That Abominable Sound

📅 Published on June 29, 2021

“That Abominable Sound”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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I arrived at the Kotirc Outpost at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon alongside three senior officers from HQ.

We had been told nothing about the facility’s state or its staff, simply that we had lost all communication with them about three days before our arrival.

Russell, the head of our group, explained the situation as best as we understood it.

“There is room for ten members here at the outpost, but I believe one group left about a month back, and now there are only four scientists left.”

I checked the list, knowing these were the people we were meant to interrogate to the best of our ability.

Lucas Wharton, Chief Astrophysicist

Patrick Barnes, Chief Astronomer

Felicia Colt, Secondary Astronomer

Lily Chen, Chief Mathematician.

Something had happened here at Kotirc, and one of them had the answer.

It was up to us to determine what.

Russell led the way into the facility, instructing me to find the power box as soon as possible to restore electricity. I couldn’t help but notice a strange red vine growing all across the once pristine tiles.

“How long have they been isolated here?” I asked Mira.

“Their mission’s objective was to monitor the Halter Vine M30 burst for the past three months, but we didn’t know for sure when that was going to happen to be honest,” she explained.

I didn’t bother asking about the technical stuff. That wasn’t my job. I was just here to find the truth.

Going further into the facility, I noticed that some of the vines seemed rich with stains of blood as though someone had died on this floor and the plant life had swallowed them up and fed off their life source the way an orchid would raindrops.

“Guys… I think you need to see this,” I heard Mira shout down the corridor. Russell and I were there in a second, staring down at the half-decayed body of one of the scientists.

“What the fuck…” I whispered. It looked like he had been wearing some type of protective suit that was customarily used for astronauts in space, and his entire upper body had been cut off in one single motion, the way a guillotine chops off a head. There was no sign of any further blood anywhere nearby.

But then we heard the sound of feet shuffling in the shadows.

It was another crew member, this one wearing a red jumpsuit with Korean letters on the name badge. It was approaching us like a feral animal.

As it got closer, I realized that instead of hands, long red tendrils shaped its upper body and distorted its skeletal structure, making the astronaut scuttle toward us like a crab.

None of us had a clue how to respond, and for a moment, I was sure that we were about to be attacked as the strange human-like creature shrieked. It was a mixture of pain and anger.

Then a shot rang out across the void, filling the creature’s shadowy face with lead.

It stumbled backward, shrieking in defiance as we saw a black-haired woman step out of the next room and blast it over and over until, at last, it crumpled over in agony.

“Thank the Lord,” Russell began, but then the woman turned the weapon toward us. Her eyes were full of suspicion and fear. Like she had just seen the worst nightmare of her entire life.

Given what we just saw trying to attack us, I didn’t doubt it.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked, keeping herself gun raised.

“Please… Lily? Calm down, HQ sent us,” Mira said softly.

“Headquarters? That’s a lie. They don’t give a damn about us,” the woman stuttered, trying to figure out how the hell we were there. Did she think we were figments of her imagination?

“We received Commander Willard’s message fourteen days ago, an SOS alerting us that your outpost required emergency supplies. Then we lost contact with you and your team three days ago…” Russell paused and showed her the clip of Willard explaining how team 1 was choosing to leave the facility and asked, “Do you recall sending these messages?”

She looked at her commanding officer and then became frantic again, backing away and screaming, “Turn it off!!! Turn it off now!”

Russell did as she requested, and all of us stood there in silence for a moment as we tried to determine what to do next.

“Lily… where are the other members of team two…?” Mira whispered.

Her eyes twitched as she tried to hold back tears.

“Dead… I… I killed them,” she explained.

“Killed them? What happened here?” I asked.

“It wasn’t me!! No. It was the noise. It got inside my head. I could feel those tentacles winding straight into my mind… it felt like I was going to explode. Burst from the inside out!!” Lily screamed.

She was hardly cohesive or able to form a simple thought. I knew if we didn’t act soon, she might decide to attack us the same way she had her other crew members.

