risk.
Score to Move Furniture and Christmas Decorations into a Floating Sphere
By Nicolae Pastore
Performed in my attic on THE LASER HARP
largo, allow the notes to coat the room
notes should wrap around furniture, tighten grip
gently! lift furniture from the ground
directing furniture to center of the room
repeat until furniture is in a sphere
now, with grace, cause sphere to spin
relax on melody, allowing sphere to come apart
set furniture on floor, fingertips barely breaking the final beam
i worry that my absence set lex on his course toward the fog space. maybe if i had been more present i would have seen the danger earlier. morgan came into my workshop a few weeks ago to say that lex was running experiments on nimsesku, our pet hamster. lex was making nimsesku run in intervals that got longer and longer, to test the upper limits of the hamster’s endurance. morgan had had enough and she came to me to complain. she said that lex believes nimsesku cannot die, so he was experimenting on him to find out why.
i was upset with morgan initially. i thought she was turning into a tattle tale, but i wish i had paid more attention to her. it might have prevented lex’s accident. morgan knew everything and she tried to tell us, but we never listened. she has so little agency around this house. i could see her worrying about lex, her glances at him as she fidgeted at the breakfast table, holding back whatever was on her mind.
instead of reaching out to morgan, i asked if she and lex would like to help me collect sounds down at the beach.
all of my work on the laser harp is sampled and modulated from sounds i gather myself. i like captured audio as opposed to tones i construct on a synthesizer or on the computer. it’s part-aesthetics, part-superstition. if my instrument subverts the laws of nature, i might as well meet it halfway by using sounds i steal from nature.
i took the kids down to the cave by the beach. they ran around inside the cave, roaring at each other like they were mastodons. i grabbed a clip of that on my field recorder. got some audio of the surf, the gulls, the sound of a guy throwing a frisbee to his dog. a decent enough haul for the morning.
when we got home the kids told their uncle about their day. lucius, who had managed to wake up before noon, listened as lex told him about that morning’s experiments on nimsesku. lex and lucius were so absorbed in the conversation that they forgot about morgan entirely. i saw her go into the closet underneath the steps, carrying her plant journal and a box of crayons.
that freed me up to work on music. i wanted to feed those samples into the laser harp as soon as possible.
i noticed something strange as i prepped the audio from that morning for the laser harp. i felt like i did when i was playing galaga down at wiggy’s. i couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a pattern buried somewhere in the sound. i spent close to four hours listening to those two or three minutes of samples on repeat.
piper indulged me when i asked her to listen to them.
“very nice, nic”
“these don’t sound weird to you at all?”
“no weirder than the million other sounds you’ve recorded.”
i made a show of bowing and left it at that. often, a comment is only insulting if you perceive it as insulting. piper left to meet a collector for the gallery, giving me more time to work.
the most logical explanation for the strange patterns was that something went wrong with my field recorder. something was broken in the microphone so i thought i was hearing patterns where there were none. i got a screwdriver for a pair of glasses and took the whole thing apart on my desk. i used emerson’s old jeweler’s loupe to study every circuit as closely as i could. everything appeared to be fine. at some point piper came home while i was putting everything back together. i was going on three hours of sleep, so not much registered outside of the menial task in front of me. that said, i enjoyed putting the recorder back together. it felt very zen.
just for fun, i decided to loop the sound of the surf back through the laser harp. the pattern was there, hidden in the white noise of the waves, nagging me. i tried to isolate the sound but there was some frequency in it that cycled up and down the spectrum, meaning i had to chase it with my equipment as best i could.
i didn’t know that i was dealing with a code until i realized that the frequency was changing based on the different filters i applied to the sound.
music is a vibration. music is a code. sound is the key to the universe.
my name is nicolae pastore and i hear music from outer space.
I improved the laser harp over the last few weeks. a couple nights before lex’s accident, after a nasty fight with piper, i took it out to the mendocino junkyard. my first rambling conversation with my wife was about how i would, one day, lift a school bus with music. well…
Score to Balance a 1972 School Bus on its Hood Ornament
~ by Nicolae Pastore ~
Performed in the Mendocino County Junkyard on THE LASER HARP
memories of childhood
dealing with difficult thoughts re: parents
first band practice
saturday morning cartoons
school bus rises into the air
tilt school bus toward the stars
notes on the above performance: there are DOZENS of dogs at the junkyard. angry ones. i almost didn’t get out with the laser harp. i had the school bus rotating on its hood ornament like a ballerina in a music box when i heard the barking. i grabbed the harp and ran, cutting off the last note of my performance. i heard the sound of metal tearing apart. looking behind me as i ran, i could see the top half of the bus sticking out of the ground like a monolith. i have no idea where the bottom half ended up. someone else in some other world has half a school bus now. enjoy it. you’re welcome.
