"The American Freohr" by Irish Dick, November 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: The human ear is an exceedingly complex organ. To make matters even more difficult, the information from two ears is combined in a perplexing neural network, the human brain.
The American Freohr
After completing the scientific analysis of the supposedly haunted house, Peter Leonard, Rory Crutchfield and Geoff Ward winked to each other, feeling like some "ghost bustards".
"The pace is quickening quite rapidly as the summer draws to a close."
"The spiraling vortex is spinning at higher and higher velocity as it funnels down to a super concentrated point of a … black mass?" Geoff looked at Rory and he nodded. Peter was complacent at everything they may utter.
"Why is this?"
"Why is what?" Peter was reluctant to talk since the measuring equipment showed very little of "scientifically valuable" information.
"You know … everything?" Rory was persistent and Peter sighed, looking at him.
"The collective unconsciousness has designed our way of living and every choice we make … so …"
"So the choice is … mine?"
Peter nodded and they resumed listening to the howling of the wind through numerous crevices, holes and other decrepit separations. It was still daylight outside, but inside the house it felt like as if it was evening already.
James Boden, the owner of the house and Harry Smith, local representative of the authority came in, grinning.
"So … what do we have?"
"Or rather … what are we missing?" Harry smiled back to James as he chuckled.
"Not much, I am afraid."
"You mean … we can't hear it then?" James seemed disappointed, wishing to know some more of the strange phenomenon his daughter was experiencing.
"Not exactly …" Rory finally dared.
"What do you mean, son?"
"Well … some people called mediums can." Peter and Geoff wished to plaster Rory to the floor.
"Mediums?" Harry chuckled sarcastically, looking at James.
"Yes. You must have heard of them yourself, deputy?" Rory ventured on.
"I am afraid not, son." Harry smirked and nodded to James. "I'll be outside if you need me." Harry left, tipping his wide brimmed hat.
"So …", James grinned, examining their equipment, realizing they were still sweating from all the work done so far. "Could you explain to me some more perhaps?" He looked at Rory, then at Geoff and finally at Peter, taking a seat opposite of them.
"I'll try to give you some scientific explanations of the properties of sound." James showed with his hand in a manner "It's all yours" and then grinned. Rory continued. "When a sound wave tries to pass from air into liquid …", Rory mimicked towards the pond outside, some frog still audible, "… only a small fraction of the sound is transmitted through the interface, while the remainder of the energy is reflected." James nodded while Peter and Geoff prepared their sensitive equipment for transport.
"This is because, well … air itself has a low mechanical impedance … how should I explain it … low acoustic pressure and high particle velocity resulting from low density and high compressibility, … while liquid has a high mechanical impedance."
"Could you be perhaps less scientific?"
"In less technical terms, … it requires more effort to wave your hand in water than it does to wave it in air." Geoff almost chuckled behind James but Peter stepped on his foot, preventing the disaster. "This difference in mechanical impedance results in most of the sound being reflected at an air versus liquid interface."
"Phew …" James whizzed looking around as if it wasn't his house. "I suppose you're talking of our inner ear system?"
"That's right!" Geoff and Peter looked at each other in surprise, getting intrigued suddenly.
"The middle ear is an impedance matching network that increases the fraction of sound energy entering the liquid of the inner ear. For example …", Rory readjusted his chair, "… fish do not have an ear drum or middle ear, because they have no need to hear in air. Most of the impedance conversion results from the difference in area between the ear drum … receiving sound from the air … and the oval window …"
"All right. Go on …" Peter felt relieved as he winked to Geoff.
"The difference between the loudest and faintest sounds that humans can hear is about 120 dB, a range of one-million in amplitude. Listeners can detect a change in loudness when the signal is altered by about 1 dB, that's about a 12% change in amplitude. In other words …", some carpenters continued with their repair work outside, "… there are only about 120 levels of loudness that can be perceived from the faintest whisper to the loudest thunder."
