That old radio we had found months ago was playing music again – a distorted and static-filled version of some classical piece none of us could place. It managed to be both refreshing as well as creepy.
We had been living here for over a year now. Stuart, one of the first of the group to wake up here had been obsessed with keeping track of the time we had spent trapped here – tallying every day on a bit of wood in his room. He was a bit eccentric, insisting that we would find a way back to Earth and wanted to see if there was a “time dilation effect” when we returned from this eldritch place. Like I said, he was pretty eccentric. But he was definitely the most optimistic of all us. Everyone other than him had accepted that we were going to be stuck here forever. It had started with six of us, waking up together in freezing cave. No memory of who we were or how we had got here. The first few weeks were really rough – trying to gather supplies and survive the cold.
Over time we had managed to create some homes out of wood and a mixture snow and wood shavings. Sandy insisted that this snow and wood shaving thing was called “Pykrete”, but it sounded like a made up word to the rest of us. We really didn’t care what is was called though, it allowed us to create our homes, wooden cabins with reinforced snow for when the wind was really biting.
Others had appeared over time, with no memory and absolutely terrified over the alien situation they had awoken to. We almost always heard them first, shouting or screaming, which would result in two of us forming a search party and going out to find them and bringing them back. There were 12 of us now and we had grown close as a group. Some of them had fragments of memories return, but none of these memories included why we were here.
It’s such a surreal way of life when you stop and think about the reality of our situation, but really the day had been pretty normal for us. We had spent most of the day in the workshop, creating the parts of a machine which would automate the process of creating other components. It’s a bit strange to think that we are stuck in a place that makes no sense and we are trying to industrialize it. Maybe that is human nature? To try and impose order on the chaos?
The music faded and was replaced by static. I know some of the folks here hate this time. The messages would start coming through now. Stuart would always write down as many as he could and actually sat up when the music faded, keen and eager to listen. A couple of others got up to leave so they wouldn’t be exposed to whatever random nonsense the radio picked up. The first voice that came through sounded German, but spoke in English – a calm sounding female voice, almost as if she was reading from a script.
“Subject One: But that doesn’t make sense.
Subject Two: Look! You can touch it and feel along it.
Subject One: But that isn’t what I see.
Subject Two: Your eyes are lying too you! the angle is wrong.
Subject One: I can’t take this any more”
Static filled the room again. It certainly wasn’t the strangest thing we had heard from the radio. We would discuss it later, for now all eyes were on the radio, watching the green dial as it pulsated. The next voice came through quickly, a very posh English accent, male.
“Echo Charlie Sierra – Position has been made stable, continuing on mission”
We often heard military type stuff and this sounded like one of those things. We heard a lot of Morse code in various pitches, but no one here could interpret it. I do remember hearing Morse in a lot of movies (one of the memories that had returned to me) and always thinking I should take some time to learn it – but I never did. I’d actually become quite the story teller here, recounting the movies I had seen that others couldn’t remember. I did feel like a little bit of a cheat, claiming them as my stories, but I figured it was a little lie that entertained folks and kept the morale up. The next thing to come up was a string of numbers, read out by what sounded like a machine.
“78 111 116 32 97 108 108 32 118 111 120 101 108 115 32 104 97 118 101 32 115 105 120 32 115 105 100 101 115”
Nadia had a theory about messages like these. She called them number stations and said that they had been set up during the cold war as some sort of back up system in case a country was wiped out by nukes. Some sort of automated thing where if the numbers weren’t spoken, the nukes would launch. After some moonshine (surprisingly we had built a still before we had actually built any chairs, priorities!) she might get darker and say that number stations had been around longer than humanity – that when they had turned on the first radio they had heard numbers being spoken from it. Then she would often get sullen and start muttering in Russian.
“Today is the 14th February 2020”
The dial clicked off. Silence filled the room. So Stuart had been right – we had been stuck here an entire year! I swore out loud, and then I looked at the others. They all looked shocked. Stuart shook his head – “that can’t be right, that date was seven years ago”.
Nadia cried out “I can’t have been here for eight years!”.
And then room descended in chaos as we discovered something new about us. None of us had come from the same place in time.
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