Ramone shrugged his shoulders up and down and rolled his neck. Why was he so nervous? Everyone knew he was a scientist, not a singer. Maybe he was terrified that the voice he’d heard and loved in the shower for years would be ho hum to the audience. Or laughable even. What if they laughed? Eventually the dreaded signal came for him to sing. With his and Ah’s names flashing, he had no choice but to get up and go to one of the mics. This was ridiculous, he felt like he could throw up. It was supposed to be fun. What if this ruined singing for him?
Ah grinned at him from another mic, and he settled a little. Fun. He was having fun. He cleared his throat as the first notes of the song Ah had chosen came on. The throat noises reverberated loudly around the room, and there were smiles and a few good-natured chuckles. Sucking black holes, people are laughing at me already, he thought. So he wouldn’t make a total idiot of himself, he used his voice. It cracked for the first couple of lines, but luckily people had had their laugh and were busy talking again. The song was a really good one, from their fav artist they’d practised a lot on the Grey ship, so as he saw that people weren’t really watching, his voice started behaving better.
As the song went along, he got into it nicely. His voice felt better, and he found it rising in clarity and volume. The recorded version he’d had so much time to study played through his mind, so he matched the cadence and emotions of the lyrics streaming by perfectly. This was kind of fun after all. Except a strange thing was happening. People were stopping their conversations and turning to stare at him. Suddenly he realised Ah had stopped singing, too, and he was solo in a room full of watchful eyes. He stumbled and coughed. Surely this was it. People would leave the room in droves now. They didn’t, though. They looked at him intensely, pleading for him to continue. There was nothing else to do, the tune was still playing. He took a deep breath and continued as best he could. It seemed it was good enough. Everyone was watching him. In the name of the galaxy, some girls were getting out of their chairs and coming closer. Other people started dancing on the previously empty floor. When the song was over, there was loud clapping and some whistles. Calls of “Do another!” came; a few at first, then it seemed like the whole room was chanting.
He looked at Ah, who said, “Let’s do it.”
“You have to sing, too,” Ramone said quietly.
“Sure, I’ll back you up here and there.” Ah input something into the karaoke machine, and they began again. Then again. After three songs, Ramone said he didn’t want to deprive all the others who’d signed up, and sat down, to many protests. The next name had been flashing for a while, and reluctantly, the person, a lady with mid-length dark hair, went over to the mic. Unlike the normal situation, everyone was quiet and looking at the stage. She looked around a bit desperately.
“I’ll do it as a duet,” she said. “C’mon, Ramone!”
There were cheers of assent, so Ramone went back to his mic. He didn’t know the slow sweet song, so he picked it up the best he could as it went along. Sometimes his voice went a different direction from hers and blended in. It seemed the thing to do. No one would let him sit down the rest of the night, but that was ok with him. His mini hero status was starting to be enjoyable. He’d always liked his voice, but it was pretty cool learning others liked it too.
Word spread around the ship, and Karen and Walsh slipped into the back of the now full room to watch. “He’s good, isn’t he,” Karen said with awe.
“Really good,” Walsh said. “Are you going to lose your scientist?”
“Honestly, I’m a bit worried about that. I’m more worried about his mental health, though, if he figures out where he’s from.”
“How would he do that? I assume if it’s in the ship’s records it’s only in your classified files.”
“Our library is loaded with photos and video of his predecessor that he’s already correctly found he has an affinity for. Already there’s a bit of a revival going on of that era. People are streaming his pre’s songs and videos at a startling rate. They’re probably lining up their next karaoke requests as we speak.”
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