The call it “Thumper.”

You normally can’t hear it, at least not consciously. But when it’s acting up, usually in early spring or late summer, you can feel it. In your teeth, in your bones, and if you’re down at Pleasantwater lake, in the waves and ripples.

Once you hear it, once you start to notice it, you realize that everything in town matches itself to that profound bass thump when it’s at its strongest. Your heartbeat. Your breathing. Everything is synchronized in a way that feels wrong at the basement of your being.

A local guy, Jim Hatcher was his name I think, just like the famous author, used to do an AM radio broadcast about whatever was rattling in his brain. He’d go on and on about “Thumper” and his investigations into it. Kids loved listening to him because he always went wildly between “kindly folksy grandfather” and “raving lunatic” as the mood struck him.

Hatcher used to say that “Thumper” was coming from beneath Pleasantwater Lake, which I guess makes as much sense as anything. He said that there was a “stellar machine” beneath the waters, leftover from a civilization long since perished, slowly exposed by erosion. This “stellar machine” sent out “force signals” as it stirred from its slumber. Hatcher always said that he was researching what the machine was and what its signals did, but he was always coy with specifics.

When he died in his little house on the lake and they didn’t find him for two weeks…that didn’t exactly help things.

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