According to legend, inspiration struck Spoq while he was hiking alone deep in the woods of the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. Seeking respite from the perpetual chaos of his smoky basement studio, he ventured out for fresh air. Unexpectedly, the weather turned into a heavy rainstorm, a common occurrence during autumn in that region. Seeking shelter from the rain, he stumbled upon an old abandoned shed. Taking refuge inside, he snacked on some earlier-collected berries and mushrooms while waiting for the storm to pass.
As the rain continued unabated and darkness fell, Spoq made the decision to spend the night there. He kindled a fire to provide illumination and warmth within the shed. It was during this time that he noticed, hidden behind a collection of old and deteriorating wooden beams on the back wall facing the mountains, an entrance to a cave. Intrigued by the discovery and devoid of an internet connection to post selfies on Instagram, Spoq decided to explore the cave.
With effort, he managed to clear away enough of the heavy beams to create a small opening, allowing him to enter the cave. Fueled by excitement, he ventured forward, feeling like a character in a clichéd Hollywood exploration movie. He initially used his mobile phone as a flashlight but thought it didn't quite match the mood, so he fashioned a torch from a branch. Upon illuminating the cave entrance, a chilly breeze stirred the flames and a distant, eerie voice-like sound echoed through the air. He dismissed it as merely the wind finding its way through the rocky crevices.
Meanwhile, outside, lightning flashed and thunder roared as the storm intensified. Unperturbed by the tempest, Spoq proceeded deeper into the cave, navigating its low-ceilinged confines. Despite his lack of claustrophobia or arachnophobia, he couldn't shake off a sense of unease. However, he brushed it aside as primal fear and denied any inclination towards the supernatural. To him, the worst potential encounter would be a group of disgruntled badgers.
Crawling through the cave, he became increasingly covered in dust and cobwebs, eventually arriving at a chamber reminiscent of a small chapel. The air was thick with the odor of mold and decay. Holding his torch aloft, he discerned a faint turquoise glow emanating from a man-made pool in the center of the room. This glow originated from a swarm of bioluminescent fish, a phenomenon that was entirely new to Spoq.
Drawn to investigate, Spoq peered into the pool and was startled by an unsettling scratching noise nearby. Reacting instinctively, he activated his phone's flashlight, revealing a menacing-looking creature – a badger – that hissed and scampered away towards the distant flicker of the fire outside the cave. Discouraged but undeterred, he returned his attention to the pool, only to find that the fish had vanished.
Surveying his surroundings, Spoq was taken aback to discover that the cave was equipped with a desk, a bookshelf, kitchen implements, and even a small fireplace with a chimney. This setup explained the wind's entry into the cave. The furnishings seemed to have existed for well over a century, showing signs of age and decay. Investigating further, he came across a drawer filled with old letters or notes, frustratingly unreadable due to his lack of linguistic proficiency.
Aware of his own ignorance and the potential historical significance of the items, Spoq reminded himself not to disturb any historical artifacts. A particular page held a crude illustration of an odd cylindrical device alongside sinister symbols. Inwardly mocking the clichés and invoking the "Evil Dead" style, he attempted to maintain his composure despite the unsettling atmosphere. Although he prided himself on his lack of superstition, Spoq's convictions began to waver.
As night deepened and the storm raged on, the howls of wolves echoed in the distance. Although these occurrences felt clichéd, they were consistent with the time of year. Driven by curiosity, he meticulously searched through cabinets until he discovered a small, surprisingly heavy chest. The rusty lock yielded easily, and Spoq's discovery left him awestruck – a miniaturized version of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville's Phonautograph, an early sound recording device.
Recognizing the device from an earlier drawing, Spoq deliberated on the ethical implications of interacting with such a historically valuable find. The room and its contents were undeniably significant, and he contemplated capturing the moment through photographs and GPS data before involving local museums. Yet, the allure of being potentially the first in decades to listen to the recording proved too strong. Imagining its potential for his music, he decided to play it.
Placing the device on the desk and steadying himself, Spoq began turning the crank handle. Initially, the sound emitted was a grating mechanical noise, but soon vibrations from the cylinder resulted in waves of sound enveloping the cave. As he listened, a man's muffled voice speaking an unknown language emerged from the recording. Other voices joined in – speaking, screaming, singing – creating a nightmarish chorus. The cacophony intensified, and Spoq felt compelled to continue turning the handle despite his discomfort.
The storm outside reached a crescendo, with wolves' howls blending with the recording's dissonance. A cold wind and a rush of water suddenly assaulted Spoq's senses. Panicking, he scanned the room and witnessed a brilliant turquoise glow emanating from the pool, from which a menacing wolf emerged. Baffled and alarmed, Spoq watched as more wolves followed suit, surrounding him with unspoken menace. The convergence of the phonautograph's voices and the pack's presence overwhelmed Spoq. He was powerless to stop the onslaught, his screams merging with the nightmarish symphony.
In a harrowing instant, Spoq's flashlight died, plunging the cave into darkness. In that moment, he found himself standing, disoriented and trembling. The cave was silent, and he felt drained and chilled. Slowly, his faculties returned, and he surveyed his surroundings, noting the absence of the glowing fish and the wolves. With difficulty, he navigated his way out of the cave, emerging into the emerging dawn. Exhausted and overwhelmed, he succumbed to unconsciousness on the damp moss outside.
Awakening to the touch of something tugging at his arm, Spoq was greeted by bright sunlight and the pesky badger from before. Startled, he shooed the creature away, but his unease remained. He pondered whether the experience was a result of the berries, mushrooms, or perhaps some natural phenomenon. A haunting voice seemed to echo in his ears, mirroring the sound of wind through the cave.
Disconcerted but determined, Spoq gathered his belongings and swiftly departed the High Tatra mountains. His return journey was a blur, consumed by his thoughts of the unsettling cave encounter. The studio, once his haven, now filled him with a haunting disquiet. He kept his experience a secret, unwilling to share the location or the enigma he had discovered. The unanswered questions – the cave's purpose, its inhabitant, the origin of the recording – tormented him. Despite his rationality, the voices and the wolves continued to haunt him, a constant reminder of an inexplicable event that defied his skeptical nature.
released January 13, 2013
(c) Wolfram Gruss, all right reserved. May not be distributed or copied unless explicitly granted! Do not use this music in your video production without permission!