SPACE ODDITY: An SF Musical Storytelling Guessing Game, Clue 1

Thursday , 11, February 2016 12 Comments

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?”

“No.”

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.

Any guesses?

12 Comments
  • Alex says:

    Is it The Weight by the Band?

  • Daniel says:

    Well done! You are the lucky winner of a lifetime supply of High Praise Indeed™!

    Next week, I’ll ratchet up the level of difficulty.

    • Alex says:

      I feel like I may have ruined the fun. D:
      Are you going to write/post the rest of the story?

      • Daniel says:

        Nope! Once someone pegs it they peg it. I’ll move onto a harder song next time. I’m just glad to know the game makes sense. You haven’t ruined anything – and in fact proved that it might just be a viable internet parlor game. Thanks!

        Having said that, I can post the rest of the story in a list of clues at some point. But next week’s game will be Song 2, Clue #1.

        • Alex says:

          I think that folk-ballads translated into dystopian scifi may be a highly viable and unexplored new sub-genre of short fiction.

          • Daniel says:

            The Weight is particularly good for this, especially if you buy that the song is High Plains Drifter in song form. Jack the Dog is a soul-eating hellhound.

  • VD says:

    Now I don’t feel bad about having no clue whatsoever about the song.

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