2797 AD, Planet Lalande 21185 a (Voznesenye)
Ivan knows he has to kill her again.
An hour ago, she crawled out of her shallow grave to haunt and torment him, pestering him with incessant demands, sucking out his life force, demolishing his vision, crushing his dreams.
This has to end, once and for all.
Ivan casts a quick glance at the large brazen candelabrum towering over severed, wilted rose heads scattered over the desk. The first pages of his Fifth Symphony in B flat major, creased and torn beyond recognition, lie hopelessly in the corner, covered by thick cobwebs. He has salvaged his favorite part, where a powerful crescendo takes the exposition towards a sudden key change, twin oboes and a bassoon transfiguring the ecstatic fortissimo con fuoco into the sublimely serene, meditative dolce espressivo of the second theme. The rest was destroyed by her.
She is a woman. A human woman. His gravest mistake was letting her into his life in the first place.
As a young man, Ivan tasted the bittersweet poison of romantic love. Klava and Rozo. Even now, the rhythmically rolling sounds of those names echoing in his mind, he feels the familiar twinge in his upper heart. He used to be a clumsy, awkward youth, both his faces cleanly shaved, diligently trying to gain recognition in the cold, unforgiving world of music. The two renowned masters nurtured him, fostered his art, doting on him as if he was their only begotten child. They became a classical triad – the virile, physically imposing Ivan; the gentle, fragile Klava; the inscrutably neutral Rozo. A perfect union of man, woman and boman.
Then Rozo lost its sanity and spent the last few years of its life in an asylum. Klava and Ivan drifted apart, both unable to cope with the tragedy, alienated by the world and estranged from each other. Ivan grew two bushy beards to symbolize his resignation. From that point on, only music existed for him, into which he poured his anguish and his despair.
Until he met Lyuba.
She was one of the very few humans still dwelling on the planet Voznesenye. Living in a tiny secluded settlement, those humans were a weird bunch – grotesquely tall, slender beings morbidly reminiscent of simplistic dolls disfigured by enraged hyperactive children, lacking essential features and organs. There is something intrinsically repulsive in a creature whose liver and kidneys are hidden from plain sight. The scariest thing about them is the fact they only have two genders. The thought of coitus involving only a male and a female has always disgusted Ivan. How could anyone talk seriously of love if the highly coveted, mystical fusion of flesh involved nothing but a crude combination of two primitively shaped gadgets?
Lyuba and Ivan developed a strange relationship, born out of her fascination with his music, which reminded her of the works of some prehistoric composer back on Earth, the deserted planet of her race. She would closely study the manuscripts, give him astute advices, inhale vitality into lifeless sketches, boldly harmonize timid melodies, condense ephemeral passages into laconic, powerful phrases dressed in robust textures. She was his inspiration, his muse.
Then he tried to kill her.
It wasn’t his fault! She was gradually becoming unbearable. A great composer is a genius who does not belong to himself, fully dedicated to his art. Since love brings nothing but pain and desolation, a true artist is not allowed to let this treacherous emotion into his heart. Ivan recognized the dangerous symptoms when he realized how peaceful Lyuba made him feel, how comfortable the world was becoming when she was around. Creative souls abhor tranquility, and comfort is the mortal enemy of a genius. She had no place in his life anymore.
After his futile attempts to repel her with harsh words and expressed disdain, she dared tell him his fanatical dedication to music was turning him into a monster. A monster? Surely his music was divinely inspired, which made him more of an angel – a higher, more valuable being. She then quoted some ancient human book that compared people who felt no love to resounding gongs and clanging cymbals. She sounded much like her famous ancestor Alexei Men, the human space traveler who had brought science, ethics, and art to the local Vozs over seven hundred years ago. Ivan was grateful to Men for that last one, but that didn’t mean he could tolerate such sacrilegious words from his deranged descendant.