Watch, Listen, Learn


The World had seen the days that we fear. The time that is coming to seek us. The days that we are striving towards. 

Generations upon generations passed. 

Humanity changed. They had watched from their last safe space, seeing everything their ancestors and their entire race had built crash down, and become recaptured by nature. 

They lost track of time and dates. They lost their value. 

Some sat in a circle, around screens in the middle of the bunker. Locked away. As they watched the world heal and forget that they had ever existed. 

1: The Watchers 

They sat, and learned. They learned about harmony, growth, balance, and supportive interdependence. Not the forced interdependence of marketplaces, but of mutually beneficial ecological systems. 

One plant needs shade. The other stretches towards the sun, and throws its shadow longingly over the first. The third builds a roof, protects against the sun, and gives off moisture and nutrients into the air. 

They help each other grow. A healthy balance and real interdependence. 

As the humans watched, plants stretched over the cameras, their last connection to the outside, with only the sounds of nature remaining. 

Their eyesight diminished as other senses bloomed. 

2: Sounds of Gaia 

For the first time, they experienced the abundance of sounds that nature produced. 

The cold wind grazing a field of translucent grass. 

The shivers of trees as the leaves exploded into a myriad of colors, their dried out husks stretching mosaics over the ground.

A violent storm drifting through a distant field, the thunder rolling over everything, drowning out all other noises for a second. 

The cracking sound of a rock, stretched over ten years, until it finally gives in and tumbles down the slope with a crash. 

They sat and explored, shifting focus. The listeners had forsaken their sight, and slowly but surely sank deeper into the sonic dimension. They heard how plants grew into trees, how trees died, and how mountains formed.

They heard the planet’s heart thumping, rolling, and grinding against the upper edges, constantly moving and shifting gigantic masses of molten rock, until the pressure flowed out in a singular place. They liked it the most when the rocks formed under water. It started with intensified rumbling and they could almost feel the pressure under their skin, bubbling, moving, ready to burst. Then a crack in the ocean floor deep underneath revealed its shining innards. Masses of lava shot out, almost immediately cooling down to form new shapes. 

The most skilled in the group could hear shapes. They had made a game out of it: focusing when an underwater volcano was about to explode and guessing the shape. There was never a way to confirm the outcome, but they relied on the accuracy of the most skilled members to decide who had gotten the closest. 

Wonder ceased and began flowing at the same moment, as they understood the absolute pristine sublimity of nature, immortality, and the greater forces now just outside of their grasp. 

But the more time passed, the smaller the circle of the listeners became. More and more people either gave up or died. Their circle grew small. A group of fifteen hopeless idealists. The idealists started understanding. And learning. They learned how the majestical earth turned and what made it turn and why. All the knowledge of growth, balance, purity, and life came to them through sound. 

Slowly, their numbers dwindled, the old ones that had joined did not have enough time left in this life. 

But then, bit by bit the listeners stopped dying. They also stopped eating and drinking. After another few generations of sitting in a circle, lost in meditative and sonic growth, a low pitched hum started to bounce back and forth between the listeners. After half a moon cycle, a second slightly higher pitched hum joined in.

3. With The Sounds of Leaves & Trees 

Eventually their singing had developed into sounds that no other living thing could emit from their body. Especially none of the humans, whose bodies had malformed after generations upon generations in the underground basement. Their backs had hunched over and lost their former strength. Their eyes barely reflected light anymore, and when it did, an uncanny silver sliver warped its way through the iris. It barely had any resemblance to the bright colorful orbs which humans once possessed. Their bodies crumbled down into boney, elongated, hunched over versions of their former selves. 

The choir had started to sing songs. Songs of the wind, rushing through the leaves of a tree. 

They sounded like the cracking sounds of a growing tree that you only hear after listening to its personal pulse. 

One could hear grass growing and birds being born. It sounded like life, but also death. But it never ended in death. Death meant only the return to the beginning of a new song. 

And so the sounds of nature, plants, and life filled the bunker, and around the choir formed a new generation of listeners, hearing the calming sounds of a babbling brook, trying to understand. 

