The Great Sleep is a series of 13 narrative audio mixes that will be aired on Internet Public Radio every first Thursday of the month from December 2019 to December 2020. For each episode, a musician and a visual artist from the Global URL Nation collaborate to develop the story with audiovisual material - a 1h mix and a visual cover, which then serve as a base for written text. Each month, we will post a new chapter meant to be heard, seen and read.

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E06 - Spectral Claws
with Vibrisse & alpha_rats

Once again, I am left by myself. The group with which I felt such a strong connection the night before is nowhere to be found. They didn’t hesitate to abandon me, leaving behind them only one of their masks and these obscure symbols carved in my skin. My body is still sore from this exhilarating experience, this merging of bodies and minds, of sounds and motions. I get up, not without difficulty, and decide to continue my journey.

I'm walking away from the campfire where we were dancing a few hours ago. I walk for an uncertain amount of time in the grasslands. My mind is still dizzy and my body is still aching, but my heart feels light. The fragment, my faithful companion, seems at peace, emitting charming sounds here and there. The tall grass surrounding me undulates as the wind passes through it. Its smell is rich and powerful, a mixture of flowers and dry soil, reminiscent of bygone brighter days.

The temperature rises as the sun climbs this light blue sky. The heat makes me waver a bit. I feel thirsty. I don't realize how much time has passed when I come across a path, timidly taking shape in this vast area, with a few stems bent over. I look around, there is nobody, not a house, not a shelter, not a soul. There is only a grove in the distance, which stands like an island of young trees in the middle of this ocean of long grass. The path seems to lead there, so I decide to follow it.

As I approach, I hear clear, shimmering sounds coming from the grove. I arrive at its edge and enter among the trees, when I notice pleading cries coming from its core. The closer I get, the louder this twisted voice gets, progressively taking over the sounds I distinguished earlier. I keep walking towards it, but it stops suddenly, only to be replaced by a deafening silence. Through the trees in the distance, I hardly notice this struggling creature, trying to flee from an invisible burden.

I approach carefully, and vaguely distinguish some sort of specters, or floating ectoplasms endowed with forked claws, like those of vultures, surrounding this part human, part animal, part vegetal silhouette. I can't tell what they really are. They move in all directions as the creature seems exhausted, kneeled on the ground. I'm not really sure about what I see in front of me. I don't even feel panicked because it seems so unreal. I still think I am in a dream or in a sort of daze. The creature looks me straight in the eyes. Their gaze strikes me. Their lateral pupils are staring at me :


All of a sudden, as if they were triggered by these words, the spectral emanations plunge towards the creature with their sharp claws out. The claws try to tear off the scales that this odd creature has on their skin. Clear sounds, like crystal tinkles, emanate from the reptilian skin by the thousands. Their superimposition turns into a roaring noise so loud I can feel it passing through my bones. A deep vibration rises from my feet at the same time as I feel like glass shards overflow from the top of my head, making me extremely nauseous and dizzy.

I can feel the fragment in my pocket getting hotter and hotter, as if it were reacting to the music emerging from this extraordinary brawl. My heart is racing fast, my blood is spinning through my body. I panic.

I decide to escape, to leave quickly, before becoming the next target of these avenging spirits. I turn around and start to run, when a deafening and explosive noise bursts from the fragment. I fall down on the ground and turn on my back, plunging my hand into my pocket to make sure my fragment is still intact. I hear sea whistles mingling with jerky breaths coming from it. I take it out of my pocket and I suddenly feel it vibrating, as if something alive was moving inside. I see a light glowing in its core.

I get up and I look at the creature, which is still on the ground, exhausted by the endless attacks of these ghosts, scratching on their scales to feed from their sounds. I feel cowardly, I can't leave them without trying anything. I feel like I have to help this stranger.

I run towards them, clutching the fragment firmly in my hand, ready to use it as a weapon. I run. I run and I brandish my armed fist to strike a blow on the ectoplasms, but my hand simply goes through their cold, ghostly body. All the moving and translucent specters turn towards me, with their sharp claws ready to tear my skin off. I take a step back, but they rush towards me. I raise my arms to protect my face when, once again, a deep, deafening noise comes out of the fragment…. This time it's a sound that lasts, looping repetitively. I open my arms and I see all the ghosts floating in the air, as if they were petrified.

They levitate, suspended halfway up from the ground. I need a few seconds to realize that they are not dead but just neutralized in a sleep-like state. I look at the fragment in my hand. It flashes with an emerald green light.

Then I raise my eyes to the foreign creature. They look scared and depleted, but harmless. Their whole body is covered up with pearly white scales reflecting intensively the few sun rays passing through the leaves, some of them scratched or torn off.  They are still lying on the ground. Their arm is stretched in my direction.

In their hand, I can see that they are holding a fragment similar to mine. It also flashes with the same color. I approach suspiciously. The two fragments vibrate and resonate, triggering an almost imperceptible distorted sound that seems to keep the specters asleep. I'm confused. I don’t know what is happening.

I say, “But what is that ?”

The creature answers me:

“The two fragments weave an invisible bond which allows them to create a musical note.”

“An invisible bond ?”

“Yes... in the presence of one and another, they create a bond... like a string tied from one element to another. These fragments can trigger that.”

“How do you know that?”

“Those people taught me that.”

“Those people… ?”

“Those people, heirs of the hidden music. I understand you met them too”, they say as they gaze at the carvings in my forearm.

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t know any more.”

“But why did these ghosts attack you ?”

“They are called the Reapers of Discord. They are excited by dissonance and feed only from chaotic noises.”

“Your scales…?”

“Yes... my scales produce sounds to defend myself and ward off enemies... Evolution... But these specters are mutated parasites.”

All this information makes no sense to me. I decide to cut short the conversation to leave this stranger:

“I have to go.”

I turn around and head back to the grassland when I hear another scream. The specters are attacking this strange creature again, feeding on the sound of their scales voraciously. I just can’t leave them suffering like that… Plus, it is one of the rare encounters I had since I woke up in this land that didn’t leave me behind. And they met the group, too...

I come back to help them, and our fragments interact again to trigger a metallic, sharp and distorted noise throughout the grove. The specters freeze once again and levitate in the air.

“Thank you…”, the creature says.

“I can leave the fragment to you.”

“It’s not that simple…”

“Why not ?”

“Because the fragment only speaks to the one they pick.”

“So what can I do?”

“Please don't abandon me… If you leave me, I would die.”


“Is it what you want… ?”

“No, but… couldn’t we walk far enough from these ghosts so you could be free ?”

“It is not that easy unfortunately.”

The creature gets up and asks me to follow them. We walk a few meters and they point the ghosts out. The specters follow us, floating in the air, as attracted by our presence.

“They are linked to us now, to our two fragments. Once they start to feed from a sound, they consume it until it’s no more.”

“What can we do ?”

“There is a way to break the bond… but it is not an easy quest.”

“A quest ?”

“Yes. Someone mentioned it to me one day, far behind the mountains... I know where we can find her.”


“There is no other way… we have to go together.”