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Two time travelling Aliens arrive on Earth searching for the truth behind the words, music and changing faces of their hero David Bowie. In their quest for the meaning of human creativity through Bowies work they are exposed to a word of self-destruction and loneliness. London, Los Angelos, Berlin and New York show them the beauty and the horror of the modern world and introduces them to the human beings greatest quality, love.
Part Pop culture Sci-Fi thriller part love letter to David Bowie, The Speed of Life is a quiet meditation on the unreachable mystery and power of music.
Richard Jobson was the singer and lyricist with Scottish Punk band The Skids. He has published a series of books and spoken word records before becoming Sky TV’s Movie critic and writing/directing 6 feature films, including his memoir the award-winning ‘16 Years of Alcohol’.
There was a storm. Ferocious electrical cracks split the blackness as the conical ship continued its journey. Debris clouds swarmed ahead, offering an impossible passage for the slick, shiny machine already battered by its entry into a solar system recycling the story of its own beginning. No stars and no sun could be seen as the storm gathered itself for an- other surge both deadly and beyond beauty.
Rocks the size of mountains swirled and sprung loose from their gravitational pull with a devastating energy. They moved in arcs as they were shot out of the nuclear-misty cascading clouds. No sound. Only silence. Great movement and fireball trails severed lines into the neck of the black Universe. There were colours, they held their violence with a simplistic snap of gold and red - vibrant in its terror.
The ship moved into the swirl, not the heart of rock clouds but into the grey. The sensory navigation system crashed and collided with hot winds, using nuclear thermals to swish a path, inelegant but somehow capable of avoiding smashing into objects that shot near and past. It was a scene that needed sound. But still, there was only silence. The outskirts of the grey clouds had an explosion glow but that began to fade as the ship pushed further into the storm. The energy sensors sucked in the storm’s force, using the increased power to glide faster, shaving the edge of the rocks with an engineered skill.
Inside the ship, all was calm. Translucent skin-coloured tubes pushed liquid into ferns with silver tentacles that gently moved backwards and forwards, creating a mild breeze. The liquid moving through the tubes was a deep red, eventually turning a plum-bruise hue as they fed into the system. The tubes were attached to the circular walls, moving through the ferns at irregular spots. As the liquid left the plant, a small bubble suggested there might be oxygen present as the liquid became a brighter red before darkening again.
Smaller plants grew out of the ship’s interior wet, silver-tinted casing. They seemed to inhale the breeze created by the ferns. Nothing was rigid or manufactured in appearance. Everything looked alive, feeding off the flowing liquid before then sharing it with the next organism in a systematic loop. The tubes carrying the liquid also made small movements that suggested, they too, fed and inhaled from each pulse pushed through its delicate skin.
Shadows and silhouettes were projected against the interior cylinder from the chaos going on outside the ship. At times, the grey cloud would submerge the conical walls into a deep darkness but then the burning tail of a meteor would illuminate the ferns and tubes, causing them for a moment to breathe deeper and exhale the liquid and cause a slight discolouration, which was just as quickly corrected. It looked and felt like an adjustment to the enervating light or near-collisions.
Everything seemed to work together. Everything was linked. In the middle of one of the walls was a rectangular shape cut into the side. Inside was where the chain of organic matter was anchored. Inside, two creatures lay in a small pool of the same liquid that was flowing through the tubes.
There was nothing to separate them - they were identical. Dressed in tight-fitted single suits, it was impossible to see anything different in their faces. Their bodies were the same size, their hands seemed to be exactly the same and there was no obvious indication of gender. They could have been twins, male or female, or even male and female. Their faces were angular, thin and pointed but somehow through the various angles they remained in a glow of gentleness. Their eyes were closed but when the ferns blew a breeze in their direction, their eyelids would flutter at great speed like a Hummingbird holding an aerial position. The effect of the fluttering eyelids caused the liquid in their bath to push small waves against the sides of the container bath then back over their bodies creating a simple but beautiful cooling system.
They seemed unaware of the dangers the ship was sailing through. The interior world remained calm and controlled. They both smiled at the same time and opened their eyes. It was here that the first difference could be seen between the two of them. One had deep blue eyes, the other had bold green eyes. They both looked ahead, watching the flickering images play-out a deadly narrative across the conical walls. Blue held Green’s hand. They simultaneously shifted their gaze to the window of the ship and looked out at the Universe in uproar
The view out of the window was violent. This was their welcome. Fire, raged red and blood orange and a shivering blue, all combining to create a lifeless skin that was their entry point to a destination that had been set and was unlockable. The fires reflected in their eyes and were digested without terror. They had reached entry point - they had awoken - and everything had survived to this point.
This new experience - violence - was confusing but their internal data constructed a narrative that showed this was the new world they were entering. The data told them that this new world had been born from explosions and fires and that it was deep in the DNA of the people they were about to meet. These new people had fire and explosions inside them; it was their natural state and this was the source of their creativity. It was the reason for their journey. This was the world that had created David Bowie.
The ship heard this thought and flickered a response that spun and echoed around the ship as they held hands watching the fires and explosions bounce off the ship’s skin.
“You kiss me. With your kiss my life begins.” sang Bowie.
Green and Blue sat up from their liquid bed and pushed their faces against the window. There it was. The fires were gone. The explosions over. There it was. The Blue Planet. They looked at one another. Smiled, then kissed. And David Bowie continued to sing “Wild is the Wind” not knowing two star-crossed lovers had travelled distances beyond his wildest imagination to see him perform his songs.
These people are helping to fund The Speed of Life.
N B Welch