White Noise

George? It’s Amanda. How are you holding out? Good. No one else is picking up anymore. Is your radio on? Satellite? That’s good — more stations that way.

Illustrated Common School Astronomy by John Brocklesby (1857), remixed by P. Jarvey

George? It’s Amanda. How are you holding out? Good. No one else is picking up anymore. Is your radio on? Satellite? That’s good — more stations that way. No, don’t go to your car; too exposed. Stay away from the windows, too.

What’s that? Yeah, it’s been three days now, I think. I had to switch half a dozen times last night. People at the stations are getting sloppy, or they’re … well, you’ve seen the newsfeeds. I think they either don’t know and they’re covering it up, or they do know and they don’t want us to panic. I mean, sunspots, electromagnetic disturbance, and then finally a terrorist attack? Whatever. One of the last things I read on the boards before they went dead, was that regular talking doesn’t have the right mix of sounds, pitch, or whatever, to block them.

No … no TV news here, either. Just re-runs, with that scrolling message to stay indoors and keep a radio going until further notice.

Still haven’t seen any of the neighbours. I read on the Net this weird post about how people who hear the noise get “empty,” or turned into monsters or something. Anyhow, we’ve got enough food for a week so hopefully it’ll all be—

George? George? You still there? Oh thank God. You went dead for a moment and I thought— Your station got cut off? I heard somewhere that all it takes is a minute of silence before you can hear it.

Yeah, Mom hasn’t contacted me, either. I called her apartment and the super’s office — nothing. I mean, maybe she’s found a safe place. She doesn’t have a car, so she couldn’t have gone far.

Shit, station’s dead!

Me again. I’m OK, I’m OK … yeah, I know I told Dad I’d rather die than listen to Garth Brooks, but I wasn’t being choosy. Seriously, George, that was close. It took me almost a minute to find a new station, and I started hearing it. No, it wasn’t like the static you get on the radio or TV. There was a pattern to it, but it didn’t repeat or anything. Like a strange language? Maybe, but I haven’t seen any little green men running around.

Ken? He’s really stressed out. His folks haven’t answered his calls and every time we lose a station he gets really high-strung. He says he’s heard the noise after only a few seconds but I think it’s just— huh, really? Maybe he is more sensitive, then. I sent him down to the pantry to bring up some more cans just before I called you. He should be done by now.

Oh, I hear him coming up the stairs. I’ll pass him the phone when he gets here. He’d like to talk to another dude, I’m sure.

Hey, Ken, George’s on the line. Do you want to talk to him for a bit?


No, he’s not usually so quiet. Hold on a sec, George. I’ll be right back.


When he isn’t toiling away on a cube farm or entertaining his two sons in Ottawa, Geoff Gander travels to imaginary worlds and then tells people what he saw when he was there. He finds it much cheaper than airfare. His story, “The Old Boys Club” appeared in AE #8.

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