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Issue 14 – Christmas 2022

Christmas Ghost Story


Our annual contest's winner.


It was the first time I heard The Warbler. Ed Pinson had invited me over to his house to plan some of the remaining details of the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club’s annual meeting, which was coming up in a couple of months. I was still relatively new to the club and had only been operating in the local frequencies on the cheap V.H.F./U.H.F. equipment I’d bought second-hand online. A few months scanning the local fire and rescue channels had whetted my appetite, and the guys had encouraged me to take a more active role in the club. Ed was just wrapping up the weekly emergency radio league call-in. 

“This is W.K.R.Q. saying thank you for everyone’s participation in tonight’s emergency radio league call-in. Be sure to check in next Tuesday at 9:00 P.M.  We had a total of seventeen check-ins tonight. This is W.K.R.Q. closing the broadcast and returning this frequency to normal use at 9:25 P.M.” Ed had a good ham radio voice. It was upbeat and resonant in a way that conveyed competent optimism even when garbled by interference. It was the sort of voice you’d want to hear if the south Huntsville transmission station ever really did go down under four feet of snow.  Ed switched off his mic, leaned back in his swivel chair, took a mouthful of coffee from his insulated mug, and rested it on the substantial slope of his belly. “Seventeen. That’s pretty good. We’ve had a couple of younger guys like you callin’ in lately. Good for the hobby.” We were theoretically preparing for a cellular network collapse in the wake of some unspecified natural or human disaster, but the emergency league was just another excuse for those of us attached to the ham radio culture of the mid-twentieth century to socialize and maintain our unique interests. In our lonely basement workshops and garages, we liked to think we were preserving something both more civilized and more free than the cellular technology that had dethroned analog radio communication not so long ago. 

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About the author

Thomas Casey

Thomas Casey is a runner-up for The Lamp's ghost story competition.