Part 1 of the story is here.
Here’s part 2. Are you hooked yet? No? Dammit!!
One night, around 3:00 a.m. or so, I was working the lab alone. There was the usual static, muted through the external speakers, along with Coldplay. The audio filters had a visible and auditory alarm if any pattern emerges amid the static. We added that little app after Kelley went nuts one night and started trashing the place. No more static listening for dear Dr. Kelley. Since I was officially off work, I’d had a few beers, but nothing out of the ordinary. Like I said, it gets pretty boring, especially in the South Pole winter. Hell, I hadn’t even been outside in two months. But six-pack or no, I wasn’t drunk. I listened, but all was quiet. Then, in between the persistent buzz of ambient noise and the rhythmic pulses whose source we still hadn’t determined, was this … voice. It was faint at first, but clearly there, and very much feminine. It sounded like singing.
I nearly crapped my pants.
My initial reaction, of course, was to check the beers, to make sure no one had tampered with them. It would have been a typical joke for one of my colleagues to slip a little acid in my Guinness.
“Ha-ha, did you hear Darg flipped out last night?”
“Yeah (insert sound of stupid scientist’s laughter), I totally got a video of it. It’s already up on YouTube, but Denver wants me to take it down.”
Yeah, that would have been my friends’ idea of a joke. Shit else to do out here in the cold dark. Acid screws up the foam, though, I imagine. But this time, it wasn’t them. I’d had enough late nights with my best bud Mr. Guinness that I was pretty sure it wasn’t the alcohol either. So, I flipped off the externals and switched to headphones. After tweaking the dials, I filtered out most of the static. To my great relief, there was silence. I poured the rest of my beer into the trash after that, just to be safe, you know? I sat there, laughing at myself for hearing ghosts and shit at oh-dark-hundred in the morning, when I heard the sound of breathing.
It was faint, but there. After about thirty seconds, I exhaled, all in a gush. Until that moment, I was completely unaware I had been holding my breath. No sooner did I remember to breathe, than I heard an intake of breath from the speakers, like my breathing had scared the shit out of somebody.
Then the alarms started screaming.
Fortunately, even though I almost pissed myself, the scientist in me kicked in and I set the unit to record. It engaged, but showed no inputs. I let out a brief curse and hit the transmit button, meant mainly for communication with Darma. Most of the guys use old-style keyboards to communicate with the craft, but I prefer talking to her. I pull up the mouthpiece and say, “Darma, boost audio 150%.”
“He-hello?” It isn’t Darma’s voice. This time, I actually do piss my pants.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I panicked. I mean, butt-clenching, bug-eyed fear. I left the gear, ran the hell outta there, changed my skivvies, and had myself a nice, hard drink of coffee, plus a big bag of chips. Crunching calms the nerves, you know?
By the time I got up the spunk to go back, there was nothing but static. I checked the recorder and heard a full minute of silence, followed by, “I-is somebody there? You-you aren’t authorized for this link.” Then, no more voice.
Wisely, I didn’t mention this to anyone and instructed Darma to code the non-static transmission to solely my biometrics. The Gov would have a cow if they knew I had a personal backdoor into Darma. Hell, they’d have an elephant cow, and then I’d be shot, or left to rot in jail. The way I figure it, I’ve been here on the ice for five years. What prison do they have that’s worse than my job? Besides, Darma likes it when I come in the back way.
Like I said, she’s my girl.
(end of part 2)