I'm the Administrator of the Numbers Station UVB-76 a.k.a The Buzzer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: House of Ghosts
I write this not seeking notoriety, but as a possible last line of warning, my own personal dead man's switch...

Submitted: October 25, 2018

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Submitted: October 25, 2018

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I write this not seeking notoriety, but as a possible last line of warning, my own personal "dead man's switch".

Which is pretty ironic, because that's exactly what UVB-76 is, a dead man's switch. They call the consistent, thudding "Buzz" heard over the airwaves the "Heartbeat". Not as sinister as it sounds, but as long as those who are meant to listen hear it, they know the station hasn't been compromised. However, the station is not guarding against petty external threats like nuclear war or invading armies, but threats contained within a heavy, trap-door located in the corner of the broadcasting room, underneath the table that holds the transmitting microphone, basic computer, and speakers producing the "Heartbeat". The trapdoor itself is unremarkable. Faded-grey, two 2'x2' plates with wide teeth that interlock in the middle. A dark-red, heavy-gauge padlock loops through raised metal in the center on either plate, further securing the entrance.

Which was fine by me, I never had any desire to go searching beyond the plates, figured some sort of radiation would end me the instant I cracked it open. This blissful ignorance dominated my mind for many years until the first "incident" that occurred back in September, 2010.

A quick rundown of the facility. "The Buzzer" station is a purposefully non-descript, 2-story brick building, encircled by a thin, chain-link fence which I always thought was just there for looks as it doesn't even have barbed-wire on it. The 2nd floor is divided into four rooms: living quarters, kitchen, latrine, recreation room - all unremarkable. Bed is uncomfortable, latrine is constantly clogging, TV only pulls in static, and a ping pong table with no ping pong ball. Which is further rendered useless seeing as I have no one to play ping-pong with even if a ball had been present. The coffee is surprisingly good though.

The ground-floor contains two rooms. The hardware room houses the basic electronics and utilities to keep the station running. Being a mechanic in the armed forces, upkeep was rather easy. Complete mess upon first arrival, though. Whoever was here before had no sense of order or even basic organization. I've brought it up to my standards over the years, however. The only mystery that room now holds is a locked, filing cabinet bolted to the floor. Many unsuccessful attempts to pry it open or find the key made me realize it was pointless to even try to get to its contents.

The broadcasting room dominates the ground-floor even though its only contents are crammed in the far corner. This is the only room without any windows, relying on three haphazardly placed light bulbs looped through pipes on the ceiling. The hatch flushed with the floor, its dark-red padlock resting in the middle. The nondescript, surprisingly heavy metal table above that houses a matching four-legged chair. Equipped with a modern microphone and set of speakers. The computer displayed a basic, green dot-matrix screen that seems to not have been updated since the station's inception in the 80's. Next to this setup is a pneumatic tube system and incinerator. Rarely do I receive new orders or information, but when I do, the "shoooop" sound reverberates throughout the station with their arrival.

Not counting today, I have only ever received four communications from whomever is in charge of the station. The identity of who or what is barking out orders is unknown to me. I assume someone higher up the military chain of command, but the received correspondence doesn't follow the format of anything I've seen while serving in the military.

The first communication was back in 2003 when I was appointed the Administrator of this station:

"Congratulations on being appointed the Administrator of Broadcasting Station UVB-76! Your impeccable record and attention to detail have elevated you above those around you and have made you the easy-choice for this placement.

On the surface, your duties here may seem trivial, but we assure you their exact and proper execution is vital to the well-being of your country, family, and all that you love. What you do here will have far-reaching ramifications that may never become apparent, know that this is a good thing.

On no set schedule, you will receive cassettes through the pneumatic system. Place each cassette into the computer and let it run until the arrival of another cassette. Incinerate the old cassette and any written message sent through pneumatic system immediately after they are no longer needed.

Do not allow a window of more than 15 minutes to pass when changing the cassettes.

REPEAT. DO NOT ALLOW A WINDOW OF MORE THAN 15 MINUTES TO PASS WHEN CHANGING CASSETTES. THIS IS PARAMOUNT TO BEING A SUCESSFUL ADMINISTRATOR

Occasionally, in lieu of a cassette, phrases and numbers will be sent via a handwritten letter. You are to read these yourself until another cassette is received. This will be rare, but proper and constant reading of the message will be the most important action anyone could be doing at that time. You are allowed ten minutes between each iteration to tend to your own personal needs.