“Lily, we want to take you home. But first, we need to determine what happened here at Kotirc. Let’s get somewhere safe, and then we can talk, hmm?” Mira said.

But it was clear the woman wasn’t going to just comply with what we wanted. Russell gave me the most imperceptible of nods to tackle her the next moment we got.

When I saw her hesitate again, I rushed toward her and grabbed at the weapon. We struggled for a moment, both trying to overpower the other.

Then the weapon went off by accident, and I heard Mira make a soft gurgling noise.

“Holy shit. Do you have a Medkit??” I asked as I pushed Lily away.

“I… I don’t know. I didn’t mean to. No… no, I did. It was the malevolence inside me, forcing me to. I can’t stop it… I can’t…” she muttered as she dropped the weapon. Russell took the chance and pinned her to the wall, shouting to me to find a sedative.

I scanned the facility and ran to another room for supplies. Climbing over more of the strange tentacled vines, I opened the cabinets and grabbed the syringe, freezing in place as I saw another dead colleague of hers, his entire upper body collapsing on itself from the waist down.

What the hell had happened here?

I ran back to where Russell was doing his best to keep her still and plunged the needle into her neck as she continued to beg for us just to kill her.

As much as I didn’t trust her sanity, I knew we still needed to get clear answers.

I checked on Mira next. She was saying a quiet prayer as she patched herself up.

“I’m fine… she got me in the ribs. I think I will be fine,” she told me as I helped her to the next room.

Russell instructed us to check the remainder of the facility to be sure that Lily was telling the truth.  “And take a sample of that monster too… I’m suspicious of whether or not it might be connected to what happened to the crew,” he instructed.

* * * * * *

About fifteen minutes later, we had set up the Rec room to act as our interview booth for Lily with her chained to one of the tables.  She was still agitated and standoffish despite the sedation, so Russell decided to begin the questions with details about their research.

“Get her to talk about what interests her,” he insisted as he began sampling the vines and the blood we had found throughout the outpost.

I’ve transcribed the interview below to the best of my ability. Some of her ramblings were difficult to catch even after reviewing the audio, so I apologize for that. For the sake of the notes, I have only designated her speech as bold.

“Do we have to record this?”

“It helps to keep everything from being jumbled for the record.”

“Is this audio on a private frequency?”

“It’s not connected to any network.”

“All right. Good. That’s good. Fine. We can begin.”

“According to Commander Willard’s notes, your team was researching a newly discovered fast radio burst. For the sake of clarity, can you explain what that is?”

“A fast radio burst is a transient radio pulse of length ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds, caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not yet understood. Or at least, that’s what we thought anyway. The Halter burst was not immediately a threat to us after all.”

“A threat…?”

“We were trying to determine the regularity of the burst. To discover its source and comprehend what it was trying to say. Did you know that one such burst lasted for nearly 16 days, doctor? Sixteen fucking days.”

“So there is a pattern to these bursts?”

“Lucas was the first to theorize it was some kind of code. Coming from beyond the scope of the Milky Way. He believed it was an attempt by an alien life form trying to communicate with us… and so he made the fatal mistake that corrupted us all.”

“Commander Willard noted that the source of the burst was likely coming from somewhere 3000 million light-years away. How could anything like that be a danger to humankind?”

“We didn’t see the pattern. Or what it was doing to us at first. We didn’t understand that the sound was infecting our minds. It was just research at first. But for Lucas and Patrick, it soon became an obsession. To unlock what these alien messages were transmitting.”

“So you started to record every burst from the Halter source? What did you find?”

Lily began to laugh nervously. It was the sort of laugh that sounded like a woman had gone mad.

She refused to continue questions for the time being, so I checked on the samples from the bodies we had found so far.

“This is… both unsettling and remarkable,” Russell explained as he passed me one of the tubes and a microscope to see for myself.

“This looks just like human blood,” I realized.

“That’s because it is. There is no mutation here. Just an evolution. Everything about that thing we killed is entirely human, down to the microscopic level.”

