Thursday, July 8, 2021

Y Signal [Part I ~ One Future]



*Thank you for coming to this new series of posts. Please enjoy this free summer-themed fiction that takes place in a whole other era. There will be one new post per week for the rest of the month. Have fun, and leave your comments below!* 
Thanks for reading!






"Y Signal"
by JD Cowan

Part 1: One Future



“It wasn’t as good as I expected it to be.”

Ray didn’t disagree with his friend’s assessment. Ever since they were kids, the group of boys had enjoyed going to the movies during their summer vacation. It was a break from the snore-fest that was school. They were free from prison! Paradise had arrived.

This summer of 1995, however, had felt somewhat off. Ray couldn’t put his finger on why. This movie continued that oddly detached feeling he had stuck in the back of his head. Why wasn't it the way it was supposed to be?

Batman Forever was fine, he supposed, but there was a piece missing from the picture. He’d still rent it when Ultratech Video II got it on the shelves in a few months, certainly. It just . . . wasn't that good. Of course it wouldn't ruin his fifth grade summer vacation, nothing could, but he expected better. Summer was supposed to be perfect. That was just the way it was and always had to be. There was no sense wasting time thinking about things—that was for school. And school was over.

He just couldn’t shake the impression that something wasn’t quite right. Ray scratched his towheaded mushroom hair and looked towards the western setting sun over the smattering of suburban houses dotted with well-manicured maple trees. The warm weather of summer always comforted him, as did the familiar sight of his hometown. Tomorrow was Saturday, not that it made a difference during vacation, and he would be visiting his grandmother. Things were as normal as they always were. If there was a problem then it had to be in his own head.

“Ray!” Danny called from down on the road. Their blonde-haired friend looked up at him and tied his red sneakers as he rubbed at the scab on his right knee. He got that one from climbing fences over by mall a few days ago. “Where are you going, Ray? I thought we were hitting the arcade before the teenagers got there. Mortal Kombat II, remember?”

Ray looked at his three friends and thought for a moment. There was already a mistake here. “How come you didn’t say Mortal Kombat 3 instead? It just came out, right?”

“Are you kidding?” George said. Ray’s shorter friend pushed up the scuffed glasses on his nose and sighed. His freckles and red hair always made him look like he had just fallen into a dirt pile. “You know why, Ray. MK3 blows. The new characters and stages are so lame. It doesn’t do anything new. They barely even tried.  Midway didn’t even put in Scorpion!”

“No new girls on the level of Mileena or Kitana, either,” Andrew mused. The tallest boy laughed as he looked upon his three friends. “No idea what they were thinking with that one. The editor in that one letter column in ProGamer Monthly called us ingrates for not liking it. Feels weird that they didn't get it. I thought everyone got how much of a letdown that one was.”

“That’s just it, guys!” Ray said. He couldn’t figure out why exasperation nipped at him so hard, but he knew he was close to figuring it out. “Something’s been off this year, don’t you think? Usually things get better, right? Super Nintendo, Terminator 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the next season of The Simpsons . . . my Dad always tells me that’s how it always was when he was growing up. We’re always getting better. He’s gotta be right. Burroughsvale is a much better place than when he was a kid. But the stuff we’ve been getting recently is kinda . . . lame, right? It’s 1995, but it doesn’t feel like much has changed from last year.”

Danny and George sighed and waved him off. The two continued excitedly talking about the movie that they clearly liked more than he did and turned back down Maple Street. Perhaps he really was imagining this whole issue. Why spoil a good time for the others? He decided to just drop it. It was getting later. His friends had to go home, anyway.

“Oh shoot,” Danny said. “Forgot I'm supposed to head straight back home. Mom wants me to pack for the camping trip next week. They really seem to like it on the west coast. Anybody want to stay over tonight? I can convince her if it’s only one of you mooks.”

Ray dismissed the thought as soon as he considered it. “Not me. I’ve got someone to meet right now.”

