A father and son quietly walked a mile deep into one of the few remaining forests reserved for hunting. They both wore bright neon colors to stay visible to other hunters and had guns affixed to their shoulders. The father was also carrying a backpack filled with supplies.
“Can I have a snack, please?” the little boy asked as he stopped by a tree looking hungry and thirsty.
The father stopped, rummaged through the pack, and gave the son water and a trail mix bar. “Stay right here. I’m going to survey the area a bit.” The son nodded and sat down to eat and drink while the father wandered off.
About ten minutes passed since the father left. The son had finished his snack and half the water. He had been busying himself by watching a trail of ants who all suddenly stopped moving for a few seconds. He’d watch plenty of ants before and knew this behavior to be strange, but that was nothing compared to the following phenomenon.
The birds were the first to sing, but they didn’t sing the way he was used to. It was as if all the birds in the entire forest were singing the same tune in the same pitch. Then it seemed all the creatures of the forest were singing the same song in the same way, too.
“Blake! Blake!” rang his name in panic. His father was running towards him frantically. The son was too entranced by the chorus of music to share in his father’s distraught. He was nodding his head and humming the tune which made his heart feel full with love and his eyes teary with joy.
“Are you okay?” his father asked in concern upon seeing his son’s tears.
“Yes,” the boy casually answered. “Everything is perfect.”
“I don’t know what’s going on but we gotta go. The forest ain’t safe,” he said, taking his son’s hand and leading him back where they came just as the music of the forest slowly began to fade to an end.
“Don’t be afraid, dad. Just listen really good. They’re singing because nobody died,” the son told him.
“What nonsense are you saying?” The father was frowning. “Animals die all the time in the forest, every day around the clock.”
“Not this time,” the son gently informed him.
“No more of all that. Let’s just go!” he grumbled as they continued on in silence.
When the two got home over an hour later, the boy’s mother ran towards them in the yard with tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong with you?” the father asked after the mother hugged them both as if she hadn’t seen them in a long time.
“They’re saying the most wonderful thing on the news! I bet you two heard the animals in the forest,” she said, pausing to check before carrying on. “They’re saying nobody died in the last 24 hours.”
“People die every day, Judith, around the clock. They can’t know that,” the father stated dismissively before walking towards the house.
“Reports all over the world are saying so,” she explained, following after him.
“No human or creature died,” the son clarified, looking as happy as his mother as he trailed the two. “We didn’t see or catch any animal.”
“Yes, that’s right,” she cheered. “Oh my God, how miraculous!”
“They can’t know that!” the father bellowed grumpily at the two once they were at the porch.
“Calm down, Ernest,” the mother encouraged calmly, looking perplexed. “Come listen to the news while I finish fixing lunch. They’ll explain.”
The father didn’t want to listen to the news, but when he saw his favorite hunting and sports channel talking about it, he reluctantly tuned in as he sat on his lazy boy.
“Okay John, for the viewers just tuning in, explain this again for me,” one of the hosts said before panning to a guy from a news channel.
“Thanks Bob,” he began. “We’ve been getting the same reports not only from all over the country, but from the world that this happened. If you were inside or live in the city, you may not have noticed, but if you have any animals and children under 7, they knew before we did. If you were outside around birds especially or any animal, you experienced it firsthand. A researcher was incidentally outside when it happened with his dogs and a special machine that picks up and records sounds too low and high for humans to hear. His sound machine picked up a recurring sound from the earth’s core the same moment the birds did. The birds began singing this sound which alerted all other animals to chime in. So if you have a pet, they went quiet around the world for some time before tuning in to this frequency. I mean, it sounds crazy, but they were all singing. The song and the sound affected young children next. Many parents reported their child saying something about nothing dying. People with disabilities and certain mental illnesses were also reportedly humming this tune as well. We’ve concluded that somehow in the last 24 hours, no human or animal or even insect died. Not one, not even an ant. It seems the earth transmitted some kind of sound the animals detected and translated to kids so they could tell us. I know it sounds ridiculous, but nowhere in the history of the world has almost the entire population reported such a thing. My cat was purring in tune with the bird and my neighbor’s newborn was… humming. It’s the strangest thing to happen to earth.”
“Isn’t that something? Like we’re living in a sci fi movie,” the mother said as she brought food to the table. “Our cows and chickens were at it here at the farm, but I bet you two were perfectly positioned with the birds.”
“We were!” the son confirmed excitedly.
“It was weird, I’ll tell you that,” the father said disgruntlingly before going to the table. “What’s this?”
“Thought we’d celebrate with lots of veggies and no animal products,” she explained.
“It’s too late, Judy. We had bacon and eggs with milk this morning. Don’t go doing this vegan bull right now,” he complained as he sat down at the table.
“Well the news was saying because we cut down so much of our meat consumption in the last 50 years, it probably contributed to what happened today,” she firmly defended.
“Bull,” he grunted. “Bring me the chicken.”
“No, Ernest,” she said sternly, a hand on her hip. “Let’s just be glad every being on this earth lived one more day. People across the world are celebrating by eating like this.”
“Please, dad,” the little boy said with a big, encouraging smile as he sat down.
The father mumbled incoherently but agreed to the mostly salad and fruit buffet. The son and mother spent the entire meal talking excitedly about the day nobody died. The father was feeling strange about it. It was as if aliens snatched the earth and everyone was okay with it.
Yet no matter how disgruntled the father appeared to be, he couldn’t shake the feeling he got in the forest. He had that feeling a handful of times in his life: the day he learned to ride a horse, when he met his wife, the day they exchanged I love yous, when they got married, when his son was born, and the first time his son said, “I love you, dad”.
The music of the animals reminded him of those moments when he felt most alive simultaneously, but he was equally scared those moments would be lost, which was why he panicked. He knew the news reports were correct because he felt the music vibrate warm and lovingly throughout his whole body, but he had no faith in the world that a day like this would ever happen again. He’d seen and experienced too much pain in his lifetime to have such hopes, but for his son’s sake, a part of him wished there would be more days where nobody died.