Again, congratulations on receiving the mark of Administrator! Very few people will know this honor.

This message will be the only message you do not incinerate should you need to refresh your mind with its directive.

-Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 7 4 2 7 9 9 1 4."

Only three times did a handwritten letter come instead of a cassette. Two of those times it only took less than thirty minutes for a cassette to arrive. The last time a handwritten note arrived was in 2005. I read those goddamned numbers for 32 hours straight. After my oratory marathon, my second pneumatic message arrived:

"Successful and exemplary execution of current duties. Probation lifted. Tone pitch will return to normal. ? – 143"

After incinerating that message, the "heartbeat" seemed to slow down and was easier on the ears.

Then I failed my duties. In over seven years, I never missed the arrival of a cassette, but I fell ill back in the month of September, 2010. I took precautions, I set up bedding in the broadcasting room with the "heartbeat", letting it lull me to sleep, knowing I would be awakened by any pneumatic "shoooop". I would run upstairs to the latrine and leave the door open should I need to run downstairs and replace the cassette. I started to feel worse after a few nights in the broadcasting room, though. I became more easily disoriented and distracted. I was using the bathroom one early afternoon, door wide open, the walls reverberate announcing the arrival of another cassette. In my sick mind, I panicked. I HAD to change the cassette RIGHT NOW. I jam my pants back up, no time for basic hygiene, and run for the stairs. I tripped on god knows what, probably my own damn feet, and fall down the stairs. I'm lucky I didn't break any bones, but I slammed my head into the railing and knocked myself out.

I'm not sure how long I was unconscious, but when I awoke there was no sunlight coming down the stairwell or through the hardware room. The first thing that registers is the sound. Grinding, thudding metal. An alarm blaring in a quick and deep staccato fashion. Irregular, pneumatic shoops and some clunking, plastic sounds. The second sense to solidify itself was sight. Unseen before now, there was red light pouring from the doorway of the broadcasting room. Then came the smell. As I begin to pull myself up, I realize my nostrils are being assaulted by some horrendous odor. As I get to my knees and glance up the stairwell, I see the latrine's door wide open and remember I had to rush out. For a brief moment I thought I was just smelling my own filth, but the odor began stinging my nose and became almost a physical presence when I turned toward the broadcasting room and realized the smell was emanating from there. I hold my breath and run into the red room.

The source of the red light was the first thing to become apparent. Of the three, free-hanging light bulbs, two had become a vivid, crimson red. One remained white, but was beginning to flicker as I stepped further into the room. The heavy metal table kept rising and falling, scraping against the wall. The computer had fallen on it side, but against all odds was still working. At least for the moment. The speakers were on the ground, reciting a far out-of-date set of numbers. The microphone was nowhere to be found. As my eyes adjust to the solid crimson and flickering white bulbs, I see the desk is being pushed by up by the heavy hatch. Something was thrusting from underneath, grinding the metal teeth together and testing the dark-red padlock's purpose to its absolute extreme. Anytime the hatch would be rocked upward, a harsh wave of the acidic, chemical odor would wash out over the room, giving no doubt to its origin.

Atop the hatch lay the microphone. I begin to rush toward it, but I slip on something round and fall back on my ass. I see now the floor is littered with pneumatic containers, containing various cassettes and handwritten notes. I hear the reverberating pneumatic shooop over the blaring alarm and another container arrives, pushing the previous one out the top of the tube and clattering to the floor. Within this new container is a cassette and a handwritten note. I lurch my body over to it as another terrifying thrust pushes against the hatch with sound of rending metal, the wave of acidic smell washes over me and the white light bulb goes out.

I reach the tube and manage to pull out the note and read it by the crimson light.

"Administrator. THIS IS YOUR FINAL MESSAGE. INSERT THIS CASSETTE NOW AND READ THESE NUMBERS OR YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD BROKEN YOUR NECK ON THE STAIRCASE.

