In many parts of the world people claimed to have heard a Hum, a deep and steady sound rising from the earth. Even as they insisted, for a long time no one believed them. But then we all heard it.
At first, the Hum was very faint. One of my neighbors thought his air conditioner was acting up. Others, that a jetliner was overhead, too high to spot. Or sounds from the distant Interstate, or something the Navy was doing to the whales. Others claimed to detect a melody. The Hum seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, like those “electronic” sounds you can never quite trace.
There were still doubters in those early days, myself included. But after the President mentioned the Hum off-handedly in a news conference belief became common, then universal.
Scientists were puzzled, governments alarmed. Although the Hum had not been blamed for any actual damage, Hum-anxiety became widespread, became an excuse for not getting to work on time, or for avoiding long conversations, or for declining to engage in sex.
Support groups were formed to soothe those who couldn’t stop being obsessed with it. Ear-plug and aspirin sales spiked for a while, but these remedies did little good.
Prophetic movements sprang up, some peaceful. But the religious were hesitant to blame God for something so disruptive and so – apparently – pointless. But others responded to the Hum with joy. Many of the young sang along with it, danced, moshed. Academic composers wrote above and around the Hum descants, variations.
We all become accustomed to the Hum after a few months, sometimes even managed to ignore it, as we had other things to concern us. Most of the children born after the Hum began couldn’t even hear it. Eventually, I supposed, only decibel-meters twitching their hands could tell us that the Hum was still there, still with us where there used to be silence.
But then something changed. There were rumors that the Hum was softer, less heard. An excited TVoice reported that the Hum was fading, had disappeared from some parts of the world. But how did the excited voice know this? Behind it couldn’t we hear a gentle sound, a purring?
But then it really happened. Whatever it had been that hummed, stopped humming.
We waited for the Hum to return, but it has not. There is a great and terrible silence in the world again, a silence we thought we’d finally conquered. What is there to hear now, but each other’s voices? We pray for the Hum to return.
[* The title, "Something has gone wrong..." is from Samuel Beckett]
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See www.terencekuch.net for a profile of the author, publications, reviews, etc. His speculative fiction novels * may be purchased in paperback or Kindle formats via his Amazon author page, www.amazon.com/author/terencekuch
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*The Seventh Effect: a thriller from Melange Publications about a new kind of bioterrorist plot against the USA.
*See/Saw: a literary adventure from Ink Smith Publications about buying and selling memories – mostly of sex.