The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes On
Aural Fixation

Carolyn Koh | 16 Jan 2007 11:04
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I moved toward the abandoned buildings. There could be a weapons or energy cache, or if I was lucky, an operational mech. The wind had eased. My labored breathing was loud, echoing in the confines of my face mask, my steps crunching, squelching.

In the lee of the building, the howl of the wind faded to a soft whine. I looked in: It was an old parking garage, complete with abandoned clunkers. Ach! A hive of giant alien bugs! I plucked two grenades from my belt and lobbed them in. The explosions rocked the empty building, and I charged in, my boots ringing hollowly on the concrete floor. I fired without pause, spraying bullets at the bugs still alive and pouring out from the hives. Gunfire and the bugs' angry squeals became my very existence. But my gun wasn't doing much to thin out their numbers.

I switched to the grenade launcher. The resounding, heart-thumping "thooomp!" was followed by a cacophonous explosion. A few shots later, the odds were back in my favor. Mopping up the last few bugs with my rifle, I swept up thermal pods and replenished my suit's energy.

I could see another building up the hill beyond the one I was in. Stepping out into the wind, I moved toward it through the thigh-deep snow. Suddenly, sound erupted all around me - and I almost fell out of my chair - as the bug hive's queen shot up from under the snow. Swearing, I backpedaled as fast as I could, firing rapidly, ineffectively. I switched to my grenade launcher, unloading it into the belly of the monster. The surprise and the overwhelming mélange of sound made me all thumbs. The monster bug struck again and again, connecting with solid, flesh-rending blows and shaking the ground when it missed and punched through the snow to the frozen ground. The close range explosions of the grenade launcher pounded in polyphony to the blood hammering in my head. The screen faded to red. I was dead.

My heart racing, I found myself standing and wondered when I had left my chair. Six 12-inch subwoofers move a lot of air, so I felt each explosion I had caused except the final one; it must have been then that I stood up.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and checked to make sure nothing had shaken off the walls. I thought about turning down the volume, but decided not to. I wanted it loud.

Carolyn "Sylvene" Koh is a regular contributor at and formerly the Exclusives Director at

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