The first one to find the abandoned house was Carl. After sleeping the first night rolled in a musty quilt he drove down to the town and bought a mattress, some saucepans and a few other necessities.

A few weeks later the others found their way. They came one after another.

Soon there were people in most of the rooms in the decayed house. Carl, Jenny, Little Louie, Love, Maria and Frederic. And Sunshine Superman of course. One day the tiny cat sat on their porch as if she had always lived in the house.

In the nights the house was bubbling with life. There was always someone baking or cooking food. The big windows sprinkled their warm light over the magnificent oak trees that stood at the brink of the overgrown garden. Beyond them merely the old forest.

This part of the county was really desolated. They had several miles to their closest neighbour. Jenny had talked to some people in the town about the abandoned house – without telling them that they lived there of course. An old man she met at the diner had told her the house had been empty for ages. Maybe as long as fifty years. But he knew nothing about who had been living there once upon a time.

Or what had happened to them, by the way.

The house was perfect to Carl, Jenny and the others. During the days there was a peculiar calmness in the big rooms that gave them peace. And as soon as darkness fell it felt as if the house was transported to another planet. The wild forest forced itself through the windows and sang to them with voices they had never heard before.

They were looking for something, and the place encouraged them. They were looking for something perfect.

The nights gave them enough inspiration to continue.

They called themselves the Children of the Bleep.

It started kind of as a joke, but after a while the name felt natural. A few weeks later it felt as if they had known each other forever. Like an old family that had lived in the decayed house for generations.

The name – Children of the Bleep – came to them one day as they were meditating. They were by no means experts on oriental mysticism or Zen Buddhism. Maria owned a worn copy of I Ching – and many of them had read Kerouac and the other beat writers.

Since this was at the end of the sixties, Robert Moog and Donald Buchla had quite recently presented their fantastic machines. Frederic had heard about the new invention – the synthesizer – and dreamed of one day sitting in front of the walnut thing, turning the large knobs until he found the perfect bleep - and meditate.

There was something hidden in the perfect bleep that would set them free. It would cut right through their imperfect world with all its innate limitations.

That was Frederic’s idea, at least.

But they didn’t have one of Moog’s fantastic machines. So they had to use whatever they had lying around. Love had a guitar, Maria owned a wooden flute and in one of the corner rooms Carl had found a pump organ when he first came to the house.

They didn’t own a synthesizer. But when Love gently stroked the guitar, and Carl played sustained swelling tones, it was at least a try. The others sat scattered around the room and hummed with closed eyes.

It was not the perfect bleep, but it was good enough to keep them searching. After a couple of minutes of meditating they reached an empty stillness. It gave them satisfaction.
They called themselves the Children of the Bleep.

Between the four walls of the old damp house they found something they didn’t even know they were looking for in the first place.

They created a world of their own.

* * *

At least that was the story I was told when I met Stephan in New York City last summer. He told me he had stumbled upon the story about the Children of the Bleep in an old local newspaper, just out of coincidence.

He had some kind of research exchange scholarship at one the universities here in New York City. Stephan didn’t tell me where he came from, but from his accent I could at least tell that he wasn’t American. His research was in some obscure field of sociology. The interview was supposed to be about the complications with the visa, or something like that. I really can’t remember.

Because as soon as Stephan started to tell me about those events in the late sixties somewhere in the Midwest, I was completely stunned. Everything else he told me lost its meaning.

He had read about a young man in his early twenties that had been reported missing. It was Love, but at that point he didn’t know anything about him. But something in the old article made him curious enough to read on, and a couple of microfish films later – and many cups of coffee – the story slowly unfolded.

* * *

One autumn night in 1969 Love disappeared. He had probably been stoned, maybe on LSD, or just from way too much marijuana. The other said they had seen a special look of calmness in his face. It was like he was glowing. He had uttered some strange nonsense, before walking out of the door and straight out in the woods. Then he was gone.

Nothing strange so far. At the end of the sixties there were lots of hippies living in the American countryside, experimenting with drugs, trying to find something larger than themselves.

