Non-standard Sound

The best sound effects guy in town was called in. As he arrived, the director was pacing back and forth between his office window and his Zen garden. All around stood a host of concerned minions. The director lifted his head only for a second to acknowledge the legendary soundsman.

“Good, you’re here. It’s about my invasion movie.”

The Invasion of Los Angeles,” the assistant director said helpfully.

“I’ve heard about the project,” said the soundsman, “How’s it coming along.”

The director frowned in disapproval at the question, and then muttered: “I need a sound that will indicate a terrible, murderous creature is coming. The hunter of souls. The ravager of hope. The destroyer of worlds.”

“Like a roar?”

“No, not a roar,” the director roared, “Something more noble and refined. A machine sound.”

“Like a transformers noise?” the soundsman took his phone out to play some samples.

“No! Something new.”

“I have just the thing,” said the soundsman and was just about to add something when a terrible screech filled everything, like the sound of brakes as the car is rolling over an infant’s head. Just a heartbeat and it was gone, but everyone felt sick to their stomachs.

“That’s it, that’s perfect,” said the director.

“I did not make the sound,” said the soundsman and they all turned to the window to see what was blocking the sun.

A Long Journey for a Small Box

“This box,” said Weathers, “Made its way here all the way from Marakesh.” He was blowing grey smoke and the ribs of the window blinds showed in it. It was hot in his office.

“Really,” I said, humoring him, and then I focused on the smart-looking yellow letters. “What’s Ediblo,” I asked.

“When you hear Marakesh,” he deflected, “What do you think about?”

“I dunno, carpets?”

He tsk-tsk’d me. “How about William Boroughs. The Beat Generation. Naked Lunch. Any of that ring a bell?”

“Yeah, kind of,” I lied.

“Well, Ediblo is a brand from Naked Lunch.”

“Remind me what naked lunch is again,” I said.

“It’s a novel about a bunch of junkies crossing the boundaries of reality. It’s funny how somebody made a box for a fictional brand. It’s like it crossed a boundary to get here as well.”

“Yeah,” I nodded.

Weathers was barely visible in the cloud of cigarette smoke he had conjured up. Was there no ventilation in the office?

“So what do you want me to do about it?” I asked, “Find out who made it?”

“No, but you can help me find out what it is that’s inside.” He pushed the box across the desk to me. The whole box was blue cardboard and it was pretty weathered. I picked it up and opened the lid, it was filled with a solid brownish-black substance. It smelled like bug spray and licorice.

Just outside his office, I started formulating a plan, and I hardly noticed his secretary. “Leaving so soon, Mr. Benson?” she asked. Strands of her hair were glued to her face with sweat, it was so hot in there.

“Yes, see you around,” I said. Had she been there when I came in? Frankly, I could not remember how I got into Weather’s office in the first place.

Home

“Mom, I’m home,” I said, like I used to when I got back from school. The house was empty, no furniture except for some old cracked plastic chairs in the corner. There were cobwebs in the windows. Bright July sun shone through.

I went out and circled around back. Our old washer and dryer were still in the laundry room, but now they were all rusted. I opened the washer hatch and reached into its dark belly. I touched something hard cold and oblong. I pulled it out. It was an empty milk bottle. “Strange,” I mumbled.

I went back inside the house and got to the foot of the stairs. I tested the first step, but it was most likely too weak to sustain my weight, so I stood there, trying to decide.

“Ben,” my wife had entered the house and was standing in the doorway, backlit by the heavy sun, “Come on, can we get out of here? This old place gives me the creeps.”

“In a minute, honey. I want to see what’s upstairs.”

“Why? Did you leave something there?”

“No. Not really,” I said.

Archaeologist’s Agony

The expedition had gone terribly wrong and I was all alone now in the ruins. I had fallen down a passage. I had used all my supplies. I had cut my leg and infected the wound. With the last piece of candle, I had limped down a dark, pointless hallway, until I reached a dead end filled with human skeletons.

I lay on the floor, holding the candle close to my face, three blankets around me trying to keep the cold at bay. I thought of the surface world, and stars at night (I could no longer imagine sunlight) and all the wonders of the universe.

Slowly, my thoughts began to wonder, a familiar experience from falling asleep before, though with grimmer undertones this time. I thought about my companions, the many human skeletons, who had fallen asleep and lay there too long, until flesh fell off their bones and there was no more waking up. I longed to see what they dreamed off.

In my imaginings, I befriended one of them. A commoner from ages ago, whose name escapes memory now, but who spoke in a very soft voice and had a peculiar philosophy of the universe. His views were very unscientific, but charming, mirroring those of my private teacher, Mr. Cold. Or was he called Mr. Dark? Or Mr. Motionless?

I tried to recall a single woman in my life that had not been my mother, but I found myself unable to. I wondered if after death I would re-enter my mother’s womb and feel warm again. I marveled at the many creatures within other creatures that would have to exist in the afterlife to make that possible. The kindly commoner next to me agreed it was a compelling vision, but something about it made him afraid. He crossed the pile of bones and scrambled down the dark hallway that I could not see.

“Worry not,” he called, “For you will be able to follow me soon.”

Meanwhile I sunk slowly through the floor, through the earth, into an underground ocean full of glowing cephalopods. They moved about me so gaily, I could do nothing but smile and smile.

Rusted Knife

When renovating the house, we tore up the floors and Skip found a rusted knife. It was a French knife, the kind chefs use in the kitchen, with a plastic grip and a broad blade. It was embedded in the soft moist earth, surrounded by some blackened pieces of china. Looked like the remains of a shattered vase or something.

“Must be from when they built the house,” said Skip.

“You think,” said Marcy, “Hard to imagine, this house is almost two hundred years old. They didn’t used to have knives like this two hundred years ago.”

“I dunno,” I shrugged, “I guess they re-did the floor at some point.”

“Then it must be from a crime someone committed.”

“I guess we’ll never know,” I said.