after my performances with the laser harp i started working in earnest trying to crack the patterns in those audio recordings. the best way i can describe it is trying to pick out snatches of morse code from the white noise of a wave crashing against a beach. next to impossible. i started calling off work, several days in a row. this upset piper, who thought i was fine until my boss called her to ask about me. that argument would be the last time we spoke to each other before lex’s accident.
i did it, though. i cracked the code after what seemed like the millionth attempt. i stripped out all of the filler frequencies and was left with a voice. i attached that audio file here. is it possible that i hacked into some shadow government’s answering service? pretty ingenious to hide audio logs behind a sound lock.
the implications of these transmissions are enormous, especially in light of what emerson has told me about the charter. if such an organization exists, they’re probably sending their transmissions through the substance of the universe itself. their messages are probably passing through your body right now, through mine. this lament, this struggle between Order and Chaos is likely printed on every scrap of matter in the universe. if sound is the key to the universe, what does it mean when we’re submerged in sounds like these?
jean used to talk to the twins about the anomaly, the source of all creative power in the universe. she told lex and morgan that our family was descended from the anomaly along with most other humans. i always assumed she was speaking figuratively, a kind of fellowship-of-all-mankind fable, but the files speak for themselves. listen…
i’m due to perform in a couple hours, a song that i hope will retrieve lex from his prison in the fog space. i’m going to marathon this post to give you as much information as i can.
i understand the transmissions now. charter/anomaly, order/chaos, two separate and equal forces through which everything exists. the anomaly, with its insane heat and generative energy, is the battery that powers the clockwork structure of the multiverse built by the charter.
jean practically spelled it out for us, but we never heard her. people like myself, piper, emerson, the twins, even lucius, all come from the anomaly. the otherworldly power i feel as i levitate school busses and hack encrypted messages from outer space? that power is on loan from the anomaly; it does not belong to me.
if what i do with these talents convinces the charter to stalk and threaten my family, then that says volumes about their relationship to the anomaly.
what if the multiverse wasn’t a collaborative creative project for the anomaly, but a prison?
every member of this family is of the anomaly. we each have different gifts that come directly from the creative power at the center of the multiverse. emerson uses sound and electronics to recall lost souls. lex would have followed in his grandfather’s footsteps if he hadn’t had his accident. i use music to manipulate matter and — hopefully— open portals to other places in the multiverse. lucius, before the charter got him back at portals, was able to create worlds out of thin air, never even having to answer whether the spaces actually existed or were inside his own head. piper sees infinity and paints it into her work. morgan, i’m certain now, is an empath, gifted with insight into what other people— hell, even plants— think and feel.
jean inspired us to not only use our gifts, but to use them to shove against the artificial barriers imposed by the charter. jean showed us how malleable time and space are. she showed her husband that sound was the key to the universe. she showed piper that when you chip away at the first layer of paint on this reality, you find another layer, and another, and another down into infinity. she told lucius that if this world is rejecting him, he can simply make a new one. to lex she gave curiosity, to morgan compassion that connects with every living thing.
she was always supportive of my musical career. i’m dedicating my next performance to her.
i wish she would have taught us caution instead. these gifts come with a cost. emerson has to live with his guilt, remembering the consequences of his research every time nimsesku’s hamster ball rolls past his desk. piper sees so much possibility that she’s aware of every universe in which i haven’t failed at being her partner.
morgan understands us better than we understand ourselves, and yet we never listened to her. little girl, i’m so sorry.
lex was so hurt after jean died, his family so distant, that he tried using his grandfather’s equipment to fix his fear of mortality. and now he’s gone.
my name is nicolae pastore and i hear music from outer space— so much so that the noise drowned out all the other stimulus in my life. i never realized what lucius’ sickness was until it had taken my son from me.
lucius told me a couple days ago when i confronted him. lucius was a god, not only to his numbskull followers from the power of positive mechanics cult but also to himself. when the charter took that power away, lucius threw a tantrum. he moved into my home, with my family, with a cover story that he was broke and homeless. he manipulated us. our sympathy. he was determined to recreate the conditions that woke his power, to get back what the charter took from him. he crept around the house while the family was away, trying code after code after code on the safe in emerson’s office. he was looking for his dad’s notes, for the sonic experiment that turned both himself and nimsesku into freaks of nature.
