The Chant

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 27, 2018

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Submitted: May 27, 2018

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The Chant

You put your foot on the brake and reduce your speed. The traffic had been flowing smoothly but you can see it is building up in front of you, slowing down. Maintenance maybe, restricting lines and causing congestion. Maybe an accident but somehow you doubt that; there are no wailing sirens approaching in the distance.

Whatever it is, it seems to be getting worse. You are barely progressing at all now, crawling along at a snail’s pace. There are what look to be a few abandoned cars left along the side of the road and this is not a very promising sign. Could be that a lot of people forgot to top up on gas, but really, it’s not that likely a reason. No, there must be some other reason you’ve not considered yet.

It’s getting worse. People just seem to have turned off their cars in the road, not even bothering to try to keep the lanes clear. So inconsiderate! And where are the police! They should be here putting a stop to this road blockage but there’s not a sign of them. It’s a case of weaving now, left and right, making a slow journey forwards.

That is until the driver of the vehicle right in front of you just switches off his engine and climbs out of the driver’s seat.

Hey!” you shout, outraged at such inconsideration. “You can’t just stop here! How the hell am I going to get past.”

The guy does not even acknowledge that he’s heard you. No pause, no apologetic glance and certainly no word of reply. You switch your engine off. No point in wasting any more gas than you have to, is there. Might as well take advantage of this unexpected stop and climb on out, stretch those legs.

There’s a strange sound in the distance. Too far away or too quiet to really make it out. Nothing to worry about. You reach in for your phone to check for messages or missed calls but for some reason there does not seem to be any signal. Strange when you’re not so far out of town. More maintenance? Possibly.

That noise, it keeps tugging away at your mind, trying to worm its way in and doing a pretty good job of it. A hum? No, voices. But they are far away, off in the distance that you now notice so many people are walking in.

Trance-like; that’s the only way to describe their movements. There’s no hurry there, no sense of urgent purpose. But something must be exerting some sort of pull because they are all following the same path; one that has recently been used many times recently from the look of it. They just wander calmly forward and without making any sore of decision you find yourself joining their ranks.

One foot follows the other. It feels like you are being summoned, but by what, by whom, you don’t even consider. The humming is getting louder now, as more and voices join in. But it’s not humming is it? No, more like singing, but that’s not the right way to describe it either.

Chanting! That’s what it is!

You can’t make out the words yet, still too far away, but you can hear the man in front of you beginning to hum along and it’s not too much after that when you start humming too. You don’t like it though; you’ve never been a very tuneful singer and you try to stop yourself. For a moment it works and you are silent, but all too soon you find yourself once more compelled to join in again.

There are hundreds of people just like you, all walking in the same direction, all humming the same strange tune. It starts to rain but you ignore it; everybody ignores it, and it does not turn into anything more than a drizzle.

You can hear the chanters much more clearly now. Words, but not any that you have ever heard before. And they don’t sound like any other human language either; not ancient nor modern. It’s hard to explain it, even to yourself. A series of clicks and ‘oms’ and ‘ahs’ linked up together to form ‘words’ -- you’re sure that’s what they are.

Had you noticed your upward ascent? A steep hill, that’s what you’ve been climbing, and at the top of it there is gathered an ever-increasing number of ‘singers’. Your mouth is moving of it’s own accord and totally without thinking you are joining in and getting it right. How is it possible when it is something you’ve never, ever heard before? It isn’t, right, but you are doing it all the same.

There’s nothing in front of you but sky, as the land just seems to drop away. There is a darkening now, it must be getting late. But look, there’s a glow of some sort, way up high, only small but growing bigger.

You have no idea what it is that is getting nearer, but whatever it is, that is what has called you all here. As the brightness increases to encompass you all, you guess that now you might be able to get some answers.


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