VOID, 404 kHz Pt.1
See here, listen good now. There's a radio station out there, you may have heard it on a late night road trip while you aimlessly jabbed the seek button on your radio in an attempt to keep yourself awake. It's never on the air when you're looking for it. It's only ever stumbled on by accident at the strangest of times.
That's how I found it.
And that's the beginning of how I found myself at the bottom of Anchorman's Wake, lost in the VOID.
Started little after two in the morning, when there was just enough cloudcover to convince me that the stars were always a figment of my imagination and the steam coming off the blacktop from the fresh drizzle clouded my headlights. I punched the seek button through the AM bands:
Static and foriegn languages I didn't understand.
Then a voice came through the static on 404kHz. It was still distorted, mind. Them AM bands are always a muddy mess, reminiscent of those historic radio speeches you were forced to listen to in class. It went a little like this, if my memory don't fail me.
"Call in, see that you get your prize well deserved. The world is a big place, listeners, larger than any of us know. Between the daily hustle, the constant barrage of media, the people, and all the complexities that plague your lives, the worldlines weave together a tapestry. Anchorman's Wake, I call it. Call in now for an exclusive print shipped right to your front door; you won't regret it. No charge tonight, no point in the money when we can print it whenever we want. And for those fresh ears out there, just tuned in, I'll leave you with one little piece of wisdom before I pull the switch on tonight:
Anchorman's toll is a rabbit's foot in one hand, a gold coin in the other. Remember to have them handy, listeners, you never know when you'll find yourself in Anchorman's Wake.
This has been the Voice in the Void, with me, the voice. Until next time, goodnight."
It went back to static then. I thought little of it and kept scrolling until I came to a petrol station, a bastion of lights and civilization along the winding forest road. The air was humid, almost suffocating, but with a chill bite. I pulled my jacket tighter, got the jack a pumping, and leaned against the car.
It was probably a bit after three and morning was still but a distant thought, but something in the back of my mind drew my attention to the disused payphone leaned against the side of the dark convenience mart. Its wires were wrapped around its base, connected to nothing and the once sky blue paint was chipped, flaking off to reveal rusting metal under.
I went over to it.
The machine was in even worse shape than I'd seen from afar. Buttons were missing from the keypad, leaving only dark holes behind. The plastic phone was cracked, stained, and clearly brittle from its pallor. I picked it up and held it to my ear, not so much to see if it worked, but for nostalgia's sake. It'd been since I was a child when I'd last used one of these.
It started like a car driving in the dark forest faraway: a whisper through the leaves and rustling needles. The sound slowly warped into a tone, one a machine would make. Then I realized it came from the phone.
It was a dial tone, waiting for me to dial.
Peering down, the wires of the machine were clearly severed, frayed, ripped from where they'd originally been homed. There was no way the old payphone should work. I gulped, pit of my stomach falling out. The darkness of the forest around me seemed to intensify, taking on a sinister edge that hinted violence.
I pressed a button experimentally.
It beeped, waiting for another.
I obliged until I reached seven digits, morbid curiosity getting the better of me.
It rang once.
Then someone picked up.
It was the same voice that was on my radio, not even an hour prior.
I tossed the phone aside and backed away in horror.
Goosebumps shot up and down my body, my hair stood on end. My instincts screamed wrongness at me.
I ran back to the car, leaving the phone swinging by its cord on the infernal machine. The engine roared when I turned the key, then I peeled out, taking the hose with me in a spray of fuel. I didn't care; I couldn't care. Everything in my being screamed at me to run.
So I did.
Went nearly a hundred on that winding road, wind roaring past my ears like the static burned into my memory from the phone, from the radio station on 404kHz. In between tree blurred turns, I tore the radio out of my car.
But far away that same noise lingered, just a faint breath over everything else.
It was like a car driving in the faraway dark: a whisper through the leaves and rustling needles. The sound slowly warped into a tone, like metal against stone.
I looked in my mirrors.
The hose from the pump clattered alongside my car, skittering off the blacktop, scraping and sparking as it did so. I laughed; the noise that scared me was only the metal at the end of the hose. Nothing more.
Slapping the wheel, my adrenaline faded. I let my speed drop as I rounded the next corner, still doing about eighty.
A tall sallow figure stood on the double yellow. Bearded, he could have been a lumberjack except for the mass of hooked metal he kept over one shoulder.
A corroded, barnacle encrusted anchor with one link of chain.
I swerved as I saw the whites of his eyes--no pupils, no soul, no humanity--and ran off the road into the forest. The car slammed into a tree and metal bent around me.
It went dark, and when I awoke, I was here. Anchorman's Wake.