“I could have stopped winding right there”, Stephan said to me in an excited voice.

“But it was something in the interviews with the other youths that made me read on. They didn’t seem to miss Love. Or they did miss him first, I mean they did go to the police after all, but when the local newspaper came back a second time a few weeks later, they stated really different information. They said that no one named Love had ever lived there. And they didn’t miss anyone”, he said.

“And after a few days of digging in the archive I found another article. The journalist had gone up to the house a couple of weeks later to check if there was any new information. At that time everybody was gone.”

The newspaper had run a short press item. The headline was: “The Youth Sect is finally gone – police have shut down the case”. The story said: “The revolting youths have finally moved back to their parents to continue to study. The police estimate that the whole thing was a hoax to fool the citizens of our small county. The case is now closed, and the house stands empty once again.”

* * *

I couldn’t get the Children of the Bleep out of my head. The story haunted me several days after the interview with Stephan. Many times I thought that everything was a bluff. But why would he lie to me?

The days were unbearably hot this summer and I walked up and down the third avenue to straighten out my thoughts. The nights were even worse. The damp tropical air made it almost impossible to sleep. The sheets clung to my body as vacuum wrapped meat.

When I finally dropped off I dreamed of Love. In my dream he sits with his legs crossed on the wooden floor. Around him is a group of faceless people in lotus positions playing some suggestive repetitive music. It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before.

I cannot see the others in the room - they are like shadows. All my concentration is on Love and his peaceful face. It’s almost as if it’s glowing.

Suddenly the music stops and Love opens his eyes. His face is torn in an inhuman expression and he is just about to say something to me when I wake up in a pool of sweat.

The dream came back to me a few times. Every time I woke up I tried to remember the music in my dream, but it was impossible. The music was indescribable.

One thing was certain though: I had never heard something so beautiful in my whole life.

* * *

A few weeks after my meeting with Stephan I got an idea. I would write an article about the Children of the Bleep. Place them in their right context and tell the story about their sixties-flavored experiments. I mean, they had been some kind of DIY-composers/musicians in the same genre as Terry Riley, La Monte Young and other people that worked with cyclic forms, minimalism and spirituality. Like a Velvet Underground in the woods.

They would get a second chance. I would place them in the history books.
And hopefully I would get them off my mind.

I thought I might be able to spice up the story a bit and gain some dramatic action around their disappearance… Maybe even try to find the house where it all happened?

On the other hand I didn’t have much information to go on. Only their first names.
I jogged back to my place and dug up Stephan’s card from the bottom of a drawer. I realized I was breathing heavily when a woman answered the phone.

“May I speak to Stephan please”, I panted.

“No, he is gone. Who is asking?”

“Gone? What do you mean?”

“He was going up to Michigan to get complementing facts for his research. That was one month ago, and I haven’t heard anything from him since then. But you don’t need to be worried. He does this from time to time. What was your name again?”

I told Stephan’s assistant about our interview, without telling her about the Children of the Bleep. She promised me to get in touch when she heard from him.

She told me not to worry. Stephan was a bit strange. She used those exact words: “a bit strange”.

I put down the receiver and stared at the brown façade on the other side of the street.

I was not worried. I knew exactly where Stephan was.

I just didn’t know if he was coming back.

* * *

The days went by. The hot summer cooled off – as it miraculously always does – and soon there was frost in the grass as I went out breakfast shopping in the mornings. I didn’t think of Stephan or Children of the Bleep that much. My mind was occupied with other things, new projects.

Now and then I dreamed of Love. Every time I tried to hear the music in my head when I woke up. It was impossible.

At one time I even woke up with a tear on its way down one of my cheeks. It was almost as if my subconscious knew that the beautiful music would be sucked out of me as soon as Love opened his eyes.

One lukewarm autumn night on my way home from a bar the cell phone suddenly rang. I felt a shiver as the second signal echoed between the buildings at the empty street.

I knew it was Stephan. Don’t ask me why. I just felt it.

He didn’t even introduce himself.

“I’ve met Carl”, he whispered in an excited voice.

