It's late afternoon. You're driving, alone.
You don't normally take the back roads, but the traffic is awful and you've decided it's not worth the hassle.
About a mile down a narrow country lane, you notice your radio crackle and start to lose signal.
You fiddle with the radio to try and catch the end of that song you really like.
You try to fix it, but there's nothing but static.
You fidget desperately with the frequency, but the station you were listening to seems to have phased out of existence entirely.
Just as you're about to give up on hearing the rest of the song, the radio hisses back to life.
It's faint, but at least it's something. You turn the volume up.
"Zero, two, five, eight, eight..."
"...Seven, two, three, seven, one,
eight, five, five, two, three,
four, zero, one, nine, two..."
A small, electronic voice comes through your radio. It stops, and a short yet familiar jingle plays before it continues again.
You realise somehow you've managed to tune into some kind of numbers station. Curious, you pull over in a lay-by to listen more intently.
You sit quietly and listen as closely as you can.
After the second loop-through, you suddenly realise why the jingle sounds so familiar.
It's the first two bars of a theme used by tech company giant Koios Enterprises, (just as seen on TV™!).
As you ponder what link Koios might have to a numbers station out in the countryside, you notice a faded sign, half-covered by ivy, on a nearby gate.
You get out of your car to take a closer look.
The sign is heavily dented.
It's scratched and bent, as if hit by a vehicle. Country drivers. You roll your eyes.
Despite the damage, you can still make out the warning message:
"UNAUTHORISED PERSONS ENTERING THIS AREA MAY BE ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED"
It's unsettling. But you're not that easily deterred, and continue to investigate.
You take some photos. Someone online will probably love this.
Without the radio in the background, you notice the soft clicks of an electric fence hidden behind the hedges. You can't tell how far it goes, but you assume it encircles quite a large area.
You also spot a secondary fence of rusty barbed wire, again mostly covered by plant life.
Neither of these dissuade you. You lay your jacket across the gate and lean in to take some more photos.
But something... is there??
You observe a shimmery haze beyond the gate. The grass beneath it moves as if something is walking there.
It's a strain, but eventually the haze comes into focus.
You and the creature lock eyes.
You wake up in your car.
You're in a lay-by on a quiet road close to your home. It's nearly dark already. You have no idea how you got here.
You struggle to recall the events of the last hour or so. Despite being certain you stopped for a bit of roadside photography, there's no evidence of the sort on your phone. [1 missed call].
A familiar jingle comes on over the radio.
Story, art and profile by Tashamon