I don’t know how much time I have to record this, but someone needs to know why I’m dead.
My name is Ian Mayo. I am, or at least was a major crimes investigator for the city. Two years ago a man named Jeff Steward went to work with two pistols and changed my life, no our lives, forever.
Jeff was sensitive. Not sensitive as in sweet. Sensitive like allergic. At least that’s what I thought until the others. So many others.
Two years ago Mr Steward was a well liked, well adjusted investment banker. Known as that guy who’s the first to arrive and the last to leave. You know, a real go getter, until one Thursday afternoon the well adjusted banker came back from lunch the well armed banker and systematically shot down every member of the staff.
The overkill was incomprehensible. Over the hours of stand off it appeared that he would periodically empty a clip into one or another of the long dead bodies. His boss’s secretary alone had thirty seven bullets in her. All but two postmortem. She had started this new job that morning, and I never found a shred of evidence that he had ever seen her before that morning……
I have to turn the light off now, it’s getting dark enough to see it……….
Hours after the stand off ended when a barrage of bullets engulfed the by then knife wielding Mr. Steward, who emerged from the building with guns blazing their last. He tossed them aside and continued his advance on the police barricade with a box cutter of all things in his hand. These officers had been dodging bullets for hours, his advance ended abruptly.
I walked the crime scene of broken bodies. I scoured his car, still loaded with ammunition. I flipped every cushion in his house. Checked every deleted file on his computer. Everything.
Not one shred of evidence explained his rage. Sure he did seem a little more aggressive in his correspondence, there was some broken pottery in his well lit kitchen, but it had been carefully swept up and disposed of in his garbage. Where was the suicide note? the Manifesto? even some jilted love poems? Nothing. Not one clue.
He was a hard working rich guy who until the last few months, spent every weekend sailing on a lake in the mountains where he had a cabin. I went up to the cabin thinking I would find some clue to his senseless act of violence, but instead what I found was astonishing….
Damn it that screaming is unbearable, I need to find a new hiding place before I can continue….
Steward’s cabin was a paradise of simplicity. Like stepping into the past. Oil lamps, wood burning stove, exquisite paintings on the walls of landscapes and animals that seems almost real in their detail. Poetry, hand written in a calligraphy of intense beauty, that the library told me was all original and all excellently tempo-ed, what ever that means.
Seems our aggressive banker was at heart a gentle artist. It just made the case even more confusing.
Months went by, wasted. I even started reading some of Steward’s poetry in desperation for a clue.
The mosquito buzz is a lullaby in darkness while the bright buzz of your whisper awakens all with it’s intensity.
Ever growing, ever spreading, inescapable in it’s need
They said his stuff was good. I don’t know, but this line is what put me on the trail. Just to late to make a difference…….
Street lights are coming on, gotta be quiet now.
Buzzing, that’s all I had, but I ran with it.
I revisited every location, every event, at times letting my other cases slide. I started to get in trouble for being obsessed, but I knew this was important in some way. The chief wanted me to drop it and yelled for quite a while about the fact we were understaffed. There was a new Nuclear plant only a few miles out of town and a lot of rough characters had shown up looking for work, and worse, there were a lot of laid off construction guys around who had just finished building the place. Bar fights, stabbings and drunken shootings were getting out of hand. Tempers were high and seemed to be getting higher. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time. None of us did.
A few weeks later I got a break from the streets and went to Jack Steward’s old office. It was still not occupied even a year and a half later. I remember sitting at Jack’s desk and resting my head on it. Frustration rising at my inability to figure this out.
Why does a guy suddenly snap and take out his friends, family or even strangers? There had been a number of those over the last few weeks, but I always came back to this case. The buzzing in my head was distracting me. then it hit me.
I lifted my head, there was no computer, no clock, not even a desk lamp. the Desk was completely bare.
So why was it vibrating slightly?
I bent down to feel the legs of the desk, no vibration. Nothing, but by resting my hand on the surface I could feel the subtle vibration in my palm. Perplexed I looked around the empty office. Only the fluorescent lights were on overhead buzzing slightly like florescent do.
