Silence is an epidemic. Even with my best efforts I am feeling it seep through the crevices of my mind - the pauses in conversation I know I must now have lest I be left alone to fend against it. Yet here I am, somehow still maintaining a dialect and ready to tell my story before the end - no one can keep talking forever.

I wish I knew where it came from, what it is... I guess that’s expected though, human nature makes it so, and to be honest some things are better left unsaid. All I - or anyone - knows is when it started. Only a month ago we started to notice a change; although those few of us who remain have decided it must’ve been going on a lot longer. The ones we didn’t really notice went first - you know, the ‘recluses’ of society, the people you’d be lucky to get even a hint of recognition from, the people no one really knew because they’d never speak. It’s almost a shame and curse on us we didn’t notice, with only the occasional WANTED poster or frustrated boss wondering where the hell they were on their shift. God I wish we had seen it then, maybe it would be different and... I don’t know. No use thinking about that now.

What we didn’t know is with every missing person it was getting stronger; evolving if you will. Soon enough we noticed we were hearing from close friends, family, colleagues less and less until it was eventually not at all. It was always the sweet if slightly shy and awkward ones in that phase, and just one or two days of no contact was enough for the Silence to take a hold.

Marie was one of them.

I had loved her since primary school though I’d never admit it. She had vibrant red hair and freckles like sunspots that tickled her button nose. She was always shy and a little nerdy but that’s what I loved.

And it was what killed her.

We had reconnected just last summer, meeting at a bar on the cathedral green under the watercolour sunset of British July. She was exactly as I remembered her; autumn locks rushed into a messy bun, contrasting her choux pastry skin. It only took two whiskey-cokes for me to work up the courage to work my way over to her, perched elegantly on a bar stool and tracing the martini glass with her finger. I will never understand how someone so radiant with light could be so quiet. We got talking; she was a PhD student at the local university (theoretical physics I think it was) while I was working on a thesis around the needs of human interaction to our baseline happiness and survival abroad. I’d never seen her talk so much than on that night; perhaps normal levels for you or me but to see her light up when talking about her studies, I felt I was witnessing the northern lights light up the skies of her eyes.

We messaged, called and met up several times in the weeks following and I knew she was everything I would ever need. I stand by that too, even if she won’t be here to see it.

Around the first disappearances I noticed her change a bit. She had told me she had anxiety and sometimes needed time to herself but this felt... different. Weeks went by and she called less and less, and when she did every word felt strained and effortful, as if the very act of communicating was eating away at her soul.

And one day she just stopped.

At this time the disappearances were getting more common and “mainstream” if you will so I naturally went to check on her; hearing the dull tone on the other end whenever I called had become too much for me to handle and although I wanted to give her space I couldn’t take it any more. Friends and family hadn’t heard anything and as I skimmed up to the fourth floor of her apartment block I noticed how quiet it was. It was all so eerie and surreal, like some dystopian novel. The silence lingered in the air like a heavy fog.

“Hey Marie? It’s me. I know you’re probably fine and just need space but it’s been days and I-“

The sight that met me on the other side of that doorframe still makes my heart fall to a sickening knot in my stomach.

She - although ‘she’ was honestly more and ‘it’ at this point - was alien to my eyes. Her sweet summer skin was now a pasty grey, her eyes faded to a husk of what they once were and her beautiful auburn locks now the colour of a south-coast sea on a dismal winter day. She didn’t speak, didn’t move, just stood there, allowing me to take in her gaunt and lifeless appearance - she was more corpse than human.

I couldn’t speak and lost for words I stood in the thick smog of nothing, desperately trying to comprehend what on earth could have happened. But, as I lingered in that state I noticed myself being drawn into a different world almost. It was a trance of grey clouds and Monday mornings, the stagnant stench of silence and decay piercing yet somehow unnoticed. Staring into her eyes I felt the void of purest nothing beacon to me, I felt nothing, it was consuming my body, my mind, my soul...

I ran. I ran so fast I didn’t think I’d ever run again. I knew, I knew it was bad, it was terrible, there was no saving her and I just needed to save myself. She was gone.

That was 2 weeks ago. Ever since the rest of us have been trying to survive while being picked off one by one; called to that void. Keeping your mind occupied and social interaction up is the only way to stop it - it lingers in the silence between words and thoughts so keeping a noise and conversation up is the only way to prevent it consuming you. Those of us left have been talking for days now about everything and anything we can, desperately grasping at straws for new ideas to keep us occupied.

But no one can talk forever.

Category: Sad Stories

Post a Comment