Ackley bundled herself tight in her hospital blankets, feeling a chill as the cold nitrogen bubbled in her lungs before it was drained by the tireless machines at her bedside. Other people would probably get some kind of superpower if their bodies just made liquid nitrogen out of nowhere; she just felt cold and weak and in an inexplicably small amount of pain. But within the protective walls of her bed she had a labor to continue, and so she used a small Geckoppi-brand flashlight, made in Chung-Kuoh, to review her bucket list. She crossed out some more items – like ordering a trinket from Samanon.com that cost less than its shipping and handling, and acquiring a Geckoppi brand product of minimal use, like a flash light.
Her pigtails perked up with realization, like a pair of antennae.
“These are too unambitious.” She finally admitted.
Outside her fort she heard a knocking on the door to her room. A nurse allowed herself in. Ackley could tell by the clacking steps of her faux-heel shoes. Another pair of shoes followed her, these less familiar. Ackley pushed up the pillow door to her fort and poked her head out. The Nurse stood uncomfortably beside her bed, arranging a chair for a nondescript-looking man in a black suit. It was difficult for Ackley to make out his face, as though it were nothing but a pair of shaded glasses. He was mysteriously unremarkable and unremarkably mysterious, in a truly confounding sort of way. Ackley waved at him.
“Miss Hermes,” the man turned the chair he was given around, so that he could fold his arms over the backrest, “I’m Special Agent John Winchester from Ameran Homeland Security. I’m here to ask you some questions.”
“I have the right to remain silent.” Ackley dryly replied.
“Miss Hermes, I have authorization to use advanced interrogation tactics.” Agent Winchester said. He produced an old jogman casette player, and a pair of mini speakers, with a tape that read ‘The Shaggs,’ all from within his suit pockets. He laid the items on the table next to Ackley’s bed, along with a pair of ear plugs, ostensibly for himself. Ackley looked them over without expression, and the Agent inserted the tape. The Nurse looked aghast at this display.
“Oh my god!” She cried. “She’s just a child! This is inhuman! You monster!”
“Ma’am, out of the room!” Agent Winchester said dangerously. “This is for national security.”
The Nurse grabbed hold of his shoulders but he shoved her down with one furious push.
Ackley stared blankly at the scene, unable to comprehend what was happening.
“Miss Hermes,” Agent Winchester said, raising his voice, “You will tell me who you are working for and what your next target is, or I swear to you, I will play the tape. I will do it Miss Hermes! There is nothing I will not sacrifice for this country. I swear to God Miss Hermes I WILL DO THIS. DON’T PUSH ME MISS–”
Curious, Ackley reached out from her bed and pressed the PLAY button on the jogman herself.
From its tiny speakers came a powerful sound.
A bizarre, metallic melody ripped across the room like claws slicing on tin sheets, or saws struggling against nests of steel rebar; lyrics echoed across the walls like the cries of bleating phantoms, droning endlessly and degenerately off from the rhythm. Drums pounded like hundreds of feet on flesh in a grotesque riot, just barely enough in synch with the cacophony to meld, to incorporate profanely into a devastating whole. It was the un-sound, the murderer of thought, and neurons sparked and vanished in the wake of its unwanted sensations. More than noise, it had enough coherence to register as something fouler.
Agent Winchester and the nurse both collapsed to the floor, kicking their legs and foaming at the mouth as though something evil were trying to claw its way out of their bodies. They held their ears and squeezed against their cheeks, almost drawing blood.
Ackley bobbed her head slightly. “This sounds awful.”