“I guess I’m up for it.” George sighed and rolled his eyes. He pushed up the glasses on his nose again. “You’ve still got Turtles in Time, right? I never get sick of that one.”

Andrew laughed at his two friends. “Go ahead, George. I’m going to pass. The movie kinda wore me out. Be sure to catch a bear for me, Danny. I’ve got just a place on the wall for it, and it's sure to impress the ladies.”

“My mom would kill me.” Danny chuckled. He waved off his friends and took off in the opposite direction. George sprinted after his faster friend. “See you guys in a week or so.”

The two friends disappeared into the maze of suburban homes across the street from the sidewalk. Ray watched them go, thinking about what Danny had said. Camping was fun, but they did it all the time in the Scouts, didn’t they? They could go any time, but why now during peak summer? Danny would be missing all the good times. Parents just didn’t get it: Friday nights, summer nights, were for fun. Everyone knew this.

"Hey, Ray!" Andrew softly punched Ray on the shoulder. “You’re going to meet your cousin, aren’t ya? Mind if I come with? My parents aren’t going to be home for another hour or two. They’re still at that retreat.”

Ray reflexively rubbed his shoulder. It didn’t hurt, but his friend never really hit him that hard to begin with. Andrew was taller than him, and tended to scare a lot of kids at school, especially when he wore his sleeveless shirts that showed some of the cuts on his arms he had gotten in playground fights. Ray knew better. Andrew tended to be quiet and intimidating when he wasn’t with his friends, but he paid attention to what was going on. He wouldn’t want to go anywhere unless he had an ulterior motive. Perhaps he thought the movie being bad was weird, too. As silly as it was, a summer movie being bad was just not supposed to be.

“What about your babysitter?” Ray asked.

“It’s not Kim Bergeron, so I don’t care. This girl’s a skag. Total melon head. She’s always whining about not having a boyfriend, too. Not that it matters, I don’t need a babysitter. I’m going to be a sixth grader in a few months. Parents don’t get it.”

“Alright, but remember,” Ray said. The overhanging streetlights popped on around them. He ignored how strange of a sight that was in the bright sun of the summer evening. “My cousin doesn’t like being stared at. Lenny is a weird guy.”



 
The two boys descended the near-empty street down the sidewalk, just as the night began to dawn. Ray would never get over how different summer was to winter. Where then it would be pitch dark by the time his parents turned on the six o’clock news: now it took until near nine for the sun to finally disappear, long after the little kids already went to bed. It was like the world wanted him to stay out longer. Ray wouldn’t argue with a big world much older and wiser than he! It was just bad luck that his parents always turned him down when he wanted to stay out later. They watched too much television: no one had ever been kidnapped in Burroughsvale. It was just another mid-sized town like any other in the boring ‘90s in the boring modern world. Dullsville! Even as the two kids moved down the sidewalk they saw plenty of other kids and teenagers moving to and fro down neighboring streets. Nothing would ever happen here, and he really was thankful for that. Summers were made for boring towns like this. That is one thing that would never change.

Down the sloping hill they passed the convenience store the Pirelli family owned. Two summers ago Ray's friends bought far too many sugary snack treats. After a game of war in the grass field behind Mary Gardner Elementary, the lot of kids indulged in their victory spoils. Ray couldn’t even look at food again for near a month afterwards, and George ended up throwing up all over his aunt’s Chihuahua later that night. Both Andrew and Danny received killer headaches that begat questioning from their parents. Crazy times. The four still went out for cokes every now and then, but never again did they do something that stupid. Ray figured this was what his parents called growing up. He sure didn't feel any smarter, though.

“Lenny?” Andrew suddenly asked. “Isn’t he the one that was a roadie for some cool bands, and finds that cool stuff you used to bring to school presentations?”

“He’s my dad’s oldest brother’s kid, and he just moved here a couple of weeks ago. Weird guy, but he used to find some neat stuff to share with me when he was out on the road. He gave me that Gin Blossoms record before they hit it big.”

“If I recall correctly, he also said the lead singer would kill himself, and then the poor guy did right before the guys at school even heard of that album. That cousin of yours is strange, but he’s interesting.”

