The static disappears, and instead there is the wet, slick sound of well-oiled hands picking up an old corded microphone, like breathless fish jumping on a rocky riverbed, flexing their whole bodies. The hands come perilously close to dropping the microphone a few times, then their grip steadies and an androgynous voice starts to read out sounds with regular pauses after three or four syllables, like names from a list. There are traces of Indo-European in the sounds, but as names they all sound desperately fake. The static returns with a peculiar ebb and flow.
Months pass until the next reading. On the day when autumn turns into winter, faithful listeners are treated to what sounds like the same hands as before, fumbling for the microphone, and the same voice monotonously reading from the list of name-sounds: “…Pritya Alaskor. Nevb Slauvt. Gulend Evetchkas. Nsiovet Lkall…” Humans paying attention to the droning are recording all the sounds, catching frantic and excited keystrokes on tape as well, as they try to tell other humans about the sounds. By the time anyone reads their messages, and has time to tune their machines to the right frequency, the static has returned once more like whalesong, signature and indecipherable.
Years pass, this time. The roar of white noise crescendoes and disappears. A sound of dripping, nervous hands gripping the microphone. The vocal chords that create these sounds belong to something other than human. It is using human sounds, yes, but it is new to them. It is an anglerfish with a 40-watt lightbulb in front of its maw now; it is understanding that human things have uses. It likes the name-sounds: “…Kalskk Mäter. Kral Bedun. Nortmater Juerie. Aulp Pill…”
Someone counts how long it takes until the next broadcast, and it is two years and three months and five days. This list sounds more deliberate, slower than the others. It takes ten minutes to read in total and it gets a name right at last – “Evelyn Myers” – and she immediately stands up from her chair and walks toward the door, stretching the cord of her headphones taut until they are yanked off from her head and clatter to the floor. It is snowing outside, and she walks out barefoot, toward the mountains. The last name-sound, hopeless gibberish, is spoken on air and then the slippery hands drop the microphone with a thud, and the static comes back.