Furnace

In Furnace, a 62-year-old man speaks to us from his basement, telling us that he finds background noise comforting.  He says that when he had to put in a new furnace it took him a while to get used to the slightly different, more complex, sound the motor made.  But the more he listened to the noise as he lay in bed the more it seemed like voices.  As the weather got colder, he would stop whatever he was doing when the furnace came on and he would listen to what seemed like a choir singing some kind of polyphonic music, but not all singing the same song.  He tells us he has been reading the Book of Daniel from the King James version of the Bible.  He says his wife always bought used books rather than new ones because she was interested in what people had written in the margins.  She didn’t write in her Bible but made little crosses beside a verse that struck her.  He realizes that, years ago, his wife aborted a child and that one of the voices he hears in the furnace sounds like the wail of a newborn.  He tells us he can’t eat meat since his wife died and that he doesn’t know who he is.  He says he always knew she was betraying him and then relates the Bible story of Nebuchadnezzar throwing three men into a furnace but seeing four, although three walk out unharmed.  He says his wife made a cross by the verse about the fourth man but he doesn’t know what it means.  He tells us that since he began hearing voices in the furnace he has been remembering his dreams.  He says his wife had been staying out late and drinking and that, coming home in the dead of winter, her car drove right into a tree.  He says he doesn’t know, will never know, if it was an accident or she drove into the tree on purpose.  He thinks he can hear her voice among the others in the furnace, trying to tell him something.  He woke up from a dream about her and realized that the voices in the furnace were the voices of the damned, burning in Hell.  But he can’t make out what she is trying to tell him.

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