Betsy heard it first as she was running her usual Saturday morning run. She had a long training run that morning and had decided to run through some lightly used trails that criss crossed open fields in the State Park behind her college. Most of the students who ran stayed much closer to home, usually running around the campus perimeter on the sidewalk. But Betsy liked the freedom and open space of getting off the beaten path. It allowed her time to let her mind wander creatively, something she sorely needed on a regular basis at her school.
As the sound got louder she looked up and saw something streak across the sky. It hit the ground within 50 feet of her, creating a big indentation in the grass. Once it hit it stayed put, not rolling, not tipping over. She ran over to it, stopping a short distance away, expecting it might be hot. She held her hands out as she walked slowing towards it. She felt no heat so she continued until she was arms distance away.
It appeared to be made of rough, porous stone. There were inscribed lines radiating out from its center and bright jewel-like lights in between the inscribed lines. She touched the stone, then one of the lights. When she touched the light a quiet tone played. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere at once. She touched another stone and a different tone, equally as quiet, played. She continued touching the lights, trying to hear how many different tones the object could play. She figured out that it played what seemed to be eight tones in one octave and the another eight tones exactly one octave higher.
She tried touching two lights at one time. When she did that the object played a chord. The two tones of the two lights and a third complementary tone. All the tones and the chords were incredibly beautiful to listen to. Like the clearest bell she had ever heard.
Betsy spent the next 3 hours playing the object. She found out she could make a tone repeat regularly if she held her finger on the light for 3 seconds. She found if she quickly tapped a light twice it would play the light’s normal tone and a harmonic tone at the same time. After about an hour she felt her cell phone vibrate in her pocket. She brought it out and found that her music player was notifying her that a new song had been downloaded. She went to the player and found the song. It was untitled with no cover art, no information about it at all. She played the song and heard the object’s tones. It was the sounds she had been playing.
She put the phone away and went back to playing the object. She learned more tricks and methods and came up with what she thought was a pretty cool composition. After another hour her phone vibrated again and another song from the object had been downloaded. It was the composition she had just come up with. She did this one more time, increasing the complexity and rhythm of the composition and one more time the object sent the music to her phone.
She realized it was getting late and that she had to get back to her Sorority for a big event that night. She tried pushing the object, thinking she might be able to roll it to an out of the way place. That way maybe no one else would find it and she could continue to play it. However, there was no moving the object. She would just have to hope it was still there when she came back.
The event that night was a mixer with a fraternity from a neighboring school. The girls all went over to the frat in a bus. Some of the girls had already started drinking at the sorority house and were tipsy by the time the party started. The guys were all vying for attention by doing stupid party tricks or dangerous stunts out the windows and on the roof of the frat house while the girls oowed and awed.
Betsy was bored with it all and decided to find a quiet room where she could listen to the songs she made with the object. She walked into a 3rd story bedroom. Her head was down looking at her phone and she was just about to push play as she entered when she heard a grunting sound and looked up. A young woman was on the bed being held down by a large burly young man. He had on the frats sweatshirt but his pants were down around his ankle. The woman was topless, her bra in the man’s hand, which was also pinning her arm down on the bed. Her skirt was up around her waist. The woman screamed, ‘Betsy, help me!”
Betsy dropped her phone and leaped towards the man. She tackled him and the two of them fell off the bed and onto the wood floor. Just as the man started to raise his fist to strike her Betsy heard the object’s music starting to play. The man’s arm fell and his twisted, angry face lost all expression. He went limp and blank.
Betsy jumped off him and turned to look at her Sorority sister. It turned out to be Selena, one of the new girls, one she hadn’t really met except for at the rush party a few weeks earlier. Betsy asked if she was ok, if he had raped her. Selena said no, he hadn’t actually penetrated her yet but he was just about to. Betsy quickly turned back toward the man, double checking to see if he had gotten up, but he hadn’t. She picked up her phone, shut off the music and called 911. The ambulance was there within 3 minutes, as were the police. They all dealt with it as they should have; having a counselor available, taking her to the hospital, testing her, taking photos and arresting the man.
The would-be rapist, a student named Bradford, eventually woke up from his stupor. He contritely confessed to the police that he had attempted to rape Selena and that he would have if Betsy hadn’t stopped him. He said he didn’t remember anything after she tackled him except some weird music as he went down. He said he had no idea where the music came from and the police chalked it up to him being knocked out cold. He was tried and convicted of attempted rape and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He would get off in 7 if he behaved himself.
Betsy was hailed a hero by Selena, her sorority and the entire school. She got a call from Good Morning America to be interviewed about the incident and it became a national story. Time magazine did an article on the everyday heros of America and she was #12 on the list. A guy who saved puppies was right above her at #11. She tried to explain that she had no idea why he went out like a light the way he did, but most people credited it on the blow to his head as he hit the floor. It went well with the story of her being strong and fearless and there wasn’t much she could do about it. She wanted to tell someone about the music playing a part in it but she knew it would make no sense. But even if it had made sense it wouldn’t have mattered. The next time she tried to play the music it had all disappeared from her phone.
Because of all the attention and activities surrounding her saving Selena from being raped she didn’t get back to the field with the object in it for almost a week. When she did go back the object was gone. There was an indentation in the ground, but that was it.
Fourteen years later she had her second and final run in with violence. She was driving on the freeway, her two kids in car seats in the back when a truck cut her off in traffic and slammed on his breaks. She just barely avoided smashing into him. The man, red-faced and angry, got out of his car and stomped back to hers.
She was scared to death but was able to roll up all the windows and lock the doors before he arrived. He started yelling obscenities at her, telling her she was a danger to society, that she should learn how to drive and that he was going to teach her a lesson. She turned to the front media console and pressed the emergency call button she had programmed. As she did this she took a quick look in her rear view mirror. She saw her 5 year old panic stricken, about to cry. But her 7 year old was calm, looking down and playing with the old cell phone her mother had given her as a play toy.
As she got 911 on the line and told them what was happening the man violently busted in her side window with his elbow. She screamed as he reached in to grab her neck. She grabbed his arm instead and pushed it towards the steering wheel. She pressed his hand against the wheel and Hit his elbow as hard as she could. She heard a sickening crack. He screamed in pain while at the same time bringing up his left hand. In his hand was a gun. He was in the act of aiming it at her face when she heard the music. It was the music of the object from so long ago. The man went blank just as the rapist had. He dropped the gun and dropped to the ground.
She turned quickly around to see how her kids were. Her 7 year old looked up, smiled and said, “That’s my favorite song. I made it up myself.”
Drawing and story by Marty Coleman