Classical music now. Something very authoritative that made me think of troops storming the beaches at Normandy. It could’ve easily gone along with those black and white newsreels they used to show before movies back in Gramma’s day. I felt a twinge of sadness, but somehow it didn’t hurt as badly as I expected; the radio was doing what it always had. With or without Gramma here, its gentle staticky hum was soothing.
I kept turning the knob, letting the different voices and music wash over me. I half expected to look up and see her sitting on the couch above me, smiling.
I passed a twangy country station and then suddenly I hit a patch of fuzz, followed by a keening whine. It droned on even though I passed it, I should’ve passed it, the stations weren’t that far apart and yet the radio whined, a sound that seemed to buzz through my very bones.
“Shit,” I muttered, shaken out of my soothing place. I turned the dial back and forth, trying to get away from the terrible noise. When it seemed like I couldn’t escape it I finally gave up and reached for the power knob to turn the radio off.
“Help me,” a voice whispered, and I was so surprised I fell back on my butt, nearly taking the knob with me.
Surely I hadn’t heard what I thought I did. It was just my well-trained ears looking for voices in the static as I had since I was young. That was surely what it was, just a mistake, but the whine had faded away, leaving nothing but dead air in its place and what I could’ve sworn was the sound of someone breathing heavily.
Another moment passed as I sat there, legs crossed like a child, staring at the faux-vintage speakers of my radio.
“…water’s high,” said a different voice this time, and I felt my mouth go dry.
The first one had been a man, very clearly a man in distress if I was being honest with myself, and the second was a woman. I heard them talking again, quietly to each other, as though someone had put a hand over the microphone so they could speak privately.
“Hear, put your ear to it,” the woman’s muffled voice murmured. “See, it’s working, just let me do it.”
“It’s a radio play,” I said to my empty living room. “It’s a radio play, or someone fucking around on a CB—“
“SOS,” said the woman’s voice, more clearly now. She spoke with confidence but there was something behind that, something that told me she was trying to hold herself together. “SOS. We’ve – no, Fred, stop—“
“Speak!” the man’s voice cried, and he sounded as though he had already fallen apart. It was horrible to hear; he almost seemed to be drunk, his words slurring together, but it was stretched thin by panic. If it was a radio play it was a good one.
His voice was much louder than hers had been, as though the microphone was right up against his mouth.
“Please,” he shouted, “oh, it’s rising, oh, oh…”