"My, my …", James grinned to Peter and Geoff, twisting around to see them. They promptly smiled back.
"The sensitivity of the ear is amazing actually." Geoff almost snorted at Rory's enthusiasm but Peter pinched him with two fingers. "When listening to very weak sounds …", Rory continued, "… the ear drum vibrates less than the diameter of a single molecule!"
"Sweet Jesus!" James puffed emptily.
"Now … the range of human hearing is generally considered to be 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but it is far more sensitive to sounds between 1 kHz and 4 kHz. For example …", Rory continued like some car salesman, "… listeners can detect sounds as low as 0 dB at 3 kHz, but require 40 dB at 100 hertz …" James had a puzzled face, his brain struggling to understand the "underline".
"In other words …", James finally spoke, lessening tension that was building up, "… those mediums you mentioned earlier could have such sensitive ears, correct?"
"Yes! In fact …", Peter grimaced to Rory to slow down and eventually cease with his blabbering, "… everyone can develop such 'medium' sensitivity."
"Every human being, that is, … correct?" James wished his wife was here to serve some refreshments.
"Yes … Also … the primary advantage of having two ears is the ability to identify the direction of the sound."
"Something your equipment could not …" Rory shrugged, not wishing to argue.
"Human listeners can detect the difference between two sound sources that are placed as little as three degrees apart, about the width of a person at, say … ten meters? This directional information is obtained in two separate ways. First, frequencies above about 1 kHz are strongly shadowed by the head."
"I have a hard head myself." James laughed, knocked on his head and then turned around to face Peter and Geoff who smiled promptly back to him.
"In other words …", Peter and Geoff returned to their old seats, "… the ear nearest the sound receives a stronger signal than the ear on the opposite side of the head." Geoff nodded and Peter was supportive in any way needed. "The second clue to directionality is that the ear on the far side of the head hears the sound slightly later than the near ear, due to its greater distance from the source." Rory felt thirsty and James walked to the small fridge, taking out some cold water and placing four glasses on a tray.
"Go on, I can still hear you …" James threw over his shoulder while Peter grimaced silently at Rory almost cursing him.
"Based on a typical head size … say about twenty-two centimeters and the speed of sound … which is about three hundred and forty meters per second, … an angular discrimination of three degrees requires a timing precision of about thirsty microseconds." Rory thanked James and then gulped cold water, making James simper. "Since this timing requires the volley principle, … this clue to directionality is predominately used for sounds less than about 1 kHz."
"Which is still detectable by your instruments that you just packed, correct?"
"Absolutely!" Geoff nodded in affirmative way.
"You see Mr. Boden … while human hearing can determine the direction a sound is from, … it does poorly in identifying the distance to the sound source."
"And that's where our equipment comes handy, Mr. Boden." Geoff nodded, making Peter grin in some arcane manner.
"And … this is because there are few clues available in a sound wave that can provide this information." Rory paused as they listened to frogs, birds and the whistling carpenters fixing the roof above them. "Human hearing weakly perceives that high frequency sounds are nearby, … while low frequency sounds are … distant."
"And … those sounds of the dead that my daughter heard … are …", he looked around, "… are in this low frequency range … perhaps?" Geoff shrugged with his shoulder, Peter pretended he was examining some crumbles and Rory gaped as if about to say something.
"For the sake of explanation, not necessarily completely accurate, though … think of a thermometer …"
"All right. The thermometer." James whizzed through the clenched teeth, checking his cell phone messages.
"And …", Rory winked to Peter in private, "… at the bottom is zero." James nodded without lifting his head up. "Now … let's say that that is the average frequency of the internal vibrations or electrical measure of most people who do not hear … voices." Peter hid face with his hands as if about to cry while Geoff continued to nod affirmatively, wishing to help with Rory's "presentation". "As mediumship develops …"
"Now …", James looked up for a moment, grinning, "… that's about every human being able to develop such ability, correct?"
"That's right!" Geoff interposed.