Suddenly the song of the choir changed. What before had been sublime and contemplative suddenly changed into an energized song, with higher and lower tones than ever before. An energy filled the bunker and penetrated its walls. It was a song of growth and of a new beginning. For hundreds of years the choir sang their song. 

The old and sickly began to heal. The degenerated bodies of the humans around them began to heal and the latent potential that had always rested in them began to reveal itself. 

Their backs straightened until all of them walked as if filled with pride. 

Their arms and legs strengthened with sleek muscles five times stronger than any human had ever been. 

Their eyes regained their use and formed into sleek, elegant guides translating not only the light but any wave that came into contact with them. 

Their ears formed into delicate growths, not as developed as the choir’s, but still enough to hear the most basic sound of growth, spanning so thin that all the blood vessels could be counted in the sunlight. 

After all this time the choir suddenly stopped singing. Their song was done. 

For the first time in decades the choir started moving. Their bodies had lacked any kind of muscle strength except for that which was necessary for their sitting and singing. As the last bits of the song had revitalized their bodies and they slowly rose from the ground.

And the people around them regarded themselves in awe. 

The choir’s joints gave off cracking sounds like bits of bark breaking or leaves shifting in the wind. They moved their limbs slowly and with stutters and random shivers. They moved like they had forgotten what it was like to have a body, like a tree in spring, slowly shaking off the last bits of dead leaves.

With a roaring sound of a stormwind, the choir opened the door of the bunker, unsealing it for the first time since it had been shut. 

4. A New Dawn, A New Day, A New Life 

They unveiled what they had sung into life and what they had given up their mortality for. 

They had sung a city into life. A city grown out of mystical trees, older than the choir and sung into form as they grew. The trees stretched so far above their heads that the tallest of them seemed to disappear into the clouds far above. The tree bark was gnarled and warped, but one could not see where the natural growth of the trees ended and where the sonic transfiguration of the choir started. 

As the choir had healed, they also had unleashed the latent genetic potential of the people around them; they had created a place of absolute symbiosis and harmony for humans and nature. 

The choir led their people out of the ruins of their old society. 

They walked over the earth, the ruins of their society deep under their feet; they felt the softness of the moss under their arches and heels. Occasionally pieces of concrete and metal stuck out of the ground, but it had been ground to nothing more but rounded pebbles by the grinding gears of time. Like a natural pillow and with their heightened senses it seemed like heaven to them. Their pristine Eden. 

They gazed at their new home, a forest of such beauty that every child, elder, and the whole choir forgot to breathe. 

The ancient trees had formed bubbles, platforms, and all different kinds of shapes inside themselves, around and on top of them. They had grown small sets of stairs on their bark, allowing people to reach the crown of the trees where their destined cottages and treehouses sat, waiting to be filled with human life. 

The choir gathered everyone around them. Each person in the crowd felt the finality which wove through the air around the choir. Not a single person in the crowd would have been surprised if the choir had just vanished into thin air after leading them outside. After accomplishing these mind-bending feats, the choir was stunned by their own remaining vitality. They started a series of hums bouncing them back and forth around and through the crowd in front of them. There was not a single word said, but they all heard the same multitude of voices in their heads, as if a hundred sages were speaking to them at once. 

“Treat your new home well. Learn the songs of nature, but beware. Do not become a part of the songs themselves. They will bind you and never let you go. Learn it, but understand that it is greater than you will ever be. 

We have to leave. Many corners of this earth wait to be freed from humanity’s remnants and their children. Live and bring about the new way of life on this planet, free of humanity’s existence.“ 

And with the slow creaking of an old and wise tree they glided off, leaving these new beings behind in bodies they did not understand, in a world they did not know.

Batu Savas is a fourth year HAST student. He is currently studying arts and has used the last years to discover many different forms of art. From early childhood on he was entranced by fantastical stories and never left the house without a book under his arm. Writing fiction was his first form of artistic expression and thus will always retain a special place in his practice.

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