I walked over to the light switch and turned them off, working my way back to the desk in the shadows, the vibration went away, but not all at once, it faded, like an echo, slowly. After a few minutes of silence I turned the lights back on. Blinking in the sudden glare, I returned to the desk and again the buzzing vibration was all to obvious.
Was that it? Was that the buzz in Jack’s poetry? He must have spent hours under these lights exposed to the constant vibration day after day. Could this constant exposure have eventually made him snap?
I was grasping at straws, and I knew it, but it nagged at me, what did we really know? Animals react to subtle vibration, humans seem to ignore them, or are swayed by a roaring base beat. A base beat that seems to energize some, while annoying others…
There’s a fight starting above me, that always draws a crowd. Time to move….
I started to research florescent lights and the way they work, the ballast that sways the current to excite the gas within, vibrating it into luminosity. They were invented at the beginning of the 20th century by Tesla and Edison, but ignored till the 1930s when they appeared as consumer products. By the end of the Second World War they were common, by 1951 they were half the light sources in America. That is also when we started to see a rise in violent crime.
By the 1970s they were in every office, and the expression, postal came into existence when office workers began gunning down coworkers, like the office was a shooting gallery.
They were in every school by the end of the 20th century and schools became the new shooting galleries. By the beginning of the 21st century florescent lights were everywhere, street lights, in our homes. Everywhere we went we were bombarded with florescent lights and that vibration.
Random violence, mass shootings were almost a daily event by then. Inexplicable rage at each other and ourselves.
I began to realize that Jack Steward and his ilk were the canaries in the coal mine of our cities. People more susceptible to the vibration for one reason or another, lashing out, taking crowds of victims with them in a bloody neon rage. I reported my findings to the chief. The argument was spectacular, and at the end, he had a broken nose and I was no longer a police officer.
Damn it, they’re getting closer, to many around, I can’t avoid them all…
When fights started breaking out all over the city, I knew I was right, but it was affecting me as well. I couldn’t concentrate, every little thing was distracting me and I was ready to fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. When I drew my side arm and fired at a car that cut me off at a stop light I knew I had to get away. There were no more police officers by then, just angry guys in uniform. Crime was out of hand. I fled to Steward’s cabin, I still had the keys.
Within a day of getting to the cabin I began to calm down. The stress bled away and I could think clearly again. By the end of the week I felt calmer then I had in years. I would listen to my car radio every night, and learned that it wasn’t just my city, all the major cities were burning, towns even, and like stars at dawn, each radio signal winked out.
I spent six months at that cabin until I ran out of supplies. I figured it would be safe to return to the city to buy some food. There is only so long something like that can be maintained and by now the power must be out all over.
They’re everywhere out there. It’s not safe here…..
I drove into the city yesterday just before evening, the destruction was unbelievable, fires still burned here and there, some looked fresh. Bodies littered the streets. It was a nightmare in daylight. I was almost at what use to be a grocery store when I realized my mistake. A shot rang out and shattered the window of my car. Within seconds several more shots took out the engine and I ran for cover as it stuttered to a halt.
Why were they shooting at me? And then as the sun set to my horror, the street lights started to come on. The nuclear plant was still operating, even at minimal power electricity was running in the wires and the lights were still on. Store front signs were illuminated by dozens of florescent lights I hadn’t noticed in the sun, still sending out their vibration, lights guaranteed for 3-5 years still worked, and will continue to work for years. I ran…
Damn it I think I’ve been spotted.
In a city where the violent are only afraid of the more violent, I am a sheep among wolves. They seem to be able to sense it, or smell my fear. Maybe they just see the horror and fear in my eyes. But it draws them like flies. There’s no place left to run and too many to fight. I’m going to hide this recording in this desk and hope that someone finds it. There are places in the world where people don’t use florescent light. Eventually they will come looking. Just remember it was not the radiation from the power plant that caused this, not a drug, not a toxin. It’s the florescent lights. The vibration gets into your bones, gets into your head and just keeps poking at you. Eventually something snaps.
If you’re listening to this, for God sake turn out the light….
Go fund me at dan-oneail-canadian-writer
- I want to thank Bianca for her assistance in this. She lit the match that got this story cooking.