The Noise had descended on the town four days earlier. Oddly, no one could agree on a description. Some called it a “buzz” while others insisted that it sounded more like a whistle. A faction dedicated to keeping the peace between the two camps labeled it a “hum”.
Tensions ran high, as people struggled to cope with the constant din. A meeting in the community hall was called.
“When will it end?” somebody shouted from the crowd.
Silas Barry, the mayor, had no answer.
“How far does it extend?” was another question. “Can we escape?”
A chorus of voices rose, all asking variations on the same thing.
Mayor Barry held up his hand to quiet the rabble. “We don’t know,” he said.
The audience began to turn on him.
“Wait,” he said. “We tried to find out. I sent Oscar Landry to find out about that. He made it as far as Clarksville and he could still hear it. But when he asked the folks out there when the Noise had reached their town, they looked at him like he was funny in the head, and asked him ‘what noise?’.”
“What’s that mean?” Ellen Fairfield demanded from the front row.
“It means,” said Barry, with a worried breath. “That we might be the only ones who can hear it. And we may have to wait it out.”
There was a loud burst of shattering glass from the back of the room, then screams. Someone had broken a window in frustration.
The riot began almost immediately.
“Please,” Barry implored. “Patience!”
But nobody was listening to him anymore. All they heard was the Noise.