"Now …", Rory felt relieved, "… a person who can hear the first voices, the negative ones, might be at, say … ten vibration, and that negative communications pick-up …", James shot at him one penetrating stare, "… think of it as radio waves …"
"All right." James softened a bit.
"It may last till you get to about thirty as there are many different kinds within this range." Peter winked to Rory in some conspiratorial way, "congratulating" him. "Then … after that you get to the benevolent spirits …", Geoff suppressed a low chuckle, "… usually in your ancestral line … as they are easier to hear first …", James stopped typing his message and lifted his head up but when he saw Rory's enthusiastic flash in the yes, grinned and then nodded to him to continue.
"Geoff … could you help me to load the gear?"
"Sure …" He nodded to Peter and glanced quickly to James in some apologetic way.
"And … that might be from 31 to 45, and then spirit guides …", Geoff could no longer prevent himself from laughing, some whims eventually reaching James' ears, making him narrow his eyes as he measured Rory. Rory continued like some scientific wunderkind. "Then … from 46 to 55 …"
"It's all right!", James lifted up his hand, grinning. "I … trust you." He laughed.
"Now … about your daughter …"
James suddenly had a completely different perspective about his daughter's "mental" troubles. Even if Rory's theoretical mumbo-jumbo was nothing but some hogwash, it was still soothing, making him feel better.
"Go on …", James mused in some jolly manner.
"If you think of hearing voices this way …", he noticed that Peter was eager to leave, "… you are just moving up the scale."
"Up … the scale …" James repeated, making Rory aware of who was the "host". Rory nodded and then finished his water.
"But you have to move, or you stay stuck in the lower vibratory communications and then …", James shot another "Are you kiddin' me son" stare at Rory but he persisted, his eyes still looking "honest to the bone", "… you are afraid, frustrated, angry …", James lifted up his head, remembering how his daughter behaved in such moments, "… which lowers your vibrations and … all other manner of systems that don't help your cause of getting out of where you are." For a moment James thought that Rory was trying to sell him apart from their business and then sneered at Rory.
Rory continued in some compassionate tone.
"Usually, … medication won't stop you from hearing voices either, so …", James was not intrigued but Rory sensed some tension, "… then you have an added issue of taking a chance and going off of them because they don't work for you, which is not good …", James grinned gravely, making Rory extra careful, "… or … always being drugged and the effects of that on your body, … and still hearing voices, … and that is just not … well … pleasant!"
James almost kicked out the sonofabitch but of his house but immediately realized that, despite the fact that Peter and Geoff might have some "second thoughts" about their work, Rory did not. So he wished to rectify his ruff behavior and yelled back to them.
"Ah … how about if see each other on Friday?"
"Friday is perfect, Mr. Boden!" Geoff yelled back, nodding.
He watched them leave in their van. Sun was getting low.
Friday night came and Peter, Geoff and Rory were once more at Mr. Boden's house. Only this time the whole house seemed livelier since Mr. Boden's wife Marion and his daughter Christine were present as well.
As they were sipping tea or coffee, enjoying home-made cookies, Christine continued with her story.
"Dad was asleep in his bed. Then … around midnight … something stirred him."
"Oh, that's right!" Marion nodded, smiling.
"And ... he heard voices."
"Now … aren't you over-exaggarating perhaps Chris?" He winked to Rory and then laughed.
"And … excuse me, but … where was this?"
"Oh … in his bedroom." Christine watched as Peter withdrew his pocket computer, consulting with Geoff about some graphs.
"Look!" Geoff took the portable computer out of Peter's hand, showing it to Boden family around. "You can see some statistical 'outliers' on this Shewhart control chart!"
"Meaning? …" James eyes shadowed a bit.
"Indicating a possible 'presence' of some kind perhaps? …" Geoff concluded and then returned the computer. Marion stared at James as Christine seemed overwhelmed with joy.
"All right." James snorted a bit impatiently. "Go on, dear …"
"Half asleep, half awake, he was alarmed thinking these voices were someone in his house."
