I connected the call, keeping my focus on the article I was reading as I answered.
Faint noises whispered through the receiver, but no words nor discernible meaning greeted me.
A shiver crawled down my spine, I turned and cast a look across my shoulder around my room. Perfect stillness accompanied me. Heavy with emptiness the atmosphere felt cold and metallic. The isolation, oft so comforting is ever-present. It’s oppressive weight is undeniable save for the unwholesome alien quality that persisted despite the assurance of my senses.
A cool wind caressed my neck. I shuddered. It was so quiet now. No birds song or call, nor drone of a single vehicle, nor even a breath of wind. I could feel my heartbeat building in my chest and the pinpricks of panic built in my veins urged me to cry out or scream.
A word cracked the still.
I froze. The sudden intrusion cut a hole in the silence. From the phone I held to my ear I felt the room begin to fill with sound. Paralysed, I listened as it spoke to me. Whispers, so faint, mounted until deafening. This soundless scream took horrid form in my mind and gripped me.
A tendril of understanding reached into my mind and tore a hole. Tearing open my perception until the hole was greater than the whole of me, and I was but a speck in my own perception.
I felt unchanged, but for the icy weight of experience covering me.
The song of birds outside the window, just barely audible above the cacophony of traffic still backed up to a standstill at the top of the road. The air was stuffy and warm, a cold sheen the only reminder of the previous chill.
I put my phone down on my desk. It was off. I stood and stumbled, almost running, into the kitchen. I drank deeply from a glass of cold water that shook slightly in my hand until I placed it, empty, by the sink. Steadying myself, I gripped the sink and stared at my hands, studying the shallow lines and white knuckles.
I could hear my phone ringing in my room. I ignored it. It didn’t matter, there was something more important I had to do, I realised. Calm certainty filled me, purging the shaking from my hands.
I was methodical and efficient as I dressed and readied myself. The scent of smoke as I combed my hair. To the distant sound of screams and sirens I stepped from my front door and descended the stairs, turning to calmly step out and begin to walk again the trickle of fleeing people.
With a smile I place my headphones in my ears, the melody that greets me, one that harkens me back to an aeon before the womb.