Time and Time Again

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An old story, I thought to repost here.
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Story Short No. 00043

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“Magpie music?”

Freya nodded and pushed a stray lock of hair back into place. “All glitter, glitter, glitter. Sparkle and shine. At least it makes your brain that way.”

She took out a laser pointer from her jacket pocket and turned it on. “Here we have the waveform,” she said, flashing the light at the wall. A squiggly line formed: Tightly packed valleys and troughs in a one-foot segment. “It is a mix of several frequencies, set into an ultrasonic wave pulse.”

Brian looked at the projection. “This is causing the riots?”

“No.” She turned to the officer. “This pulse can be easily broadcast as an underlying signal. I would say that the signal is then added to something else to make it palatable to the public. In turn, the brain goes haywire.”

“Explain.”

“The frequencies cause various parts of the brain to go into a peaceful trance state. Anyone listening to it usually turns into a blissful zombie.”

“Until it gets turned off.”

“Exactly. The pulse acts as a drug. It is rather addictive and somewhat hazardous if taken in large doses. It is one of the reasons why the military shut off the funding. Too much of a good thing, kind of deal.”

Brian nodded, feeling the pieces fall into place. “So. The signal acts as a drug. Anyone listening to it turns into a druggie, wanting more of it. Willing to do anything to get another hit of it. Including violence maybe?”

Freya’s eyes widened. “That would explain a few things.” She snapped her fingers. “Assassins.”

“Pardon?”

“Eleventh century.” She noticed a motion at the corner of her eyes, and she turned to find Carlos coming in with a wheeled mop pan. She eyed his latest headset with distaste and turned back to Brian. “Legends state that someone gave people psychedelic drugs, then get lead into a so-called paradise, promising them more if they were truly faithful.”

“So?”

“It’s happening again.” She pointed to the projection. “What if whoever is broadcasting the signal is repeating incidents. The people listening to it are turning into assassins.”

“We have yet to hear of any reports of that, but I see your analogy.”

“The only problem would be the distribution.” She reached over to switch off the pointer. “How would the signal be broadcast in such a way that a random set of people would be affected?” She took a step back as the mop handle swooshed past. “Carlos, can you move out of the way, please? We’re busy here.”

He didn’t pay attention and instead kept mopping the area.

“Hold on,” Brian said. He reached over to tip the earphones off.

The handle moved quickly to block the movement. “That’s okay, chief,” Carlos said, focused on the mopping. “I got it under control.”

Brian’s eyebrows rose. He tried again to shove the earphones off, and he was blocked by the wooden stick.

“It’s okay, chief,” Carlos said again. “I got it under control.”

The movement was so quick, so surprising that the two were in shock. Carlos whipped out a revolver from a coat pocket and aimed it at Freya.

“You move, chief, and she dies.” The other hand was holding the mop handle, cut halfway and tipped with a green-tinged blade. “You move, chief, and you die also.” He raised his head, and Freya noticed his eyes were glassy. A faint grin played over his face.

“Oh god, Carlos. You’re addicted.”

“Don’t I wish,” he said. He eyed the two. “I just got a small dose of what everyone else had. He promised me so much more if I stopped the two of you.”

“You don’t have to do this, kid,” Brian said. His hand nonchalantly drifted to his hip holster.

“Nuh-uh-uh!” Carlos jerked the blade to the officer. “Hands up, both of ya,” he said. “Don’t want to hurt either of ya.”

Freya slowly raised her hands. One of them held the pointer, which she flicked onto Carlos’ face.

He cried out, blinded by the bright green laser. He dropped the handle-knife and covered his face with the arm.

Brian move like a flash, wrenching the gun from Carlos’ grip and quickly cuffing his hands behind his back.

Freya turned the pointer off. She looked at the struggling figure with a furrowed forehead, then reached over to pull off the earphones.

“NO!” Carlos cried out as she did so. A blare of music issued from the earphones.

“Give them back!” he continued, struggling more. “I want more music!”

“Music?” Freya wondered, then a light bulb flicked on. “Of course! Stupid of me to guess otherwise!”

“What?” Brian said.

“Don’t you see?” She picked up the earphones and reached over to pull out his player. She looked at the display, which was emblazoned with a number: 105.6FM. “The signal. It is broadcasted as a radio station.”