Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
Today was perfectly normal to begin with, nothing out of the ordinary at all. The same old droning of daytime television and cars, the occasional bird just loud enough in the backyard to make itself heard over the top of the sounds that surround most any town based home. However, as the day progressed a steady silence has fallen. But it’s not a normal silence. Not by any stretch of the imagination. If it weren’t for the now overwhelmingly loud taps of my keyboard I’d think I was literally deaf.
It started around noon today, when the cars began to sound muffled as they went past. At first I passed it off as just being quieter engines- I’m certainly not a genius when it comes to cars so I couldn’t tell you a thing about them except colour. Shrugging this off I’d carried on watching the television until my usual programmes were done, at which point I turned it off as usual.
All sound. Gone. It was as if when I hit the power button on my remote I’d hit mute on the entire world. No wind, no birds, no people, no cars, nothing. I can’t even hear the hum of my fridge any more, or even that ringing that everyone gets when locked in the normal silence that comes with a night. I know though, that it wasn’t the television at all, though it may as well have been. You see, through my programmes things had gradually stopped. First the cars, then the wind, followed by the birds chirping less and less until all birdsong came to a halt, then the people in the distance, and my electronics, until finally the TV screen was black too refusing to allow itself to be turned back on.
I’ve never heard a silence like this before. I think what made it worse was that it wasn’t just a lack of sound, but a lack of movement, as if the entire world had been put on pause. Finding the silence too much you see, I’d wanted to get towards the sound again, and I was in need of a few groceries at any rate so I’d grabbed my wallet and my coat and left. By the time I’d reached the end of my street though, something stopped me. As if there was an invisible barrier of unbreakable cotton walling. I just couldn’t go any further. I wanted to, but I couldn’t get my feet to move any further, and so I stopped, listening for anything, anything at all, just a single sign that I wasn’t alone in this world.
It was to no avail though. Even the other houses of my street were silent. Out of curiosity and desperation by now I’d begun to pause at each gate as I made my way back towards my house in defeat, looking through windows to see movement, or to see people, but there was nothing, as if all houses had been abandoned.
In that single moment though, I thought that both my prayers and my nightmares had come true when I turned only to be greeted with the chest of a stranger.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you coming” I’d said in a quick, panicked voice, stepping back to gain distance between us. It was then that it occurred to me that he was a little too tall, even by stretched standards. I myself stand at 6 and a half feet tall, so for my head to only reach midway up his chest, you can imagine the height I speak of.
He didn’t talk though. Not even an audible breath. He just stood there, staring down at me. At first glance aside from his height there was nothing odd about this man. Nothing odd at all, but when you’re locked in silence, staring at a stranger, you tend to notice just the smallest of things, like the way his eyes didn’t seem to hold that spark of life that a living being’s did, or how his hair almost seemed to be made of tiny threads of silk rather than actually being hair, or how his suit was covered in little patches of dirt and dried stains of a darker shade than the near-black of the cotton.
I could swear to you here and now that I’d been looking at this man for hours in our silence and believe it myself, but that wouldn’t be possible. You see, at that moment as I’d noticed the texture of his skin seemed more like a soft leather than real skin he’d stepped aside, not even casting another glance to me, walking off down the street, boot-clad feet leaving not even the faintest of sounds in their wake. I stared after him until he’d left the corner of my street.
I could have screamed. Oh how I wanted to scream. Something about that man had left me with a tangled lump in my throat, left me trembling, and oh so alone. It wasn’t until he’d gone that I realized just how terrified I’d been. I’ve never been so scared in my life, and I pray that I never will be again.
I’m typing this now to get out a message. I’m hoping that somehow you can believe me.
If you ever find yourself in the same silence as I described to you, don’t move. Sit there. Stay where you are. Don’t even blink if you can help it. I don’t know what that man did to me, but I can feel it now, something pulling at my mind, this.. this horrible.. tug. As if my mind is about to be swallowed whole by the sounds as they’re coming back now. I hear my clock ticking again. Just an hour. The same as when I first glanced it. Just an hour.
I hear them. The breeze against the sycamore in my backyard, the birds in the distance, whispers of engines from miles away. One by one they’re coming back. They’re so loud… So loud..
I want the silence.
Credit To – Raven F