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Les Springer couldn’t get to sleep that night. The noise was overwhelming, more than it had ever been before. He was worn out after another long day delivering the mail to the foul-smelling, dirty-haired urbanites along his route. They should know how to clean themselves by now. There’s no reason for them not to.

“Are you ready to turn it up to full power, Keith?” Neil had been working with him for three months restoring the old soundboard that the college theater department moved to a new building over the past year. The two had been fooling around with the thing, producing whatever odd combinations they could. Keith had his doubts about turning the machine on all the way.

“It’ll wake up your Dad,” he explained.

“Forget the noise,” Neil answered, “it’s time to see what this can really do!” Keith shrugged, and then moved pushed the bar to its highest position. Neil pushed the button on the upper left. On it was the image of a lightning bolt.


The forecast for the evening was a clear sky overnight, with a low of 41 degrees. Nothing of interest appeared overhead much of the evening. That all changed when the piercing sound was heard. Two blocks from where Les was struggling to go to bed, white light seemed by a maple. A large section of the wood was burnt, and branches began to split.

Wanting to get a closer look, Keith decided to try. He pushed the button with the lightning bolt. Seconds later, a mass of sticks, branches and leaves snapped off the tree, its fall stopped abruptly by a slanted roof. Les was not the only one to be startled by that. Many others awoke to the noise, but with nothing coming down, there appeared to be no explanation among them for the tree damage. Les didn’t really care for any of that. It’s wasn’t his property, so why should he. He needed his sleep, and he wanted to get back to it as soon as he could.

Neil and Keith, the basement dwellers, had no idea of what had gone on. Any reports of damage dd not come to them until the morning.

“We better stop.” Keith said. “Nobody wants to be shaken up any more tonight.”

Neil was looking elsewhere, not paying any attention to the concerns of the outside world. A steam whistle, with a lifelike shine, was shown on a different button, toward the bottom left of the soundboard. Steam engines hadn’t run through town since Les was a child.

“Let’s say we bring back an old tradition!” Neil snickered.


The floorboards began to shake again. First it was only a little, but as time went on, the shaking only became more violent. All the while, the whistle blew louder. Sweat began to drip all over Les, becoming colder and heavier as time went on.

A chugging noise accompanied, the whistle. It went faster and faster. Then, it all stopped with a crashing thud, which to many felt as if it were a minor earthquake.

He did not know what else was coming, but something was coming, and soon.

“Why would that be there? I don’t think there’d be many uses for it.”

“There has to be a reason. What is the point of anything being there if no one is supposed to use it?”

An army tank, somehow without any mud or rust upon it, had caught Neil’s eye.


The wall was torn apart, allowing the breeze to come through all the time. The dresser, with the lamp and family pictures on top, and the shirts and socks inside, were reduced to rubble. Tread marks sullied the floor. They went straight past the bed and came barreling toward the door. The dust nearly blinded him, and he began to wheeze and cough unceasingly.

As the tank left the ruins of the Springer house, Les tried to follow its progress. Tiptoeing toward the other side, he saw it fade into the darkness as it went through the back wall.

“No wa...COUGH....ohhhhh!”

And with that, he fell over. Weakened by the tank’s weight, the impact made a hole in the floor, sending Les to a sleep much longer than the one he had had overnight.


Image of The Witching Hour


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