A Humming in The Dark

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This Weeks Prompt: 14. Hideous sound in the dark.

The Research: In The Dark of the Night

The year is one thousand nine hundred and sixty-eight. And something isn’t right. Mrs. Vel knows this, as she sits in her house, staring out the window into the night. She’s known it for quite some time. The neighbors have stopped coming to visit. They’ve not left their houses for days. Mrs. Vel knows this, she’s watched every morning.
“I wager they’re just down with some sickness dear. Don’t worry much on it,” Mr. Vel said when she asked. Mrs. Vel was smarter than that though. There wasn’t any sickness coming through.
She’d seen the Spanish flu came rolling through, and polio, and the Asian flu. She’d seen what a cold looked like, what sickness smelled like. And the neighbors certainly weren’t sick. No,something else was going on.
Mrs. Vel watched for cars at night too. Sometimes black ones would drive by, with their front lights off. She’d see them in a glimmer or two, or under a street lamp for half a moment before they faded away. Black long cars, tinted windows. Always driving the same way, down the block.
“They just circle around somewhere else. No need to make a u-turn in a suburb,” Mr. Vel said when she mentioned it one night. Mrs. Vel doubted that too, however. So many cars, and they couldn’t be the same car. Unless that particular car was able to circle the lot in a matter of seconds. No, that wouldn’t make sense at all.
At night, there were noises too. Deep humming noises, somewhere in the distance. She swore it started eleven years ago, but Mr. Vel said otherwise, as you might have guessed. Mr. Vel, in his button up and perpetual slouch, little more than a jelly roll of a man, never believed her. But she heard it. A deep, resonance in the air. Like someone had left the fan on miles away.
“Weren’t there more bees?” she asked one day, staring again outside. It was daylight, though the streets were empty.
“What?” her husband asked, looking up from the paper.
“Weren’t there more bees when we grew up? I hardly see any anymore,” Mrs. Vel replied.
“Course there were, but we were in the country then. Less wild things in the suburbs,” Mr. Vel said with his predictable shrug.
Mrs. Vel bit her lip. No, no something had happened to the bees. Something smoked them out. Maybe they heard the humming too?
And in 1965 the lights started. In the distance at first, great orbs of light humming through the sky. Mrs. Vel would see them, or maybe their shadows, floating above houses. Houses no one lived in anymore, and that Mr. Vel asserted no one ever had. Failed public housing, he would say. But they had neighbors, she knew that.
Mrs. Vel wondered at all this, as the dull humming in the night continued. Sometimes at sunset she would feel it before she heard it.186. 186. 1234567890. Sometimes she thought if she listened close enough, awake in her bed, that she would understand it. That it was saying something.
She started seeing things out in the houses. Men with strange long tongues hanging out, and big wide mouths gaping. Mr. Vel always looked bemused when she pointed at them, hand to her mouth.
“They’re neighbors, dear. Sure, little funny looking, but hey, it could be worse. Not any homos or blacks among them,” he’d say.
“Look at them, Bill! Look at them!” she whisper in panic. They weren’t people, not proper people. Hunched over and carrying crates in. Mrs. Vel stared as they unloaded things. Their TVs made horrible blue lights, with tik-tiking sounds on the static. Mrs. Vel knew they weren’t what Bill said. She’d park her car outside, peering inside. She saw them, flat faced, big eyed, big-mouthed creatures. Monsters, she’d mutter.
Mrs. Vel knew monsters. Her father had a cleft jaw. Her grandfather had some illness that made him swing about wildly. Something he caught overseas. She’d seen the sort of people who came back not-quite-right from the wilds. She knew them well.
She talked to a friend on the phone about moving.
“Nothing like that no,” she heard from the other end. Yes, Mrs. Vel’s friend hadn’t heard the humming either. But it was perfectly natural, she said, just the sound of so many jets these days. Did she know how many more jets flew these days?
Mrs. Vel called her son. Her son, off in college, told her that he had seen them too. She was relieved, until he told her he had seen them inside out. That they had flashing lights inside their hearts, and only ate honey. He had seen it, he explained in his dead-eyed way, in all his dreams.