“But how is that possible?” I asked.

“What has Miss Chen told you?” he asked.

I glanced back toward the Rec room, feeling Lily’s eyes burning on me.

“I don’t think she is telling us the whole truth. But then again, I don’t believe she trusts us.”

“Big surprise, I don’t trust her either,” Mira said, walking into the room and waving what looked like a security tape.

“What is that?” I asked.

“Recording of the past 24 hours. I was just reviewing part of the footage that wasn’t corrupted. It looks like our friend in the Red Jumpsuit over there killed her crewmates one by one over the past few hours before we arrived,” she explained.

“Jesus Christ,” Russell exclaimed.

“So then all of the crew had been mutated or whatever into those things,” I realized.

“Not precisely. Maybe you should check it out yourself rather than me explaining it,” Mira told us.

“I should get back to questioning her. We can’t leave her alone for long,” I said.

“I can review that material, perhaps discover at what point Officer Chen lost her sanity,” Russell decided.

When I returned to Chen, there was only one question on my mind. I figured we could kill two birds with one stone.

“Lily… can you tell me what went wrong during your research?” I asked.

“Everything. But if you mean where it all started, I think it was about a week ago. Patrick and Felicia agreed to stay up all night and try to decipher the burst. They figured a pattern had to be there, and we could make a breakthrough. But then the next day, they still hadn’t eaten. Hadn’t slept… they were acting like zombies…”

“What did they find?”

“It… it was that noise. That abominable sound! It was inside them already. The others didn’t realize it, but it was corrupting them, changing their brainwaves. Transforming them. Like tendrils spreading through their mind… they were becoming its first victims.”

“The sound of the burst altered their molecules? That’s how their body started to mutate?”

She was becoming angry again, her body flailing as she tried to break loose from the bonds Russell had put her in.

“You can’t listen to it. It spreads now through all the noise. It’s a sentient, living sound that won’t stop until it engulfs all of us….”

I saw Mira signal for me to come over to her, and I paused the interview to check out the security footage.

I saw Lily immediately on camera, using what looked like a simple kitchen knife to protect herself from harm. Then Patrick came on screen, or whatever was left of him. His body was already undergoing strange changes, hardly able to function the way it normally would. His bones and skin distorted like a burst of noise walking and crawling down the hall.

Lily attacked him immediately as he got close, stabbing him repeatedly until his monstrous body stopped quivering.

“So it’s exactly like she said… the crew mutated, and she fought for her life,” I realized.

“Keep watching,” Mira ordered me.

Lily pushed off Patrick’s body and then crawled into the nearby air vent, perhaps as a hiding place from the other survivors. She watched two of her unidentifiable crewmates in another room, both of which were wearing blue jumpsuits, and listening as they consulted among themselves about a possible suspect.

“No audio?” I asked.

But I soon found that I didn’t need any.

As Chen stayed in the vent, I watched her body begin to shapeshift as well, long thin skin tendrils pushed from her hands and came out of the vent, grabbing ahold of the first crewmate and slamming them against the wall.

Mira stopped the tape and remarked, “There’s more, but I figured that was enough for now. She’s lying. She can control the mutation, and she doesn’t want us to know.”

We attempted to consult with Russell about what to do. However, he was distracted listening to some of the audio recordings the crew had kept on the facility.

“It’s just a bunch of noise… but it’s… it’s so beautiful,” he admitted as we arrived. I couldn’t help but notice blood trickling from his ear.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

His eyes looked dilated for a moment, and he smiled. “I’m fine, of course. Yes. What did you find?”

We showed him the tape, and he agreed that we needed to confront Lily about it.

“She may be human on the outside… but I think she is just pretending,” Russell decided as we went back to the Rec room.

Only to find that our suspect was no longer there.

“Lock down the facility if you can,” Russell told Mira as I rushed to check the current security feed. She couldn’t have gone far, I told myself.

As I entered the room, I felt a gun against my head and raised my hands defensively.

