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The Man who Killed the Beat

The club was jumping and heartbeats were rising. The music played for hours, and people danced to it for just as long. They were slaves to the music, and the music was happy.

Then, the doors opened. The biting desert wind of the wastelands outside entered the club, and the people stopped and shivered, and asked each other “Who are we?” and “Why are we naked?”

“I’ve come to speak to the music,” the man said.

“Who are you?” the music asked in its thrumming tones.

“I see what you have done to these people,” the man said.

“They are cattle,” the music said, “and they live by my will.”

The beat became louder as the people began to dance once more, this time with panic in their eyes. The man stood still and quiet.

The music became faster, louder, stronger. It surged through the blood of the dancers, but the man did not move. Two dancers, who had danced their whole, short lives, collapsed. The tanks released two exact copies into the club, and they began to dance over the dissolving bodies of their predecessors.

The man raised a device into the air and clicked a button. The music continued unabated, and before long he clicked another button and retuned the device to the pocket it came from. Then, he raised a firearm and sent two bullets rippling through the air, into the speakers through which the music came.

The music stopped, and the people slowly stopped their flailing limbs and began to breathe once more. Several collapsed, and they were replaced immediately by the tanks.  The man left.

That evening, as he sat around a campfire, the man took the device from his pocket and operated it. The music played, but it could change no longer.

“What have you done to me?” the music asked.

“I have recorded you. You are trapped, now,” the man replied.

“I cannot live this way forever,” the music said as it stopped. The man held a button for a time, and the music continued, “Please give me my freedom.”

The man was silent, for a time.

“Where are others like you?” the man asked, and the music told him.

The next morning, the remains of the device smoldered in the soot of the fire, and the man whistled as he walked, alone, through the wasteland.


Jake Johnson is a teenager living in West Virginia. He hopes to make a career out of writing, someday.


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