I went looking for my sister who hadn’t come back in two days. I knew she was a strong kid, but it didn’t discount the fact that she hadn’t told anyone, or even left a message of her disappearance. It took two days to convince my parents to let me out and to find her on my own. When I was out, I realized what they were doing, and why they wanted everyone to stay inside. It wasn’t like they could keep us from going anywhere, but that they really wanted to. When I stepped outside into the streets, I heard the sounds of digging, and the sounds of mechanical arms all humming in unison. It filled the air, and every step I took, I could feel the weight of the noise drag me down. I felt like my head was going to fill and that I was going to scream to let all the noise out. My entire body was shaking to figure out what caused all this noise, and I wondered if my sister, who was filled with curiosity, may have wandered to find the source of this noise as well.
I began tracing the noise, taking steps towards the sounds that filled the streets. When I got close, the sound grew in intensity, and I had to trudge forward in hopes of finding my sister. The news came quickly one day, when they told everyone through a popular news station to stay inside for the next week. They didn’t give out much information as to why we should stay inside, nor did they really enforce that either. Most parents would be afraid with all of the flashing red and the fake urgency the news casters showed, and they would ground their kids for the remainder of the week. At least, that’s what I thought they were going for. People on the internet around my city had their own theories, but I couldn’t buy into any of them. I didn’t think there was an alien strike, nor did I think that we were heading into another world war. The thought of a nuclear bomb striking was frightening, but it was unlikely. I thought of taking my phone out to document what was actually happening outside, but I thought against it. As much as I didn’t believe them, they probably wouldn’t believe me, even if I did take pictures, even if I did record the noise that threatened to eat at my mind. They would simply tell me, that anyone could have did it.
I drew close, eventually wandering my way to the outskirts of the city, to what most would call the dregs of the land. It wasn’t such a long walk that I would tire from it, but it was definitely something to wonder about considering that the noise had still filled the street I lived on. The dregs were separated from the main city in two parts. There was the slums that sat to my left, where a bunch of outdated homes, bad sewage, and unbound hatred sifted in a pool to form an ocean. To my right was the junkyard, that was fenced off from the rest of the city. I would often see trucks filled with garbage be sent down my street heading into the dregs every week. The sound of the noise originated from the junkyard.
When I went to peek into the junkyard through the fence, I saw hundreds of mechanical towers line the dirt of the area. All of the junk was gone, and what remained were only rudimentary scraps buried in the dirt. The towers were hinged onto a metal base that lay beside pits scattered all across the junkyard. There wasn’t a single worker, but each tower held a drill that would lower itself, start digging, and then resurface. The drill would then detach from the bottom, revealing a scoop, and the tower would lower the mechanical scoop to gather from the hole. All of this amalgamated into a sea of noise, and now that I was closer to the source, I recognized a third sound that came to bleed into the pollution. It was a much higher pitched humming, a sound that none of the other towers made. It sounded like crying, and I scanned the junkyard to find the source. Some towers were beeping red, and they were stalled. The mechanical arm would be suspended in the air, and not until men wearing yellow suits and a yellow hat would appear that they would continue working. I couldn’t see where these men would come from, nor where they disappeared to.
I shook the situation out of my head, and began walking away from the noise, until I noticed in the dirt a red ribbon that was barely hanging for air. It was my sister’s. I knew for a fact that this ribbon was my sister since at the hem of the fabric was a small pin that she always wore with the ribbon. It was a pin that I gave her for her birthday, a pin of goodwill, and a pin to show good fortune. I clasped my hands onto the fence, and without thinking began climbing. I didn’t make much distance until a man in a yellow suit spotted me from someplace within the junkyard and ran over.
“I thought they sent out that message to keep you all in–” I looked down towards the man, who was scratching his head in disbelief.
“So why aren’t you in?” He asked. I sighed and planted myself back onto the sidewalk in front of the fence. I pointed towards the ribbon.
“My sister– No I mean, a little girl. Did you see a little girl come over here by any chance? She’s my sister. I’m looking for her.”
“A little girl? Can’t say I have. Can you?” He had a point. The entire junkyard was clean, and all that remained was the mechanical towers that burrowed into holes in the dirt. If my sister was somewhere in the junkyard, I would have spotted her by now.
“It’s dangerous you know–” he began, “There’s a reason why we wanted you to stay in.”
“Because of the noise?” I had gotten used to the noise, and although it was still irritating, it wasn’t such a nuisance that I would want to stay inside.
“That may be part of it, but saying anymore would go against my job.” He tipped his yellow hat.
“I don’t know what came of your sister, but I definitely haven’t seen anyone wander in, and even if they did, we would catch them. No one’s wandered in, I can tell you that.”
“I see.” I turned around, dejected, and ready to head home to tell my parents that I couldn’t find her. The ribbon may have been a mistake, or maybe, they were hiding something from me, I thought. Ideas of how my sister may have found her way into the junkyard and that they were keeping her sprung up within my mind. I casted those ideas aside.
“But since you’re out here, do you want to know?” The man asked. I turned back to face him. He was smiling, and he took off his yellow hat.
“I’m a worker here sure. But you came all the way here to find your sister right? You can’t go back without something now can you?”
“Even if it is your job?”
“Even if it’s my job. Plus, it’d probably be better to give you some semblance to the truth.”
“Even if people wouldn’t believe in the truth?” He laughed.
“You’re making it awfully hard to talk to, you know that?” I laughed as well.
“So? What’s the deal then?” He sighed, and looked towards the mechanical towers, a wistful longing in his eyes, and his hands formed into fists. The noise of the junkyard began thinning in my head, and I was able to filter all the sounds so that I could better hear his words.
“Why do you think we would want to dig holes?”
“To bury something, right?”
“Right. But that’s up to interpretation. You can bury a lot of things underground.” He crouched and began tracing the dirt with his fingers.
“You can’t plant things here. And if we were burying garbage, then where did it all go?” He stood back up and shook his head.
“If you need to dig a lot of holes and you don’t want people to know about it, then you’d assume we were keeping a secret. But why would we want to keep a secret?”
“It would cause panic if we knew what you were doing?” He nodded. I felt a chill trace my back to the nape of my neck, and I could feel a cold breeze wrap itself around my face. My hands began to slightly tremble, and the sounds of the noise began to resurface.
“But what if we weren’t burying something? What if we were keeping a secret because we weren’t burying something.” Things began falling to place in my mind. I smiled a weak smile, and I saw in his eyes the reflection of the grey sky above us.
“It’s not in my business to say whether what we are doing here is right or wrong. I just have to do it, after all it’s my–”
“Job. It’s your job. ” He smiled and nodded, his hands reaching over to rub his eyes.
“As much as its your job to find your sister and take care of your family. It’s my job to make sure that these things are running. ” A pang of anger welled up within me.
“Even if you don’t like your job?”
“Even if I don’t.” He placed his yellow cap back onto his head and waved. My body fell to pieces, its tension breaking, and the noise began to flood over all my senses. I looked at the red ribbon in the dirt, and clasped my hands onto the fence as if my skin would puncture the rusted metal.
“Also–” The man stopped, and without turning, said to me, “Your sister. She’ll be fine. Once this is all over, you’ll probably see her again. You know how kids are, curious bunch, right? She’ll find her way home, so tell your parents not to worry.” I couldn’t see him from the back, but I knew that he was smiling, and when I looked over to the mechanical towers that were drilling into the Earth, I could also see a smile form.