Is Anybody Out There


lance_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Is Anybody Out There?
Synopsis Lance and Squeaks go to the radio station and try to connect with Radio Girl.
Date April 11, 2019

WSZR Building

The WSZR Building is a refurbished mill located on the west end of Elmhurst, bordering Newtown Creek. The structure was a textile factory at the turn of the century, but was refitted into and used as a Cold War-era listening post through the 1960s. Much of the old radio equipment remained behind after the structure was subsequently refitted into a shipping warehouse. Following the war, the building sat in disrepair and was purchased by settler Martin Pines with his resettlement grant. The building remains a four story mill structure, but Pines spent two years refitting the broadcast equipment and — with the help of his sole employee Jolene Petrelli — managed to connect the station to surviving broadcast antennas nearby in Elmhurst. The lower floors of the building are equipped with diesel generators to provide electricity during power outages of the the delicate Safe Zone grid. The upper levels of the mill building are personal living spaces for Pines, though the majority of the open-concept structure is dedicated to the radio station.

As an intern of SESA, Lance Gerken hasn’t had a lot of time to visit the WSZR Building and work shifts on the mic in the last few months, although he does try and come in when he can - he enjoys the thrill of being on the radio, of talking to the city, and the company of Jolene and Martin.

So far, they haven’t told him to stop showing up, and most importantly he still has a key.

Dust billows off the top of the old radio set in the wake of Lance’s hearty blow over the top of it, and he covers his mouth as he hacks up coughing for a few moments, waving the dust cloud away with the other. “I— ugk— so much dust, I hope this still works,” he comments, glancing back to his compatriot-in-crime, “I know Martin said that it used to work, and it should broadcast on the same frequency as that girl’s radio.”

It’s given another dubious look, “If we can get it working.”

Even before her internship, Squeaks had only had the opportunity to visit the radio station a few times. She liked talking to Mister Pines and learning how to operate the equipment was pretty primal. But finding the time while trying to catch up academically to her friends was a challenge that limited her availability to visit.


When Lance came up with the idea to try the old radio and contact the strange girl, she made the time. After all, adventures and investigations are never turned down.

While her brother is busy cleaning off the top part of the board, Squeaks is on hands and knees checking wiring underneath. It’s going to need power, after all, and that’s the first thing she checks. “Who do you think she is,” she asks while carefully working a plug into an outlet, because of course there’s questions that always come with adventures. “Is she maybe our age? Or older?”

“I don’t know,” Lance admits, leaning over to push aside some files and collect the microphone, snatching up a rag that he’d brought to clean it off, “She sounds maybe about our age, I think…”

He holds the microphone up a bit, giving it a shake to jiggle the cables and help Squeaks find those at least, “…but the big thing is, she’s alone, and she needs someone to talk to, I think. She sounds like one of us.”

So of course he’ll try and adopt her because that’s what the Lighthouse does.

With cables revealed it’s easier for Squeaks to find them and trace their paths to the correct plugs. “I think so too,” she agrees easily. That the radio girl needs someone to talk to and that she sounds close in age.

Once all the plugs are figured out and securely in place, she crawls out from beneath the rig. “Do you think she’ll answer if we find her?” She stands as she asks her next question, and scrubs at the dust on her hands.

Once the microphone’s plugged in, Lance sets it down, moving out of the way and offering her a hand up. “No idea. I mean… at first I thought maybe they were recordings from the war,” he confesses, “Until she was talking about walking around the Safe Zone, so I figured this had to be live, you know? She’s just shouting into the dark so she has someone to talk to, I think.”

He glances to the radio, then back, “So we’ll give her a light to look for, if we can.”

“I hope she answers, that we find her and she talks to us.” Squeaks looks over the board, adjusting some knobs and slides so they’re not blasted with sounds as soon as the equipment is powered on. Then she takes a step to the side so Lance can turn it on, head tilted so she can listen to the frequency changes. She might notice a difference before he does.

