The Devil’s Tone (Short Story)

March 17, 2021

MEMORANDUM FOR SENIOR PENTAGON LEADERSHIP,

DEFENSE AGENCY AND DOD HEAD OF FIELD ACTIVITIES

Subject: Project Fourier Field Tests, Williams, Arizona

  1. This memorandum serves as documentation of field tests of Project Fourier that have taken place over the past twenty-eight days in Williams, Arizona.
  1. Project Fourier was created to test the effects of sound waves on the human mind.  Laboratory testing on both human and animal test subjects has shown that sound waves of various intensities and pitches can be used to create different effects including nausea, pain, and changes in personality.  Dr. Dhaval Varadkar, the project lead, believes that he has found a way to produce a specific type of sound wave that makes test subjects more open to suggestion and obeying direct commands.
  1. When laboratory testing had finished and field testing was authorized, the town of Williams, Arizona was chosen due to its population size, remote location, and ability to control the testing site without interfering with the experiment.
  1. During February 2021, four radio towers were constructed just outside of the town of Williams, Arizona.  These towers were built according to the specifications provided by Dr. Varadkar.  The towers were concealed among local rock formations and flora, and one was placed at each corner of the town.
  1. A fifth tower was constructed the third week of February 2021 at the suggestion of David Pike, a contractor and expert in broadcast and receiving technology.
  1. At 6:15am on February 18, 2021, the towers were activated remotely by field operatives.  Each was set to a specific strength, frequency, and pitch per Dr. Varadkar’s instructions.
  1. Hundreds of tests were performed over the next four weeks before culminating in what has been referred to as the Williams Incident.  The documentation and results of these individual tests can be found in the following report: Hobbs, Dr. Gloria.  “Williams, Arizona Testing Information: Compilation.”  31 July 2021.  Classified Location

Please find attached a transcript of the testimony of David Marshall Pike, obtained March 23, 2021 at Fort Huachuca Army Base, Cochise, Arizona.

Testimony of David Marshall Pike

March 23, 2021

Fort Huachuca, Cochise, Arizona

So there’s this story about an incident that happened at Disney back in the 1950s.

Yeah, I know, I’m not here to tell you ancient stories from the golden era of animation.  I get that.  I know exactly why I’m sitting in this chair with you three fine gentlemen looming over me.  Just indulge me for a moment, though.  I promise there’s a point.

Back in the 50s, Disney wasn’t an entertainment juggernaut like they are today.  At that point, they were almost exclusively concerned with churning out cartoons.  Most people are under the impression that all of the company’s films were successful, but the truth of the matter was that Disney was in trouble.  A number of their films had failed financially, even some of the ones that are seen today as classics, and it was really the television and newspaper cartoons that were keeping the lights on.  Small film strips, too, the kind that used to play before the feature presentations.

A couple of cartoonists were working on a short when they realized that they needed a particular sound effect to make a scene work.  It wasn’t one that they had on hand, and they felt that it needed to be a certain way for it to be right.  One of them realized that they could get what they wanted by slowing down the noise of a soldering iron.  They tinkered around with it for a while and at one point put it down all the way to 12 hertz.

They didn’t understand what sound can do if you’re not careful.  The cartoonists were sick for days after they created the effect.  Rumor has it that Walt Disney happened to be there with them at the time and that he fell ill as well.  Having a 12hz sound run through your body is roughly the equivalent of sitting in an office chair and letting your coworkers spin you around for a few hours.

When the body is exposed to sound, just like when it’s exposed to anything else, there’s a reaction.  This is especially true with low frequencies, called infrasounds.  Our ears can’t hear them, but they can do a number on us.  Did you know that noise around 19hz can cause people to hallucinate?  That’s because it’s the resonant frequency for eyeballs.  The vibrations can cause all to see all kinds of crazy things, and you know what they say.  Seeing is believing.

The real dangerous one is 7hz.  That’s the resonant frequency for your brain and other internal organs.  You crank that one up if you really want to get the party started.  Nausea, disorientation.  You start to get paranoid, like everyone in the world is watching.  Let it go long enough and your organs start to tear open.  Just a bit longer and that’s the end.  You’re done.  Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

I’m telling you all of this because you need to understand that the science behind what Dr. Varadkar attempted was sound, no pun intended.  As much as it sounds like something that came out of a bad pulp science fiction novel, it’s actually based on a hundred years of scientific research.  That’s how he got the government to agree to the funding.