“It was the guitarist, not the singer, and it was just a guess from what a friend told him. Lenny just has good sixth sense. He probably gets tips from all the people he knows in the industry, though. Anyway, he just called me up a few hours ago to meet him, and we haven’t talked since he moved here. He hasn’t really talked to anyone. I really wanna know what he found this time and why he's been so distant.”

“I hope he's got an early copy of the next Oasis album. There hasn’t been much good radio this year. The last Pearl Jam was just a dud and U2's taking too long after whatever that one from a few ears ago was supposed to be. Hey, maybe you were right about something feeling off recently.”

Ray laughed his friend off. “Not now, man. I don’t want to think about it.”

Ray and Andrew hit St. Joseph Street at the bottom of the awkward hill, one of the handier streets in Burroughsvale. It could be considered a main road, since it led towards the main shopping sector and the mall a few blocks over to the east, connecting through a park and some apartment complexes, as well as going past that towards St. Willibrord Elementary (his school) and one of the high schools even further down. It wasn’t a busy street despite being such a vital pathway, but it sure was a handy one. All that fun stuff was to the right of them, but they turned left instead. There they found the mini-mall Ray knew like the back of his hand.

This was the real treasure trove of Burroughsvale that no one ever spoke of, but everyone knew about. Beside the gas station, Ultratech Video (the original one!), the Village of Heroes comic book store, and Sophie’s Pizza, awaited him like they always would. There was also a dry cleaner squeezed in there, but nobody cared about that. This was the place to be on a Friday night, and it wasn’t even on the main strip! It was like a special secret only the cool kids knew about, even though the reality was clearly much different.

They passed the video store which was as packed as ever. Arthur, Shane, and Nick, were in there, probably crowding the Sega Genesis games. Ray saw them in there all the time during the summer. They played those Madden games a lot, but every now and then they’d talk about an obscure one they’d stumbled into out of town or wherever they went on vacation. Granada sounded like a good game, lots of shooting and action, but Ray never had a Sega Genesis--that was George's domain. Ray had a Super Nintendo, which sometimes caused arguments. The screaming matches on the playground could be something else among the different camps. Sega or Nintendo: whose side were you on? It didn’t matter, though. Video games were just video games. No point in taking them so seriously. In the end, they all got great games, and that's what mattered.

Ray considered going into the Ultratech and checking for a copy of Donkey Kong Country to rent, but he wouldn’t have the time to play this weekend. Besides, it was always out. hopefully that would change when the sequel came out. It usually did. Instead, he breezed past the buzzing store towards Sophie’s Pizza two shops over.

“Out of the way, boys,” a burly adult said.

The middle-aged man had a stack of pizza boxes juggled in his thick arms. He braced them on the roof of his small, black Volkswagen before finally jiggling his keys loose from his pocket. This wasn't that uncommon around here. He must have been late coming home from work and picked this up for his family. Ray’s dad was never late, so he couldn’t relate to it, but he had seen this sight many times before. This town had all sorts of types.

Before Ray went into the pizzeria, he spotted another man smoking a cigarette by the front door. This thin man was leaning against the wall with his hands cupped behind his head. His dreadlocked, long brown hair, black shirt and jean shorts, and pale skin, made him look like some kind of punk, but he only muttered to himself as passersby crept around him. This guy didn't look like he was from around here.

“99.9. After midnight," the weirdo whispered. "99.9. Listen through the static. 99.9. Listen closely and you’ll hear the Y Signal. Damnit, Lenny. What does that mean? Tell me.”

He repeated the phrase over and over. Before Ray could say anything about him to Andrew, the thin man saw him looking, and took off in the opposite direction of the parking to the west. Ray had never seen this guy around there before. Perhaps he just needed some change for the bus. But wait, did he say Lenny’s name?

"Come on, Ray," Andrew said. He elbowed his friend awake. "Your cousin's sitting by the back."  

