Hidden Frequencies II: Echoes
With my new mission, laid upon me by divine hands, my journey home was the strangest I’ll ever remember. Not because I stepped through the doors of the lab and indeed found myself back at the entrance where I told Professor Ukame I resigned from graduating. Not even because I had to find a way to explain to my parents they had wasted their seeds on my field trip to the excavation site… But because the moment I stepped out through those doors, I was overwhelmed by an avalanche of noises, words, and thoughts, as though someone had implanted a radio inside my head and left it on.
I fought the sensation of passing out for several long minutes before I collapsed. But even out of conscience, the voices kept talking… screaming. A din of wicked whispers. What was happening to me?
“Nakija?” That was Professor Ukame’s voice. “Nakija, can you hear me?”
Yes, I could… and all the thoughts that went around his head as well. What on earth happened? How did you get through those doors? Are you alright? I better take her to the medic.
“Shut up!” I moaned, grasping my hands around my head and squeezing my eyes shut as I felt my consciousness drift back into me again.
By the gods, this young lady needs a lesson in manners! Unbelievable, you give them the opportunity to become something other than a farmer or a gods-forsaken Hoarder in life, and this is what you get. . .
“Be quiet, please!” I screamed, unable to handle the amount of noise entering my mind. But it wouldn’t stop. When I opened my eyes and saw how the professor kept his mouth closed, I could still hear his voice. And the voice of the field medic. And the voices of the other Archeo-Loggers around me.
“What on earth has gotten into you, Nakija?” Professor Ukame cried out as he grabbed me by the shoulders. “By the gods, keep your calm!”
I scrambled to my feet, hands pressed firmly around my head to cover my ears, and struggled to stay up straight. “The gods… yes,” I muttered, “the Prime Mover is doing this.” I needed silence… I needed to get away from here.
“What?” She must have hit her head or something. “Nakija, look at me. Can you see me?” His hands moved around my face and through my hair to check if there was any sign of it hitting something.
“I’m fine, professor. I didn’t hit my head. I saw one, one of the gods. The Prime Movers are real.”
“The Prime Movers were a concept from a different time. Something humanity looked up to for hope in perilous times.”
“They are real…” My voice couldn’t utter much more than a whisper. My head couldn’t handle more than it was trying to keep up with now.
“Don’t be silly. Come, let’s see the medics.”
At the sound of his quiet chuckle, I felt a deep anger rise in my stomach. This man was mocking me. “I have to go,” I said, trembling as I pulled loose from the professor’s grasp and ran. Towards the city gates, past the barricades, and into the forest I went, following the silence of the void beyond the ruined city.
“Nakija!” Professor Ukame yelled after me but I didn’t stop. I ran until my legs were sore. I walked until my feet burned. I crawled until the voices made way for whispers. Silence…
“What have you done to me?” I asked, looking up at the sky as though that would be where I’d find the Prime Mover who did this to me. “Answer me!”
In a blind rage, I grazed my hand through the leaf-covered soil and threw up a hand of dirt. My plea remained unanswered. I’d been plunged into the deep, sent off on a mission without so much as an instruction. If I was to find the Singularian, I could at least have received some iinformation on how to do it.
I had to admit though, out here in the forest and away from the people and their thoughts, it was rather peaceful, albeit filled with whispers. Whispers, I figured, from the animal kingdom. Watching a grouse spading through the leaves, a sigh rushed from my mouth. “I suppose you don’t know where to find the Singularian, do you?” I asked, not sure myself if this was a serious attempt.
The whispers intensified. I couldn’t make out words but the sound surely responded to my question and a shriek escaped me from the top of my lungs. “Ok, pull yourself together, Nakija. You imagined this.”
Again the whispers rose like a wave crashing into a rocky cliff before they subsided again.
I pressed my hand against my mouth to prevent myself from screaming again. The grouse itself had long gone after my first cry, but I was still surrounded by many creatures of the forest—birds and beasts alike. Calm down, I thought to myself and forced my breathing to slow. “Can you understand me?” I asked carefully, moving to sit on my knees as I searched my surroundings for anything that could provide me with an answer.
Another wave of whispers rushed towards me. Gentler this time, rolling and softly.
“Holy mother of machinery…” I combed my fingers through my hair in a rush of excitement. This must have been one of the frequencies the Prime Mover had meant before it burdened me with its mission. “Right. So, they can hear me,” I muttered, “the question is though, how can I hear them? Their whispers don’t make any sense.”
I scrambled to my feet, dizzy from the whole ordeal, from the voices and sounds that occupied my mind. “If anyone is willing to help…” Looking around, I still hoped to find the shape of the Prime Mover somewhere hidden behind the trees. No such thing happened.
It was no secret that I had doubted their existence for as long as I could remember. But with all this happening—none of this could be my mind playing tricks. I’d come too far for that. But even with the Prime Movers’ existence confirmed, little did they seem to care about my plea, my begging for any of them to show themselves and help me.