"Which we checked thoroughly …" Geoff continued to nod like a mule. Marion grinned at him, offering more cookies, which he gladly accepted, making James chuckle in secret.
"And then …", Christine continued as if telling some fictional ghosts story, not a real life experience, "… In the dark of his room he listened." She mimicked James, making him stand up and go to the bar. Marion made a grimace and he resisted serving some alcohol, taking a seat back. "There were many voices but he could not make out any words." Christine looked around, her eyes widening. "It was something like a … murmur. Correct dad?" She looked at him and he nodded slowly, grinning as well. "They were not talking to him but … to each other." She placed a hand over her mouth, raising concerns with her worried mother again. "And … he recognized these voices!"
"You did?" Marion stared at James in perplexion. James nodded as if wishing to make her "go away".
"And … he heard mom's voice as well!"
"Well … that shouldn't be much of a wonder since I was lying right next to him." She giggled, looking benevolently at her husband. Peter eyed Rory in secret. "And the voice of his sister's husband who had died a couple of years ago." The way Christine pronounced the word 'died' made Rory wonder a bit. "He heard the voice of his long since past mother and father and deceased aunts and uncles as well ..."
"And …", excuse me for interruption, Rory nodded to Christine, "… they all used to live in this very house once, … correct?"
"That's right!" James agreed, measuring the "scientists" in some careful manner.
There was an intermission of some obscure checking out and pretending that everything was "normal".
"And …?" Peter offered circumspectly.
"And then …", Catherine gingerly looked at her father again, continuing, "… then I asked dad if he heard the voices of anybody living."
"But … your mother was beside him, right?" Marion giggled, clasping hands and doing some "innocent eyelashes" grimace.
"No, I mean … yes." She smiled to her mother. "But I meant … he only heard the voices of the dead." James seemed dubious, rocking himself in his chair slowly. "As he fully awakened … the voices … faded away." She looked at her father. "Dad wondered about the meaning of this. And, oh, boy …", she smiled to Peter, "… It was eerie." Peter was still not sure whether Catherine was delusional and mentally disturbed. But Marion's cookies charmed him so he had no heart for investigating further. "Of course …", Catherine suddenly continued on her own, "… it could've been just a dream, but …", she smiled feebly at Geoff, then looked at Rory, "… does anyone recall having a dream which was only audible and not visual?"
They all realized that there was some truth in it.
Sound of a crackling fire in the fire place added to the fact that the nights were cold outside.
"Dad recognized that these voices could have been a trick of the mind, recalling past memories. Yet …", she sighed as she looked in her cup, "… our subconscious is open to contact with other realities, maybe only in our mind or … maybe not …", she smile feebly, "… perhaps making a connection with the realm of premonitions, … revelations and … contact with … spirits?" Rory noticed by Marion's reaction that she probably despised that word.
Marion embraced her as she leaned back.
"I wonder what this means. I imagine my father is sensitive to this higher reality …", she smiled to him, "… which he seems to be." James stopped rocking for a moment, laughing in some silly manner. "He had a few paranormal experiences in his lifetime …", James stood up, laughing openly now and shaking with his head, going towards the window at the other end of the room, "… which is more then most people ever have."
"Scientists" agreed by nodding with their heads, monitoring James.
"If the dead were talking, … they were not in his room, for the chance of all his family being ghosts …", she sneered in some sardonic manner, "… hanging around his bed is … is not possible." Rory slurped a bit. "Instead …", she sighed and then smiled amiably at her mother, "… in his subconscious … he may have travelled to where they were in the … afterlife." Geoff liked Catherine. She was so spontaneous and void of some usual congenital superficiality he found among other city women. "He was there where they were …", she watched as James sat on the window sill, "… and … not the other way around."
"Now … is there something that you perhaps would not like to tell us?" Peter got captivated a bit by her tender story.
