The Wail


The district I live in is an old fashioned clock; the houses have been crafted with skill and grace, the cramped quarters engineered for efficiency, and each turn of its gears is clearly audible. Any given day I am audience to a symphony of sound and vibration: the low bellow of the tugboats passing between the raised gates of the drawbridge on their way to deposit their cargo a half-mile downriver; the whistle of the freight train lumbering through town along its rusted tracks; the throaty rumble of the Medevac helicopter and the high-pitched whine of the Sheriff’s chopper as they circle not-so-high above; the trumpet of the fireman’s summon (a shrill beast with no concept of time or depth of slumber); and the fire and police stations that burst with sudden life, spewing out urgent shrieks in multiples.

This morning belonged to the emergency department. For over eight minutes the air filled with growing numbers of sirens. As I listened, I became certain the creator of that particular sound knew exactly what he was doing. In hearing that shrieking for such a prolonged period, I came to believe the inventor not only understood the noise that would most likely gain a semi-alert driver’s attention, but sensed its source. Because as I stood listening to that manufactured conveyance of urgency, I, too, heard its origination.

My mother’s not breathing! I can’t get her breathing!

Oh God, he’s really going to kill me this time!

They’re trapped! The car is flipped over and they’re trapped!

The Blood! It’s everywhere!

Within that electronic wail, I heard those who summoned it–heard their anxiety, their pain, their horror. I heard their screams. Even the little old lady who wanted a free ride and someone to alleviate her crushing loneliness for just an hour—I heard her, too.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

11 responses to “The Wail

  • sexy

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  • Jay

    There are some sounds you just never get used to hearing.

  • Charles Gramlich

    I think what you have right here is flash actually. Maybe a word tweak here and there. the key to flash is in the ending, I think. It’s like haiku, best with a surprise at the end.

  • Avery DeBow

    Sqt — You make a girl feel pretty damn good.Laughingwolf — Thanks. I’ll go visit Mr. Evans’ page and do some studying.

  • laughingwolf

    very nicely wrought, avery… you’ve captured a lot in those few lines!as for flash, have a look at jason evans’ latest challenge, some exceptionally good entries there….

  • SQT

    How are you not published yet? You best get published soon or I will lose all hope in the industry to recognize talented people.

  • Avery DeBow

    Charles — You know, it felt even more powerful than I think I was able to express. I think I’d like to explore it further. But, going back to Steve’s earlier post, I don’t think I’d even know how to do flash. Maybe if I can get my act together… Any advice on flash?Sidney — Thanks. Wait until you’re done with your MFA; you’ll be ripping it apart. ;)Lana — Thank you? Steve — I love the British sirens; they make tragedy so much more comical. Maybe I watched too much Python growing up…

  • Steve Malley

    There’s something nice and solid and terrifying about American sirens. Imagine having the worst moments of your life attended by the genteel British tones of eee-NEW eee-NEW…

  • Sidney

    I agree with Charles. Very nicely worded and put together.

  • Charles Gramlich

    Geeze, Avery, you gave me goose bumps here. This is the core of something really powerful. Maybe a really strong flash fiction. I don’t know, but it’s almost a flash as it is.

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