PRELUDE

From the street, it's just another gray brick factory building. It used to be red, but pollution took care of that before it was even fifty years old, and that was a long time ago. The building fronts on River Drive, a busy street at the top of a bluff overlooking the Passaic River. Its not a terribly popular spot for strolling, but sometimes when traffic is light, the occasional pedestrians can hear the Sound filtering through those heavy, brick walls. It isn't the normal sound you would expect of a factory, but something you usually hear in church. Inside the factory, there are always the hustling noises of people going about their jobs, and the everlasting rumble of woodworking and metalworking machines. But, most time, behind the usual factory noises, you can just hear the Sound. On most days, the Sound is murmurs and scales and fragments, just barely musical. Like a hundred hymns playing all together in the distance. On special days, however, the Sound begins to nudge aside the noises of people and machines. And then all the workers pause and smile that little smile of satisfaction that says 'I helped create this'.

Today was a very special day. In the great five-story Erecting Hall at the center of the factory complex the Sound began to roam about the balconies lining two walls of the cavernous space. Softly at first, it grew, echoing off the huge arched window in the wall facing River Drive. Gathering strength, it swept out of the Erecting Hall and down the long corridors of the factory, penetrating every workroom and touching every worker with its vibrations. They all began to put down their tools and gather at the balcony railings, as they all liked to do on a special day like this. The work of the factory slowed, and finally stopped as the people listened to the Sound. And out on the street, the few passersby stopped and listened over the traffic as the Sound spilled out over the street and rolled down the bluff, like a sonic waterfall, to finally splash into the river.

Now the Sound grew greater, even more majestic than anyone in the factory could remember, rising to the lofty roof of the Erecting Hall like incense in a great cathedral, filling the space with a tremendous sound: the grandest of sounds created by this the most complex of the musical instruments of man: the King of Instruments.

Looking down from the balconies, all the workers could see a familiar man seated at the huge console, and they knew that he would make them feel proud. He manipulated the five keyboards, the pedal keys, and the hundreds of controls like a modern-day Kahli, the Hindu god with many arms. Tension grew as he pulled more stops, building the Sound to almost superhuman proportions.

As the Sound reached the height of splendor a human body appeared in the air, falling ever so slowly from the uppermost balcony, as if buoyed up by the sonic billows. It fell slowly down through the cathedralesque setting, twisting and turning. The man at the console suddenly looked up, as if forewarned, just as the falling body smashed him mercilessly down onto the keyboards.