Inside, a crowd awaited. A line up at the counter of couples and a few teenagers patiently waited their turn to order. The delivery guys appeared to be out as Ray overheard several of the employees in the kitchen talking about having no spare cars. There were only about six tables in this narrow shop with checkerboard d├ęcor that was about forty years out of date, with framed photos of old rock n’ roll guys like Elvis and Buddy Holly on the walls. but that was the way these places always were and always would be. Despite the packed house, the last table in the back right corner was the only one that had a single person sitting at it. Everyone else was taking their food out.



 
The young man at the back sat alone. Lenny muttered to himself. “I told him not to bother, but he just won’t listen . . .”

Ray and Andrew sat across from Lenny, who didn’t move at their approach. The creaking wooden chairs cried out as they shifted themselves into place, but still Ray’s cousin didn’t appear to see them. The two boys dodged the lone waitress on the floor as she made a beeline towards the packed counter. For such a noisy place, Lenny sure was being oblivious.

“Sorry we’re a bit late man,” Ray said. “We were just talking about the movie.”

Ray’s cousin kept staring at the checkered pattern of the table surface as if he expected it to melt under his weight. “Wasn’t very good, huh?”

“Did you see it?” Ray asked.

“No.”

That was when Ray noticed his cousin looked off. His blue eyes were bloodshot, his patchy facial hair was unkempt on his square chin, and his light brown hair hadn’t been combed. Odd red gashes on his white skin looked as if he hadn’t cleaned himself recently.

Lenny rubbed his eyes and yawned. “That Judge Dredd movie you’re planning to see next week? Don’t bother. It’s a turkey.”

“No way!” Andrew said. He leaned forward on the table “It has Sly in it and it’s Judge freaking Dredd. It's not that different from Cobra, which he was great in! You can't screw up a sure thing like that.”

Ray didn’t want to bring up that they had just seen a Batman movie that wasn’t quite as good as they hoped, but then he secretly didn’t like the one before it either. Maybe Ray was thinking too hard about this. But messing up Judge Dredd, of all things? That was a bit hard to believe. The older kids in the comic shop next door were always raving about the series going on about the cool future setting and hardcore action. How could the movie men get that wrong, and with Sylvester Stallone, of all people! It didn’t make sense.

“Come on, are you serious?” Ray asked. “Did you see some early reviews? Maybe you talked to someone who saw it early?”

Lenny shook his head. “No, nothing that simple. I just know the future. It’s all thanks to the Y Signal.”

By the time Ray realized what his cousin had just said the waitress returned with two slices of pepperoni pizza and placed it in front of the disheveled man. Andrew sat with his arms folded glaring at Ray from the corner of his eye. He was signaling that he wanted to leave, but there was no sense in doing that. Lenny didn’t lie.

But he also never looked this bad.

His favorite cousin now wore scuffed blue jeans and a wrinkled black t-shirt over his scabbed upper arms. The old watch their grandfather gave him that he normally wore was missing. His nose was bright red, as were his normally blue eyes, on his flushed face.

“I know I sound crazy,” he said to the two children. He took a bite of pizza and wretched. Sophie’s was always good, which made his over the top reaction strange. However, his distaste didn’t stop him from chewing on the slice while speaking. “I have to tell someone before it happens. So let’s start here. Yarbrough, the guitarist for the Panorama Agents, left me his old radio when he disappeared back in 1992, and I’ve been using it. That’s when it started.”

Andrew’s mouth fell open. “The guy who disappeared after the band hit it big three years ago? Wrote all those dark songs that even Kurt Cobain complained about? No one’s seen him in years and even the band moved on without him.”

“I know, junior. I was a roadie for them the year before he vanished. I was just a dumb twenty-year-old who had plenty of experience on the road. It feels like another life—a life before the Y Signal.”

"Y Signal?" Andrew asked. "What's that?"

Lenny groaned. "Never mind. Forget I said anything."

“Everyone thought Yarbrough committed suicide,” Ray said. He hated that he remembered such morbid things. “But he took all his money out of his bank accounts before he disappeared, so I don’t really buy it. Still, that radio has to be worth something.”

