The Radio Operator’s Guide to the Apocalypse
1. There are seven days left. If there are not, then you were never meant to find this. Treat the words that follow as mere fiction, and hope that you never have to use them.
2. Tell nobody of what you know. Do not speak the words aloud, even if you think you’re alone. You’re not.
3. Before going into work, you must first visit the radio towers. Make sure your phone is fully charged, and bring a paper map with you. Take anything that is of particular value to you—you will need it for bargaining, later.
4. To get there, drive. If you do not have a car, borrow somebody’s, and do not take ‘no’ for an answer. Public transportation is too dangerous, especially at this stage. The Others have already taken their control.
5. As you drive, you will hear a piano through the radio. Nobody is playing it.
6. When you enter the mountains, follow your map to the meter. If it changes, and it will, continue to follow it exactly. Even if you have taken this trip a hundred times before, you are entering territory you know nothing about. Be careful.
7. There will be a man waiting for you next to the towers. He will be dressed as a mechanic, except for the patch on his shoulder.
8. A black patch means that you have already failed. I am sorry. Return home, if you can, with the days you have.
9. If there is a red patch, approach him and offer to shake his hand. You must be the one to make this offer. He is susceptible to formality, and by doing so, you have gained the right to ask him one question.
10. Ask him what is wrong with the towers. He will tell you.
11. When you look away, he will be gone, but his toolbox will remain. Use it to fix the towers. Don’t fall.
12. Once you have fixed the towers, return to your studio. Do not go home. You will not be able to go home again.
13. Enter through a side door. The Others will be watching the front and the back. Lock the door behind you, especially if it does not have a lock.
14. Do not speak to your co-workers. Not yet. If they try to ask you a question, avoid any and all eye contact. They may be Other.
15. At your console, turn the frequency of the radio down, until it reaches 9 Hz. When you reach 1 kHz, the dial will begin to fight you. Fight back.
16. Once you have reached 9 Hz, turn the radio on and speak into your microphone for five minutes. At no point should you stop speaking for more than a second, nor should you turn around. There is nothing to see.
17. After five minutes, any Others in the building will have left. They do not like low frequencies. Return to your co-workers, and only then may you tell them what you know. Each of them will have a guide, too.
18. For the next 156 hours, keep your radio show going:
a. You will not need food or water. Fixing the towers has seen to that.
b. Be sincere, and speak of more good than bad. Your audience will be composed of more than you can fathom.
c. At 7 AM each day, change your frequency to 1500 kHz, and at 7 PM, return it to 9 Hz. This will ensure your words reach everybody they are meant to.
d. Music (preferably Beethoven) should be playing in the background. If transmission ever ceases, you will not survive the next minute.
e. When you accept calls, and you must, do not answer immediately. Instead, hold the phone at arms-length, and ask them—clearly and without stuttering—if they know what time it is. If they answer, they are human.
f. On the third day, there will be a knock at the door. It will be the man from the mountains. He will tell you that the towers are broken again, and that you need to come and fix them.
g. Do not listen. One of your coworkers will volunteer to go with him, for their guide tells them to. Say goodbye, and do not feel guilty. The mechanic deals only in trades, and what is one life measured against many?
h. On the fourth day, the lights will go off. On the fifth day, they will turn back on. When they do, one of the Other will have entered the building. They will wear the face of another of your companions.
i. They will seek you out. If you have followed the instructions up to this point, you should have brought possessions that are worth much to you. Leave your station and bring one to the fuse box.
j. There will be a loose wire, throwing sparks onto the ground. Press your object against the wire and close your eyes. You will feel a fuzziness in your head—do not worry.
k. When the world returns, the object will be scorched and unrecognizable. You have successfully extended your life to the end of the world.
l. Make sure your listeners enjoy the show. You are, after all, their host.
19. At 9 PM on the final day, bid farewell. Tell those who are still listening to sleep well, and to dream of a better tomorrow. They deserve it.
20. Open the door. There will be an Other waiting for you there. There is no reason to fear them, not anymore.
21. You must thank them for allowing you to continue the show. They will compliment you for your commitment, but you will decline it. Accepting anything, even words of praise, will put you in their debt.
22. There will be no sun in the sky, nor will there be stars. Do not look for them.
23. Everything has been set in motion. Climb to the roof of your studio, where your dish resides. That will be where you wait out the final hours.
24. If you wish, write your name on the metal. A fountain pen and inkwell will already be waiting for you, but do not take them. They are not yours, and their owner will be displeased if she finds them missing.
25. At midnight, the Others will decide. You have given them your words, transmitted through the bones of your planet. All you can do now is hope they are enough.