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Sound of Silence
I feel their caressing fingers as they lay me down. I hear their sped-up breath and racing hearts, the crinkle of their clothes. I also hear their thoughts: what an honor-what a privilege-I’m so lucky-the chance-God-happy-…It is endless. And as the paper-thin, steel-strong blade makes it’s too slow, too fast journey toward my ear, I lose myself. I, in desperation, detach from myself. My incredible, flexible, powerful mind reaches out and seizes hold of the nearest consciousness that is not one of them. A fly. Such a simple mind does not think in words, but pictures. The world becomes immense. A floating mote of dust becomes a planetoid. My vision fractures into a million repetitious pictures. But even as I buzz around in simplistic contentment, I have not completely lost myself. I still feel the burning agony as the blade bursts my eardrum. I do not scream. It is an honor, I tell myself, but it is not my voice I hear but theirs’, all of theirs’. They tell me over and over again: It is an honor. It is an honor. In panic, my mind clenches down on the poor fly. Its light, its soul is extinguished. I rush back into my body. Now I scream as the full force of the pain tries to crush me in its grasp. They try to calm me with soothing thoughts and soothing strokes of their bloody hands. My blood. I throw up mental walls to keep them OUT. I whimper and cower inside the refuge that is my mind. They cannot reach me here.
The tears come. They’ve done it now. I am half-deaf. Deaf. The word itself is heavy. I feel heavy. Like I’m drowning. When I was little I thought you pronounced the word as death. It feels that way. This is the first step down that road. I tell myself to savor the whispers and creaks that still pour into my one working ear. But, instead, I find myself fixating on the silence that clings to my broken one. Snaps and crackles still echo inside it. My heartbeat seems centered there. My existence defined by the wounds they have and will inflict. But if that’s true, I’m lost. They win. And that I won’t allow. So, I talk. To the air, to the wall. It doesn’t matter. I talk about nothing; about everything. Because if I can still talk, that means I can still breathe. And if I can still breathe, I’m still alive.
The door creaks open. “Six more days, Chosen. Just six more days till bliss,” he purrs. Bliss, honor. They are trying to confuse with their honey-coated words of bliss and honor. I cling to the reality of my pain. I cling to the beating pulse of my heart. My head is turned away from him, but even though he’s stopped talking, I know he’s still there. Still watching. He sends out tendrils of his mind to probe my own. He will get nothing. I’ve made sure of that. His anger bubbles over as I ignore him. He is not used to being ignored.
“Be happy that you have been chosen, be happy,” he growls. Anger mars the silken perfection of his voice. I do not turn my head. He lunges forward and grabs my chin. I am forced to look at him. With his blocky features and thick, black hair I suppose he is handsome. To me, he is repellent. The anger in his eyes does not burn me like I’m sure he meant it to. I stare coldly back. He drops my chin in disgust.
“I see you are too stupid to appreciate it,” he says. His voice drips with contempt. He walks away. His name is Rogar, High-Priest of the Church of Life. I, the one now called Chosen, am to be his greatest achievement.
Two more days of pain. One is like the first. The other even worse. They’ve brought me a mirror so I can look at myself. It was probably Rogar’s idea. I didn’t ask for it. Because looking at what used to be my face is the last thing I want. But the first thing I need. To prove or refute the twisted images that roll through my mind. To solidify one image of myself. I could just take that image from the mind of one of them. But it’s not the same. There’s a certain amount of control in looking into mirror. You can break mirrors. I can’t even look at myself yet. Instead I study the mirror’s frame. Plain, painted wood. I trace the grain with shaking fingers. I breathe in. I breathe out. And I look at my reflection…
It’s worse than I thought. Big, black stiches jaggedly dance across my lips. My hair is gone, shaved. The lumps and bumps of skull, that to my fingers seemed impossibly large, are starkly visible. My eyes are blood-shot. They’re huge in my shrunken face. I look like a broken doll. Because the thing I see can’t be human. It can’t be alive. Please let it be a doll. I tremble. I punch the mirror. The glass slices my knuckles. Blood wells, cherry red. I can see my mouth in one of the shards. I choke on my own bile.
