The small boy walks his bike up the hill on his way home on a dark, foggy night. As he reaches the top, a tower of lights cuts a path into the darkness. The lights blink on and off; a beacon in a sea of mist. The boy is mesmerized. He stands there, mouth agape, as he is flooded with light, then darkness.
Light, then darkness.
He does not know how long he has been standing there, but his mind returns and he continues on his way.
The small boy returns to the tower. The morning light of the sun bathes the grass with a golden hue. He stands underneath the cellular tower, staring at its alternating stripes of rusted red and pale white. His hair is tussled into his face by the breeze. Its lights are off. He sits now and listens to the hum of electricity and imagines the many messages that are traveling from that tower into the blackness of space. Then instead of a message going from the tower into space, a message from the tower comes to the boy.
The small boy has told his friends at school about the tower. Every day they come and sit underneath the lone sentinel, quietly, listening for messages. Only the small boy can hear them, so he tells his friends what they say. His friends gather around him and listen intently. When he arrives home, his mother asks where he has been. He speaks of far-away worlds, exotic landscapes, and other civilizations yet unknown to mankind. His mother shakes her head in disbelief and goes back to making dinner.
The small boy sits at home in front of his parents. They seem concerned about the things he has been saying and the amount of time he has spent at the tower. His mother and father exchange uneasy glances to each other as they explain to him that there is no way he could be hearing anything from the tower; that just isn’t how the human brain can perceive information. It was all the imagination of a young child. The boy yells back at his parents that they don’t understand, says he never wants to see them again and runs outside. He grabs his bike and heads down the road. His parents let him go, knowing that he will come back for dinner once he has cooled off.
The boy stands underneath the tower once again. The sun had set not long ago leaving the sky a deep purple. The lights of the tower begin to blink on and off. Wiping tears from his eyes, he tries to listen for his messages. He hears none. Defeated, he turns to leave when the hair on the back of his neck begins to stand on end. Tingles shoot all over his body. He feels a sense of calm wash over him as the hum of the tower grows and grows, swaddling the small boy in a blanket of sound. The lights on the tower no longer blink, but remain steadfast, flooding him with illumination. As his senses reach the pinnacle of their limits, the sound fades and the light dims to a faint glow.
Only the boy’s bike remained.
The small boy’s parents stand at the foot of the tower. It has been a year since their son disappeared. It has been a year since they had frantically called the police when the boy hadn’t come home. Driving in the back of the police car, they rushed to the tower, knowing that is where their son had gone. Finding only his bike, the authorities assumed that he had been kidnapped and began the most extensive search in the state’s history. Today, the search has been called off. His mother places a bouquet of flowers on the ground and whispers to herself that she’ll never give up hope. His father stands stoically, staring at the tower, trying for the millionth time to figure out why his son was so obsessed with this place. The small boy’s parents embrace, walk back to their car, and drive back home.
The small boy’s parents stand at the foot of the abandoned tower. Dried up and dead bouquets lay strewn about the ground. His mother, now old, struggles as she kneels to place the fresh flowers at the bottom of the chain link fence. She whispers to herself that she’ll never give up hope. The small boy’s father helps his wife up off the ground. They embrace, still struggling after all these years to come to terms with the loss of their beloved son. As they turn to go, they begin to feel something odd. The hair on the back of their neck begins to stand on end. A buzzing sound begins to penetrate their bodies, and the lights begin to flicker wildly. Fear grips the parents as the sound and light crescendos into a cacophony. The ground beneath their feet trembles causing them both to fall. In shock and terror, the mother reaches out to her husband, but she is only met with blinding light. And then, it was gone.
Slowly, she begins to open her eyes. There is no more light, not more sound. She feels herself getting helped up. Wiping earth and bits of dead flower from her face she turns and sees that her husband is still struggling to get off the ground. She turns in surprise to find her son, fully grown, standing there. She wraps her arms around him in disbelief and sobs. The man smiles and holds her. He rubs her back and tells her he is home now. After some time, she tells him that she never gave up hope. He replies that he knew. She asks him where he has been all these years. He tells her of far-away worlds, exotic landscapes, and civilizations yet unknown to mankind.