“Not really, Ray. You can probably get it at Radio Shack for about thirty bucks today. It was made in ’89 and the tape deck is busted. Only the radio works. There’s nothing unique about the piece of junk.”

Ray sighed. This was going nowhere. “So then why are you telling us all this?”

“I’m telling you because I’m working on something that is about to blow up in a big way. Wheels are rolling. Don’t worry if you don’t see me in a few days, is what I’m saying.”

“Does it have anything to do with the guy that was outside? He was muttering your name.”

Lenny’s eyes widened and his mouth tightened. He cleared his throat before taking another bite of his slice. “Did you talk to him?”

“No, who is he?”

“Long story. Just keep away from him. You’ve probably heard that weirdos from out of town keep showing up. They’re all like him. Be sure to avoid them.” He pushed aside his empty plate. “Anyways, I’m telling you this in case you don’t see me again. I might get called out of town suddenly. Tell your dad not to worry if I disappear. If you don’t see me for a few days, check in with Billy. I've got him in my address book. He’s been waiting for the update. Let him know that we found it.”

Ray cocked his eyebrow. "None of this makes any sense."

"None of it does, yeah." Lenny shrugged. "Get used to it."  

Before any further questions could be asked, Ray’s cousin shot out of his chair, put some money on the counter, and bolted out of the pizzeria. Both Ray and Andrew were left looking after him with far more questions than answers. It wasn’t like Lenny hadn’t been flaky before, but Ray couldn’t help but have a bad feeling in his stomach about this one. Perhaps his cousin just missed life out on the road. Ray let the thought slip from his mind. It wasn't his business. Lenny was just being weird. The two boys left the pizzeria.

The paired shared chatter on the way home, but their minds were clearly elsewhere. They kept to themselves as they passed along the bike path and the park, slipping through public designated walkways back home. The sun had almost left the sky, and Ray’s parents always wanted him home before dark. They just watched too much Unsolved Mysteries. Nothing would happen to anyone in Burroughsvale, and that's the way he liked it.

Andrew separated from Ray, disappearing down Gerard Way, into the outstretched giant oaks that covered the street. Some older kids were still playing street hockey, as they tended to do most days during the summer. Eventually all of them would be heading inside. Ray continued on to St. Hubert just a few streets away.

When he got home both his parents chided him for being a bit late. His younger brother was already sleeping, as four-year-old kids tend to do at this time. Ray told his dad about his meeting, but he didn't pay his son much mind.

“Lenny has always been eccentric,” he said. “Let him figure out his own problems. It’s past eight, Ray. Head on up to your room. No staying up late. Remember that you’re going to visit your grandma tomorrow.”

“I know, Dad.”

But Ray couldn’t relax. The more he thought about Lenny the more he felt awkward about what happened. He went to bed at 9pm, but ended up sitting up for an hour staring out his window onto the summer street below. His parents departed to their room around an hour later, leaving the house quiet and creaking in the night. Still, he couldn't quite settle down.

The lamppost light cast hard white beams on the empty road. The sight reminded him of a certain album cover Lenny had lent him once. The Panorama Agents. Ray remembered those harsh abrasive sounds with unbelievably angry lyrics that sounded like how Ray imagined everyone in high school talked like. Aggressive music for hopeless people who hated the very idea of the future. They all just sounded so depressed. Didn't they know how great the future was going to be?

That was what the older kids liked, though. Ray preferred sunnier music, he still got chided for listening to old bands like Icon or Boston, but he understood why younger groups like the Panorama Agents were popular. What he didn’t get was why Yarbrough’s disappearance bothered him more than it did for actual fans of the band.

At school, Andrew, Paul, and Wayne, really went on about how they liked the Panorama Agents, though they said the most recent album they put out last year sounded odd without Yarbrough. The band used lyrics he left behind for new songs, but the album title was weird. For some reason they called it Y Signal, based on a phrase Yarbrough used a lot months before he disappeared. In many ways it sounded like the poor guy was still around, even though no one had seen him since 1992.



