On the Radio

Before I start this week’s blog I have to obnoxiously brag about a mini victory - yeah I’m one of those writers now. I didn’t win anything per se (though in my mind it is a huge win) but I did get an honorable mention in the Writer’s Weekly 24-hour short story contest. http://www.writersweekly.com/contest/summer13winners.html

I know it is not much in the grand scheme of things but it was just the little kick in the butt I needed. So Yay!

This is a short story that popped into my head while browsing through Reddit and hearing this little clip I will place at the end. I highly recommend waiting to listen to it until after you read, as to not  sway your imagination.

The party had been a dismal failure. As always Angeline spent more time visiting with the Mr. Whiskers, the  house cat than she did socializing with her peers. It wasn't her fault she found the cat more entertaining than the drunken party-goers. Her best friend had dragged her along but rolled her eyes and insisted on staying when Angeline warned it was time to go. Driving along route 15, her guilt gnawed. She should not have left her friend behind. College party attendees weren't known for their wise decision making skills, and her best friend was already slurring her words as she waved goodbye. Of course Angeline hadn’t had a sip, her mother would smell it on her breath like a shark smells blood.

A glance at her cell told her she had plenty of time to make it home before curfew but only enough battery power to last a few more minutes.  Knowing she'd be unable to live with herself if anything happened to her friend, Angeline decided to turn back, hoping her mother would consider her loyalty while doling out punishment. Then reality set in and she debated what tree to chose a swatch from. The long, flexible branches of the Willow which tended to sting longer, or the hard cracks that came from the oak but tended to leave marks longer.

She drowned out the nagging dread by turning up the radio, senses assaulted by an obnoxious pop station commercial telling her to "turn it up." Her ancient boat of a car required a three-point turn to reverse direction on the scarcely lit back road. She took her time with it, the last thing she wanted was to crash into the ditch. Her arms ached with the effort to turn the creaking steering wheel - this hunker was ten years too early for power steering...or power anything. She was lucky to have FM radio.

As she straightened out, she spotted a dirt road heading East that she didn't see the first time past, or ever that she could remember. Knowing so many of these roads connect to others she figured she could save herself a good twenty minutes by taking a short cut. She briefly thought about verifying with her GPS but it was more important to conserve the little battery she had left and chances were this road wouldn't be mapped anyway.

The old car bumped along. Squeaking shocks and grinding gears drowned out only by the radio and the wind blowing through her hair. A song she already heard at least four times at the party started and she rolled her eyes. As she moved her hand towards the dial to change the station the song hummed into a fit of static. She pulled her hand back and clarity returned. It wasn't the first time the rust bucket's radio played tricks. She smacked it once on top, then turned it off and back on three times all without taking her eyes off the dusty trail. That usually did the trick and sure enough the crappy pop ballad returned.

The road narrowed a bit, encompassed thickly on either side by corn fields that seemed to grow taller the further she drove. Worried that she may have accidentally turned onto private property and imaging an angry farmer barreling after her with a shot gun, she slowed down to decide what to do next. As always when she felt lost, she turned down the radio. Her hand didn't make it to the volume nob when something odd happened.

The static returned but this time so deafeningly loud her shoulders shot up to protect her ears. The white noise was overlaid on an electronic beeping; an aural cacophony equivalent to nails on chalkboard. She fumbled at the knob though it had no effect. Even smacking the console several times did nothing but cause her to swerve. Soon the shrill static relented but its replacement was far worse. The silent summer night was filled with a crackling rendition of Pop Goes the Weasel, as if played on an old record player. A song that brought her so much joy as a child blaring from the horn of an ice cream truck now haunted and sent shivers up her spine. Heavy dread scratched at her chest. The car's engine died, the lights shut off, and the car drifted to a slow clunking stop.

"No, no. Not now." Her shaking hands tried and tried but the engine wouldn't even turn.

Somehow the radio still played, glowing as though alive. The children's tune changed to a methodical beeping, somehow ancient and familiar sounding like the dusty fax machine at the library had squawked from time to time. She strained her neck to listen to the sounds that came between the beeps. Drowned out whispers, ancient chanting and humming all on top of each other. Her heart raced out of control.

Her phone! It had been tucked safely under her leg this whole time. She pulled it out and let out a loud sob as she watched the light of life flicker off. It flashed a warning sign to charge before the screen went black.

Another sob forced out of her when the noise on the radio changed yet again. A small girl’s voice, far away at first became clearer as though she walked toward Angeline. She was speaking in a harsh foreign language she recognized as German.  A few words she remembered from a class taken in high school jumped out at her. The girl was saying numbers. Over and over in a saccharin voice, jarring against the scene that surrounded. The voice repeated a seemingly random sequence of numbers for what felt like a very long time.

"Zehn. zwei. Sieben. Drei. Vier. Funf. Sechs. Acht. Neun. Eins. Neun. Vier. Zehn." On and on the young girl repeated as Angeline pulled at her hair. Just as she began clawing at the radio to rip it out, the voice stopped.

Everything around her went silent. Even the warm, summer air shifted through tall stalks of corn without making a rustle. She let out a sigh. Then she giggled at her own school girl foolishness.

Turning the key in the ignition, her engine struggled to life. It whined as it strained against an invisible force.

“Come one. Come on.”

She slammed her hand against the dashboard when nothing happened.

The voice returned, and without thinking she glanced towards the radio, only it wasn’t on. The car was little more than scrap, but the girl’s sweet voice chimed through the air. It came from beside her, through the crops. It called sweetly still reciting numbers with a purpose Angeline could never guess at.

Faster than she ever though possible she rolled up her window. The voice stopped once again. She sobbed, wishing she had never left her home in the first place, praying her mother would help her.

The silence calmed her until the sobs transformed to sporadic sniffles. She tried the car again. It turned! Miracle of miracles the engine hesitantly sputtered to life.

She put the car into gear, cheeks still wet with tears and relief relaxing her shoulders.

Then she heard the numbers again, only this time the cooed softly from the back seat.

Too terrified to turn her head, Angeline stared straight ahead as ice cold fingers brushed through her hair and tickled the base of her neck.

“Drei. Zwei. Eins.”

A stout, fat police officer surveyed Angeline’s car off route 15 the next day. The car managed to wrap itself almost completely around the thick trunk of an oak tree and reeked of alcohol. Angeline’s body was found several yards away.

"Damn these kids. Don't their parents teach them better?" His voice, gravely with pity cursed as he bent down and examined her body, knowing he'd find no pulse. In the distance the car radio finished an irritating pop ballad before silencing forever.

Creepy link taken from Reddit.

http://m.soundcloud.com/brian-rickman-1/star-interference-8-26-13

Okay, Okay it was a prank. Still creepy no?

Current Song: Natalie Merchant, “Life is Sweet”