Sum It Up Sunday - Heal
I’ve been “publishing” some fiction short stories over on Patreon under the title of Clarke Tales It. This enables me to get creative and pull stories out of my head and put them onto the page. As I’m also becoming more adept at podcasting, I then read the stories and post them as mini podcasts on the site.
Here is a taste of the first story I posted. It is called Heal and the first chapter is October. It’s the story of a woman living in the mountains who starts to question the reality of a noise she starts to hear. Is it real or is she losing touch with her own sanity?
All right, here we are in October. Yeah, so this is Ash Byrne, and yeah, I get it. Ash Byrne. My parents didn’t though. They pronounced it Bairn. Ashlyn Bairn, though no one calls me anything but Ash. So now that we’re past that bullshit, let’s get onto why I’m making this audio diary.
It started on that Tuesday night, last week. I was in my usual place, hiding out in the corner at the Silver Dollar Saloon for Trivia Tuesday. I hide out in the corner because I don’t like people. And before you get going with that “Oh she’s a cranky middle-aged lady” crap, I mean some of the people in the Silver Dollar specifically. Except for Patty and Patricia. Those two I can handle. There were sitting at the table next to me, hoping to beat my high score. I’m a trivia savant. Idiot savant for sure. I don’t know why this crap sticks in my head, but it does. I have played every Tuesday in the 9 months I’ve been living here.
The rest of the folks in there were the usual suspects, regulars and the occasional tourist. I recognized the flirty couple 5 tables away. Not like recognized them personally, but recognized their type. Tall, thin, outdoor tan with their REI and Patagonia clothes hanging on them like a catalog advert. Dating and taking one of their first trips together they ended up here, up over 10k feet, in this tiny town, and looking for something to do rather than actually talk to each other at their hotel, Airbnb or tent or whatever, they looked up what to do on a Tuesday night in Pb and here they are. She’s flirting with him in the hopes he doesn’t see how excruciatingly bored she is and he’s thinking he knows more than the local hicks around him about inane trivia.
He’s getting more and more pissed, as he sucks down the flat tire beers, and as I keep beating him to the punch in answering the questions. Sometimes I toy with him, when I know the question is probably out of his reach, and let him answer first. The triumph filling his chiseled face breaks down once he’s buzzed out as wrong and I answer correctly.
Do I sound like an asshat to you? Probably. This is the only enjoyment I really get out of these nights. When shitbags like this show up, thinking they are slumming it with us. Usually, if it’s the local crowd I stay quiet unless someone gets the answer wrong. I’m not even all that proud of the bullshit that I know. It’s there, I don’t know how or why, but there it is. I come here because it gets me out of the house and so that Patty and Patricia don’t think I’m a hermit.
I see that the Patagonia Putz is going to stomp out in a huff soon, so I head out first. I don’t want to see him make a scene if he is going to make one. The whole reason I moved up here was I didn’t want any more scenes.
I pop in my Bluetooth headphones and slouch my hat down over them to keep my ears warm. Music from my 80’s bar music memories, fills my ears as I start the cold walk home. I tilt my head back as I trudge west down 4th St. The sky is filled with stars and a ¾ ‘s moon. The air is cold enough to warrant the hat and scarf I’ve got wrapped around my neck, but not so cold that it’s painful to breathe. You can feel that weather coming though.
That is the precise moment it first happened. “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne cuts out and these other noises cut in. Weird noises. Not interference and I know that for a fact. Because I grew up in the ’70s when TV’s and radios got their fair share of interference.
This is WAY different. For a moment I’m reminded of the music that they used to talk with the aliens in Close Encounters. But only a moment. Because this noise is for sure NOT music.
It’s not beeps or anything familiar. It’s noise, but a noise that I have never ever heard before. There is no way for me to even make that noise with my own mouth. As close as I can get it, it’s like a whale song with waves crashing over it and add on the sound of wind in an Aspen grove. And that doesn’t even capture it at all.
Here’s the thing. Every night since, a week now, at the same time, I hear the same thing. I tried using different headphones. Listening to music from my computer as opposed to my phone. And there it is. The same thing, over and over. For exactly 5 minutes and 37 seconds. I know because I timed it. Every night at 9:27 pm, for 5 minutes and 37 seconds the same exact sound comes out of the speakers. I tried to capture the audio when I had it coming from computer speakers, with my phone. The audio file I captured was silence. Every single time.
I was deep in thought on my run his morning. The sky blue, the sweat dripping down my neck and the twinge in my ankle not acting up, I hopped from rock to rock and decided, right then and there I needed to get this down. It hit me so hard that I stopped on top of a boulder, hands on hips, nodding my head to the thought and the music from my iPod. Audio file, as I’m sure as fuck not going to type it.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention. My job is a freelance typist. I work for lawyers who send me their audio files to transcribe. So yeah, that’s why this sucker is audio and not typed.
Fuck that noise. Literally, fuck this noise. What is that? Where is it coming from? And what is it trying to say? Is it trying to say anything?
Fucking puzzle for sure.
If you like what you’ve read here, head over to Patreon for the rest of the chapters as Clarke Tales It.