I wasn’t a part of that pitch meeting, so I can only imagine those suits licking their chops at what he was presenting them.  And it made sense, right?  If sound can be used to affect the human body, it should be possible to use sound to make changes to it as well.  With the right frequency, volume, and other conditions, it would be theoretically possible to make a person far more susceptible to suggestion.  Taking it a step further, it would even be possible to basically rewrite how that person thinks.  The human body is, for all intents and purposes, a biological machine, and sound can be used to hack that machine.

You know what happened next.  The committee approved Dr. Varadkar’s grant.  How could they not?  He was telling them that he was going to give them a way to directly influence each and every member of the population on a silver platter.  Even if they weren’t going to use that technology on American citizens, and let’s be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that someone eventually would have tried to do just that, it would be one hell of a weapon.  Win a war without firing a single shot by making the enemy see things your way.  

Whether they want to or not.

The committee went one step further, though.  Varadkar needed test subjects.  Lots of them, and they needed to be highly varied.  Different backgrounds, different biological makeups, different diets, all of that.  Being able to adjust the thought process of a single person wouldn’t cut it.  He needed to make sure that he found universal sounds and frequencies so that anyone and everyone would be affected.

Because of this, the committee agreed to allow Varadkar to use an entire town as his own personal playground.  Even with everything that’s happened, that’s the part that I still can’t get my head wrapped around.  The United States government turned over an entire town of its own citizens to a single person so that he could poke and prod and experiment on it.  That pretty much sums up what our elected officials really think about us regardless of their party affiliations, doesn’t it?

The town that Varadkar chose was Stonetop, Arizona.  It was the perfect place for Varadkar’s experiments.  It had a varied enough population that it would present a wide range of test subjects, but it was also isolated from the main highways and had very little in the way of outsiders passing through.  Three thousand one hundred and eight brains to pump dangerous sounds into.  Three thousand one hundred and eight men, women, and children that didn’t have a choice.

The four towers that were constructed, one in each direction outside of town, were my design.  I even suggested the building of the fifth tower to fill out the coverage area gaps.  I didn’t know what the experiment’s true purpose was at the time.  In fact, it was explained to me as something much different.  

Varadkar had told me that he was working on a new warning system that could transmit a warning signal throughout a large area by using particular tones on specific frequencies.  That’s not anything that’s needed here, but it would be invaluable in places where groups of people lived that didn’t have the luxury of readily available cell phone service.  People could be warned about imminent floods in even the most remote parts of the Middle East, for example.  A specific sound would be transmitted over a much larger distance than, say, the sirens we use now to warn people about tornadoes.  It would completely eliminate issues like language barriers.  A person hears the sound, and they know to get somewhere safe.

Varadkar said that what he was working on was a series of tones that could be used as a universal system.  One tone for flood, another one for sandstorm, a different one for tornado, and so on.  He told me that once he had the system figured out, he was going to work with frequencies to increase distance and reception by the human body.  As crazy as it seems now, I actually did believe that I was helping with some kind of humanitarian project.

Part of the project was to conceal the towers from view.  I did find that odd, but it was explained to me that it was simply to not take away from the natural beauty around the town.  Yeah, I know, it was a bad reason and I probably should have questioned it further, but it really wasn’t that strange of a reason.  I’ve been contracted by countless people that want a system that works, but don’t want to see it when it’s doing so.  It wasn’t like I was unaccustomed to hiding some rich person’s giant satellite dish or transmitting towers in a stadium.

Varadkar and I got along well enough during the building stage.  Once the towers were finished, he asked me to stay on-site in case any mechanical issues came up.  I think it’s fair to say that my services are in high demand, so at first I turned him down.  When he showed me the figure that he was willing to pay me for a few months’ work, though, I decided that I couldn’t afford to turn it down.

This next part is what Varadkar himself ended up telling me had happened.  I didn’t find out about what he had really been up to until later, and as much as I’d like to say that I had a bad feeling or some sneaking suspicion, the truth is that I didn’t notice anything that made me question what I had been told.  What I’m about to tell you is what he told me, not what I witnessed firsthand.  So take that for what it’s worth.

Varadkar and his team started small.  They already had a number of frequencies that would make a person feel anxious or disoriented, so they tried to see if they could simply tweak those to make the test subjects more open to suggestion.

Nothing really happened for the first few weeks.  That may sound like a long time to be working on such a small range of sounds, but you have to understand just how precise of frequencies they were working with.  There’s a lot of room between, say, 8hz and 9hz.  Varadkar was testing frequencies out to over five hundred decimal places.

