Blood Red Ivories

by Max Supler

 

Natalie Kido was a pianist who used to play at a bar in Marshal before the sickness spread. She dropped this paper on my desk and asked if I knew anyone with a piano. A strange request in this day and age but I pointed her to the Mayor’s office for any information.

Another odd thing I noticed was that she didn’t have a single weapon on her; a very odd thing in a time when your neighbor could become a ravenous flesh eater at any time.

I’ve grown accustomed to playing on bloody keyboards. Piano ivories have changed from pure white to brown and dark red. And they reek like most things these days. That is if you can find a functioning piano.

I once found a piano in a house on a scavenging run and all the strings and ivories had been removed. Later I found the ivories sharpened and inlaid into a 2x4 to make a spiked club and the strings wrapped around several zeds’ necks.

I find it strange but people have forgotten about music. Just like they forgot about dancing. So I’ve been going around trying to remind them.

Whenever I find a piano I will ask the owner if I may play it. Usually the answer is a firm no, but every once in awhile the owner feels secure enough to let me play. It usually turns out fine and the people love it. They look at me as if I’m a magician. As if some sorcery is springing from my fingers. Some of the children even dance. People forget their worries, about the apocalypse, about surviving and they relax.

I’ve only had one issue, once when I played at a cabin up on Mt. Tanner. This happened in the first couple months I decided to become a traveling musician. I was playing some Scott Joplin in the living room on an old upright piano when we were attacked. The zombies burst through the back door and came pouring into the living room. Blood spattered onto me and the piano as my hosts battled the zeds.

I panicked for a few seconds, still playing, thinking of what I could do. I couldn’t aim a gun worth a damn, could barely swing an axe, and either way i didn’t have either to use. With nothing else in mind, I started to play a rendition of Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries. With my fingers coming down in great chiming chords the fighting seemed to get more intense, as if I was giving strength to my fellows. Then an axe pinned a zed to the piano and I was sure.

In the end the zeds had been defeated, but at the cost of a few of the cabin’s occupants who had been drinking beers by the back door. The odd thing was that even though some might have suspected the music of drawing the zombies to the cabin they asked me to keep playing.

One thing I keep being told is that I should stop playing. In some people’s eyes I am useless and even dangerous. To those people I say this, Is joy useless? Is Happiness dangerous? Fore these are the things I bring to people who let me play. I have never met, or suspect to meet, a person who does not appreciate the gift I bring and I plan to never stop giving it.