Before Lance turns it on, he sets an old cheap radio off to one side and tunes it to the right station— just static, right now, a quiet background hiss without anything broadcasting over that station. “Okay,” he says, “So if we broadcast, we should be able to hear it off this set, so we’ll know we’re sending right.”

The mic’s picked up, then, and he glances to Squeaks before turning it on to life. There’s a squeal of feedback, but thanks to the adjustments it’s not too bad, and he grimaces as he makes an adjustment.

“Testing,” he says into the mic, and it echoes from the set. Releasing the button, he flashes Squeaks a grin, “It works!”

Squeaks’ hands slowly come off her ears seconds after the feedback sounds stop. Those noises are never pleasant. Her head swivels to the second radio when Lance’s voice echoed through it, then she looks at him with an excited grin.

Scuttling closer to the microphone, her eyes bounce from her brother to the equipment and back again. “That means we can find her. It's going to work.” She's certain of it.

“Okay, so…” Lance looks at the mic, then to Squeaks, “What should we say? Just, like, tell her she’s not alone, and offer to talk, or whatever?” He wrinkles his nose, “Maybe share our own experiences. The Lighthouse, your own life…”

“She’s doing it kind of like a journal. And like she wants people to know about her.” Squeaks takes a step closer, almost like she’s going to talk into the mic, but she hesitates and looks up at Lance again. “Maybe… maybe we should start like that. Like… like you said with telling something about us. Trading.”

“Makes sense.” Lance’s chin bobs a bit in a nod of agreement, and he gestures to the mic, “You wanna go first, then? Maybe start with saying we heard you, we thought we’d talk about ourselves too?”

Squeaks nods, but she also hesitates in speaking into the mic again. “Okay,” she prompts herself, and it's still another long second before she actually steps up to the mic and then again before she starts talking.

“Hi.” It's kind of a lame beginning, but it's also her normal greeting for anyone. “Hi, Radio Girl. I… my brother and I hear you, your stories. On the radio. That's why we call you Radio Girl. Everyone… everyone calls me Squeaks. And… we… we wanted to let you know you aren't alone. Because we're listening.”

“This is DJ Lancelot,” is Lance’s offer then as he joins in, “You might’ve heard me on the radio, sometimes I talk on it when everyone else needs a break and I’m in… like my little sister here said, we hear you.”

A pause, “I grew up in an orphanage before the war. They called it the Lighthouse, it was only for us slice kids - they called us Evolved back then - and we filled up the place. It wasn’t easy. We… sometimes people died. There was bad weather, and— animals, and sickness, and people who wanted to kill us. The Ferrymen kept us as safe as they could, but it wasn’t easy. We had each other, though.”

Taking a cue from Lance, Squeaks adds her own bit of background. “I used to be alone. For a long time, because… because there wasn’t anybody for me.” She pauses, and shrugs dismissively as she admits to that, because it doesn’t matter anymore. “So I lived on the streets and places I could hide. And sometimes I had to steal so I had things I needed, like food and clothes. Then last year I found people who really wanted me. So I didn’t have to just survive anymore.”

With a look up at Lance, the younger teen lifts a hand as if to ask what’s next.

“I heard your broadcast about… like, up in the Heights, where it looks like some peoples’ lives just— stopped one day, where there’re all the signs of people who died. You’re right. A lot of people just try and pretend it didn’t happen,” Lance offers next into the mic, shaking his head, “But— a friend of mine, one of my orphanage-sisters, she told me that too many people were trying to pretend that we’re still before everything happened. That we’re trying to pretend it didn’t happen. But we shouldn’t. This is our world, the kids who grew up with it, and— we get to decide what the world’s going to be now. The after is something new, and we can’t let all the shit that came before us drag us down. Remember it, yeah, but… we can’t cling to it and let it drown us.”

He hesitates, “I guess we just wanted to tell you that you’re not alone out there. None of us are.”

“We're here,” Squeaks chimes in, hopeful. “We can be here for you, like we're here for each other… our brothers and sisters. You just… all you need is to ask us.” She looks up at Lance for a second, maybe to see if she's saying the right things. “You can let us know… anything. Okay?”

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