When Bill didn’t come home one day, Mrs. Vel boarded up her house. She knew they did it. The humming did it. She wouldn’t go outside, she ate what she had in cans. She’d stare out the window, certain they were coming. She didn’t know if they left there homes. Maybe they were sick.
Mrs. Vel was certain that something had gone wrong. The humming was doing something to the world. It had smoked out the bees, it had messed with people’s minds. This wasn’t normal. The year was one thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine, and something wasn’t right.
Mrs. Vel saw men in suits, in every shadow. They came to her door, right up to her door, at her door with suit cases and papers. Mrs. Vel never answered. They might have made the noises. She kept as steady as ever, unmoving if she could. Mrs. Vel only made noise to nail in boards. More boards, covering everything except the window she looked through.
When Bill returned a few days later, he’d wonder at his neighbor, who never came out anymore. Poor thing, he thought, must have gotten sick. And then he would get back to his paper. And Mrs. Vel, across the street, would scream silently at night.

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In The Dark of the Night

This Week’s Prompt: 14. Hideous sound in the dark.

The Resulting Story:A Humming In The Dark

Dear Necromancers and affiliates, this is a particularly frustrating topic. Hideous sounds are…well common. As staples of horror go, strange sounds in the dark are about as standard as lights flickering. So, to compensate, let’s look at the nature of sound.

A dangerous sound, or ‘Brown Note’ as tvtropes calls it,is a rather common motif. There are of course, the sirens of Greek myth who lure men to their death. Like wise with some mermaid stories, where the sound is alluring more than hideous and draws men to drown themselves.

For simply horrifying noises, there is always the Poe story of the Tell Tale Heart (included below for your viewing pleasure), who’s beating drives the guilty mad. The image of madness inducing music comes in Mr.Lovecraft’s work as well, with the Music of Erik Zann.

And classically, there is the music of Pan’s pipes, which brought madness with them. We should never forget that part of Pan, lest his woodland nature trick us. From him come’s that dreaded Pied Piper after all. And of course, the ritual cries of Dionysus’s companions There is thus potency in these sounds to affect the mind, and there hideousness maybe more than simply uncomfortable.

The Greeks do not have monopoly on this horrifying trope however. The banshee’s cry signals impending death, an inevitability rife with material to mine. Notably, there is disagreement in regards to causation. Does the banshee wail for the foreseen death, or does the wail cause the death? Do they curse or confirm?

Then there is the Aswang. Oh, the aswang. Briefly, brothers and sisters, indulge in something that terrified me upon discovery. The aswang makes a terrible tik-tik noise as it stalks through the night looking to eat babes and unborn children. But importantly, the noise is louder the farther away it is (a trick the fae employ as well), allowing this predator to confuse its prey. The sound invokes no more terror then these shape-shifting monsters do on their own, but such noises in the dark are worth a mention.

All this in mind, a monster may be necessary for this story. A monster tied with madness and certainty, it seems, an inevitable creature. Poe’s Tell-Tale is inevitable, Pan’s pipes always play, and the Piper must be paid, and the banshee sees that inevitable death (or creates it). We have a strong theme, then, of trying to resist fate. Of going mad when forced to, pardon me, face the music.

Darkness is likewise a potent symbol of inevitability. Death is often, in the West, dark cloaked, and the realms of the dead are dark places. Night comes, and in darkness the world goes when it ends. A creeping darkness, there fore, with its strange music and piping is a potent embodiment of fate and death.

What sort of man fights death then? What woman resists fate? Perhaps a certain Russian?

Is the fate death literally, or some death of hope? Some misery of unhappiness that cannot be escaped?

I find the second more entertaining. What terror awaits, my fellows? Tell me what you think.

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