I was finally let out at the end of the day, and my parents kept me at home for a day before letting me out again.
After that, I went back to school as usual. I kept fainting in some of my classes, but nothing serious. Nothing like that night, with the hallucination of the woman. It still sent shivers down my spine.
The way my hand passed through her shoulder.
The way she, herself, seemed like a ghost, and so did I.
Recently, my brother had gotten interested in something my Dad had done when he was younger, and they were setting something up in the basement. Some kind of radio. Ket was learning how it worked from Dad, and was going to take a test for it. I couldn't remember exactly what it was called, and I was curious about it. I like science things. So I decided to ask Ket.
After school, when we were walking home together, I asked, "What's that thing you and Dad are doing in the basement again?"
"Oh. You mean the ham radio."
"The what now?"
"I'll show you when we get home. It was a hobby of Dad's."
When we got home, Ket led me to the basement. It was dark down there, but there was a bright bulb that illuminated the room.
I immediately passed out, and there I was again. A fine mist made of nothing surrounded me. I saw another person, looking at a computer screen. A boy, this time. High school age. Like me. Then I realized who it was.
The space formulated around me. He was on his phone.
I was a ghost again.
It was an eerie feeling. I was made of nothing more than particles. Waves.
My brother's voice brought me to reality.
"Whoa. Sine, are you awake? You've got to see this!"
"See what?" I got up and tried to shake the fuzzy feeling in my brain.
"This!" He showed me his computer screen and pointed to a number, one number in a list of gibberish numbers and letters that were all over the screen in lists.
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"Sine, this is a ham radio." He gestured to the equipment. "You communicate with people using radio waves that are converted to beeps, and those form coded messages. This number, the one I'm pointing to? That shows the signal. This is a REALLY strong signal, Sine. REALLY strong. That means that we were getting an extremely clear message from someone over the radio." He grinned. "But only while you were out."
"So there may be a reason you pass out all the time! Like, you're connected to it, or something! Like a weird science fiction thingy. Hey, can I try something?"
He turned something on one of the pieces of equipment, and I heard beeping. It sounded exactly like the beeping I always heard when I fell unconscious.
"Listen to it, Sine!" my brother called to me. He might have turned off the beeping. I don't know. It was still in my ears. "Listen! Let yourself hear it!"
I sat down. I was fading. I could no longer hear Ket. And then -
My heart stopped. Everything stopped.
The beeping didn't sound like beeping anymore. Not a cacophony, but a symphony. Numbers. Abbreviations. I could finally understand it.
Hello? Is anyone there?
Oh, good. 73.
73 to you, too.
I blinked. I was sitting up.
"Sine! Sine, you didn't pass out! You just sat, still and blank -"
"Ket, what does 73 mean?"
He answered immediately. "It's the ham radio code for 'good luck', or 'goodbye'. Why? Did you hear it?"
"I've been hearing 73 ever since I was four, Ket. I never knew what it meant…" It made no sense. None of it. And yet Ket had figured it out. I was confused. Completely confused.
And then, something strange came over me. A feeling of peace. It made me want to lie down. I could feel downy feathers all around me, softness.
"Sine! Mom and Dad are coming down here! Snap out of-"
I smiled and closed my eyes. I wanted to be here forever, to lie in all the softness.
Yes, Sineia. You want to sleep in this softness, all around you.
Give into it, Sineia.
Ket was yelling in my ear. I blinked and I could see him, hear him, for an instant. Then the softness was back.
Lay down, Sineia.
You know you want to.
The feathers were there. So tempting. So...sleepy.
I was so sleepy. So, so, so sleepy...And I was so heavy...
I am here for you.
I am here to help you.
Give into me.
Doesn't it look amazing?
Doesn't it feel like everything you've ever dreamed of?
I nodded. It really did. I had to feel it...so tired...lay down...just for a moment...I closed my eyes again, and fell, smiling to myself. It was so warm. So soft. So soft. So soft. So soft. So soft. So soft.
Yes. Do not listen to anything else.
Sleep now, Sineia.
All of my thoughts melded into one. One completely content thought. I was aware of nothing but the complete and utter softness around me. Like clouds. Downy feathers. The softest thing I had ever felt.
And just like that, I slept.