Good songs often tell a story. Sometimes, that story is as mysterious as Robinette Broadhead’s backstory in Gateway. Sometimes it is simply confusing. There are songs that have long haunted me, not because of their message or music, but because I can’t make heads nor tails of what the lyrics mean.
So I’d like to play a game to solve the song.
Here’s how this works:
I’m going to tell you a short genre story that makes sense of the inscrutable lyrics of an otherwise popular song. I’ll do it in very brief parts to keep things interesting. They’ll be weekly clues. Your job is to guess the song before the story is done. The first person to correctly guess the proper song receives…High Praise Indeed ™.
Here we go:
Clue #1 – The Number of My Corpse
REZ Station may be a bruised spot on a tiny gravitational asteroid with an artificial methane and oxygen atmosphere and a wobbly, nausea-inducing cyclotronic centrifuge at its gut, but it is the brightest spot that rock has got.
Small comfort. I’d come in from Inner Circle, pulled out of what would be later called the Beltway War, on special orders. The ringing in my ears from the constant explosions at Merc’s Landing had only faded the day before I landed, and the ride to get there was rough.
I was beat. Now I had to show up here, looking like a salesman or something to the yokels. To be honest, I hadn’t read my dossier very carefully at all. All I knew is that I was out of the frying pan.
The ground rumbled and my sea-legs were still in transit. I fell down and hit the dirt face-first. Good thing my mask has a bit more integrity than I do. Before I knew it, someone had my hand and was pulling me out of the dust.
“Thanks,” I said. An old coot gripped my hand tightly, and had a permanent sneer on his face. He had one eye, but more remarkably, no mask on his face.
“How do you stand that, man? Breathing?”
“Oh,” he said, chuckling with an unpleasant wheeze, “You get used to it.” He would not release his grip.
My hand grew hot. “Say, I just got here. I’m exhausted. There a house or hotel here?”
The muscles in my arms seized and the friction on my palm felt like a candle. I broke his grip and covered the hand, tucking it under my left arm. I had an idea of what he had tried to put there, and I didn’t want him to see if it had been successful.
“You’ll thank me,” he said. “My marks are certifiably PH-AHN. Even the Sector Commissar won’t be able to tell the difference. Give it a few days, and no one will even be able to tell that it is a fresh one. They’ll think you were born with it.”
I smiled weakly. “Do I owe you…?”
“Nothin’,” he wheezed, still sneering. “We take care of our own out here. Our own, and strangers.”
Next week, I’ll provide a second clue to the song.