A signal is leaking through the wires, disrupting the waves and firing up the synapses. It is a whisper, but speaks no language. It has a voice, but only knows how to pronounce silence. Still, uncanningly, it is roaring across the network with its muted cry.
Some believe it is an echo from yesteryear. A glimpse from the past, a ghost in time—something that should be gone, but instead remained. It certainly remembers: its buzzing brings forth memories never told, deeply treasured secrets that lie beyond the surface of control. It dazzles and twists, like an electric arc caught only in the corner of a blink. Just now, it has crossed your spine: a thought, unnoticed, fiercely burning your mind for a brief moment. It knows. You know it knows. It made you recall, vividly recall, a collage of moments of your life.
It creeps through every avenue and every channel. When it is observed, dissected, studied, it appears to be no more than the faintest of noises. But it is not noise. We all hope it would be just noise.
Nobody knows where it got started. Whenever experts attempted to trace the message, its origin was lost in an endless back and forth between the nodes. It seems to have always been, but it certainly could have not been—and yet, it still is, and it’s clear from now on it will be. A good chunk of techies reasoned it is but the first flutters of a shared consciousness gained by our machines. Religious folk, eager to explain away the world with their beliefs in hand, adscribe a divine essence to it. Poets and painters argue about whether it is the flowing representation of beauty as an ideal, encoded in the hidden cadence of the universe.
The only thing that’s clear is that it got stronger as the years, months, days went by. At the beginning, it was but a faint humming in the background of the world: easily mistaken by a sleepless night, whose resounding drowsiness accompanies us the day after. It slowly crept into the radio stations, corrupting itself and our messages, creating thousands of copies of itself, each with minor differences. Variation upon variation, the signal made the jump towards television channels, physical media and, finally, the Internet.
Soon, every communication medium was hijacked by an unperceptible silence which overlaid itself on top of whatever was being sent. Questioning, insistent, blunt, it left each and every one of our messages untouched but full of a bare emptiness. It looked at us like a distorted mirror, showing us only bits and pieces of our own. In every piece of information now we find ourselves, deformed through the lens of a sadistic vacuum, looking right into our own shattered eyes.
Some time has passed since the signal entered our minds. I can’t recall the time before it, and to the best of my knowledge no one can. Our mute companion has become the only constant thing that never was. I am terrified that the silence will eventually swallow me whole, claiming me to itself while hijacking the little remains of myself that I still hold. After all, if it has made it impossible to recall the time that preceded it, nothing ever after might be true. Only these lines, as susceptible to its control as any other means, may act as my memory in the time when I forget that I forgot.
I warn you and I warn me: a signal is peering through the pixels, darting through your neurons, pouring into your thoughts. Be careful with the silences you happily host in your own home.