“It’s dark,” Kevin pulled his hand off the dial the moment he heard the familiar voice. The 36-year-old man sat alone in his basement at midnight. Dozens of radios covered the wooden table in front of him; shortwave was his hobby of choice.
A week ago he stumbled across something that sounded like a radio show. A man told a story about being lost in the dark and finding his way to an abandoned radio station. The story entranced Kevin for over an hour before the man signed off. His final words weighed on Kevin’s mind.
“If anyone’s listening, help me. Please. This is really happening to me. I’ll broadcast again when it’s safe.” When static took over the signal, Kevin wished he had taken notes. He made note of the station and vowed to try again the next night.
He kept one radio on the station the next night while spending time on his other radios. That second night, he realized the broadcast could come through on different stations. While scanning, he heard the tail end of the strange broadcast again on a different channel. It both made the signal more mysterious and gave it more credence at the same time. The last moment he caught was different from the night before, so Kevin at least knew it wasn’t a recording.
“I can’t hold out much longer. Something’s wrong here, I haven’t seen the sun in weeks. Help me,” the voice said before static took his place.
Now, a week later, Kevin found the voice again. He had a notebook in front of him ready to take notes to hopefully help the person.
“I can’t see my hand in front of my face without a flashlight. The darkness feels heavy; it’s like thick fog all day, everywhere I go. I only found the radio station because the lights were on. It sounds crazy,” the voice chuckled. “I don’t think I’m on Earth anymore. Everything looks like Earth, I’m in an Earth building but, it doesn’t feel like Earth,” he sighed. “I haven’t seen any other people either. I’ve explored this maze of a city, but I’m the only one here.”
“The only human here,” the familiar stranger added after a thoughtful silence. There are creatures, beasts in the shadows. They won’t let me leave the city, and sometimes they keep me out of the radio station. It’s weird, sometimes they don’t let me come to the station. I wonder why only some days?”
Kevin immediately wrote down three days and dates in his notebook; the three times he heard the broadcast. He didn’t know if he’d be able to help, or how long it might take. But, he hoped to maybe find a pattern of broadcast days.
“It’d be easier to help him if I could talk to him,” a stray thought crossed Kevin’s mind and he dropped the pen. “Can I talk to him?” he wondered aloud while staring at the stocky, rectangular mic attached to the radio. He grabbed it without a second thought.
“Hello?” he pressed the button. “Can you read me?”
“OH MY GOD!” the voice shouted through the radio. “HELLO! I read you! Can you help me?” he asked.
“I want to,” Kevin replied. “I don’t know where you are. I heard you say you might not be on Earth, how did you get there?”
“I touched the Abyss,” the radio said.
“Huh?” Kevin’s confusion was met with another chuckle.
“It’s a game. At least, I thought it was a game. You’re supposed to put your hand on a mirror in a pitch-black room at night. No light at all, nothing coming in through a crack, or the clock on a phone. Absolutely no light. Then say, ‘It is my soul’s deepest wish to know the depths of the Abyss’. I did that, then woke up here.”
“Uh huh,” Kevin said. By default, he did not believe the strange situation; however, he could not deny the signal was a mystery. He reasoned the quickest way to find out was to try it himself; it was the middle of the night after all. He’d had the lights go out in while in his basement before; he knew how dark it could get.
“Would it help you in any way if I tried that?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I’d assume, ‘no’, but somehow we’re talking. Maybe you’re meant to help me. The universe works in mysterious ways, maybe someone chose you for something.”
“I’m gonna try,” Kevin’s skepticism made the decision easy. The worst-case scenario was that he had to sit in the dark for a bit.
“Thank you!” the radio said. “When?”
“Now-ish, gimme a sec,” Kevin stood from the table. He grabbed a nearby blanket and covered the radios to block out the few LEDs. Then, he grabbed the remote for the lights and wandered over to the un-finished bar in the corner of the basement. Three years ago he started to build a bar; he got as far as installing a mirror on the wall before he discovered shortwave. The rest of the money he set aside for the project was poured into radios.
“This is crazy,” Kevin smiled at his reflection. He was a balding, portly man with a wild, ungroomed beard. He placed a hand against the cool glass and stared into his own eyes. “Here goes,” he pressed the remote and turned off the lights. He stared straight ahead through the blackness as he imagined staring into his own eyes. He took a deep breath.
“It is my soul’s deepest wish to know the depths of the Abyss,” he said. Suddenly, he felt the briefest contact at his fingertips. It was the same sensation he felt when touching the fingers of each hand to each other. It only lasted for a fraction of a moment, but it was startling enough that Kevin panicked. He pressed the button to turn the lights back on, and they did. Lights filled the basement room in front of Kevin, but his immediate surroundings still seemed dark.
“What the hell?” Kevin asked in confusion. His hand was still pressed against the glass, but his reflection’s hand was not. His reflection stood in the bright basement smiling at him.
“I just realized, you didn’t ask me my name,” the him on the other side said. “It’s Kevin,” he smiled and waved. “Be careful out there,” he added. “It’s dark.”