Silas stared at the clock. The hands moved steadily, normally, each second making it click. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Over and over it made that noise. Over and over until he thought he could scream—but he didn't. He only sat there longer, staring harder, trying to imagine everything else away.
A noise invaded his concentration, and when he turned, he saw a cat strode into the room. The animal looked at him—but only for a moment. With a motion of its furry tail, it went on walking. Just like that. Just as if nothing had happened. As if the world were the same. As if everything were okay...
Silas stood from his chair. His legs nearly buckled beneath him, but he groped for the mantel and held his stance. He slowly looked around. The house was normal. Everything was in place. Everything was clean. Everything was perfect...
This room. He touched the clock on the mantel. This room is all I have left. It held his last ounce of sanity, his last hope of normalcy. It was his life, in a sense—or rather, what his life used to be.
Only now it was just an empty room. A room with a few trinkets and a small fragment of all his memories, a quiet place that sheltered him from everything outside.
He went to the door and opened it.
Seeing the light, the cat immediately sprang for the opening and was gone in only seconds.
Silas stepped out, too. He shouldn't have. Not in his state. Not with everything that was happening, not with all he was feeling...
But he did. He walked down the side walk and opened the white fence gate with trembling hands. Then he was in the world, watching from horror stricken eyes and wondering what everything meant. There was blood on the side walk. Smoke in the air. Screams, from somewhere in the distance, but he paid them no mind because the sound had become familiar.
Silas stopped in his steps and stared down. Empty clothes were at his feet. Just lying there. Shoes. Glasses. Belt. Everything. As if the body had simply melted from existence, leaving only its mortal belongings behind.
It shouldn't have stirred him, but for some reason it did. It didn't matter how many times he saw the empty clothes, his heart squeezed within him and the shock of it took another small portion of the only sanity he had left. I shouldn't have come back out—
A body slammed into him, falling into his arms. There were bullets. Screams. Then a young woman peered up at him, blood on her pretty face, anguish in her eyes. “Help me...”
Help. The word came back and hit him in the face. He couldn't move. Men were running towards them, firing the guns...
Jerking her into his arms, he made a jump over the fence. The bullets got closer, and though they never grazed him, he felt a tremble work through her body. “Hold on,” he breathed. “Just hold on.”
Then he was at his house. His legs threatened to give out beneath him, but every step pumped more adrenaline into his veins, and he made it to the door.
He laid the girl on the floor and dead bolted the door. Not that it would do any good. If those men wanted in, they'd get in—and there was nothing in the world he could do about it.
“Are they gone?” she rasped the words, even as blood choked out of her.
Silas bent by her, lifting her head into his arms. “Yeah, I think so.”
The girl nodded her head. She glanced down her body and saw the bullet wound to her stomach. She touched her fingers to it, pressing them into the blood, gasping. “I'm...glad,” she whispered.
Silas looked into her eyes. They were strange, the way they looked up at him. They were so bottomless, so somber, so dim. As if within their drab color was the answer to all his questions, the answer to all this madness. “Why?” he whispered back.
“I'm so glad I'm dying.”
“You're not dying. Everything's fine.” Silas knew the words. Twenty four years of being a doctor made them habit—only this time, they seemed meaningless. Void. Pointless. Like telling a child that candy is bad for your teeth, even though it taste so sweet...
“Those men—what did they want?”
A bittersweet smile stole across her sunken features, and when she answered, her voice was weaker, “My purse.” She paused, as if to breathe. “Who could have known the world would be so bad when they left?”
“They?” Silas gripped her harder. His wife. His children. His life—it all flashed back to him. “You know something, don't you? You know why my family was taken. Tell me.”
Death enshrouded her face, dimming her eyes. Her skin felt clammy against his, but he had to know...
“Tell me,” he gasped. “Please. Please tell me. I must know...” He pulled her head up to his, just inches from his face, listening for her feeble words...
“God's children...were called...home.”
God? No. She was mad. She was dying and she was mad. He needed something real. Something to believe in. Something that would explain everything...
A sob ripped through him, numbing where it hurt most, making him tremble. “Tell me the truth!” he screamed the words at her, jerking her. “Tell me who took my wife and babies!”
Her eyes lost all glow. Slowly, her lids slid shut. Her body went limp.
“God...always...keeps...His...promises...” The last words were spoken so softly he might have missed them.
But he didn't miss them. He heard them. He heard them so loud that he couldn't hear the clock anymore, and the room had lost its sense of comfort—and the little sanity he had left dissolved into nothing.
Maybe Silas believed the woman. Maybe he didn't. Whatever the case, it didn't really matter.
It was too late.