"Well … one thing I don't want to consider is …", she sighed towards James, "… his dead family were calling to him, that they expect father to … to join them shortly." Marion hugged her tighter, making a sad face. "If that was the situation … I'd much prefer this was simply a dream." She placed hand on her mother's shoulder, her eyes wet. "I don't like these omens …"
"All right." James started to retrace towards his armchair. "You've heard my daughter … now … what do you have to say on this?" He sat back.
Peter looked at Rory and Rory at Geoff.
"Remember, and this is 'key' I think …", Rory looked at Catherine, then at James, "… Self-involvement, self-pity, anger and frustration will keep you in this perpetual state because they are automatic vibration lowering devices." Marion kissed her hair, patting her. "You will remain a hamster on a wheel … and …", he felt his lip curling into an involuntary smile, "… and will still be hearing voices … unless … unless you work to break this cycle, and that is what the vibration raisers do." He paused, seemingly concerned about Catherine. "It is not as hard as it might seem, in fact …", he glanced over James, "… it is simple, but requires consistency and getting out of your ego."
"Rory is right. That is what the Hindu prayer will help you do."
"Hindu … prayer?" Catherine detached herself from her mother and almost got upset. Rory immediately recognized James' genes in her.
"That's right." Geoff acknowledged.
"I have a question though …" She sighed, playing with a spoon. "Can someone live between life and death, in both the physical world and the spirit world at the same time?"
Peter looked at Geoff and Geoff looked at Rory.
"It's not that easy to answer that question, you know …" Rory began slowly. "You may have had the experience of hearing someone call your name only to find that there is no one there." Catherine nodded, excited a bit. "Indeed, … our research shows that especially for people recently bereaved …", he glanced at James as he was supporting his jaw with a finger, "… it is not an uncommon experience to hear the voice of the recently deceased person." Marion nodded, patting her hair.
"So … what could tell me this?"
Peter nodded to Rory who seemed tired already.
"Well a number of factors may be present here." Peter sipped his cold coffee and then continued. "How long ago did he pass?"
"How do you know if it is he?" Catherine counter-demanded.
"Wasn't someone mentioning …", Peter looked for help, "… your uncle?" There was silence and Peter felt like leaving. "It doesn't matter actually. I always presume it is 'he' even if it was 'she', all right?" Catherine looked at James and then nodded.
"And … do you really miss him?" Catherine gave it some thoughts. "Were you close to him?" Marion stood up and offered more tea and coffee.
"If so … are you hearing the voice when you are awake and … or asleep?"
"Now that's the tricky one!" Catherine raised her finger, making James stand up with a smile, walking towards Marion.
"If you are hearing when you are asleep …", Rory felt more relaxed, "… it is probably nothing more then mourning for him."
"I agree." Geoff nodded.
"Especially if it has been a recent death." Peter wasn't sure whether they were hiding something from them.
"Now … would that be 'normal'?"
"Oh, yes, this is normal."
They kept silent for a while, sounds from the kitchen mixing with that of a dog barking.
"Death is a hard concept to grasp when it is a close loved one that we miss a lot." James sat back, looking at Peter.
"Now …", Rory continued, "… if your uncle has died years ago and …", he accepted another tea, thanking Marion, "… and is coming to you in your sleep and … only in your sleep …", Catherine got absorbed by listening to them, "… it may be a number of things."
"Before Rory continues ...", Peter interrupted, "... just to remind you that is all from our experience and has nothing to do with our main core business which is strictly speaking … scientifically oriented, all right?" He checked with James who giggled in some unperturbed way.
"And …?" Catherine was eager to hear some more.
"Why would you be dreaming it? Such as … for example … you want to know how he is and you are dreaming this. OR!" James wanted to interrupt but Rory pursued further. "Or you are actually hearing him and he wants to send an important message to you."
"But … why me? Why not my father … or … or even my mother?" She embraced her.
"I truly don't know …" Rory shrugged with his shoulder and Christine leaned her head on her mother again.
"All right. Go on …" She smirked.