The majority of the time the residents didn’t even realize anything was happening.  We can’t hear anything below roughly 20hz, and he was working in ranges much lower than that.  He was also using just short bursts in the beginning.  It wasn’t until he started to extend the broadcast times that things started to go downhill for the people of Stonetop.

The number of people going to the local hospital rose dramatically.  A lot of the people were complaining about feeling sick even though they didn’t have the usual symptoms of a cold or the flu.  There were several cases involving coughing up blood or bleeding from various orifices.  A few elderly patients suffered heart attacks.

Varadkar was aware of all of this.  Somehow he was getting all of the medical records that were processed at the hospital.  Either someone was getting the information to him, or he was obtaining it himself.  I’m not sure which it was.

Like I said, this is just what I’ve been able to piece together from talking with other people and from things that I saw later.  I didn’t see Varadkar much during that time period.  Since the towers were working without issues there wasn’t much for me to do, so I spent the majority of my time in the trailer that I had been provided with.  Like the other trailers and the few buildings that had been constructed, it was heavily soundproofed.  I and all of the other staff on site would be sent a text message when a test was about to occur, and we’d go into our designated areas to wait for it to be over.

I don’t know what test number it was when things started to get out of hand.  My guess is that it wasn’t one single test, but a cumulative effect from multiple ones.  Dozens of assaults were reported to the local police within a three hour window.  We were located miles outside of the city limits, but I could still hear gunshots when I stood outside of my trailer.  I was listening to that distinctive popping sound when one of the guards came into camp with the news that a fire was burning on the east side of town.

Varadkar and his team came rushing out of the temporary metal building they used as their base camp.  I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as they were.  He barked a few harsh orders to his team, and they piled into a group of minivans and left.  Once they were gone, he yelled at the guards to begin breaking down the camp.  He then hurried over to me and grabbed me by the shirt, demanding that I tell him how to turn off the towers.

I was completely baffled by his shouting.  I knew for a fact that he was aware of how to shut them down.  He had been doing just that at the end of each test.  I tried to explain that to him, but he kept saying that they were still one and that I needed to turn them off.  His eyes were wild, and there was spittle or foam at the corners of his mouth.  Normally he was calm and collected, but now he looked like a maniac.

He brought me into the base camp once again and instructed me that I needed to shut off the broadcast towers.  As calmly as I could, I told him that it was all done through the main power switch, which was on the main computer board underneath a series of a dozen monitors.  He sneered at me and pointed at monitors, telling me that they couldn’t possibly be off if this was still happening in Williams.

I went over to the monitors to see what he was referring to.  I instantly regretted that decision, and I have every minute since.  The images depicted on the monitors showed what I imagine hell to look like.  Citizens of the town were tearing themselves and each other apart.  The atrocities being committed…

It wasn’t a riot.  I know that’s the popular story, but I’m here to tell you that it most definitely wasn’t a riot.  As strange as this sounds, it wasn’t organized enough to be one.  It was like everyone had suddenly decided that it was every man for himself.

I watched as an older man of maybe sixty brutally clubbed in the skull of a teenage boy with a tire iron.  I actually knew that man; I had gone into town on several occasions to get food or simply to stretch my legs when testing wasn’t happening, so I recognized him as the owner of a local deli.  It was impossible to tell who the boy was.  He just…  There wasn’t enough of him left to even call him human anymore.

On another monitor, two women were slowly driving around the parking lot of a gas station in an old beat up station wagon.  A rope was tied around the back bumper, and at the end of the rope was a man with his neck tied in a noose.  He was screaming as he was dragged across the pavement, leaving smears of blood in a trail behind him.

There were countless examples of depravity on display, but there’s one that I just can’t get out of my head no matter how hard I try.  A woman was standing directly in front of one of the cameras.  No doubt it was hidden, but somehow she had managed to get into the very center of the frame.  She was just standing there in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, slowly peeling chunks of skin off of her face with an almost bored expression.

I tore my eyes away from the monitor as Varadkar once again demanded that I shut off the towers.  Feeling my stomach churning, I looked down at the computer board on the desk.  The light that indicated when the towers were transmitting was off.  I checked the logs and verified that there wasn’t even power running to them.  They weren’t sending out a signal, and they hadn’t been for several hours.

When I showed all of this to Varadkar, he sat down in one of the leather chairs and buried his face in his hands.  He looked tired, and he seemed older somehow.  I was close to panicking at this point.  I knew that what was happening in Williams had to be at least partially my fault, and I yelled at him to tell me what was going on.  He just pointed at a clipboard sitting on one of the tables.

