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It was the stillness that scared me, an unending void poised at the ready to be filled with sound. I did not dare utter a whisper. The void was so empty I feared it would gobble up what words I spoke and never return them. Then I would be left to endlessly string out every thought until all those words, all those emotions, wretched the life from my bones leaving a gasping corpse, longing for sound.
It was this fear, this silence that woke me at 3:00 AM. I do not exactly know what it was to this day that stirred me so deeply. It, whatever it was, had no voice, no breath, only a feeling. I stiffly unwrapped myself to groggily trudge down cold, wooden stairs, the beckoning idea, making a home in my head. Outside was the void with only pinpricks of starlight and a waning moon to see by. I set out, driven by a curiousness I could not place and my feet moved absently down the gravel road.
Then it was there and it broke through this cursed prison of seemingly endless silence. A sound so soft, yet so strong, like a steady breath from a sleeping partner. A strange smile grew on my face as my pace quickened. It was here! I was not alone! I could talk and the words would reach out to someone, to anyone! The void would not catch me, it would not steal me away into oblivion. I ran down the streets, breathless to the point of hysteria, desperation forcing strange expressions on my face. I flung my arms out as if to embrace it, but stopped.
The sound was coming from a strange shed in a lonesome yard. I ran to the door, ignoring the the neatly kept yard with flowering plants and groomed trees. The old shed door hung at an odd angle and I threw it to the side, breaking it to splinters in the proses. In the shed was a pit and sound, beautiful sound, drifted up to caress my ears. Tears slid down my cheeks as I did not hesitate to throw myself over the edge. The fall was not straight down as I’d originally assumed as I scrambled down the steep decline. Dirt and rocks coated the ground and stuck to my hands as I felt the air shift to a crisp coolness that soothed me. Then I saw the prick of light. Far at the end or at the top, I was not so certain which, entrancing melodies of laughter lured me farther, saving me from the wrathful silence. I moved swiftly and the pin prick became larger. I heard so much more, the sounds of laughter and talk and quiet noises that purred in my ear.
When I reached the end, there was a large hole just big enough that I could squeeze through. I reached up for the tinkling laughter, for the sweet songs of birds, the clink of glasses, the tap of shoes, and the breath of all. That steady rhythmic consciousness that shows you true isolation is an impossibility.
My hands grasped the sides of the hole and I pulled myself up, my head straining, my ears, parched from the silence, and longing to drink in words.
Then it shattered.
The preciouses, tranquil softness obliterated by screams, panic, and shouts of alarm.
“What is that!?”
“Call the police!”
“Kill it already! Don’t just stand there!”
The people cursed my ears and I ran as pain welled up in my head. The noise I had once valued seized me in its rage and threw my soul to the ground. The blaring sirens stabbing me after each high pitched scream. I raced through blinding daylight so brilliantly harsh, through mazes of city blocks and honking traffic. Everywhere I went, the screams followed me pummeling me, ripping at my ears, and shredding through the fabric of my thoughts.
I screamed, the sound sickening, in human. A guttural roar, never meant to be uttered by any living creature. Then I saw it in a glassy store front and screamed and cried at the monster that stared back with horrified eyes. It had enormous claws, large ears, rotting putrid flesh, two bulging eyes, teeth that oozed with saliva, and powerful legs that jutted up at odd angles. It was me.
The chaos I’d created whirled as if taking form in a towering body that sought only my disastrous end. The pain welling up in my head dragged every inch of strength from my limbs to send it coursing into motion. I was desperate for these being to stop.
They had to stop.
I would make them stop.
I grabbed the nearest one and the shriek that passed its lips racked me into oblivion. I felt my hands grasp the cry and only when a strange red liquid flowed freely from my hand did it stop. This scream was one out of many that I would silence. My teeth and claws whirled in strange patterns letting the sounds wink out like candles as rivers of garnet trailed behind my movements. I did not stop until I made it back to my hole. Even the gentle laughter and the soft breathing was gone.
The darkness greeted me, easing the familiar silence over me with comforting hands. I crawled away, now aware of my spines just brushing the top of the tunnel. I had returned to my place of silence. The void had called me back with loving arms tipped with blissful quiet. I moved slowly out of the shed doors to walk a leisurely pace to my house. The street was still peaceful with not a sound from the dead in each house. The dead I’d made beautiful when I’d first come there. Now I remembered. The skeletons in those houses and the many more bones that lined the streets, they were not gravel, they were silent bodies I’d made stop. A ghostly shutter ran through me at the memory of such outrageous noises. I re-entered my home to carefully drag myself up stairs and crawl into bed, making sure to not disturb the small corpse laying just beside the bed on the floor. The worn walls greeted me like old friends with their painted airplanes and toy trucks and I slept. The silence had comforted me with its presence. The unending void , no longer a threat, but a friend for me to talk to. It was the silence which had woken me and it was the silence which lulled me to sleep