 
“It’s midnight . . .” Ray said to no one. The clock ticked aggressively above his bed. Time always moved, whether he noticed it or not. "Already."

He couldn’t help but be curious. What was his cousin saying talking about a Y Signal? That guy outside the pizzeria was muttering to himself about Lenny, too. Those numbers sounded like prices . . . or a radio station. Is that what Lenny was listening to? Did that have something to do with the radio Yarbrough left to Ray’s cousin? The boy needed to clear this up or else he would never get to sleep. Was Lenny actually in trouble? This had to be some kind of misunderstanding. Ray's dad always said this he got carried away by kid stuff.

What was it the punk said? Ray thought back. “99.9. After midnight. 99.9. Listen through the static. 99.9. Listen closely and you’ll hear the Y Signal.

99.9? Was he really talking about a radio station? Yeah, right. Sure, he was. Ray laughed it off. That guy was just paranoid.

Ray didn’t believe it, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility. He should just go to bed. But just in case . . .

It was difficult to see so late, especially since he didn’t want to wake his parents, so Ray slipped out of bed while keeping certain to step lightly around his room. The summer heat made the place feel like a heat box, but thankfully his Bart Simpson boxers and undershirt were enough to keep the humid weather at bay. They didn’t have air conditioning or much in the way of fans, which made sliding around his room more frustrating than he preferred, especially when he forgot to put away his things. Nonetheless, he soon adjusted to his surroundings.

Ray stepped around his left out Nintendo controllers and his old notepad of game notes, narrowly missing landing on that tape of No Retreat No Surrender 2 that Lenny had found on his trip to New York five years ago. That was a great flick. Even his friends dug that one. It reminded Ray as to why he had to do this. Lenny had done so much for him, so it was only right that he return the favor.

The old radio sat in the corner of his room beside the twelve inch TV. He sat before it and folded his legs in the usual position. A deep breath escaped him as he let the insanity of this situation sink in. No one could possibly be as dumb as he was at this very moment. Ray plugged in his Walkman headphones, and turned the station to 99.9.

A burst of static caused him to flinch. He had half-expected an exhausted radio DJ ranting about parties he was missing by staying up so late. Yet, there was nothing. Apparently radio stations went off the air at a certain hour. It wasn’t as if he knew anything about how adults worked. Eventually the fuzz smoothed out, and he sat still on his bedroom floor just listening to the world of noise before him. Was he doing something wrong?

Sparks flashed in his brain as the din rose and fell with his breathing. Nothing but an endless fuzz in a cacophonic dissonance festival kicked about before him. He concentrated, but nothing broke through the wall.

"What a waste of time."  

Perhaps his cousin was just pulling his leg. It wouldn’t be the first time. Lenny did like to play pranks, like the time at Grandpa’s birthday party when the jerk kept putting whoopee cushions on Ray’s seat. That hadn’t happened since Ray was seven, but people don’t change. At least that’s what his dad told him.

Ray yawned, his mind spinning with fatigue. That punk was just some kind of head case. Enough of this—it was time for bed.

Then, just as he sat up, he thought he heard a whisper. Ray cocked his ear and listened close as a voice spoke deep in the pit. Slowly, it rose in volume. Ray recognized the source. He sat still and concentrated.

The boy focused his mind on the small speck of clarity in the tidal wave of fuzz. It swirled around him like a tornado of incomprehensibility. Eventually, the noise parted like the Red Sea, leaving him with nothing but low whispers to fill the gaps of overbearing silence. The longer he listened the more it cleared up.

—and do you think anyone can help you?” the voice said. “The future is coming regardless of how much you shut your eyes to the truth! Planes boring into buildings, secret assassinations of pivotal politicians, and even your entertainment turning against you . . . whatever you can imagine is a possibility in the madness to come.

