He sits, listening to it all, not knowing what he’s listening for.Â A large piece of off-market audio equipment and an alarming array of hand-made enhancements returns his tension, rippling beneath his touch as he isolates and reaches into the maelstrom over and over again.Â In a previous life, over a decade ago, he was a composer.Â Now music finds him.Â Hunts him.Â Berates him when he leaves to scavenge in the collapsed department store he was installed into three months ago.
Symphonies of the thousands of conversations happening across the switch form ocean waves.Â February breakup clusters cause raging windstorms.Â Twilight PBX traversal is the sound of duck armies digging trenches using rubber shovels.Â “When are you coming home, dad?” can be picked out through the chorusing.Â Kids.Â There’s still kids somewhere.
When he’s done, he gets to see his own again, they said.
He listens for them, too.Â He’s heard friends planning heartbreakingly normal things.Â But mostly he listens for the ones he’s here for – the web he’s been tasked to pull out of the wind.Â Evil people, he’s told.Â People who’ve done terrible things.Â People who will do unspeakable things.Â People who will speak of these things first, and can be heard when they do, and will sound wrong when they do.
There’s been recordings for which he’s been told he’s doing really well, that they’re almost done here, that he can go home soon.Â There’s been some false alarms that have brought some long sit down discussions with a wall that shows passing clouds when he speaks to it.Â He saw an actual teddybear in one of those clouds once – he’s sure of it.Â The wall talks back, but the voice is pure.Â Too pure.Â The sound of the conferencing room, not the sound of a voice.Â Having a conversation with Alvin Lucier would end up being like this sometimes.
His hand hovered above the steel wheel of the timeline, rolling millimetres beneath his fingertips at a steady 33 1/3rd RPM.
This afternoon, he heard something that was wrong in the spectrum.Â No, not wrong.Â Off.Â Funny.Â Foolish.Â Playful.
He didn’t record it, but memorized the range: 8675hz.Â Someone was playing with the advertising flow to something.Â Strictly prohibited.Â Off-band.Â Not often, and not obvious.Â Just enough to be interesting.
Just enough to make people check their timepieces before instantly forgetting what the current time is.Â Make them call on old friends for no reason – just to hear a friendly voice.