Mmmna by Michael C Keith

Amy tries to find the source of an inexplicable sound in Michael C Keith's quick sci-fi.

For many days, my brain worked with a dim and undetermined sense of unknown modes of being.
- William Wordsworth

The first time Amy heard the odd sound she ignored it. The second time, however, it aroused her curiosity, and she looked out the window. Yet nothing in the yard appeared different or out of place. But how would it look if the source of the sound had been there? she wondered. It was an unidentifiable noise, nothing she could associate with anything she knew - a sort of half-human, half-mechanical interjection into the early evening stillness.

Amy attempted to reproduce the peculiar sound. "Urrra... no, ennna, nope... Vrrra." She pursed her lips and tried again. "Mmma. Almost. Mmmna. Yeah, that's it... Mmmna."

As Amy stepped back from the window, satisfied that she had replicated what she thought she was hearing, she heard it again. This time it seemed to come from inside the condo. Weird, she thought, carefully checking the kitchen and bedroom.

"Mmmna," came the otherworldly utterance.

The bathroom. It must be coming from the bathroom.

With growing trepidation, Amy moved down the hall to where she was certain the sound originated. She slowly pushed the door open and flicked the light switch.

Nothing there! "Come out, come out, wherever you are," sang Amy.


Shit! It has to be inside the apartment, but where is it? What is it? Amy pondered, continuing her search. As she inspected the kitchen and bathroom cupboards and the hall and bedroom closets, the mysterious din continued, though it appeared to be growing louder. After probing virtually every corner of her house, she collapsed on her couch. Maybe the sound is only in my head, but I'm sure I took my meds.


In a sudden panic, Amy leapt to her feet. What am I going to do? Call my mother. She hit the speed dial on her cell. After two rings, "Mmmna." After four more rings, another "Mmmna." No answer. Where is she? Where is she? Amy whimpered.

She sat back down and calculated how much time elapsed between the haunting orations. She counted four beats between each. My sister. I'll call Kim. "Mmmna... Mmmna... Mmmna." No answer. Where the hell is she? Oh, God, where is anybody?

Amy hit the button on the TV remote. Dr. Phil blurted "Mmmna," to a young, teary-eyed woman seated across from him. "Mmmna," she answered. Amy tossed the remote across the room, and pressed speed dial again. "Mmmna..." She threw the phone in the direction she had thrown the remote and began to sob. Why is this happening? she repeated over and over again.

Then came a knock on her door. Amy ran to answer it. In the dim light of the hallway she could make out her mother and sister.

"Thank God!" she cried and extended her arms to embrace them.

"Mmmna," they said in unison, reaching out to Amy. "Mmmna..."

Mother and sister took hold of Amy's trembling hands and guided her down to the building's entrance. Along the way other tenants joined them - all chanting "Mmmna..." A feeling of peace began to envelop Amy, and she joined in what was no longer a bizarre aural intrusion but now seemed a soothing mantra.

When they reached the street, they joined a throng of others intoning "Mmmna."

The swaying crowd looked upward toward the vast shadows that were blocking the stars.


  1. This happens to me all the time. I think MmmmNA is Urdu for "take out the trash."

  2. Half-expected to hear that haunting, four-note riff from the Twilight Zone theme!

  3. Very Twilight Zone. A lot left to the imagination, as it should be. Very enjoyable read.


  4. Neat idea, I've had similar hunts around the house myself only to find out it was the VHS player breathing at me. It makes me wonder how it would work if there were a couple more characters - maybe a small group on a bender trying to work out why one is so wasted all they can say is mmmmmNA...