Hers was not to reason why; Cora would happily do her bit and show Him her unwavering faith and devotion in the way she knew best. She’d raise the roof and crack the rafters before Cataclysm did. Divine music, delivered up to her Maker along a stream of flying notes, would drown out the fury of the storm, and what better piece to start with than an organ anthem by J.S.Bach.
It had galled Cora no end that the parson and the congregation were stone deaf to music that didn’t relate to the service and the strictures of their belief. On Sundays and mid-week prayer sessions, patient pessimism best described Cora’s faith, for the glorious hallelujahs were never heard, the thundering trumpet voluntaries held silent, the sounding brass muted, the organ pipes castrated, choked off before their time and in their prime. So constrained in performance were they, that a mouse could barely hear them from the close proximity of the church skirting boards. It wouldn’t be like that today, she’d play those pieces as she’d always wanted to do.
Well, now was the hour, grim determination marked her expression as she dragged off more layers of clothes and swapped her boots for a sturdy pair of leather slippers she kept hidden behind the pulpit. Thus prepared, Cora slipped onto the organ seat, but still hot and bothered, she tossed another sweater to the floor and drew out from the warm, blowsy sanctum of her ample home-knitted cardigan her bulky music satchel, which she opened quickly, depositing the contents in a thick pile on the music stand.
The console light was still working, praise be, as Cora reached forward to organise the pieces. Gusts of hard wind drove shards of clattering ice at the building, but though Cora heard the din she paid it no heed. The stone church had been built to withstand the wrath of God, so why worry about a nasty storm however lethal it was claimed to be.
Sadly the lights at the organ console failed much sooner than she wanted, and Cora was left alone with her burning desire to give the wonderful organ its full rein in the frigid, haloed gloom of the empty church. She didn’t need light, her expert fingers shifted across the keys, her feet stamped their own tune on the pedal slats, pure notes were drawn into the pipes as she opened the stops to their fullest, and finally their true voice was released heavenward.
The bass voice boomed, the tenor swelled as the instrument of God let forth for all it was worth. Miss C beamed and settled her broad bum on the music bench. She was in her element, she had a mission, and by all that was holy she was going to do it!
This is how church music should always sound, she thought triumphantly. This is the way to help our distracted souls reach out to Heaven and practise what they do best, which is to prepare for their end in this life. It’s just a pity, she mourned, that there are no souls in the pews today to follow my lead.
There would be no breaks in the music for devotions or sermons; no excessive manting and ranting from the pulpit, no snuffing off of a piece of lovely music after a scant sixteen bars, in favour of some dry exposé on the depths of human frailty. For Cora, intent at her keyboards, this musical expression was going for broke; it was all or nothing, her very last chance at a personal epiphany.
Every Sunday, without fail, someone would comment enthusiastically about her playing, for Cora was a natural musician and a fine instrumentalist. She’d smile outwardly, but think sourly within, with suppressed frustration, at how much better her performance could have been. What had the parishioners come to know? What had they missed?
Beaming in total satisfaction, Cora let her entire being blend with the power and sound of the sacred music, and the result was glorious beyond her wildest imaginings. The very cells in her body thrummed and gave in to the ecstasy of the moment as she melted away into the essence of all that was divine.
When she died, suddenly, slumped, arms across her chest over the keyboards, perhaps of hypothermia, maybe asphyxia, or possibly plain over-exertion and consequent heart-failure, Cora had a soft, now-you-know-it, look of the angelic cherubims on her face, and her organ, her one true friend, as it expired with her, resonated long and sweet into the blissful nothingness beyond all storms.

taken from Cataclysm’s Day: First Book of The Gatherers Trilogy


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