If someone had been asked to characterize Gerald Flemming, one possible term used would most likely have been ordinary or maybe average. Truth be told, that was probably an overly generous assessment. Gerald was actually below average in almost most aspects – intelligence, looks, ambition, social skills...
Despite all that, he would eventually become quite a wealthy and powerful individual. And it would be all thanks to the whispers.
Gerald, in his mid-thirties, was living in his uncle's old farmhouse that he'd left him when he died, and was surviving off the inheritance of several other dead relatives. He was in the basement laundry room, separating his whites when he'd first heard it - a noise just barely perceptible. He froze and strained his hearing. A rustling sound maybe ... very low and inconspicuous, but somehow jarringly foreign.
Walking slow and steadily around the basement, he eventually determined its source – a large drain in the middle of the concrete floor, about the size of a man's fist. It was covered by a surprisingly well made and ornate drain cap, seemingly impossible to remove.
Getting down to his knees, Gerald tried to look down the drain, through the thick darkness to the source of the noise, but to no avail. He could hear it much more clearly now. For some strange reason, it sounded like whispers, echoing slightly from afar.
"It's most likely some sort of infestation ... rats probably." He rationalized, more than slightly unnerved. He'd buy some rat poison and lay down some traps. There – all taken care of.
Of course it wasn't really.
Over the coming weeks he'd heard the whisper from down the drain at random times, but with a noticeable increase in frequency. After a month it had become audible through the kitchen sink, even though it clearly hadn't increased in volume. After several more weeks, there wasn't a drain or faucet in the house that wasn't transmitting the odd sound. No amount of rat poison or traps helped the situation. He even paid an exterminator over to take a look, but there was nothing to find.
An average person would find the sound hard to notice, if he didn't already know it was there. Unfortunately, Gerald couldn't help but notice it. He had reached the point where he decided to hire someone to come over and investigate it when the situation changed profoundly.
He was washing the dishes after dinner one night, actively blocking the whispering from his mind, when he abruptly froze in shock, dropping a plate to the floor. He stood there for some time, ignoring the ceramic shards at his feet, staring down the sink's drain and listening intently.
"What did you just say?" Gerald eventually rasped out softly.
The whispering sound had always been very low and indistinct, making it impossible to make out any words. There weren't any after all ... it was just a strange vibration and echoing effect in the pipes. Wasn't it
But, as if responding to his request, he once again heard it. "Behind the old Wilson farmhouse. Ten paces east from the oak tree. Two feet under."
It was genderless and monotone, and eerily enough, sounded as clear as if someone speaking right beside him. Yet, at the same time, it seemed to come from a great distance.
It didn't just confuse Gerald ... it scared him to his very core.
He left the house as quickly as possible, though extremely careful not to trip and fall over any of the rugs or furniture, least some unknown threat materialize from the shadows and pounce upon him. He paced the outside of the building for hours, chain smoking.
He finally broke down well after midnight. After grabbing a shovel from the back shed, he jumped into his well-worn, secondhand pickup and drove off toward the old Wilson farm.
The Wilson farm had burned down to a husk before even Gerald's parents had been born, though in all that time no one had bothered to clean up the charred ruins and the property remained unused and relatively isolated from the rest of the small town.
Gerald found the oak tree behind where the house once stood and counted out ten paces to the east. Upon reaching the spot, he began to dig.
Not for the first time, he asked himself what the hell he was doing. He was digging a hole in the middle of a field, during the middle of the night, all because a mysterious whisper from down the sink told him to. He wondered idly if he had lost his mind ... at least that would have been a reasonable explanation. All the other possibilities running through his frightened and exhausted mind were far, far worst and terrifying.
It didn't take long before his shovel hit something hard and metallic. Gerald froze in surprise and confusion – a big part of him hadn't believed that he was going to find anything. In truth, he had deeply hoped that he wouldn't.
Reaching down into the hole, he pulled out what appeared to be a very old cookie tin. With slightly trembling hands he lifted its lid and cautiously peered inside. Shockingly, all he found inside were baseball cards.
Around fifty very old and valuable baseball cards, he would find out some days later, upon going into the nearby city, to a sports memorabilia vendor. He eventually left the store fifty grand richer.
Gerald's fear and confusion about the whispers were instantaneously overshadowed by good, old-fashioned greed.
He waited for weeks after finding the baseball cards for the whispers to speak to him again. They were present of course, as before, but there were no messages or instructions. On his knees over the drain in his basement, Gerald pleaded, bargained, and even threatened his unknown benefactors to no avail.
In due time, he gradually came to accept the possibility that it was a one time event - simply a mysterious fluke or trick of fate. Until one day, out of the blue, the whispers once again spoke to him.
"The debt must be repaid." Gerald heard it, clear as day one afternoon.
He ran as fast as he could into the kitchen, nearly knocking downs a couple of chairs on the way. "What? What did you say?"
"Lifeblood is the currency." The whisper continued.