11 UVB-76, 27 UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14

REPEAT

11 UVB-76, 27 UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14"

The dark bulb began to faintly glow a dark crimson. Grabbing as much air as I can while facing away from the hatch, I run over to the desk and right the computer. The hatch lurches up, making me jump back, luckily still able to hold the computer upright with one hand. I snatch the microphone from atop the hatch, praying my fingers don't get caught between the metal teeth of the plates as they fall back flush with the floor. I'm able to bring the microphone up to the desk and scoop up the speakers as well. I glance at the last light bulb and notice its hue is quickly catching up to its brothers. I eject the previous cassette with its outdated set of numbers, and slam the the new cassette in as another crash against the hatch raises the desk. But instead of falling back to the ground, the desk stays at an angle and everything slides to the right and lays against the wall. I look down and notice a pneumatic tube has lodged itself in between the plates as they buckled upward. In that moment, the dark-red padlock twists out of itself and only the u-shaped bar is left holding the the plates down.

The room is bathed in crimson, I hit play on the computer, expecting another set of numbers. Instead I hear music:

https://soundcloud.com/lafleurvk/uvb-76-2010-09-01-22-25-utc

Losing no time, I read/scream the new set of numbers in unison:

"11 UVB-76, 27 UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14!

11 UVB-76, 27 UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14!

..."

By the third iteration I have memorized the string of numbers and am now just screaming them into the microphone.

For one terrible moment, nothing. The music of Swan Lake floods the crimson room, nearly drowning out my numbers. The "heartbeat" contained within this cassette seems to match my own as it is going faster than anything I had ever heard before. But by the 18th iteration, the alarm stops. The smell, while present, is fading. The crimson light bulbs turn a vivid blue one after the other, each with a satisfying popping sound before fading into a clear white. Nothing is bracing against the hatch and I kick the pneumatic tube away, allowing the hatch to fall with a heavy finality as the padlock slides from its braces, having served its purpose. The desk rights itself as Swan Lake reaches its crescendo. I start sobbing uncontrollably but I don't dare stop reading the numbers. The "heartbeat" begins to slow down. Whether there was one imprinted on the tape or I was just hearing my own, I don't know. About three hours in I sit down, the only sound in the whole god-forsaken building is my sobbing and my reading of the numbers.

Four more hours pass and a pneumatic rumbling echoes through the building. I get through three more iterations of the numbers before the sound clicks in my brain and I get up to retrieve the message, taking the microphone with me and repeating the numbers. I kick all the other pneumatic tubes away from me as I shuffle through them and open the newest canister:

"Administrator. The damage you have caused by your failure to carry out your duties is severe. However, all is not lost due your actions in what could have been our final moments.

Replace the current cassette with the one that arrived with this message. Do not incinerate the cassette containing the music. Instead, keep that nearby and safe. Burn all other canisters. Do not look in those canisters.

Know now you are safe for the time being. After cleaning the room and yourself, get some sleep. We will be in contact.

-Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 7 4 2 8 0 0 0 7.

Additional: Take the key located within and access the filing cabinet in the hardware room. You will need the contents for what is to come. ? – 143"

As I tilt the tube, a small key slides out into the palm of my hand. I replace the music cassette and place it in my breast pocket along with the key. I begin incinerating the countless canisters as a slow, steady “heartbeat” oozes out of the speakers surrounded by numbers. As I struggle to keep myself conscious, I hear whistling coming from the speakers, Swan Lake. But as I focus, I realize it's not coming from the speakers, but drifting up from underneath the hatch.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

A week passes, and I overcome my sickness. I receive my latest message through the pneumatic system. They aim to have me descend into the hatch, armed only with the contents of the filing cabinet. Had I not fully searched the cabinet and found the hidden compartment and what it contained, I would have killed myself rather than go down there. Now I have no choice.

I'm writing this with the faint hope it will reach someone. Anyone. Learn from my mistakes, be better, don't smash your head on a stairwell railing, I don't know. Maybe strike a blow against those in charge for doing this to me. To us. I don't even know if I can trust ? – 143 to get these messages out or his note left in the cabinet.

But what other choice do I have?

/-/-/-/-/--/-/-/-/-/-/--/-/--/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/--/-/-/---/--/-/-/-/-/-/--/-/-/--/-/--/-/--

omega protocol. cleared for release.

-Boris, Olga, Mikhail, Larisa. 7 4 2 8 6 3 0 1.

Additional: delayed. There is still time - ? – 143


© Copyright 2020 For You Margo. All rights reserved.

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