Fiction logo

The Audiovision of St Michael

Synaesthesia, Cake and a Revelation

By Ian VincePublished about a year ago 11 min read
The Audiovision of St Michael
Photo by Philip Marsh on Unsplash

White noise punched off-beat staccato bursts through a thundering, subsonic rumble. The void of its rhythm – the dark space left between the blinding white – was incessant, relentless and unforgiving as a funeral drum. A distant white dwarf collapsed in surround sound. A crack splintered, like a lightning bolt of stereo serration and fracture, left to right across a pane of glass. Delicate crystal droplets tumbled onto a soundscape as black as a bin liner. Sound sprung backwards and forwards without decay from wall to granite wall until there was only reverberation in the old chapel. Nuances hid and subtleties shivered; it was not their night after all.

“What the hell is going on?”, yelled a woman at the top of her lungs, as a squadron of Federation Starfighters destroyed the nearest planet.

Cake hadn’t woken to such a din in years. In her experience, sleeping by the bass bins always brought the risk of waking to the soundtrack of the apocalypse – she spent a whole summer sleeping in barns in the aftermath of raves as part of her sound-system lifestyle. She lived on the edge for years; but all of that seemed tame now that she was on the fringe of something really, really big.

But, in the sonic chaos of inter-galactic warfare, she was tipping over another edge entirely.

The figure behind the decks grinned a word into the heaving air as he saw her sit bolt upright on her mat and shout something back into the din.

Hyper-attentive and results-focussed in the way those woken up in the middle of an unexpected war almost always are, Cake leapt to her feet and ripped the kettle lead from the mixing board.

A strained squeak folded back into the speakers. The aural landscape concertinaed, collapsed and crumpled into a singularity of silence.

Richard Hooper/Getty images licensed via Canva

An abandoned chapel stood on an eminence of the Cornish moor. A rough, steep track led up and widened slightly to meet the chapel's tumbledown stone boundary wall.

The track and the wall had been acquainted for at least 500 years, so neither remarked on the other’s appearance.

A 1980s Morris Marina parked, radiator hissing, a few hundred yards down from the chapel. Appearances can be deceptive; the car might pretend to be slicker than either the wall or the track, but the track had defeated the car and, as for the wall – well, you can’t get anything past a wall. Walls know things.

The light of the full moon was drawn to the Marina, lending it unearned glory as the vehicle began to fidget on its axles. It had been stationary for a few minutes when a lone figure stepped unsteadily from it and fell into a ditch.

Not cool. Really not very cool at all.

A barn owl flew from its perch to quarter the low moor below the lane. Its flight was as silent as stone.

Climbing out from the ditch, the figure, average height, thin and muscular, walked the rest of the way up the hill. The figure carried a bulky case in each hand.

It was always like this. Always a slog to get the vinyl into the party. He knew drummers that packed up and carried their kits out after gigs ready to laugh politely when passers-by quipped ‘Bet you wish you played the flute’ as if they had never heard it before. Vinyl seemed denser, heavier; as if the whole band had thrown their kit into a 12-inch black hole.

His walk cut an urban impression in the rural environment. He swaggered in a place that shunned artifice; not enough people were watching him right now to acquit him of the charge that he was an out-and-out jerk. There was attitude, but also embarrassment. He tried to stop himself from validating the 10,000 foot view of his predicament as ‘alone and penniless in the back of beyond’, but those were the facts.

They were not the only facts. There were more.

  1. After an ugly get-0ut at the club, where his fee had been discussed, discounted and remained, finally and firmly, unpaid, he drove to the moor for the Phase Two.
  2. He was assured that the promoters would be at the Phase Two. There had even been talk of putting him on the bill of the next big event.
  3. He drove up to the moor waiting for his big break to arrive.
  4. Nothing broke but the car.
  5. Now he was broken, too.

The summit afforded wide views of the moor. The owl would have told him otherwise, but to his eyes and ears, nothing was stirring and nowhere was shaking. There was no Phase Two, there was no party. He’d been had.

Getty Images. Licensed through Canva

As anyone that knows will tell you, five in the morning is a good time to break into an abandoned church in the middle of nowhere.


Jem Blake ripped back a loose board from the frame and squeezed in through the open window. He needed to be inside. He wanted somewhere to calm down and chill out. Then he saw the decks and mixer. Maybe he found the right place after all, but no one had turned up and the kit was left to pick up in the morning.

He reprised parts of his club set from earlier. He cranked up the speakers for the drop, but the explosive climax had damp-squibbed into a squeak.

“Who the hell are you and what, in crying fuck, are you doing?”

There was something in the woman’s demeanour that led Jem to believe she was annoyed. Caught off guard, he blushed like a schoolboy caught shoplifting razzle mags.

“I'm err, that is…”

Cake glared at him. Jem watched her tilt her head as if steam could escape from her ear.

“My car broke down, I came for the party - I was told there was a par…”, his voice trailed off. The woman continued to stare so hard, he feared his face might burst into flames.

In an instant, she looked away, around the room, her glance scouring the rest of the chapel. When she looked back at Jem, something had changed. It seemed like the walls themselves heaved a sigh of relief.

