My name is [REDACTED], and I am the last song-keeper.
I’m sure you weren’t expecting to hear from me. We’ve never met. I never meant to reach out to you, or anyone. I heard that you were a kind person.
My fingers are cold, because I’m typing this out on my desktop. A cheap rig I put together from spare parts. I call it Frankenstein, because of how patchwork it is. The government doesn’t pay me much for my L.C.A. registration. Minimum wage has left me with a minimum life. Minimum food, minimum home, minimum maximum, espiritus, et tu, Brute?
I’m joking around. Ha-ha.
I’m grateful, I guess. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really very lucky to be getting paid anything at all. I have no life skills, no work experience. I dropped out of school at the age of twelve to apprentice under my great-aunt, Alwa Alwai. You’ve probably heard of her?
That’s a joke. I’m joking. I know you’re new to the job. She would have been cremated and flung to the sea long before you arrived in our city. I say ‘our’ like it means something, it tastes like a lie. You have my files right? You’ve probably already been briefed about what it is the government pays me to do. I assume so.
What I’m saying is, I don’t get out much. But I’m not a total hermit! I swear! I pirate some telestreams from the local cloud —you won’t tell on me, will you?— so… I know things.
Books are cheap too! Alwa always had lots of them, and I order them off the cloud. Sometimes you can even find people giving them away, crazy right?
Anyway, I’m just trying to explain to you why I’m not some gibbering phobic. I’ve read things. I know things.
You know things too.
You know that I can’t leave my house, because the zangsprits make it hard to see. Because every time I do leave, another song is lost.
When I was a kid, the doctors told me I had “neuralplastic specialization optimized towards mnemonic retention of audio-frequency and miscellaneous aural phenomena”.
Quite the mouthful, isn’t it? I remember asking them if it meant I was going to die, not realizing they weren’t describing a disease.
Or…not exactly a disease.
I carry a burden, as you know. I am the last person alive to remember my family songs. I am a “Living Cultural Artifact” after all.
I sing the songs of memories past, of people turned to ashes in the cremation fires.
You may have read up on my family. Of the taboo against recording devices. You might even have been given access to the files on the “incident”, back in ‘34.
The time one of yours tried to record my great-great-great grandfather’s songs, without his knowledge.
Against his wishes.
Do they still have the tape, I wonder? Not that you’d ever be able to get your hands on it, but I have to wonder, given what happened.
“Mass psychogenic death” is what they call it, right?
Anyway, enough about the past! I wrote to you because we have a lot to discuss! But it will take some time, I hope you understand. 🙂
Yours Truly, [REDACTED]
P.S. You really must do something about your houseplants.