“You can dream dreams with a machine like that.”
Fuller stood naked in the middle of the room, his soaked clothes in a pile on the floor at his feet. The wooden parts of the house creaked and groaned against the wind. A candle on the desk across the room fluttered in the draft. He tugged firmly on the wire, pulling in the slack from outside, then pushed the window down, wedging it into place. The room was quiet now but for the soft static crackle of the radio. The candle flame wobbled upright.
The outer bands of the storm had made landfall late that afternoon. By early evening, swirling black blankets of lashing rain and thrashing winds clawed a slow path across the southern end of the island then turned north, ripping up trees at the root, downing phone lines and whipping debris through the air. Power went out almost immediately. It might be days before he’d be able to repair the antenna on the roof, if it was even still there. This would have to do for now.
He stripped the plastic from the end of the wire with his teeth and twisted the exposed filaments tightly around the contacts of the jack, then plugged that into the side of the radio. The static dissipated into soft white noise. Fuller switched to FM and turned the tuner dial slowly, searching. One station, operating under generator power, was still broadcasting, interrupted at regular intervals with storm updates, reminding listeners that a curfew was in place and to stay indoors and off the roads. He checked the time: seven twenty two. He still had a few minutes. Switching to the shortwave setting the static returned. He adjusted the tuner again, locating Voice Of America which now came in clearly. The make-shift antenna was working well. Moving slowly across the spectrum now, fine-tuning the dial in the shortwave bands, the white noise gave way to a tinny squelch, and then a signal.
“Four … four … four … nine … eleven … two … seven … seven … seven … thirteen … zero …”