Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire

by H.F. (Henry Ferris) Arnold

“The Night Wire” first appeared in the September, 1926 issue of Weird Tales.

H.F. Arnold was born in 1901, worked as an author and journalist, and died in 1963. As far as is known, he published a total of 3 stories under the name H.F. Arnold – “The Night Wire” and “The City of Iron Cubes,” in Weird Tales and a “When Atlantis Was,” in Amazing Stories.

Your reader this week – Eric Luke – is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film EXPLORERS, and the writer of comic books GHOST and WONDER WOMAN. His latest project is INTERFERENCE, an audiobook about an audiobook that kills… and you’re listening to it. Available as a free download on iTunes.

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“There is something ungodly about these night wire jobs. You sit up here on the top floor of a skyscraper and listen in to the whispers of a civilization. New York, London, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore — they’re your next-door neighbors after the streetlights go dim and the world has gone to sleep.

Alone in the quiet hours between two and four, the receiving operators doze over their sounders and the news comes in. Fires and disasters and suicides. Murders, crowds, catastrophes. Sometimes an earthquake with a casualty list as long as your arm. The night wire man takes it down almost in his sleep, picking it off on his typewriter with one finger.

Once in a long time you prick up your ears and listen. You’ve heard of some one you knew in Singapore, Halifax or Paris, long ago. Maybe they’ve been promoted, but more probably they’ve been murdered or drowned. Perhaps they just decided to quit and took some bizarre way out. Made it interesting enough to get in the news.

But that doesn’t happen often. Most of the time you sit and doze and tap, tap on your typewriter and wish you were home in bed.

Sometimes, though, queer things happen. One did the other night, and I haven’t got over it yet. I wish I could.”

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