Words & Verses 1961

1961 Magazine

The Sound

The sound was gradually increasing; its buzzing irritation had grown until it was quite painful.

It had been foggy and damp for days, and this day had started just like the previous ones, except that this morning the cold, wispy blanket of mist had seemed strangely foreboding. It hung in space quiet, icy, yet sensitive, waiting and waiting like a mute child.

The year was 2000 AD; we were emerging out of the nineteen-hundreds into a new and dangerous world. Kennedy, the statesman of the latter nineteen-hundreds, had been assassinated. The British Monarchy had been overthrown, and the age-old towers and castles of England were the only reminders of its former kings and queens.

The world had changed alarmingly. The old ideals of comradeship and brotherly love between nations had died, and in their stead hate and deceit grew in the troubled minds of men. Even the people had changed; those who mattered were those who had achieved quick wealth and their rise up the social scale had disrupted all classes. The arts - music, literature, painting - had been abandoned, and in their place, drinking and gambling flourished. Morality had disintegrated, and had given way to selfishness and apathy, which had further enslaved or exterminated the coloured races.

So here we had this white master-race, reproducing its kind at a fantastic speed - and now confronted and puzzled by this ominous sound.

It had no obvious source, but seemed just to descend from the skies and smother the land in its waves. As it increased in volume, the land became overcast and dark, and the vegetation began slowly to wither.

I was at school when the noise began. A class of busy, bustling noisy boys suddenly became hushed and resigned. They sat quiet and transfixed, while the dreaded buzz pervaded the quiet, fog-bound suburbia, penetrating doors and windows into the brains and minds of a shocked race.

It was a supernatural stillness. The complete school sat silent and still, paralysed, undergoing a shocking physical and mental change. Healthy young bodies once brown and supple began slowly to wither and stiffen.

It was not only Bradford that had been hit, but the complete country. Transport had been halted, television had been paralysed, and the gigantic wall-sized screens transmitted a chaotic silent picture of death in the studios. The moving parts of a once complex and co-ordinated organisation were slowly rotting, dying like the entire country.

By eleven o’clock death had nearly completed its task. The great trunk roads were now littered with dead. Those few who still lived were to be seen in small groups, re-learning to pray, but unavailingly as one by one they fell like the rest. Cars lay damaged and smashed in ditches and fields, fine metal coffins for their occupants.

By noon the flame of life throughout the land burned very low indeed. By one o’clock a race had died. Heaps of stiff, red bodies told their own story. But the sound continued, eager to exterminate to the end.

It had taken less than five hours for the divine wrath to act. As in Noah’s time, some few did remain. I was one of them. By dusk the sound grew less piercing. The animals, which had stood silent and still during the day, broke again into noise and movement, for they, like us, had been chosen to replenish the earth with life.

As darkness fell, silence came with it. The sound had ended, and man was, for the second time, starting afresh.

John R Myers 5 Sc