“Close the door,” Lily ordered.

“You don’t want to do this, Officer Chen. We just want to help you. You can overcome this infection.”

She laughed again. But this time, it sounded like she pitied me.  “I have already done that without your help. I’m more than you will ever be.”

She shoved me against the control panel, and I got a good look at her face. Already there were more distortions in her features, bursts of noise struggling to destroy what was left of her humanity. She was just a shell of her former self.

“Lily, you aren’t well. The noise, it’s controlling you. Forcing you to kill and destroy anything in its way!!” I said. I knew some part of her former self was still in there, struggling to regain control.

“I may not look like the self you know, doctor. But I can’t lie to myself anymore. There is no escape from the noise. It’s everywhere, don’t you see that? We have opened Pandora’s Box and released it into the world. It used me to lure you here for a reason… to spread beyond this facility and into the sounds of the world!! Now your screams will be contagious. Your skin will be its host. I’m doing you a bloody favor by killing you now,” she snarled.

“Lily… fight this. I know you can.”

I reached behind me and searched for something to protect myself with. And then I touched the fire alarms and instinctively pulled them, hoping to alert my colleagues.

I immediately saw her human face melt away, and tentacles burst from her skull. They were formed of membrane and bone and teeth, shrieking at a thousand decibels hatred of a million stars as they lunged for me.

To my left, Russell entered and slammed the door against Lily, urging me to run. I leaped over her transforming body and didn’t look back.

The alarm got louder with each passing moment as the humanoid creature struggled to maintain form, to hide in Lily’s body like a parasite. It wouldn’t stop until it had killed her. And us… and was free, just like she had warned.

It slammed Russell against the wall and swarmed down the hall like a blob, a mass of skin and tissue that shrieked of pain and evil. Yellow and leaking bodily fluids of all kinds as it shed its human form and revealed the devilish abomination beneath.

I collided with Mira in the electrical room and pushed her to the other side, the creature not hesitating to follow. Then we both pushed down on the kill switch and watched as the frayed wires caused the room to go up in flames.

The strange noise that had infected our colleagues from across the universe screamed as it tried to fight. But it had adapted too perfectly to Lily’s human body.

The fire was its undoing, and soon all that was left was a smoldering crispy heap of skin, muscle bone and decay.

* * * * * *

We concluded our investigation of the Kotirc Outpost at 1700 hours that same day and reported to HQ we requested transport. We all agreed that we would not disclose the findings of the radio burst to anyone else.

“This was isolation and insanity, nothing more,” Russell told us.

As part of our extraction, we did, however, determine to bring with us samples of the strange red plant that had grown during the team’s time here. We believe it is somehow also a part of this strange transformation that the entire area went through after the transmission from the distant stars became sentient.

“At least the first team made it out safe,” I told my colleagues as we boarded the helicopter to leave.

“I’ve been thinking about that, trying to figure it out. Why would this sound go through all this trouble to broadcast itself to escape this facility? Weren’t team one already possible carriers?”

“The second team must have realized there was a way to trigger the outbreak. To activate the latent infection and mutate their bodies,” I realized as we sat down, and I saw Russell itch at the back of his ear. I could see strange pores digging their way into the back of his eardrum.

“Lily believed that the sound wanted us to come here so it could infect us, hide in plain sight and leave to find a new nest…” I said as I watched him nervously.

“What do you think, Commander? Is there an imposter among us?”

Russell’s eyes dilated for a second, and he smiled softly.

“I’m sure if there were… by now, it would probably be too late for the others.”

I chuckled nervously as we left the facility. And then, as we lifted off, I heard this strange ringing in my ears.

It was like a thousand screams in the night sky. Vivid and deadly.

Somehow I knew it was the same damned noise that had controlled the others.

My god, it was inside me.

That abominable impossible sound!!

Transforming me into a wicked little trickster, making me into a perfect liar.

Russell shared a knowing look toward me, and I felt a shudder roll down my back.

We both knew before this flight was through, there was about to be one more causality.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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