As I retrieved the clipboard and started to read through the documents, Varadkar haltingly told me what I told you earlier.  The real intentions of the project, the committee meeting, and how the government had handed over an entire town to him.  He didn’t sound remorseful.  If anything, it was more like he was trying to convince me that he had done the right thing.

The papers were a listing of test numbers along with the results of those tests.  There weren’t any exact frequencies listed, but there were reference numbers that I assumed could be used to find that out.

The most recent test, the one that had happened a few hours prior, was detailed on the top sheet.  At first the team had thought that it was another failed test.  Nothing had happened immediately, and the people that they were observing didn’t seem to be affected by it in any way.

About an hour after the test, however, a man was observed hitting another man without any provocation.  More of these incidents had happened as time passed, until suddenly the entire town had erupted in violence.  Instead of things growing calmer the further out they got from the test, they had instead inexplicably ramped up.

There was a handwritten note at the bottom of the page that I read several times to make sure that I was understanding it correctly.  One of the scientists had found that the test frequency was still resonating in the brains of the subjects they had monitors installed in.  I have no idea how they got monitors into people’s brains.  I mean, there’s no way that the people knew about it, right?  They never would have volunteered for that, and Varadkar’s group wouldn’t have told them what it was for anyway.

Regardless of how they did it, the scientist noted that the resonance was actually growing stronger as time passed rather than fading.  That simply should not have been possible.  That’s not how it works.  If you take away the source, there’s nothing to continue to cause the resonance to happen.  There could be effects from the resonance, obviously, but it wouldn’t just continue on.  For it to keep getting stronger…  I don’t have an explanation for it.

There was more to it, though.  The vibration was actually passing on from person to person.  When an affected person was close to an unaffected one for a long enough period of time, the brain of the unaffected one would begin to display a synchronous vibration.  To put it simply, the madness was contagious.

I put down the clipboard and just stared at Varadkar for a long time.  I don’t know how long it was.  I couldn’t think of anything to say.  I mean, how do you put the feelings you experience from reading something like that into words?

Varadkar was the one that ended up speaking.  He raised his head out of hands and looked directly at me.  The expression on his face was one of someone that had completely given up.

“The Devil’s Tone,” he said in a matter-of-fact voice that sent a chill down my back.

Before I knew what was happening, he reached under his lab coat and pulled a gun out from his belt.  I hadn’t noticed it before with everything that was happening.  He pointed it at me.  I stood completely still, afraid that even the smallest movement might make him shoot.  Without even blinking he turned the gun, put it into his mouth, and pulled the trigger.  It went off with a roar, and his body slumped forward in the chair as pieces of skin and blood and brain splattered onto the wall behind him.

That’s when the guards came into the building.  You obviously know the rest.  I had a hood put over my head, and the next time it came off was when I got here.  Wherever here is.

Look, I don’t know what you’re going to do to me, and frankly, I don’t care.  I didn’t know what I was a part of, but I was still a part of it.  None of that matters, though.  The only thing that matters is that you figure out how to stop that resonance.  There’s no way that it is just in Williams at this point.  There were hours between the final test and the outbreak of violence.  How many people left town during that time period without knowing what they were carrying inside of them?  It’s impossible to know.

You have to figure out how to stop it before it keeps getting passed on and on and on until we’re all completely and totally fucked.  Do you understand me?  You have to stop it now, and when you do, you need to toss everything Varadkar worked on into a fire and burn it to ashes.  Slam this door to Hell closed and make sure it never opens again.

End of Testimony

FINAL RECOMMENDATION

It is my recommendation that the line of research pioneered by Dr. Dhaval Varadkar be continued through this department.  The results of the testing in Williams, Arizona suggests that weaponizing the specific sound (referred to in testimony as the Devil’s Tone) may be a viable and cost-effective solution to deployment of United States resources in a variety of hostile settings.  I further recommend that, due to Dr. Varadkar’s death, his lead assistant, Dr. Irene Coldwater, be promoted to the head of the project.  A new testing location should be located as soon as possible so that research can continue.

Containment protocols should be updated to avoid the possibility of the results of such testing spreading across United States soil.  While necessary, the military eradication of the so-called Devil’s Tone carriers in Arizona brought unwanted attention to the area that nearly exposed the classified project.

Phillip Gausal

Special Advisor, United States Pentagon

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