Statement of Gary Boylan, regarding a strange track on his iPod.
Gary Boylan moved back to childhood home after his mother's death and the collapse of his business, ostensibly to support his father. His house was located in an unattached and isolated street in the countryside, with two neighbouring houses, one empty and unsellable and the other owned by Mrs Whitshore.
Boylan's father had been a vet most his life, working often with livestock and farmers. He was a blunt man, and following the death of his wife, overwhelmingly callous. His attitude made Boylan averse to conversing with him, and he lamented that he should have left his father to himself, but something kept both of them rooted there.
The surrounding fields were bleak and empty, full of discarded machinery and summer heat. Boylan would escape for a time on long walks through them, until paranoia to return to tend to his father drew him back.
In August 2009, he was about an hour into a walk when his iPod abruptly cut out. The screen was on and displayed the current track playing as "Numbers". Besides the title, there were no other details and Boylan did not recognise the song.
Eventually he heard through his headphones a faint and tinny tone, like that of a low-tech synthesizer. The tone shifted until he realised it was playing a crude rendering of the opening lines of the Skye Boat Song.
About a line and a half of the song played when it cut off, to be replaced by the pitch-shifted and distorted voice of a man speaking in a strange monotone. It recited the numbers:
"Five. Nine. Three. Seven. Five. Six."
Having heard about number stations, Boylan checked his iPod radio only to find it off and the track not even listed in his library. More numbers were spoken:
"Three. Zero. Five. Eight. Three. Nine. Two. Eight. Four. Six."
Eventually, Boylan returned home. He felt a sense of doom settle over him - the certainty that there was an impending disaster. After walking less then a hundred yards, the numbers stopped, and "London Calling" resumed playing.
The summer dragged on, Boylan bored and irritated from trying to care for his dad. He felt alone, not working or trying to keep in touch with old friends, who he believed had moved on with the rest of the world to leave him behind.
Instead, he researched numbers stations. Listening to a few online clips, he was convinced what he heard had been a number station, even though the voice was less neutral and mechanic than the clips.
After about a week of sub-consciously searching, his music cranked so loud as to drown out the drone of insects, he found the station again. Again, it played the Skye Boat Song, then spoke:
"Four. Seven. Four. Nine."
Boylan felt the strange sense of doom return, and checked his iPod to see the track name "Numbers" once again. This time, the signal more faint. Following the voice, which was still listing numbers:
"One. Six. Two. Eight. Three. Zero. One. Six. Five. Zero. Four. Nine."
he directed himself to where it was stronger.
Finally he reached what seemed to be the source. Yet it was just a half-collapsed power tower, decades past being functioning. Furthermore, he reflected that it was not a broadcast, and had originated from his iPod.
Nonetheless, the numbers came through clearly from beneath the pylon:
"Five. Six. Four. Eight. Four. Six. Four. Seven. Four. Eight. Two. Seven."
For four hours, Boylan wrote down the numbers in a notepad he had unwittingly brought for this very purpose. The Skye Boat Song repeated every hour and a half, and he checked the sequence a few times to ensure it was correct.
When he finished and took out his headphones, the surrounding ambient noise left him dizzy, and he realised how long he had been out, and how sunburned he had gotten.
Back at home his father had not noticed his absence, still just putrefying with the house. Boylan remembered thinking that "he wasn’t content to just destroy himself. He seemed to have to take out everything around him".
Except to confirm the numbers were consistent between days, Boylan did not return to the pylon for a long time. He felt the numbers were important without knowing why.
Without the key the cipher was using, Boylan knew it would be impossible to decode, yet for weeks he tried. He attempted every available method without success or stopping, working himself to exhaustion, when he realised that the message was not the numbers, but their origin.
Within the numbers, Boylan read and saw all of humanity's doom. He fled to the pylon to beg it to spare humankind, hearing the numbers ceaselessly repeating in the air and his mind even without headphones.
When he returned to the house it was to find it in ruins, his father now just a charred shadow on the wall, and Mrs Whitshore powdered bone.
Boylan's final warning is of the terrible things coming, and of humankind being their creator.
Martin wishes Peter would spend less time trying to convince him the Extinction was real, and more time explaining what to actually do about it. His thoughts are interrupted by Daisy, she lets him know that John and Basira are back from Ny-Ålesund. As she tries to talk to him, Martin brusquely tells her to leave, going off on her about how they are not even friends, they’re all just trapped together and pretending not to hate it.
As soon as she leaves, Peter shows up. He is quite pleased with Martin’s behaviour. Martin makes it clear that he is pushing Daisy away to protect her, he is nothing like Peter.
They move on to discussing the statement and Martin admits that he believes Peter’s claims about the Extinction. Peter is delighted and urges him to keep researching it while he will arrange for a friend to come and answer Martin’s questions.
- The Skye Boat Song recalls the journey of Prince Charles Edward Stuart as he evaded capture by Government troops.
- Decoding using a Polybius square (with the columns numbered 6–0 and the alphabet arranged by columns), the numbers spell out the sentence "THE WORLD IS ALWAYS ENDING".
- The title "London Calling" by The Clash alludes to the BBC World Service's station identification, "This is London calling ..." which was often broadcast to occupied countries during World War II.