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> The New Sound

> Epilogue
  The Real Epilogue

Epilogue

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Before I get into the real epilogue, let me tell you a little bit more of the story.

When the sound didn't come back, I just couldn't believe it, and kept expecting it to come back at any moment. Rather than sit around worrying, I went out and walked around and ran some errands. When I got home, the sound was still gone!

How was it possible that the sound hadn't come back? My best guess at the time depended on some facts I haven't told you.

First, I knew that my upstairs neighbor kept her computer in the room directly above my bedroom with the volume turned way up. (How did I know that? I'd occasionally heard a pair of chimes that I knew meant “you've got mail”, and at some point I'd put that together with the sound of footsteps to determine that it was coming from upstairs.)

Second, when we cut the power and made the sound stop, we didn't cut the power to the whole building all at once, we did one apartment at a time. I suspected that the sound was coming from upstairs, so we tried that one first, and sure enough, that did it.

So, that pretty much explained the main component of the sound. I'd thought that maybe it was a humidifier, but if it was a computer fan, that made sense too. But what about the ultrasonic component? That could have been coming from the fan as well, but I had a better idea. What's the most annoying high-frequency sound? How about … feedback? Maybe the volume was turned way up, and a microphone was on, and the feedback happened to be just barely ultrasonic and audible only to me with my super hearing?

In any case, that explained why the sound hadn't come back. When we'd cycled the power, the computer had turned off and stayed off.

At 10 PM, the sound still hadn't come back, and I was ready to get some good sleep in my own bed. The only loose end was that my ears were still ringing like crazy.

Unfortunately, when I woke up (or was woken up) at 6 AM on the morning of the 28th, the sound had returned in an even more awful form. Instead of two components, it had just one, at a very high frequency, and it was extremely loud. That fit with my theory: the feedback had started up again at a slightly different frequency, and what had been a loud ultrasonic noise had turned into a loud high-frequency noise. But, it didn't matter that I had a theory. The sound was unbearable. Within the hour I'd packed up and left my apartment.

During the day I talked to the property manager. Could they turn the power off permanently? Did they have a key on file? Could they use that to go in and turn the computer off? Could they hire a locksmith? No, they weren't allowed to do any of that. Then I talked to the police. Could they go in and turn the computer off? No, they weren't allowed to do that. Not even if it had been a loud stereo! I could file a noise complaint though if I wanted. It was at about that point that I started to flip out. I have never been so angry at any other time in my entire life. I seriously considered going upstairs and kicking the door in. But, in the end, I didn't.

Instead, I spent the rest of the third week at my parents' house. I could hardly even bear to visit the apartment because I'd started to worry about the possibility of permanent damage to my super hearing. I bought some cheap earplugs, but they didn't help. Maybe they protected against damage, but they didn't completely block out the sound, so I still found the visits distressing.

Eventually I managed to get in touch with my neighbor by phone, but nothing good came of it. She was going to be out of town for several more weeks; she'd had her son check the apartment for noises; and she wasn't willing to do anything else or let anybody else into the apartment, even after I explained about my super hearing.

At that point, I was pretty much stuck. But, to gather some concrete evidence, and also honestly to check my sanity, I made an appointment with an acoustic consultant who had equipment that could detect even slightly ultrasonic sounds.

That was the third week.

Then, on the morning of Feb. 1, I went over and met the consultant at my apartment, and he measured the noise levels and found nothing.

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@ December (2016)