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Red leaves swirled through the open sky, but Katie paid no mind to the picturesque scene transpiring outside her window. Her attention was transfixed on the complex net of wires and scraps of metal that sat on her mahogany desk. School had just let out for Thanksgiving break, and while her mother and father toiled away on making sure everything would be ready for the family meal, Katie found herself in a state of perpetual boredom. That is, until, she discovered the old PC in her father's office. Having no use for it anymore, her father had granted her permission to take the old monitor apart; not for any particular reason, just for the fun of it. Now the question remained: what would she do with the pieces? She was gifted enough to craft something out of the old wires and aging metal pieces, but what?

A proverbial light bulb struck the top of Katie's head as the wind howled louder outside. Immediately, she pushed everything to the sides of her desk, laying out a pencil and a sheet of paper.

"So the wires go there," she mumbled to herself, fervently drawing up schematics, "and I could connect the audio component to the... yes, yes!"

She bobbed up and down in her seat in excitement, her nimble fingers stringing red wires to blue wires, fitting the mesh of cables into a clunky metal shell. Her contraption was almost complete, but there was one thing missing:

"Shit! Where did I put those old walkie talkies?" Katie asked out loud to nobody in particular. She turned away from her desk, dropping to her hands and knees to look under her bed. She dug through old sweaters, stuffed animals, and an unsanitary amount of garbage before eventually pulling out the worn down walkie talkie box. She removed one of the miniature radios, placing it on the desk beside the square device she had assembled. She carefully began to take apart the walkie talkie, taking care to keep the screws intact in case she needed them in the future. Eventually, she took what she needed from the walkie, gently placing it into the center of the open wiring panel. She spent the next 20 minutes connecting the new part to the rest of the device, refitting wires and readjusting just about every aspect of the device to conform to the new piece. It did feel like too much effort, but it was all worth it.

"You're the most annoying piece of this radio," Katie said, staring at the final component of the device, "but you're what's gonna make this whole thing work right!"

It didn't work right. At least, not for a while. Katie sat at her desk, poking the silent radio with her pencil. She wasn't sure if she expected it to suddenly spring to life or not, but she wasn't prepared for total radio silence either.

"Come on, pick up a signal, dammit!" she exclaimed, striking the top of the radio with her pencil. At once, a screech of static filled her tiny room. She leaned forward, covering her mouth in excitement as a small voice sputtered to life.

"B... Boss?" a quiet voice said, "What happened?"

Katie was confused. What was this signal, and who was this person trying to reach? Slowly, she clicked one of the computer keys on the side, which she repurposed into a radio button.

"Hello? Who is this?" she asked, uncertain of what to say to the voice on the other end.

"Huh? Mr. Cooper, is that you?" she could hear heavy breathing mixed in with the ambient radio static.

"Um, this is Katie Iverson. I was testing out a homemade radio, I uh, didn't expect to pick up on any real frequencies. What's your name?"

There was temporary silence on the other end. "I'm Harry," the voice said, "how did you find this frequency?"

"I'm not sure, the radio just jolted to life. Who were you calling for? Is something wrong?"

"I was working down in the mine on the edge of town. I think one of the blasts went off or s-something, because I got cut off from the rest of my team. I'm still down here, we're all still down here now that I think about it. Thank god I found this radio. What did you say your name was again?"

Katie's pulse began to pound. "K-Katie Iverson."

"Ok," Harry said slowly, "I'm making my way to the exit of the mine but... oh god."

"What? What's going on? Is this some kind of prank?" Katie said anxiously. The seriousness of the situation didn't seem to strike her. Somebody really was stuck in the mines, and she was the only one they were able to contact.

"The mine exit... it's been sealed off!" Harry yelled. She heard a distant thud, followed by even more distant scuffling sounds. Moments later, he returned. "I don't know how this happened, I... I think someone detonated our reserve blasts, because there's no other way this could've been sealed. Oh god, there's no way out. There's no way out!"

Katie felt as though her heart was going to pound its way out of her ribcage. Weakly, she picked up the radio. "Harry, what's happening? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, but I don't know where my men went, and my supervisor is gone too. Please, call the police, call the mining company, call anybody but there are men trapped down here! I'm... I'm going to try and get through the rubble blocking the exit. Please, I need you to..."

Harry's pleading voice was overtaken by the screeching radio static. Katie sat upright in her chair, unsure of what to do.

It could've all easily been a sick joke by another equally bored teenager with a radio, but it sounded too real. It sounded like a man was actually begging for his life. Not to mention all those weird background noises... if somebody's actually down there, I have to call the police! But if the exit is sealed... they wouldn't make it in time. I live close enough to the mines, is it worth it to go out and investigate?