"Now … IF you are hearing him as you are awake ... it is another matter." He glanced at James who nodded in approval. "Then there is a reason for his presence and you need to find out why this presence is there and what his purpose is for coming to you."
"But … how can I find out!?" Catherine pursed her lips, getting upset.
"Here are some questions to help you out …" Rory presented his open palm, making her hold her writs back. "Is it all the time?" Catherine started to think. "Is it perhaps on certain days … and times?" Rory paused, letting her recollect her past experiences. "Is it in your home … or perhaps … outside of your home?" Marion suddenly looked at her worriedly.
Rory made a stance since Peter winked to him in some "mystical" manner. James nodded that it was all right to continue.
"In your room or … a certain area of the home perhaps?" Geoff pinched Rory in secret and he hissed back to him in secret.
"There are many factors for hearing your uncle while you are awake, you know …" Peter interposed, adding some sugar to his coffee.
"This could be a simple thing too …" Geoff spoke.
"What thing?" Catherine was suspicious about Geoff's statement a bit.
"That your mind really misses him and you hear what sounds like him." Peter noticed some tension within Catherine and then she suddenly relaxed, leaning back. "Without more detailed information … it is hard to say." Peter licked his lips, looking at Catherine.
As the silence spontaneously developed again, James suggested they take their coats and go for a stroll outside since the full moonlight was charmingly inviting. All three of them agreed and were soon out, walking by the pond, listening to frogs, fighting some flying insects and avoiding Catherine's playful dog.
"Also …". I forgot to ask inside, Rory grinned, "… most important actually … how do you know it is him?"
Catherine suddenly stopped and placed both hands on her face as if about to scream. Her dog groaned, wondering what was going on.
"Oh, my God! How true! …"
"I mean …", an owl hooted in the distance, "… Could it be another soul visiting you … pretending to be your uncle?"
"Jesus Christ!" Catherine seemed completely astounded now. Peter shook his head in secret, mimicking to Rory to ease down a bit.
They continued to walk as some mild wind tossed water plants to and fro, making them sway in some lazy manner.
"I have dealt with the paranormal and …", Rory grinned, "... well … things can be something they are not and …", Catherine stopped and Rory paused, letting her repose, "… we are hoping it is, but … it is not."
Catherine seemed worried but thankful as well. Geoff noticed that James was monitoring them from the window.
"Either way …", Peter sighed, "… use caution." He looked at Catherine. "And try to lead them to the light if at all possible."
"The light! That's right! I remember experiencing it!" She widened her eyes, looking around.
"Yes." Peter nodded, not wishing to boast with his "extensive" experience. "If it gets really uncomfortable for you … and you cannot make the spirit move to the light ..." he checked with Rory and then continued, "… then it is time to bring in professional help."
"What do you mean?" Catherine stopped and stared at Geoff and Peter.
"To help you cleanse the house?" Geoff offered cautiously.
"Oh! You mean like … from evil spirits and such?"
Geoff nodded and Rory agreed. Peter was reserved, watching some buzzing insects.
"Look … Catherine …" Rory approached her but she backed away as if burnt. Rory immediately jerked back, slightly worried. Peter nodded that it was all right. "Try burning sage around the home and do prayers of protection and cleansing of the home."
"Oh … I heard of such …"
"Yes." Rory looked at Geoff.
"Or … put salt in the areas you have heard the voice and … or seen the entity … if you have." Geoff looked at Peter. "They do not like salt and will not cross it either."
"Really?" She grinned. "Is there any scientific explanation with the salt?"
Geoff looked at Rory but Rory shrugged with his shoulders.
"We don't know really."
"A charged electroscope placed at a distance of several meters can be discharged by a few centigrams of a radium salt though …" Peter winked and then smiled knowledgably.
"But … from our experience with the 'holy salt'… it may make them deter from you and, perhaps … leave as well …"
Catherine seemed puzzled a bit and then James called them all back into the house. Dog barked joyfully and followed them towards the stairs.