Pulses in the Desert

The Beast

It was another hot windy day out west. I could feel my skin turning to leather and my mind beginning to fry. Bottles of water didn’t provide much relief. Any aspirations I’d had of being a desert-dweller were quickly abandoned. It was time to jump into the Beast and turn on the air-conditioning. Could air-conditioning be one of the world’s best inventions? Simple answer: Yes.

But what to do while sitting in a stationary car? I turned the recording equipment inwards. Attaching a pick-up coil microphone to the recorder, I first listened to the sounds emanating from the recorder itself. Short pulses, white noise, a hidden cacophony of electrical sounds in stark contrast to the stillness of the desert outside.

And then the solar-powered battery charger that travelled with me wherever I went. Nothing like the satisfaction of seeing a smart-phone escape 0% charge through the power of the sun. I loved that pocket-sized gadget and I became even more fond of it when the microphone revealed it’s steady little pulse occasionally punctuated by a few moments of static.


Running out of electrical objects I directed the microphone towards the dashboard of the Beast. I had no idea what I was listening to but its shrill tone was not reassuring. Had this alien scream been travelling with me the entire trip? Worse, was it the sound of a car about to burst into flames?

Not sure that I could justify running the Beast’s engine any longer, slightly concerned by what I was hearing, I turned it off and stepped back outside into the lovely desert wind. It would only be another 6 hours before sunset.


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