Illustration by Jebidiah Bokker
"I think you heard right," Quincy said, "What are you doing in my dad's old work radio?"
"I need to talk to him. Now. The voice turned from whimper to command. Quincy's hand tightened around the silver little box like a vice. He was in no mood to be commanded by a voice in the dark.
"Jump out the nearest window." He would have chucked the radio at the wall if Percy wasn't asleep, a few rooms over.
"Henry's dead, a long time now," Quincy told her.
"No... that's not..." she stumbled. Her quaver poked pins in Quincy's spine. "Elaine?"
"She went with him," he said, suddenly feeling as if it weren't so long ago.
"But...then who was... Roseyard..." the voice in the Radio trickled to a hopeless whisper. Quincy considered what he still had to lose, which he deemed nothing, before he said,
"That was me." The darkness in his parents room rested heavy on his shoulders in the silence.
"How much trouble are you in?" said the woman. Quincy sat on the edge of his parents' bed and melted backwards.
"I'd say my troubles are almost at an end," he told the disembodied voice, "Why were you looking for my dad? The secret dies with me."
"If you really are the one who took out Roseyard's power, and your parents are really gone... you're the only one I can tell. Or, rather, ask," Quincy's eyes shot open, piercing the black, "I don't have time to mince this into bite-sized pieces. What's your interest in unhinging the government?" Quincy pulled himself upright by the sheets clenched in his fist. His first thought was of Percy and how it would affect him. The next was Elly.
"Could you help me change the Appointment of a Seeress?" He was startled by the chuckle that crackled the speaker.
"What position are you in to be making demands? If they only knew..." the woman sighed, "Depending on our ability to work together, we may not need a Seeress."
"You have my interest."
The next Quincy flipped the radio on was on the overgrown hill overlooking the Greenknoll Academy. On his back was a pack of 'bare essentials' as the woman prescribed, for three days. Though he'd followed her every instruction, she'd been firm on withholding her name. On his way, Quincy learned only that she was an associate of his parents and that she'd misinterpreted the Roseyard incident as a signal from them. He'd have pressed for more, but she insisted revealing anything before its time would jeopardize his chance to help the new Seeress. Quincy had little choice but to trust her, which was more choice than he had before. He flipped the radio on, which he saw now was engraved with a gorgeous design of climbing ivy, all the way up the bulky antenna.
"Advance on the north side of the school." the woman said before static took over.
"I get the feeling I'm expendable to you," said Quincy, "In case you're not great at inferences, I'm not welcome there."
"Which is why you had no idea that your class' graduation is today," the radio countered. He glared down at the train gliding into the Academy tunnels. Any other day, they wouldn't run at this hour. She was right. Trains soared in from every track, ferrying the proud parents of Academy graduates who'd Found Their Fate. One way or another, it seemed Quincy would, too. "Ranks are focused around the auditorium for the ceremony. The perimeter is loose, and the north wing will be entirely unmanned in thirty seconds. Start counting," She gave Quincy a beat to commence. "Take the first right inside and follow the hall to the chemistry labs." The radio clicked to static.
"Yes ma'am," Quincy mumbled. She'd already mastered the one way to make him follow instructions: hold something over his head and hang up. Quincy skimmed the hill, low in the grass. With so quick a pass, even the sharpest eyes from the incoming trains missed him.
Inside, Quincy felt like the subject of a ghost story. Every hall in his path was entirely vacant. The lack of smell in the sterile chemistry lab could be described as a smell all its own when he entered. He crouched behind the nearest lab table and flipped on his radio. Again, the woman on the other side seemed to know exactly when.
"Climb in the ventilation exhaust," she said, "Unless things are different down there, the cover should pop off with enough-" she stopped when she heard the clang on Quincy's end, "Good. Climb in and keep straight at the first two forks, then take the left shaft." Quincy climbed in on his chilled, shaky knees. He shimmied along, wondering about her words: down there? Where is she? "Now right," said the woman. Quincy turned.
"The Greenknoll High Academy has already had an exciting year," a voice resonated through the steel duct, against Quincy's skin. He pressed an ear to the floor of the shaft, , but all he heard was the radio rumble,
"Charlotte." He yanked out the device to stare into it. "I'm Charlotte." In all the memory of his parents, he couldn't dig up the name.
"Quincy," he said.
"Quincy... I gave you my name in trust. For this next part, you're going to have to trust me." He hadn't liked the sound of any of Charlotte's instructions, but this one ranked especially low.
"Let's hear it," he sighed.
"There should be a loose panel in the exhaust shaft, three seams ahead of you. It looks over the auditorium where your classmates are graduating. I need you to interrupt them."
YOU ARE READING
Strand: the Silver RadioScience Fiction
A shape against the night, in the light of a highway construction sign, is a young man in trouble. An artist in an artless place, he must fit into Strand's machine, or be thrown away like garbage. From the best laid plans to hapless coincidence, Qui...