• J. M. Aznárez


Updated: Aug 18, 2021

I stood by the river's edge for some time, pondering. It was already past sundown, and the street lamps had flickered on a while ago. Embittered and selfish, they cast their baleful glares straight downwards, bathing the area immediately beneath them in a sickly orange glow but leaving the rest of the world to fend off the darkness by itself. One of the lamp posts had a faulty bulb which, in its death throes, kept blinking. As I'd walked past I had noticed that every time the dying bulb blinked, there was something in the river that seemed to... blink back. That's how I saw it. And so there I was, standing by the edge of the river, squinting through my glasses trying to get a better look at what appeared to be an old vintage radio, the brass parts of which glinted in the fitful artificial light.

Under any other circumstances I would not have thought twice about continuing my walk and leaving the decrepit, discarded thing to its sorry fate - I wouldn't consider myself obsessive, but I certainly wasn't willing to ruin my shoes and trousers wading through the river muck just to retrieve an aged, battered relic. And yet... it didn't look battered at all. In fact, the longer I looked, the more it appeared to be almost new. And it wasn't even that far away from where I stood, either - I would barely have to take two steps into the riverbank to reach it...

I remember clicking my tongue in slight annoyance as my curiosity won the battle and I reluctantly clambered down the short stone wall that borders the river. My feet landed on the greenish-brown mud with a soft squelch and I began to sink right away, a fact that I registered with no small amount of alarm. I decided that I'd forgo caution and instead try to get this ridiculous endeavour over with as fast as possible; I reached the radio in two quick, awkward strides and pulled it out of the muck.

Half an hour later I was walking back into my flat.

Another half hour, and the radio was clean - as clean as I could make it - and sitting on the coffee table in my living room. As I rinsed my hands in the kitchen sink, I went over what little I'd managed to surmise from my superficial examination of the old curio: it was antique, of that I was sure, but it had been painstakingly maintained and looked after - to the point of obsession, I reckoned. The only sign of damage or violence against it that I could find was the fact that it was missing its plug - whether the cable had been cut or pulled out I couldn't say, since I'd been unable to loosen the screws that held the back plate in place. At first I thought they might've rusted into their grooves, but they were as spotless as the rest of the radio - they simply refused to budge, regardless of the amount of force I applied. I'd given up after a while. I wasn't expecting it to work, anyway - I'd keep it as a piece of décor, or maybe I'd find a buyer who would...

Something pulled me from my reverie. A noise, coming from the living room. It sounded like... a squawk, then a... hiss. I froze, soapy water dripping from my hands.

It came again. A distorted squeak, then a low drone, then... silence.

I walked slowly out of the kitchen and into the living room. It was empty, of course. I wasn't expecting there to be anyone. I'd recognised the noise the moment I'd heard it.

It was the sound a radio makes when it's being tuned.

My gaze fell upon it. It was there still, on my coffee table, and I could faintly hear the sound of static coming from its speaker. I remember at the time I was more confused than scared.

That changed very quickly.

As I approached the artifact to examine it further, it squawked again. I clearly saw one of its tuning knobs begin to turn slowly, on its own. Then it stopped, and I was met with more white noise.

I was about to pick the radio up when something happened that made me jump back like I'd been burned. I am not ashamed to admit that I screamed.

There came a voice from the radio. A plaintive, soul-wrenchingly anguished whisper:

"Help me."

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