I opened the door to the ship’s studio and waved frantically for Gracie to stop playing the omniboard. She lifted her fingers and the beautiful music echoed into silence. Her glare scorched me. I wasn’t supposed to interrupt her when she was composing, but this was too important.
“Gracie,” I said, leaning down to give her a kiss. “I’ve got news. We have to cancel all your shows for the next month. Something better has come up.”
She narrowed her eyes. Her latest song, Stars Are Wild, was number one on six of the fifty worlds, and we were in the middle of a multi-world tour to promote it. The entire year was booked solid, and she was playing at the best venues known. What could possibly be better than that?
I sat down and activated the HV, enjoying Gracie’s confusion. “Just watch,” I said.
A woman newscaster began talking. She stood before a large grove of trees, each one covered with striking violet-colored leaves. In the distance, an ethereal yet familiar tune played.
“What is this?” Gracie asked, looking at me, then back to the holo.
“Watch,” I said.
The newscaster spoke: “Something amazing is happening on the little known planet, Autumn. The Music Trees have woken up. This is how they used to sound.”
A low, hollow fluting sound filled the cabin. It was an eerie, haunting echo that froze my blood. I had heard variations of it many times. Gracie’s song, Stars Are Wild, had been inspired by those same tones, but she had heard them in her dreams.
“Corris,” she squeaked. “My song.”
I grinned from ear to ear. “I know. Just shut up and keep watching.”
“And this is how they sound now,” the newscaster said.
I watched Gracie. The music that poured forth paralyzed her: a thunderous multi-tonal orchestra with delicious melodic curls and waves of harmonics. Tears poured from her eyes as the music carried her away.
“She’s calling to me,” she whispered, gazing at me. “She wants to me to visit her and sing to her.”
I stifled my own tears. “Keep watching. There’s more.”
The newscaster began to speak. “To this date no one has been able to decipher any meaning behind the tree-songs. And until just a few days ago, nobody has been able to make them change their tune. Millions of tourists visit here each year and sing to the Music Trees. They have never reacted like this. The secret apparently lies with the new hit song, ‘Stars Are Wild,’ by the phenomenally successful young musician, Gracie Megan Sparks. A visitor was playing her song when the trees began to sing back. He turned it off and they became silent. Mind you, the trees have never been silent before. He turned it back on, and they began singing again. Even now, the trees will not sing unless Sparks’ song is playing. So far, no word from Sparks’ camp. But she should know that her song is not only popular among humans. The Music Trees like it too.”
“I don’t believe it,” she said. “All this time, that’s what I’ve been hearing.” She trembled as she leaned against me.
I wrapped my arms around her. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I mean, why me? Why my song?” She looked at me dolefully.
“I don’t know, honey,” I said. “But I guess we’ll find out. We’ve already got an invitation from Autumn to go visit. I was waiting for you before I answered.” I hoped she said yes. I was tired of touring. We could use a rest–if I had my way, a nice long rest.
“Her name is Oora, Corris,” she blurted. “I shouldn’t know that, but I do. How is it I can hear her?”
“You’re a musical genius, love,” I said. “I’m not the least bit surprised. Now, stop worrying. Let’s go to bed and sleep on it. I’ll tell Carlos to navigate a new course to Autumn and we’ll figure out what’s going on.”
She nodded, looking again at the image of the purple trees on the holo. They were incredibly beautiful. What, I wondered, had we gotten ourselves into? Gracie writes one hit song, and now suddenly she’s communicating with a mysterious tree-like creature on the other side of the galaxy. The question was: Why?