The Gray City

How many more artists do you think we will allow to defy us?

That night, the Painter watched music return to the Gray City, from her cell deep within the bowels of the colorless beast. She watched a song--the first new song in a hundred years--descend upon the world. She beheld the Melody's incandescence, lamenting the tune was not hers to claim.

She smiled. That she saw the stars at all was a kindness. She supposed the minds who conceived of her imprisonment thought of the view as torture: to see her muse and to not paint. Unimaginative folly. Those poor souls would never understand: creation happens first not on canvas, but in the heart. No imprisonment, no matter how confining, how oppressive, would strip the colors from her soul, nor the imagined compositions of light and shadow and bright brilliant color from her mind. When she closed her eyes, she saw the canvas, the paint, the palette, and she was free again.

It was like flight, creation, using your own powers to leave the world you knew behind and enter one of your own making. And once that world was real, no amount of force could take you away. In her dreams, the artist danced through a thousand fanciful landscapes. Though the surfaces she painted them on were now all likely ash, or consigned to some ill-lit basement, they were nonetheless burned indelibly onto her mind.

Clutching the bars, she watched the song fall toward some unsuspecting life. She imagined the joy it would bring, the sorrow. She imagined she could just make out the tune, a low mournful whisper of forgetting, of death, a crescendo towards celebration crying 'I have returned!' She drummed her fingers against the cool metal bars, separating her from freedom and dreamt that within their vibrations hid a song of their own.

She sat back to wait, knowing this song would not let her owner keep quiet. The act of composing, long forgotten in this world, could not be kept to oneself. The happiness in to be found in expression was… overwhelming. They would hear this expression, fear it. The powers that be would find this musician, capture them and bring them to the belly of this colorless beast. This penitentiary of newfound artists.

And she would, finally, hear this new song for herself.

It was a mistake, bringing them here, trying to corral the beauty of a world yearning to express itself. Soon this prison, this ghetto of the forbidden, would overflow with new songs, new words, new works. And humanity would at long last remember itself. Remember the beauty in the world it was their charge to interpret.

Revolution, the Painter knew, was only a matter of time.

How many more artists do you think we will allow to defy us?

At least one, at least one more.