A Mumbling Word
Can one man survive in a world where a style of music has vanished?
Cold winds ushered the young man inside of the house. He clutched a digital player and wireless earbuds. Collins True tore off his jacket and untied his boots. His Newark, Delaware home provided for him the space to explore the antiquities and some of its relics. In his palm he carried the pieces as if they were precious metals. He had a sense that diamonds would sprout right out of the device he was so excited about it. At just eighteen years old, he kept a healthy query into the world around him. It had been years since anyone had used the digital devices in his hands. Now, people tuned to the radio, switched off the lights, and watched movies all with the implanted chip in their body.
Collins wanted to experience what it was like in those days where men and women had to manually turn on devices and that the mechanism driving them remained apart from their own beings. He held onto one particular device that allowed him to hear something called “mumble rap.” It had been erased from all internal music sources. He tapped the volume on the mobile phone. He allowed the sounds to envelop him. Collins heard words that drawled like some honey dripping from a dipper. The steady beat continued like a pulse surging through the wireless earbuds that he had found at the antique shop.
“Mom, Dad, you’ve got to listen to this!” Collins said to his parents.
He changed the power source from the earbuds to the cell phone.
His parents, Donald and Veena, just smiled. They had remembered that they had listened to the distinctive music.
“We already know what that music is, boy,” Donald True said.
“We’ve partied to it, didn’t we honey?” Veena asked.
Collins looked somewhat deflated and returned the power to his earbuds. He got lost in the high hats and stutters. The growling bass drove him to discover further selections under this umbrella of music. He enjoyed it. The sonic pleasure which he subjected himself to brought his mind to the days of hip hop music. Long ago, the music had died off and nobody wanted to hear it anymore except white people. Collins, an acorn colored young man, wanted to witness firsthand what his melanin-challenged friends raved about so much from implanted history courses. He took in a lesson with himself as the teacher. His mind curved and swerved through beat after beat, enlightening Collins. He was like an archaeologist first discovering the bones of dinosaurs. He felt that he had found a new way of communication. By sitting in the house and listening to this music, he could feel the emotion, angst, and joys that surrounded this style of music. A knock at the door went unheard by Collins as he grooved to the sounds of mumblecore hip hop.
Standing at six feet eight inches, a man named Curtis Newsom asked to come inside the house. The Trues abided.
“I’m here from the Rare Artifacts and Ancient Objects division of the Main Council for Aesthetics here in Delaware. We just got word through our body monitors that your son, a Mr,” he paused for a moment as the information flashed before his eyes,“Collins is using the model F type of hardware to listen to foregone music. I’m here to take that away from him.”
“Now, I think that the boy has a right to listen to whatever he likes to,” Donald True said. “Collins is harming no one listening to that music.”
“It’s been deemed undesirable by the Main Council for Aesthetics and must be stripped from him.”
“You will not,” Veena said.
“Ma’am. I already have.”
On Collins' internal heads up display, a glaring light and blaring sirens sounded like cop cars. Collins got up from his seat and tried to run out the back door to no avail. Agents had already been prepared for an escape. The bitter cold wind blew and blew. Collins didn’t have a coat on, so he resorted to using his internal temperature control to keep him from freezing to death.
“Boy, you’re going to give that device to us and we’ll even forward you credits for you to keep your internal system to seek out our current music modes.”
“No,” Collins said. “I won’t let you.”
He then felt a sensation that began as almost a comfort, then transformed into pain. It did not harm his body, it just warmed it beyond the desirable effect that he had chosen to be outside. His parents all rushed to the back but remained stunned by the same feeling that coursed through their son’s body.
“I think that those would be mine,” Newsom said as he reached down and grabbed the device and ear buds.
Collins remained inert, as did Donald and Veena.
Newsom and the agents took up what they came to find and returned to their air vehicles and sped off into the night.
The Trues regained their motion. Veena ran to her son and held onto him tightly.
“Did he hurt you?” The question was rhetorical because she could tell through analyzing him that the young man had sustained no injuries.
“Goddamnit!” Donald said. “Those bastards think that they can just come up here and take whatever they want.”
“It’s alright, Daddy. We’ll be able to get the items back. We still have the power to shut down our internal systems. It will be like hell and we could contract a deadly disease, but they won’t be able to fry us like they did.”
“Son, what do you have in mind?” Veena said.
“I think that we should be able to infiltrate the building of the Main Council for Aesthetics,” Collins said. “All we have to do is allow our defenses to go down and then we’ll wait for one of them to open the door. We’ll target the tall one, what’s his name?”