Instead though, what I found was a strain of dark images vibrating in the whispers that followed my question. Distorted faces, movements, and shadows of people who had once scurried through these woods, shuddered like echoes the way I figured a bat could see its ultrasound cast back against the trees. Floating like dust particles. Dust—The Prime Mover was made of dust. Could this be another frequency? Or perhaps the same?
I walked, slowly, closer to where the images floated. None of them were faces I knew. None of them made sense. “What are you showing me?”
A whole swarm of birds flew up from a tree nearby, stirring another cloud of dust and whispers in the shadows of the forest. I stifled another shriek, not sure why I expected something to jump from the darkness to scare the living hell out of me. Whispers rose up from the sound of their fluttering wings. “Too many were here.”
That was an answer! But what did it mean? Too many of what? If I didn’t even know what… I had to be more specific. “Can you show me who’s been here?”
My surroundings turned as dark as the night itself as a wave of whispers and images washed through the trees. I screamed, ducking my head low in a reflex to divert a crash with the images. “Stop! Stop!” I cried, “I didn’t mean the entire history of this place!”
The images stopped. Communing with this frequency didn’t appear to be difficult. “Can you show me the Singularian? Has it been here?”
The animals in the forest stirred and moved, creating ripples of sounds and moving images. Several clouds of dust glittered through the rays of sunlight, yet none of them took on a specific shape.
“What does that mean?” I asked myself more than I asked the listening force in the dust particles, and for a moment, I wondered if there was another Prime Mover connected to the animal kingdom, rather than the animals themselves answering me.
Then it hit me. I was an Archeo-Logger, never mind the fact that I just abandoned my graduation. If there was one thing I learned over the years I’d spent under Professor Ukame’s supervision, it was that logging things from the past was often based on the lack of its presence. Most of what we investigated, we surmised from things surrounding a negative space—that space being the object of inquiry. Our job was to read clues in the things at hand in order to determine what was no longer there. What if this technique worked on finding the Singularian as well? What if I could find out where it was, where it’d been, by looking at the negative spaces? The spaces between the ripples, the silence in between the whispers.
I took a moment to look around, searching the forest for a pattern of empty spaces amidst the rippled frequency. There was a pocket of crystal clear air in the middle of a circle of trees. A perfect place for a campfire. Upon moving closer, I noticed how the waves of whispers subsided, growing more and more into the background as I was swallowed up into a void. “The signature…” I mumbled, saying every step of the investigation out loud. “Now, as for the trail…
The silence helped me focus, and the more I concentrated on the clear and unmoved areas, the more I realized there was a very clear trail moving from one tree to another. From the trees it took me to the edge of the forest. And from the edge of the forest it guided me around the crumbled wall around another ancient city ruin. Further and further, until I found myself wandering about the continent for days… weeks…. months.
I became absorbed by the serenity I found in the trail I followed, not one moment considering the people I left at home. My parents must have been worried sick. But I continued. My trail was leading me to new places. Places of wonder and utter silence in a world that had been otherwise ravaged by thoughts and whispers I could no longer ignore.
would be lying, however, if I said that I never managed to make my new gift work for me. Being on the road, alone and without anything but the things I carried when I ran from the excavation site, I provided myself meals and seeds from gambling. Cards, simple truth-or-dare bets, anything that enabled me to win because I could read what was going on in the minds of my opponents. I became good at it—really good. It didn’t make me rich. But it earned me enough to gather a decent loadout, some weapons to protect myself while traveling, and food for on my way.
As long as there were animals near, there were ripples I could follow. Birds, beasts; it made no difference, as the frequency emitted was the same. It led me to a cave in the side of a cliff. The negative space was strong, silent ina way I hadn’t heard before. Clambering down a rope I tied around two large chunks of shattered concrete, I made my way down to where I found the answer to one of the questions that was meant to grant me my title as an Archeo-Logger. What moved the Singularian?
Blood. Red, synthetic blood. It was everywhere I looked inside the cave. There were lines of small splattering trails, as much as there were large, dried up puddles. Red marks of handprints were smeared along the walls… and bits and pieces of wiring. I found him, the Singularian! Well… his echo.
Kneeling down in the dirt, I pressed my fingers against the rust-colored rock. With the sound of seagulls screeching and chattering behind me at the entrance of the cavern, the empty space suddenly filled with images. By the gods, I could see him so clearly! But it was all I could do: see him. For while he sat there, the ghost of this past, bleeding, resetting, recovering—not a single sound enabled me to read anything more. He’d been here, that much was sure. He’d been here for years as the memory of his presence moved with the tides through summer, winter, and war. But this was decades, if not centuries, ago. Quinn Corbyn… SVRN-1.
Disappointed by my inability to provide a helping hand, I made camp inside the cave overnight and climbed back up the rope I’d left the following morning. I knew how to find his past now… it was high time to started looking for his present.