The Silence

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Imaginarium

Chapter 2 (v.1) - The First 24

Submitted: March 21, 2019

Reads: 35

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Submitted: March 21, 2019

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After a restless sleep full of unremembered nightmares I shower again just for the novelty of it and to wake myself up. As I run the soapy loofa across my skin I think, today I must choose someone to die.

The thought fills me with anxiety. I have never killed anyone before. Even the dry nature of the request presented to me in the mirror fills me with dread, yet I take scant comfort in the thought that while I will choose, it will not be me who murders someone. I am simply too small. Of the ragged people I saw in the receiving room, I am the smallest.

I take one of the white jumpsuits out of the wardrobe and put it on. It fits me perfectly completely covering me from the neck down and adjusting itself to my size. There is five minutes left on the timer, just enough time to sit on the bed and gnaw one fingernail down to the quick before the door I have avoided looking at opens with a soft chime.

With a deep breath I rise from the bed and walk through. Beyond the door is a huge round room, with a circle of other doors all around it, their occupants appearing just like me in their standardized jumpsuits. In the center of the round space is a huge table, with enough chairs to accommodate everyone, and steaming plates of delicious smelling breakfast. I see bacon and eggs, toast and jam. I haven’t eaten eggs in years.

Lured by the smell of food I take hesitant steps towards the table, keeping my eyes lowered to the shining steel floor. The sound of chairs being pulled out is shockingly loud as they scrape across the floor and people sit down. Devoid of the grime they entered with, I sneak looks at the mostly men who sit at the table as I pull some plates towards me.

To my left is old man, with a neat white beard and hands gnarled by age and misuse which shake as he spears tiny sausages on his fork and brings them to a mouth half full of teeth. To my right is another man, who looks unfamiliar with such a nicety as cutlery. He eats with his hands, wiping the grease nonchalantly on his jumpsuit.

I avoid looking at anyone else although I am seized with an impulse to look for a pair of green eyes. I don’t want to get to know these people. I will make things harder if I know them, and so I sit  eating and wondering when I can go back to my room.

At a chime from the ceiling we all look up to see a holographic display. The Doctor who administered my injection smooths back his blond hair and flashes his perfect teeth before subjecting us to his polished voice.

“Good morning. Welcome to the first day. I will explain the rules of The Silence. Today there are fourteen of you. Last night you were all told your roles. This information should be your most closely guarded secret. Most of you are Participants, yet among you are three people with different roles.”

Three people? I school my face and look down at the remains of my breakfast. I am not a Participant.

“Two of you are Killers. Every night they will choose someone to die. Participants must work together to find out the identities of the Killers. To help you do this, one of you is designated a Seeker.”

Two killers? I wonder who the other one is, if they are feeling the same as me and then the other words strike me. A Seeker? What will happen if they discover my role? I try not to swallow in nervousness and pick up a glass of juice to take a sip.

“Every night The Seeker will be able to ask me if one person is a Killer. Every day not including today, the group will be able to choose someone they think is a killer.” The Doctor gestured towards his feet and the centre of the table irised open to reveal a hole in the floor, “The group will place their chosen guess here.”

“What appens to them as gets chosen?” The old man asked, with a lisp caused by missing teeth.

The Doctor shrugged, “They die, so choose carefully, you could be killing one of your own.”

I realize what this means. It is the Killers versus everyone else. I must hide the secret that I am a Killer. If anyone finds out, I will be placed into the hole to die a no doubt horrid death. Then I wonder, if there are two killers, whether I need to choose at all. There is a question I want to ask, but can’t. Luckily the old bearded man asks it for it me.

“What appens if the killers don’t choose someone? What if they don’t play your game?”

“Then they die. I wish you all the best in your performance during The Silence.” The Doctor said, flashing his teeth and disappearing.

That is my fate, kill or be killed. Is my life worth more than anyone else? I do not know. All I can think is I want to live.

Like the name of this bizarre contest, silence descends on the table. No one seems capable of meeting anyone’s eyes, although there are several people looking. I see a pair of startling green eyes looking at me. Now the grime is gone I can see a woman in her thirties with long ash blonde hair and a small scar near her right eyebrow.

I recognize the signs of violence upon her and wonder where her other scars are, rubbing my wrist.

“Someone should talk.” She says loud enough so that everyone could hear.

“And say what?” A tall skinny man spoke, whose wrists stuck out longer than his jumpsuits arms, “Don’t fucking kill me? This is bullshit.”

“You heard what he said, we have to find out who the Killers are.” The woman replied, “That means we have to talk.”

“And I suppose that means you are this Seeker if you want to ask questions?” The man said.

