Empty Silence

January 14, 2008
By Zach Garcia, North, VA

The house was dead silent, not single soul in the house was moving. I crept down the wooden stairs, stopping momentarily at the sound of the creak on the last step, reminiscing on the present day’s events. The day had begun like any other would. I woke up at 6:00 A.M. as normal, skipped eating breakfast like always, and went straight to work sorting out the last details of a big project. Food never sat well in the morning; it always made me feel uneasy somehow. I continued to work steadily, except to stop once and eat a quick lunch consisting of a sandwich with two week old Oscar Mayer bologna and ketchup with some Lays potato chips to top it off.
Dusk came faster than I would have liked it to. I guess time flies when you’re having fun, right? Psh, what a lie. I packed up my things and prepared to set off but stopped abruptly to stare into the mirror on the hallway wall. “Who are you?” it seemed to whisper, as I gazed deep into the reflection. In high school, who would have thought that me, straight A’s all around good guy, would end up where I am today? I guess you can never tell nowadays. Leaving the apartment, I took one last look at the empty place. It never gave me the sense of comfort that a home should offer. There had been so many places just like this one. This is what the job entails, going from one city to the next, and one job after the other. Being unattached is something you better get used to in my line of work if you want to last more than week. I hopped into the car and headed off towards another spot I hoped to bury my memories.
I pulled into the driveway of a white, two-story suburb house, identical to the rest of the buildings on the block. It had neatly pruned roses, flourishing azaleas, and small garden full of ripe vegetables ready to be picked. I stepped out of the car and left the vehicle running; it would only be a brief meeting. I strolled down the sidewalk and made my way towards the front porch. I knocked three times on the oaken door and waited. Footsteps could be heard shuffling towards the entrance. There was a click on the other side of the door and a stout woman appeared in the doorway. “How can I help you?” she asked cheerfully.
There was a sudden, muffled bang that issued from my weapon. The woman swayed and then hit the floor with an unsettling thump. I stepped over the woman’s limp body without a second glance; it was another person to add to my list of victims. Sights like these no longer affected me like the first couple of assignments had once. My heart had grown cold as ice as years went by. I moved swiftly up the stairs taking two at a time, in pursuit of the target I had been assigned to. According to my information, the door should be the last one on the right of the hallway. A slim beam of light glimmered through the slightly opened door and the light melody from a piano hovered in the air. I inched towards the door, adrenaline rushing once again at the thoughts of another man’s blood on my hands. Pushing the door open, I crept into the room and there sat a man playing on a baby grand piano, still unaware that I had even entered the room. I watched as the man’s fingers played over the keys effortlessly. I called out, “Mr. Johnson?” The music suddenly stopped. “Who’s there?” he questioned, turning around only to take one last, jagged breath as he felt the sharp impact of the bullet, piercing through his heart.
His body slid off the bench, his innocent stare gazing at me with a confusion that seeped from his watery orbs. His pulse was steadily slowing, a few more seconds of life left in him I would guess. I turned to leave and as I did, he uttered one final word, “Why?” as his heart took one last pump and ceased to beat. Something snapped in me and a wave of emotion suddenly washed over me. This feeling of nausea, fear, and sympathy that I had never felt before was now paralyzing me to the spot. Those eyes. Those intense green eyes staring straight into my soul searching for a reason that I could not surrender. Only a void filled with sadness and regret did they find. There was an icy numbness that had frozen thicker; layer by layer as years went by. Wanting to get rid of this feeling, I lowered the gun in the direction of the man’s body, shaking as I pulled the trigger one time after another until the clip was completely finished. The feeling eased and the tremors subsided. Eleven bullets lay newly imbedded into the piano; no more music would it ever play again in this lifetime.
I dropped the gun on the floor, pulled off my gloves, and headed out of the room. Finding my way back to the stairs, I began my escape, creeping down a path that seemed to be never-ending. Here, on this very night, I stood on this last step of my descent, looking back on my dark, forsaken life, wondering what would become of me. I dismounted the staircase and exited the house, closing the door tight to keep this feeling from ever surfacing once again. Empty silence is all that remained in the house. A silence so cold, so sinister, it would turn anyone’s stomach inside out if they ever happened to stumble upon it.

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