[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
At the end of a long and darkened hallway, a wooden door was thumping open and shut in a slow, steady beat. I walked stoically toward it and when my hand reached out to its doorknob, it stilled under my fingertips. I double-checked my program to make sure I was at the right classroom for Marvin Wrackett’s presentation on the art of sound-sculpting. I was.
Mr. Wrackett was an audio engineer before he was murdered at Sunstone Studios in 1974. The room was dark so I could just make out an array of assorted objects on a long table at the front of the classroom. The room had raised seating so I carefully climbed my way to the back. Mr. Wrackett’s mystery objects glittered in the lowered light like deep-sea fish.
It wasn’t long after I settled into my seat that I became aware of a low moan. It continued for some time until my mind began to wander. I had just begun to think about where I might have misplaced Jane Roberts’ book of poetry, procured incredibly from the labyrinth that is the Sherman County inter-library loan system, when the moaning stopped. When it resumed, it was with an added sadness, a deep-seated loneliness suddenly aware of an audience. It ratcheted up in intensity until it was almost unbearable. In an instant the wailing evaporated into the sound of gently falling rain. I could barely remember the sound of it.
A figure emerged from the shadows at the front of the classroom and took a bow. He was holding a rusted metal pipe and piece of tin foil. I couldn’t make out the pattern on his scarf, but I could see that he was satisfied with his performance. His big teeth gleamed beneath perfectly round spectacles. When the sound of rattling started, I couldn’t tell whether his expression changed to concentration or horror.