“Don’t say dat,” The old man said, “If the Killers think she’s the Seeker, dey will kill her first. If we ain’t got no Seeker we’re fucked. The Killers will pick us off.”

I realize the old man is right. With a Seeker able to discover the role of any Participant, with every person they chose, they will either find a Killer, or someone they could reveal themselves to and trust. If I want to survive, I should find the Seeker, and choose them. But can I really choose to take someone’s life?

“I just want to live.” The woman said, mirroring my own thoughts, “Listen, how about we all introduce ourselves. Tell each other your story.”

“You go first.” Wrists replied, crossing his bony arms.

“All right. My name is Hannah. Before the bomb dropped, I worked in a box factory.” Hannah. I know her name now. As the group introduces themselves, I hear about two Adams, one John, a Nigel and a Scott. Then it is my turn.

“I’m Amelia. Before the bomb I was a primary school teacher.” I say.

Around the circle we go, but I am not really listening, although I put on an attentive face. I don’t want to look these people in the eye, but force myself to do so. I don’t want to seem as if I am hiding. I don’t want them to think that I am the Killer.

All too soon the introductions are over and Hannah takes control of the impromptu strategy meeting once more. Does this mean she is the Seeker? Or perhaps she asks the question because she knows she is not. “I think we should break into groups. Mingle. We need to get to know each other better.”

To general agreement we do so, although all I want is to leave. I don’t want to choose, but what choice do I have? It is my life, or theirs. Two of the men are fathers and I shiver. How desperate are they to risk their lives for their family? At least I am alone now, no one will mourn me if I die.

As the group separates Hannah comes over to me. I suppose it is natural, I am the only other woman. We make small talk, talking about the food while all the while those intense green eyes watch me with a considering air. “Are you a Participant?” She asks breaking the flow about the discussion of cooked eggs. I nod, looking down and then worry that might seems like I am hiding.

“I’m just so scared.” I whisper to her. She takes my small hand in her larger one and I feel terrible for the lie. I think she believes me.

More mingling until finally the doors to our rooms open. I want to flee, but I make sure that I am not the first to leave the communal area. I watch as the old man picks up a glass of juice from the table that is not his own and retreat to his room.

With another person gone I follow suit, scared that someone will already suspect me.

* * *

There is another meal waiting for me. Beef and roasted vegetables. I shower again, yet still feel unclean. I stand before the mirror and pictures of everyone but me appear. I know what I am meant to do. I know the consequences if I do not. I cover my eyes with one hand and reach out to randomly make the choice. When I hear a sound, I open my eyes. The old man’s picture is flashing. I shudder and go to bed.

I toss and turn for an hour trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, but my skins itches and feels hot. From somewhere inside the suite I hear a sound I cannot identify, and drop straight into what feels like a nightmare. My half-remembered dream is full of screams and blood.

* * *

As I wake, I feel something between my teeth. Some tiny scrap of beef I must have missed when brushing. I use a fingernail to pull it out and sit up feeling my shoulder twitch with an almost-there spike of pain before it disappears and tryig to get a bad taste out of my mouth.

When I see my shoulder in the mirror, there is a faint half-moon line, like a long-healed scar, to match my other scars. Yet I don’t remember ever being injured there.

When the doors open and the group meets around the table, I do not feel hungry. I force myself to eat anyway. I have gone too long without food, I cannot see it go to waste even if it feels like I have swallowed a bowling ball. The old man is nowhere to be seen, and I feel guilty. His name was Justin and he was a cleaner before the bomb.

At the chime from the ceiling I look up. Instead of the Doctor, everyone can see a room, identical to our own, in which Justin lies sleeping. I notice the empty glass he took from the table rests next to the bed. The door to his room opens and something huge streaks across the carpet straight for the prone man almost too fast to see. It is hairy, and there is a glint of light against shining black claws. There is no sound, but whatever it is wastes no time in digging those claws into the helpless man’s back.

Within seconds the sheets run red with blood as the old man thrashes back and forth. I cannot look away, although the sight sickens me. When the old man turns over, grabs the heavy glass from the bed and smashes it against the monster, it rears back. There is glass driven into the shoulder in a half-moon shape. I cover my face with my hands and peek between my fingers. The beast opens its mouth wide, with fearsome teeth on display, before it lunges for the old man’s throat and gnaws until the head comes away with a spray of blood.

I now know why I did not feel hungry and have a new scar in my shoulder. 

As the hologram ends Amelia stands up. “What was Justin’s role?” She asks the ceiling.

The Doctor’s voice responds, full of faux concern. “Justin was the Seeker.”


© Copyright 2019 Julian St Aubyn Green. All rights reserved.

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