“I’ve been up there. In the house. I just came back”.

There was a short period of silence and I looked up from the street and felt lost, until I understood I was just a block from my front door. I was pretty drunk.

“Can we meet? I’ve got something for you.”

* * *

The following day I was sitting in the same café where we had met almost half a year ago. I was twenty minutes early and went for one of the bar stools by the large window facing the street. Outside people were hurrying back and forth in the snowy street.

It was one of those days when you rather stay inside. The wind hit hard from the sea and the street was crammed with skidding cars and dirty slush.

I watched the irritated people slip by me outside the glass. Their faces looked so gray. They all looked the same in their dark coats and grey ribbed hats.

I was just about to pick up my notebook and write a few bitter lines about the cloning of our modern society when the little brass bell above the front door rang. A cold wind entered the cozy café.

But Stephan’s big smile made me forget everything that was on my mind. He came up to me and gave me a light hug, as if we were two old friends that had not seen each other in many years.
He sat down on the bar stool next to me, and looked straight into my eyes and just smiled.

There was a silence for several seconds before I cleared my throat and took a gulp of coffee.

“How have you been? And where have you been? You can’t fool me into thinking you’ve been up there…”

He didn’t answer. He just bowed down and picked up a plastic bag from the floor, which I hadn’t seen when he entered the café. It seemed to contain a box of some kind.

He pushed the bag over to me and gave me an encouraging nod. I opened the lid to the box and started to explore the dusty items.

“Why do you give me this? What is it?”, I asked Stephan.

The box seemed to contain mostly notes. Among the sheets were some old photographs and postcards. Faded newspaper pages and faded book pages.

I read a page, murmuring the words for myself: ”A person in danger should not try to escape at one stroke. He should first…” – the rest of the sentence was impossible to read. The words felt strangely familiar.

When I looked up again Stephan was gone. I hadn’t even heard the tinkle from the front door.
I threw the box down and reached for my jacket, but before getting to the door a thought hit me. Did I really want to follow him where he was going?

I slowly went back to my spot by the window and finished the coffee, staring at the gray mass of people outside.

This time Stephan wouldn’t come back. I knew that.

* * *

As I write these lines on my computer I cannot even remember Stephan’s face from that afternoon when I saw him for the last time. The only thing I remember is his smile. He seemed so calm. So peaceful.

Now and then I still dream about Love. But I’m not sure whose face it is that I see right before I wake up: Love’s or Stephan’s.

And I still cannot remember the beautiful repetitive rhythms in my dream. It doesn’t matter. I have started to recreate them anyway.

There was not that much of interest in the box I got from Stephan: some notebooks where most of the pages are so dirty that it is impossible to read the text, a handful of black and white photographs, a charm made of silver and a dusty reel-to-reel tape.

I have copied every readable word from the notebooks, and I’ve listened to the tape over and over again. The texts are mere fragments – maybe parts of poems, or song lyrics.

The tape is almost inaudible. At one moment you can hear a man singing, but the rest of it is just murmuring voices dropped in an ocean of noise and clicks.

I’m not stupid. I understand Stephan wants me to believe that the items come from the house. It’s just that I’m not certain anymore.

Sometimes I imagine that he made up the whole story about the Children of the Bleep just to make fun of me. Maybe the thought struck him that first day we met – and then he carried on when he noticed that I became interested.

On the other hand, it seems a bit far-fetched.

I really don’t know what to believe anymore.

What I do know is that the Children of the Bleep have given me something that was missing in my life. It has filled a void I barely knew I was carrying. And as long as I hear that cyclical music in my dream, I’m prepared to continue to believe in the Children of the Bleep.

They had a dream of reaching a special place with their music, with the inspiration from the perfect bleep. They had a dream of living outside the society.

I know that it is my dream as well.

Oskar Huber, New York City

* * *

Epilogue

After moving back to Sweden and talking to a few people about the Children of the Bleep, we have decided to continue their work. Their ideas are our ideas. Their dreams are our dreams. This is a way to celebrate their existence.

We are all Children of the Bleep.