lucius wouldn’t have been able to understand emerson’s experiments, but lex would have. after lucius stole emerson’s notes, he brought them to my son, telling lex that they would reveal why nimsesku couldn’t die. he manipulated my son, goaded him into using his granddad’s equipment. lucius wanted to use lex to get his powers back, but the experiment backfired. the resonance that gave nimsesku eternal life, that gave lucius godhood, instead erased lex from this universe. he simply… faded. he lingered. he grew less-solid over the course of days until he was gone.
as he separated from our reality, it got harder for him to see us as well. he kept talking about a fog space, a hazy place that was just outside the house. he could hear us, but it became nearly impossible for him to see as the fog rolled in. i watched him, looking like he was made of smoke, blindly trying to find his way around the house.
eventually lex was gone.
the fog space, a space outside this house, between universes.
we can find the fog space. we can find lex. we will find lex.
my name is nicolae pastore and i hear music from outer space.
my name is nicolae pastore and my laser harp can lift a school bus.
my name is nicolae pastore and my music can start wildfires, my music cracked charter codes.
my name is nicolae pastore and i can shoot down every galaga they throw at me.
my music can protect my family. my laser harp can rip and tear at this world until it gives in, until it reveals a portal to the fog space.
my name is nicolae pastore and my music will find lost children.
tomorrow, once emerson is done with his preparations, we will bring lex home.
everything’s set up around the dining room table now. we will rest for a few hours and then start work.
my laser harp, amplified by emerson’s transducer, should be enough to peel back the layers of this world and find the fog space underneath. piper will go through the portal, then lucius.
i was against lucius accompanying her. it’s not safe. it’s insane. he can’t be trusted. but they wouldn’t listen to me. they made me feel guilty for even voicing that thought.
but i have a backup plan. i’m at the controls. should anything go wrong in there, i’ll make sure lucius answers for it.
emerson and my laser harp will open the door to the fog space. piper will find our son. lex will come home. one way or another lucius leaves.
either that, or we destroy our little corner of the multiverse.
emerson is convinced the charter is about to find us. they know something is up. a thing like a person fading out of this dimension won’t escape their notice.
the charter is order. the anomaly and, by extension my family, are chaos. order keeps the universe whole. my family, if we are successful, could punch a hole right through reality.
that has to be what the charter is afraid of. they told lucius as much when they fried his brain back at portals bermuda. “this is for your own good. this is for the good of everyone. creative chaos kills.”
chaos is bad for a system and every human being comes from chaos. every painting and every song is chaos. they change reality just by existing. this power is not ours, it comes from the anomaly. the anomaly does not think, it creates and creates and creates, expanding and consuming all space around it. grand, but destructive.
that’s what the charter suspects. if something goes wrong the anomaly will claim this universe as its own. lex’s return could bring something beautiful and terrible with it. there are other worlds than this one, but we’d still be responsible for—
i can’t dwell on that. i can’t leave lex alone in the fog space. he’s just a boy.
i can’t sleep. i had a premonition about tomorrow. it harmonized with the buzzing tinnitus i’ve had since high school, so i know it must be true. my laser harp will open up a gate to the fog space. the entrance will be through the refrigerator. piper would go in, and lucius behind her. together, guided by sound, they would find lex in the fog space.
i saw lex come home. he was descending through the ceiling above the dining room table. chaos distorted the air in front of me, like the air above pavement on a hot day. the chandelier became a fluid as lex passed through it. the table was shaking. there was a sound so low that i felt it in the pit of my stomach before i heard it. the sound was expanding inside me, pulling me apart. i heard piper calling to lex as she dived through the ceiling after him. my beautiful wife, reaching her slender arm from a hole in space directly above my head. the fissures in reality were glowing bright neon.
lex’s eyes were open. i scooped him up in my arms. morgan must have been watching everything from her room under the stairs, because she ran to us. behind me, i heard emerson laughing softly to himself, as he often would when he was learning something new.
i saw lucius through the refrigerator. its white walls seemed to extend back for miles. acre after acre of frozen peas, leftovers, condiments… and lucius standing at the very end of it. the walls took on the look of a space station. i heard him call one name, “alva!” just as the refrigerator door closed on him.
a terrible noise cut through my skull, the tinnitus whine became my whole body…
and then i wasn’t in the house. i was the laser harp i was the galaga cabinet from wiggy’s plasma plex i was a piano hidden in the walls of my house i was the music in the air floating above my house i was piper and morgan and lex and jean and nimsesku and emerson and lucius and the trees behind my house and a cartoon i saw on television once when i was six.
i woke up feeling as though i had lived that moment over and over. the moment was projecting itself across all timelines. singularity. returning. returning. returning.
i’m going to play my song now, but i will return.
my name is nicolae pastore and i am music from outer space.