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EDIT: I should also add that I'm being serious and if you do still hear the hum the likely cause is Tinnitus. My next door neighbour (we share a wall) pointed out a noise that sounds like someone snoring, coming from our shared chimney breast. We're only a couple of miles from the oil terminal on the Mersey and you can sometimes hear and feel the oil tanker engines when they leave them ticking over.
The sky above Los Angeles burned - smoldered with the hazy incandescence of another smog-choked sunset. If you blow-dried idiots could see through ORRA's eyes, you'd drop your microphones and run.
Lieutenant Mitchelson met him at the entrance to Wally's Waterbed World, looking more rumpled than usual, and steered him through a maze of mattresses and bedroom furniture that assaulted the eyes like a stew of melting crayons. She lay on a promotional Halloween waterbed shaped like a coffin… another of Morpheus's ghoulish jokes. Algernon raised his invention and began adjusting the frequency filters as he scanned the chaotic jumble of bioplasma patterns that filled the monitor. He focused on the body once again, fishing for a different pattern - the one he had stored in ORRA's memory at the scene of the previous Morpheus murder. Mitchelson's office fit him like his clothes: sloppy, stuffed to overflowing, not quite big enough to accommodate the man. Algernon shrugged, tried to swallow the lump growing in his throat like an emotional tumor.
The room was jammed with sturdy steel cabinets that extended from floor to ceiling, swallowing intruders like the walls of a maze. She stared at Algernon, glassy-eyed, then shuffled toward the woman on the shelf like a zombie wading through molasses. Mara stared into his eyes, bereft of all her comfortable illusions about the sanctity of the human spirit. Algernon and Mara remained in the Evidence Room long after the forensics team had retreated to its labs down the hall - after the coroner had removed the body for another pointless autopsy - trying vainly to find some clue they had overlooked amid that invisible turbulence the other investigators could not detect. She left him there, feeling the cold bite of metal while he hungered for the warm caress of flesh. He hurried into his apartment, weaving through an obstacle course of unopened boxes toward the only furniture in the room: a cheap card table wedged against one of the walls. He pulled up Morpheus's reading from Wally's Waterbed World beside the new reading from Evidence Room Four, mapping the variations, trying to glean some meaning from them as he had so many times before.
It was there - in his head, on the screen, searing him like lightning from a storm-dark sky.
The composite pattern of Morpheus's prior reading and his latest victim's matched Morpheus's new radiation signature exactly.
He drove like a maniac across town to Pasadena, running the lights, not caring if some cowboy in a squad car tried to pull him over.
Algernon raised ORRA with trembling hands and scanned the room, searching for something… praying he would not find it. He programmed ORRA to account for the distortion of Morpheus's engulfing pattern, jammed the Honda's pedal to the floor, raced along the coast toward San Diego like a smuggler late for a border rendezvous.
The Oceanview Inn lay along the cliffs above Laguna Beach - a modest one-story stucco structure with vending machines glowing brightly on both sides like neon bookends bracketing the mysteries that lurked behind its doors. Only one light on - the lamp beside the bed - a single bulb shining dimly through a lampshade covered with pastel seashells. Algernon stumbled to the bed and grabbed Mara's shoulders so tightly his knuckles ground against her bones. He saw nothing with his naked eyes… the quintessence of nothing, a disembodied shadow twisting in the air beside the bed.
He called up the bioplasma pattern of the evidence clerk in ORRA's memory, fired her waveform at the shadow. Another ghost, and another - a spectral army attacking their tormentor, gobbling the darkness like torches wielded by a vengeful mob.
Algernon limped to the bed where she lay motionless, a withered black orchid sprouting from her hands.
Algernon Harris stared into his wife's pearlescent eyes and saw the message written in their light. Putting your hands over, or fingers in, your ears won't work as your hands will still move slightly and make noise. ORRA - Organic Radiation Residue Analyzer - detected the bioplasma radiation signatures that marked every human being as unique. He fine-tuned the bandwidth - blocking out the residue of lab techs, police, store employees - until ORRA's screen resolved itself into a manageable number of discrete energy trails.
He lowered the monitor and reconfigured ORRA to erase the remnants of her suffering, to give her what peace he could.
He picked up something hazy in the range he had programmed, adjusted the settings until the image stabilized.