Ray listened close, but the raving lunacy of what the voice was saying remained impenetrable to a fifth grader. It wasn’t unlike the debates he sometimes he heard his dad listening to on his own radio. Ray could hear the words crystal clear, but all he heard was nonsense.

Yugoslavia will be blown to bits. Towers will explode over your modern Meccas. Your school might very well be shot to pieces. And that’s just some of what is coming soon. What can you do against it? Nothing. But you can save yourself from this fate. This is why you are listening to the broadcast right now. Welcome to the Y Signal, ladies and gentlemen, where you will learn the path towards a future free of strife and hardship. I have found the path, and so will you. This world doesn't deserve you. But I know one that does.

The last words hit Ray like a freight train. He knew who this was! It was the very man everyone had thought disappeared years ago—the man who dropped off the planet. Ray was listening to the old guitarist and lyricist of the Panorama Agents, Yarbrough. He was actually alive.

And he was insane.

The End is on the way, everyone,” Yarbrough said. “Be vigilante. This will only hurt the first time, but once you leave it all behind it will feel so much better.

A squeal of static pierced Ray’s brain, and he clasped his ears against his brain. He tried to throw the headphones off, but it was too late. A tsunami of red pain crashed into his eyes, nose, and mouth, and slipped into his brain. Ray thought he might have cried out, but there was no way to know. An invisible force had attacked him.

When he slumped over, the music was already playing in his mind: Motorcycle Future, from the 1988 self-titled album of the Panorama Agents. Squealing guitars and a ferocious beat, tumbled into his mind like the apocalypse running a marathon. The only thing he could remember was how much he hated that song before his senses left him behind for the darkness. The world was being taken for a ride into the deep night of the wilderness.

There are many futures,” Yarbrough said. His jubilant voice circled out of Ray's perception like water down the drain. “You will have the greatest one of them all.











10 comments:

  1. You've done a lot of important work, but this is shaping up to be your magnum opus. Keep it coming!

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    1. Thanks! There's definitely more on the way.

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  2. JD

    I'm wrapping my head around the story.there's the homage to Frequency and Hans' alt history novels. There's the build up to the Cultural ground zero everyone's referenced.

    Lots to chew. But I'm intrigued!

    xavier

    xavier

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  3. Will this one get compiled and sold when it's done?

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    1. Yeah, that's the plan. There are three overall stories in this setting I want to explore, then I'm going to put them together into one volume.

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  4. This was not only a great story on its own merits, but I found it doubly entertaining because I've always been fascinated by Numbers Stations and the general idea of mysterious signals and radio broadcasts. The idea that one could just flick onto a certain radio station and stumble across something weird and wonderful that shouldn't exist makes me feel the same way I felt as a child, where waltzing down the road and around the corner of my suburban estate might genuinely reveal a wardrobe to Narnia, or the den of a dragon. I even tried to make an idea somewhat similar to this into a Monster of the Week adventure once, but I couldn't make it work right. So, thank you very much!

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    1. Thank you for reading it!

      I also felt the same about radio stations. They were just so unpredictable, especially when your radio tuner wasn't very good. You never knew just what you might tune into!

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  5. Very engrossing story. I agree with Xavier's assessment of this being a cultural ground zero meets Frequency thing. It also has the feeling of a 1980's Spielberg movie. I pictured kids riding bikes through a suburban housing development. Excellent use of nostalgia.

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  6. I really love these types of stories and I'm very glad you're planning more than one.

    Something that might need editing is the paragraph beginning, "It was difficult to see so late":
    It seems odd to describe clothing as keeping heat and humidity at bay. Also if it's so hot why is Ray even wearing a shirt?
    If Ray doesn't have AC and it's hot and humid, he'd definitely have one of those box fans running, maybe stuck in the open window or next to his bed. His bedroom sounds smothering. (I'd want to go out on the roof!)
    I didn't understand why not having AC would make moving around the room more difficult. It's also a bit odd that he'd need to "adjust to his surroundings," since I'd assume he'd be used to navigating his own room in low light and remembering more or less where the toe-stubbing hazards were.

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