Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Penhale Broadcast

The fourth story in Dark Music is less macabre and more mysterious.

In the Penhale cemetery, the voice of late opera soloist Sonya Parrish has been heard singing. This happens regularly, so the WXAT radio station devises an immense broadcast experiment: someone will sit out in the graveyard with a microphone, and the ghostly singing will be broadcast throughout the world.

The man selected is Adrian Ramsey. At midnight on broadcast night, Adrian is in the graveyard alone with only a microphone. After a long introduction, the ghostly singing is heard, filling the entire world with wonder.

Adrian continutes the broadcast.
"Sonya Parrish has sung," a slight tremble in his voice betrayed his emotion. "Sonya Parrish has sung for the greatest audience ever assembled. As I look about me, I bow my head with humility. Never was a mortal man favored with such a sight. I see the world's immortals gathered in this little graveyard to pay homage to the divine artistry of Sonya Parrish. There—not twenty oaces from me—stands great Caesar with his Roman court. And there—resplendent in the many-colored robes of the Orient—Marco Polo, the dreamer and adventurer. And there—kindly-visaged Shakespeare, mightiest of all the men of letters. His keen eyes gleam with heart-felt appreciation of the artistry he has just witnessed. And there is another divine woman, whose memory the world cherishes—the great Bernhardt, more magnetic and lovely than words can tell. Her eyes are moist with tears, a beautiful tribute to Sonya Parrish's art."

This confounds the listeners, but then Sonya's ghost performs an encore. Adrian concludes:
"Sonya Parrish has sung again," came the voice from the loudspeaker. "She will sing no more tonight. For those who have assembled here she has displayed the magic of her great art. I bow my head in the glory of the moment in which I am permitted to speak. Such glory has never before come to a man. I am humble before the multitude that is Sonya Parrish's audience." Ramsey pause, then continued in a voice that was curiously subdued. "And reverently, worshipfully I speak of One who has lately joined the multitude. For Him the great ones made way as for a King. He is garbed simply in a white robe that falls from His shoulders. A circlet of thorns crowns His head. His eyes are kind and gentle and more wise than—"

Adrian cuts out. Everyone is glad of the success, and the technicians just outside the graveyard go to collect Adrian. They cannot see him until they are at his microphone. At the base, Adrian lies dead.
In his eyes shone the light of a greater glory than any living man had ever before looked upon.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

I like this one very much. I also like it when all references to He who deserves all glory are CAPITALIZED. It shows respect, and allows the reader to share in that respect. I can't tell you how many times I typed up funeral programs or wedding programs where all references to God and Jesus are not capitalized, and I capitalize them, and then the foolish customers insist that I uncapitalize them. I refuse to, and my boss has to go in and do it. I won't.