Algernon raised ORRA's monitor and resumed his scan, searching for the message he knew was hidden somewhere… for his eyes only.
Algernon had to move several stacks of reports before he could plop down in one of the battered chairs wedged in front of Mitchelson's desk.
She stood in the doorway, short raven hair curling slightly at the ends, sprinkled with a smattering of gray.
Instead of heading for the parking garage, Mitchelson steered them into a corridor that led past the Criminology Lab and a series of storage rooms.

He could see it in her face: she felt something on a level that went far beyond the range of ORRA's sensors. He ignored the bruised aurora that swirled around the woman on the shelf - he did not want to see it - and began scanning for Morpheus's bioplasma residue. A hint of ocean mist sheened her pearlescent eyes, saltwater drops that stung as if his heart were an open wound. A large PC rested on the table, cables snaking from its back to snare the assortment of spectrometers, interferometers, and other custom peripherals that covered every inch of the table's surface. He keyed in the commands, merged the wave pattern from Wally's Waterbed World with the pattern of the evidence clerk lying in the morgue in a stolen wedding dress.
The secret - the reason he could kill without leaving any marks, the reason his bioplasma pattern kept changing. He knew it immediately - the house was silent, and Mara always played Kenny G on the stereo when she couldn't sleep. He found it anyway - fiery graffiti scrawled between two windows that stared at him like night-blind eyes. Not easy to steer with one hand, adjust ORRA's settings with the other, keep his eyes up enough to avoid ramming the Honda into a guardrail. The bedspread crawled with silver scallops and dancing pink seahorses; the wallpaper swam with a rainbow of exotic fish. The wind whooshed out of him as he fell, immobilized by pain and disbelief; ORRA clattered to the floor beside him.
Morpheus only laughed in a voice like Mara's… but hollow, empty, as if she spoke from the bottom of a well. He caught a flicker on ORRA's screen, the flash of Mara's essence swimming through Morpheus's sea of venom. He could see it all on ORRA's monitor: explosions of light and color to mark the incendiary clash of wills.
The shadow drifted toward him, stretching out invisible talons that seared him to the core.
Algernon called up another pattern - the lifeguard from Newport Beach - hurled her at the churning void. I also did all the searching, turning the power off etc and it was still there so it's either in my head or coming from outside.
It made the whacko sound like some doctor with a God Complex dispensing euthanasia to pain-racked cancer patients. Detected them, and could track the energy residue of a perpetrator through the most crowded urban jungle like an electronic bloodhound. He concentrated on the body, knowing it would exude the two patterns he cared about more strongly than all others… fought to control his dread when Monique Sainte-Marie's bioplasma residue flared into view. ORRA's emitter generated a wave front that matched the bioplasma frequency of Monique Sainte-Marie, precisely half a wavelength out of phase.
The dark hair, the un-Californian paleness of her skin, could have given her a sinister aspect… if not for the eyes. After exchanging a few terse words with the person on the other end, his eyes widened comically.
A cluster of uniforms stood outside the open door to Evidence Room Four, looking confused, uneasy. Right in our own house, for Christ's sake - an army of cops around, and nobody sees or hears a thing. She stretched out a hand to touch the dead woman's cheek… recoiled as if the body were electrified.
He found it, although it had mutated again… just enough to defy the laws of biology and physics. ORRA could track the bastard into the room, trace his sulfurous slime trail as he followed his latest victim to that shelf among the evidence bins in back… but, after that, nothing. There was very little anger in those eyes - only mourning for the loss of something precious. Algernon plopped down on a folding chair, tried to ignore the exhaustion throbbing behind his eyes as he jacked ORRA into a special socket at the base of the PC. He made slow progress south - past Alhambra, Inglewood, Torrance – and wound up on the Coast Highway before he had to pull over on the berm. He remembered the honeymoon in Laguna, the most exotic locale he and Mara could afford on teaching salaries. Charging in like some White Knight come to rescue his Lady Fair, unarmed except for that pathetic snooping device.
Algernon stared at ORRA's monitor, prayed… watched another resurrected spirit squirm away from Morpheus's smothering embrace. Another ghost tore free, ripping loose another thread that bound Morpheus's quilt of souls. He waded through a throng of gawkers and media vultures circling the barricades and flashed his credentials at a surly beat cop drafted for crowd control. His fingers tightened on the smooth metallic casing in his hands with a mixture of pride and loathing. Fading life force roiled about her body like a luminescent scream shrill with echoes of a torment beyond his comprehension. Pearl gray, like the inner hollows of a bivalve shell shimmering beneath the waters of a sunlit tidal pool.
