Author : Langdon Hickman

There wasn’t a conscious decision to eliminate sound. At least not one that anyone could remember. One day, the world woke up to silence.

No one was bothered by the sudden stark silence. It felt freeing, like a burden had been lifted. They wanted it, yearned for it. Each day was spent in radiant joy, their hearts beaming out love to each other. Crime rates dropped. Domestic violence almost ground to a standstill. Drug use practically evaporated overnight and those who once had judged the addicts of the world aided them in overcoming their withdrawal effects.

There had been a sound before the silence came. It was like an infection, a virulent sonic meme forcing its way through the veins and arteries of the sound-drenched planet like cocaine careening for the brain. One day, a song appeared on the internet. The file description was empty. It was entitled Song 1.mp3. It started spreading through forums and chat rooms at lightning speed, exploding into life almost the moment it became available. It was a curious song, just a throbbing dance beat, staccato synthesizers, cold washes of sound and steady pulse that almost demanded that you dance. It was an epidemic. It was uploaded to iPods, burned to CDs, recorded to tape, pulled to almost every medium imaginable. Missionaries and aid workers would show up to the poor areas of the world carrying it with them and would leave it in their wake on old boom boxes and Walkmen. The song knew no limits. The internet would not be its cage. It would live.

Musicians began incorporating it into their works. It was simple enough. The piece was skeletal, could fit comfortably almost any song with minor modification. Remixes were pressed, bedroom musicians pumped out material laced with Song 1 and its pulse. What was stranger was when older albums started to show the sound, as though it had always been in the DNA of the music waiting for humanity to know what to listen to. Every song on every album. A single pulse echoing forever.

People said that if you translated the synthesizer lines using a complex computer program, you’d see alien messages. Some said no, it’s Morse code and it says the name of god. The song became an obsession and decoding it became everything. But then the silence came.

Sometimes there would be gatherings, spontaneous and inexplicable, people joining together in masses of thousands in empty spaces without a word, without a sound. They would stand together and they would hear the pulse and then they would disperse. No one knew why. No one cared anymore. There was peace. Peace and the pulse.


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