She remembered the frantic tone of Harry's voice, the ambient sound of him running feverishly around, searching for an alternate way out. Without saying another word, Katie grabbed a flashlight, her phone, and her radio, then pulled her windbreaker over her shirt and slipped out her first-story window.

Thankfully, Katie's house was only about a half mile's walk away from the mine entrance. A cool autumn breeze whirled in the air as Katie swatted tree branches away as she neared the entrance. At last, she reached the clearing, the thick woods all pushed into a circular ring thanks to the wonders of landscaping. In the center of the empty clearing was the mine entrance, a tiny wooden opening that one would see in a wild west movie. In the town's defense, the rest of the mine was up to safety standards; they just never got around to updating the entrance.

Katie stepped into the far edge of the clearing, glancing across it at the mine entrance. She approached with caution, stopping abruptly when she heard her radio jump to life once more in her pocket. The signal was much stronger this time.

"Is anyone there?" Harry's familiar voice called out.

"It's me, I'm on my way."

"Oh, thank god. Did you call the police?"

"I... I didn't, they wouldn't get here in time, their station is all the way across town. I'm sure I can figure out some way to..."

"You what? Some way to what? This isn't a joke, please for the love of god, call 911! You can't dig me out of here all by yourse-"

Silence again. This time it was strange, since she was so close to the mine. Eventually, she could see it; a tiny wooden doorframe carved into a downward sloping hill. She stopped in her tracks again when she noticed the exit was unobstructed.

Then she noticed the facedown miner in front of it.

She shoved the radio back into her pocket, rushing over to the body. He was dressed in a miner's uniform, complete with a helmet, a crude janitor's suit, and a gas mask concealing his face. He was clutching something in his hand. She placed his still hand in hers, letting the object fall into her open palm. It was a radio, with a recorder duct taped to it.

"B... Boss? What happened? I'm Harry. There's no way out." His words were short and seemed stitched together, as though they were... recordings.

Katie's blood ran cold. She dropped the radio, spinning around anxiously. At last, she returned her attention to the downed miner. She leaned in, grasping the nozzle of his gas mask and slowly lifting it upwards to check for any life signs.

The miner's face- or at least, where it should've been- was nothing but a pulpy red mess. One eye was slumped in its socket sloppily, gazing downward like it knew a secret. Katie screamed, quickly turning away. When she had the courage to look back, she noticed the radio was missing.

"Katie," came a familiar voice from inside her pocket. "Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie."

She screamed once more, rising to her feet and stumbling away.

"Where are you going, Katie?" the voice said from her pocket, "they're still down there! Katie, Katie, Katie! Help them!"

She continued to scream when the radio signal got clearer, until eventually she could hear every word being spoken twice; once in real time, and once over the radio. It sounded like it was coming from every corner of the woods beyond the clearing. All of them drawing closer. She stopped screaming, tears streaming down her eyes as her tormentor emerged, clutching the radio in his hands.

The man wore a dark blue parka, black pants, and heavy boots. But the first thing Katie noticed was the human face messily placed over a dark ski mask. The eyes of the face had been cut out, exposing the man's light blue eyes where they would've been. She backed away, nearly tripping over the miner's body.

"You could've called the police. But here you are, all alone. They really are trapped down there, Katie. You're the only one who can save them. You're the only one!"

He lunged, grabbing Katie by the shoulders. He pulled her in close; she clamped her eyes shut in a moment of dread.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Go on down!"

The last thing she remembered was his horrible laughter as she was pushed backwards, falling for what seemed like eternity in pitch blackness.

*******

When the police arrived after a call about noises near the mine, they didn't find a cave in, or any trapped miners. The mine was in perfect working condition. They only recovered two bodies; Katie Iverson, who suffered multiple breaks and fractures after being seemingly thrown into the mine. She died of a heart attack that seemed to be tied most directly to "dying of fright." The other body was one Harry Wilkins- a pizza delivery man. How he ended up so far in the woods, plus wearing a miner's uniform, baffled the police. They also found a tape recorder crudely attached to a radio, playing an endless loop of a fake distress signal. They also discovered that numerous tiny speakers were hidden all around the outskirts of the clearing, all of them rigged to play the same loop.

The man responsible for the murder of Katies Iverson and Harry Wilkins was never caught. This so called "static slasher" (the nickname provided by the locals after hearing of the incident) had left no traces save for the distress signal, which analysts believe to be spoken in his own voice.

The face of Harry Wilkins was never recovered, either.



Written by Parlour
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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