She, too, often advised the LAPD on violent crime cases, provided information about the perpetrators in ways he could not fathom.

Mitchelson grumbled something at the senior officer, who spun and led them through the doorway.
They found her near the back, lying on one of the lower shelves; evidence bundles had been scattered all over the floor to make room for her. How am I gonna explain this to the Captain?" Mara wandered around the room, eyes bulging like a strangled kitten's, fingertips sliding gingerly across the walls.
Mara, too, could pick up only vague impressions: a residue of cruelty and soul-sickness that left her almost physically ill. You were cheating on me long before Morpheus came to town… devoting all your time and energy to ORRA. Maybe Morpheus is some kind of wild psychic talent: maybe that's how he gets in and out without being noticed, how he mesmerizes his victims so they don't struggle. I was on my way, Mara… to making all those skeptics swallow their tongues, to proving that no law enforcement agency in the country could afford not to invest in ORRA. The bedroom looked exactly as he remembered: the floral bedspread he had tolerated for Mara's sake, prints of whales and dolphins on the walls.
The beach had been lovely in the moonlight… but, in truth, they had rarely left their room. You would use your toy to erase me like some stray energy debris that gets in your way at the scene of the crime, but you cannot. Morpheus fought with the strength of desperation, casting waves of energy back against the weapon that undid him. The cop waved him on, then filled the gap behind him like a blitzing linebacker to block the camera crew that tried to shove its way past.
Her arms were folded primly beneath the satin bodice… hands clasped around the stem of a black orchid. Nobody could control bioplasma like that - could focus it like ink through a pen - but Morpheus did.
Mitchelson looked as haggard as Algernon felt - he, too, had many ghosts to chase away his sleep.
Something rare beneath that liquid warmth: a penetrating quality, an ability to see things invisible to most. The two of them differed widely in their methods, explored the same mysteries from opposite sides - but that was part of the chemistry.
Algernon had to share this with someone who would understand… someone who could help him figure out what it meant.
Algernon might not be able to follow Morpheus's bioplasma sleight-of-hand, but he could track Mara anywhere.
The tang of salt air and rotting kelp stung his nostrils, filled him with bittersweet memories.
He found no madmen lurking in the shadows, just one figure reclining on the bed: a woman wearing a Snow White costume.
He noticed that she cast two shadows - one dense, misshapen blob within a woman's silhouette, umbra within penumbra. He fiddled with ORRA's controls, calling up Mara's bioplasma pattern from storage, programming ORRA to emit that pattern now.
He called up the woman from the waterbed store, cheered as her soul erupted from the darkness in a geyser of flame and streaked away to freedom.
Algernon smelled Mitchelson's sour breath on his cheek as the Lieutenant peered over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of ORRA's screen. He watched her, too paralyzed to move, torn between a desire to comfort her and a nagging fear that she might reject such intimacy from him. Countless hours of Fourier analyses, detailed harmonic breakdowns… none of it unlocked Morpheus's secret. She had been his test subject during the long months when he first began developing and refining ORRA; he had her energy signature recorded with more precision than any other.
He sat there, cursing in the headlight-speckled darkness, until understanding filled his veins with ice. He traced Mara's dwindling energy to Room Seventeen: the one they had occupied six years ago.
He remembered buying it in an overpriced shop on Main Street just inside the entrance to Disneyland, along with a Grumpy costume for himself… remembered how silly he had felt at the Faculty Halloween Party that year. He called her name, not knowing if she could hear him, until he saw her breaking free, bursting into flame like a newborn star.
He looked up, saw the disembodied shadow imploding, felt Morpheus's fury blast across the tundra of his soul. He had learned to despise the news-sharks: the way they converged around the scent of blood, the sickening zeal with which they gnawed the bones of each new tragedy Morpheus left behind.
He had noticed her on prior visits to the Precinct catacombs, as had every male officer with contraband to log.
Why Morpheus was never seen, how he snuck in and out of crowded buildings without detection. She wore a white wedding gown, apparently borrowed from a rack of confiscated clothes along the back wall.

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