Wednesday February 19th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the radio station.

I was feeling well enough to take Max back to StrongStart this morning, the first time he's been there in about a week. It was badly needed, for all of us. If he'd been stuck in and around the house for much longer something or someone was going to get broken.

Team Canada managed to get past a very tough quarterfinals match against Latvia this morning, which means they get Team USA up next in the semifinals. That's happening on Friday, I believe, and will likely be the game of the tournament.

Hopefully it will be one I remember as fondly as the last time these two hockey teams matched up against each other.


I sat slumped in the passenger seat, fiddling with the radio dial, while Wesley drove. His eyes never left the road ahead of us while I sampled every flavor of static I could snatch out of the airwaves: steady, intermittent, heart-stoppingly loud, prayer-inducingly quiet.

Listening, straining my ears for even the slightest hint of a word, a note, anything man-made. Anything that would let us know that there were others out there still, that we were not the last of our kind.

There was nothing to be found. Mile after mile of desolate lands, hour after hour of uninhabited numbers on the stereo. Wesley kept driving though, so I kept searching. I don't think either of us had any hope left, but it was either continue to push forward or give up.

And giving up was a short, brutal voyage to meet Death and all his friends. We weren't quite ready for that.

I almost missed it when it came through the murk of static, to be honest. I must have been on autopilot by then, my fingers working while my brain remembered lost friends. Wesley jumped a little when he heard it and that jolted me fully awake.

"What was that?" he asked, eyes darting in my direction before returning to the road.

"Hold on," I said, leaning so far toward the stereo that my nose almost brushed up against it. "Let me get it again."

It took nearly a full minute. I feared I'd lost it, or that we'd imagined it in the first place. I'm not sure what would have been worse. But then...

"Hello? Hello... if you can hear this... please, please come to 455 Patrick Street in Chicago. I promise you, this is no trap. Hello? Hello..."


Greg said...

I bet you both enjoyed getting out of the house for a while though! And it's good to know that you're not about to recreate scenes from the Shining for us :)
Good luck to Canada against those other North Americans! I think the UK is hoping for some medals in the Curling and that's about it. Danish colleagues tell me they're pretending the Olympics isn't happening!
That's a slightly bleak apocalyptic take on the prompt! Still, it's nicely written and I like the idea of searching for others by radio station. Though I'm not at all sure that I'd trust that message they're receiving at the end....

Radio Station
"New owners," said Jess, sitting down at the head of the board-room table. She checked her cup -- empty, and looked around. "Where's Millie?"
"Getting fresh coffee," said Dave, sat to Jess's left. He was wearing a suit whose buttons were stretched tight across his chest, and the collar of his shirt had fresh lipstick marks on it. "Both cleaners died this morning, so we had trouble getting into the room on time."
"Both of them?" Jess looked puzzled.
"Sure, were you only expecting one of them to die."
The silence that followed was eloquent. Finally Jess looked down at the desk and spoke again.
"I could really use that bloody coffee. Fine, look, the new owners said there'd be some cuts. I asked them what they meant, and well... they drew me a picture. I. I. I recognised a lot of the people in that picture. Believe me, I've done what I can to reduce the cuts, I thought we had a deal. But now."
"Jess, how can this be?" asked Dave, his voice gentle more through shock than intent. "We're a radio station. Why would there be these kinds of cuts?"
"We were the last one," said Jess. "We were the last independent radio station. The new owners own all of them now."
This sank like a lead balloon around the table. When Dave spoke again he was white-faced. "So the media...?"
"Are all run by one man. Gentlemen, welcome to a fascist state."

Marc said...

Greg - I'm not sure I'd trust it either. I'd like to think it's genuine, but even as the writer I can't say for sure...

Fascinating scene. I like the way the development and revelations progressed throughout it.