“Newsom,” his parents said in unison.
“Once we are able to take him down we’ll allow the others to rush us and then we’ll let them overwork themselves as they try to make adjustments to our internal systems,” Collins said.
The Trues rode in their air vehicles to the Main Council for Aesthetics. They strolled up to the entrance and with coolness, walked into the doors. Their power sources remained in the middle territory without their internal systems. They would have only about a half an hour to get into the place where the ancient artifacts had been housed.
Veena gave eye signals to her husband. Their son just ambled along not caring about the woman director, Isla Gibbons.
“Welcome to the Main Council for Aesthetics. We appreciate your interest in our facility. Please feel free to ask questions and look around to see if anything sparks your interest.”
Isla was a human. She just spoke like an android to scare small children and send a chill down the spines of grown men. The Trues did not cower. They exhibited perseverance and nerve. Veena walked behind Isla.
“If you need any assistance with the restrooms, I would be glad to—” just then, Donald held onto Isla.
“Now, we’re here for the artifact that was improperly seized from my son,” Donald said. Isla tried to access Donald’s internal system but failed to get a hold on his circuitry.
Meanwhile, Collins scoped out the bottom level of the building. He switched on his internal system for a moment to see through the walls. Agents rolled past him as if he was a part of their outfit. But then he switched off his internal system.
“Hey, kid, what’re you doing going up to the second level? That’s only for Agents.” Collins kept his system off and ran away from the Agent.
A Gilyard Gogh, this Agent tried to access the young man’s information with every step that he took. Collins ran and ran until he confronted Agent Newsom. The Agent attempted what Gogh had failed to do and he had failed also. So, he ran at Collins with full force like an impala in East Africa.
“Hold it right there,” Donald True said. He had turned his power on and overridden the internal system of the Agent. The burning sensation now enveloped the Agent like a hot comb on a strand of hair. Agent Newsom held his hands in the air.
“Look, I’m just trying to do my job,” Newsom said.
“Well, it won’t include hijacking my son’s music." Veena had now turned on her internal system and the fiery sensation intensified in Agent Newsom.
“Look, the boy already knows where the artifact is. Take it. Take it. It’s yours,” Newsom said. The husband and wife, father and mother, relinquished their control over the Agent.
“I’ve never,” Newsom said, “In my sixteen years on the force ever met two parents as dedicated as you two.” The couple proceeded to lock all of the Agents up together, including Isla and Gogh. They kept the heat on them just enough and for as long as Collins could grab the artifacts. He turned on his internal system. Collins delved deep into the files while scanning the various rooms where the items lied. He moved like oil or fat, slipping and sliding inside and out of the different rooms. He then turned off the system. Without his internal system, his energy began to grow weaker and weaker. So, his movements became less vigorous. He attempted to turn it on intermittently to conserve it once and then to employ it to discover the reason for his trip with his parents to the facility.
Finally, he came across the room. Of course, it was locked. He switched back on the system and asked his father what the code was.
Donald True approached the gaggle of Agents and intensified the heat again.
“Now, I’m only going to ask this once. What is the—”
Not a Sacrifce
Donald True relayed the message to his son. The door unlocked and there laid the wireless earbuds and the cell phone. Collins eyes widened and his face brightened. He seized the items and rushed out of the room like he had left a blue streak. He took a pod down stairs and arrived to see his parents still holding on with their power diminishing.
“Mom, Dad, you’re both going to have to let them go with what little power you have. I’ll face them. Here, take this.” He held out the precious items to his parents. They kept looks of consternation.
“It’s okay. I value you more than my own life. Once I face these Agents, that will be the end of me. But I want you both to carry on despite anything.”
The two True parents both approached their son. They hugged him for one last time and held onto him like he was a piece of platinum. But they broke their embrace.
“I’ve got to do this. I know that I wanted the music. But it’s really your style of sound. Your genre. Don’t dare think of this as a sacrifice. Only if you meant nothing to me would this be that. Go on. I love you both.”
The Trues kissed their young son on the cheek and then proceeded outside of the doors.
Collins turned on his internal system and allowed the Agents to charge after him. He fought as many as he could, all the while his temperature began to increase. The searing feeling continued until he could go on no more. He raised his fist in the air as the Agents descended upon him. He could gasp only a few words from his lips.
He sensed the overbearing heat course through his entire being. It was like a glob of fire rolling through his body. The Agents all employed their internal systems to basically cook Collins until he became a corpse. His last words were only perceivable to the agents closest to him.
“Don’t hate mumble rap,” Collins said. His body went limp and then he fell to the floor.