Her voice was suddenly calm. “Listen. There is no party - I don't know who told you there was a party, but… Look, I think you might be the victim of a practical joke.”

“But the gear - the mixer, the amp…”

“That,” said Cake, “serves a higher purpose than techno”.

Jem was confused. “You mean…” he paused, “trance - no, no, that can't be it… ” His eyes widened as if recognising God was in the room. “Oh wow, it’s not… drum and bass, is it?”

Cake laughed. “It’s not music, it’s for a kind of sound therapy - like I dunno, meditation?”

“Right! I get you,” he said and started to think of whale song.

“You're thinking of whale song?”

“Errr no, I mean, well yes.”

Cake laughed. “Everyone thinks of whale song, but it's not that.”

She handed him the kettle lead and plugged a keyboard into the mixer. “Turn it back on, I'll show you.”

The owl saw the sound from the moor. Seventeen notes arranged over three octaves and a single, dissonant tone merged into a soft glow that poured without urgency like dry ice from the bell tower, over the gravestones to the boundary wall. The wall reverberated a stone word and the glow dissipated. Another glow emerged as the owl flew into the bell tower and added a screech that gilded the sound. The boundary wall answered with another word and the moor fell into sunrise.


“This is Saint Michael. We’ve just called him.”

The barn owl perched on the edge of the mixing desk, glowing, lambent in the morning light. Cake looked at Jem, searching for the reaction. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

“What on earth was that sound? And sorry, Saint Michael?”

“If I told you that Saint Michael is the patron saint of high places, but the truth of that sound, that chord, is that it is the musical equivalent of the Golden Ratio, the scent of coffee, the exhilaration of love and the satisfaction of lust all rolled into one, then you'd think I was barmy. Except that…”

The owl turned its head to Jem as if it was giving him permission to speak.

“Except that I heard it and… and… actually, did I hear it? It seemed like it wasn’t just a sound, but… I don’t know. Was it a sound?”

He looked at her. The owl looked at her. “I don’t know you,” she said, “and I don’t know how to explain it any better. But you saw what it did to you, it’s powerful as it is, but I'm convinced there is more to it – hence all the gear.”

She looked around at the chapel, wondering whether it would enjoy the story she was about to tell.

“I think it's the harmonics and maybe how this place reacts to it. I went to a church, years ago, after my dad died – he wasn't very churchy, never went on Sundays or anything, but he loved that place his whole life. Was always talking about it. Anyway, I went there and this little quartet of musicians came in after me and started setting up for something – I don't know, a rehearsal I guess. There was a flute that began to play and, all of a sudden, it was like somebody else was with me and I burst into tears of joy and the only reason I could think of is that everything just seemed to be complete. All the notes were like answers to questions. I felt someone was telling me something. Sounds stupid, I know. I had to leave in the end, it was starting to set the musicians off.”

“So you've been looking for that ever since?” He tried to make light of it, “I mean if I could put that sound, whatever it was, at the end of a set, it would blow everyone off stage.”

“That’s the problem. I've found that it affects different people in different ways. Plus you have to have an owl. Possibly this owl. I’m not sure. I strongly suspect that it affects Saint Michael in a different way. He seems to come when it’s played, but it’s only when he calls that it resolves itself into that, well, that state of bliss, I suppose. I think I’m going mad.”

Saint Michael stretched his wings and flapped and ruffled. Sunlight pierced the window where the boards had been ripped away by the DJ hours before. It seemed to be his cue to fly back up into the tower and roost for the day. Jem and Cake watched as he spiralled up, his wings barely stirring the air as he turned in flight. There was no sound.

“Better than techno, then?” She laughed. “Actually, I’m impressed. You know how I said it affects different people in different ways?”

The DJ nodded.

“I think it affects you the same way it affects me. Now, I’m worn out – I'm sure you are too. Time for sleep.”

By Eric Ward on Unsplash

They called him DJem these days. The man who brought Goldencore to festivals and gigs around the world. Nobody ever left unsatisfied. Every night he played a blinder. He could play Captain and Tenille and Westlife the whole night or take a high energy crowd for a tour of downtempo ballads and still emerge victorious with twenty thousand fans fist-pumping in the air in the closing moments of his last tune. Goldencore came close to faith, an experience of divinity made manifest, but with added lasers.

Every night that he played almost became the night of enchantment. He always held back, always tasting the thirst for resolution, that final chord. He withheld the awen, the om, the amen so many times it twisted a musical rite into a delicious, succulent torture, an unresolved, malnourished, petite mort.

Until the night that Saint Michael appeared to him for the first time in a dozen years. It was different to all those years ago when he had woken in the chapel just before midday and Cake was nowhere to be seen. The wings were wider. The figure was of the young woman he had met. The flight was silent but the figure was bathed in extraordinary light. The crowd gasped at what they believed was a hologram or laser show or an act of pyrotechnical genius. Ecstasy consumed them. The revelation was complete and the show was over.


About the Creator

Ian Vince

Erstwhile non-fiction author, ghost & freelance writer for others, finally submitting work that floats my own boat, does my own thing. I'll deal with it if you can.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.