They’ll take my eyes soon. They’re taking everything. First my hearing. Then my speech, and finally my sight. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. They’re doing it out of order, but it’s the same concept. Really they’re just trying to turn me into the perfect being. Nothing but thoughts. No outside interferences. I stare at my hands. I’ve been staring a lot. I inspect the crinkles of my skin, the uneven edges of my bitten nails. I relish the sight of something I have seen every day of every year of my life. My eyes ache with growing tears. I relish the pain.
I wake up in darkness.
“SOMEONE TURN ON A LIGHT. A LIGHT!” I scream with voice and mind. But what should have come out of mouth is locked up. Nothing but unintelligible mumbles escapes. I sob blood and tears. But I know the truth. I know. They’ve taken my eyes.
I am encased in a cocoon of darkness. A sensory deprivation chamber. But the chamber is my traitorous body. No light, no sound, no taste can reach me here. The crook of my elbow is riddled with holes where they’ve pierced my skin over and over again to inject the nutrients that keep me alive. It stings in response to my recollection. I still feel pain though. I force my self-conscious out of this corpse that tethers me to this hell, and grope blindly for one of the minds that control the hands that are touching me now. A world of light opens itself before me. Her eyes become mine as they absorb the glow that emanates from the bulbs that surround a floor-length mirror. In front of the mirror in a small wooden chair, a child sits. Revulsion bubbles in our throat. We force our hands to touch the creature. Our job, and the job of the two girls who busy themselves around us, is to prepare this thing for the ceremony. We have already bathed the being and placed it into the dress we were told it would wear. We feel sorry for the beautiful red and pink silk dress, a garment like that deserves a better wearer. We finish putting on powder. We call for someone to come and get the child.
As the white wooden door of the white room swings open, I slip free and sink my mental claws into the mind of the man that steps through. I watch through his eyes as his partner tries to make my unresponsive body walk. I watch as they frantically feel for a pulse. They must hear one, for their fearful expressions dissipate. I am losing grip on this man’s mind. I feel myself slowly being sucked back into the prison of my body. I cannot find the will to hold on. I let myself go.
I awake again, brought back to life by the babble of mental voices that threatens to crush me. I extend out a probe tenderly and stroke the edges of the crowd’s consciousness. I touch a simple mind and easily take hold. As the body’s eyes open from a blink, my sight is restored. I gaze out on an echoing chamber bathed in the yellow light of a heated summer. The walls, the floor are white marble: smooth and pearly. The drone of the throng mirrors the buzz of the flies that drift lazily through the shafts of light dancing around the chamber. The body in which I now reside is primarily inhabited by a young socialite. I do not blend our minds; I hold myself separate as her eyes drift as lazily as the flies around the impressive hall. She is not impressed. She blocks out the man who stands on the platform and ignores the broken child who sits on a throne of some-sort behind him. She does not care. Why should she? They are nothing to her. This is just a useless ceremony she was required to attend. And even as she thinks this and I observe, the man, Rogar, thrusts out his hand and grabs my body, the child, and holds her out for all to see.
“The ideal, the perfect being,” His voice commands attention. The eyes of the socialite’s body swivel toward him.
“My people, my friends, we have created it: the epitome of humanity.”
I find myself macabrely amused. The epitome? That grotesquely distorted thing that used to be a human is the epitome. I almost laugh.
“We have removed the useless distraction of the senses, and returned…” His voice fades away as I absorb his words. Useless. Useless? The sound of birdsong and laughter is useless?! The sight of a mother’s smile is useless!!!? Hearing the word “love” is USELESS!!!? I scream. I scream inside this woman’s head. I find a fury buried down so deep. One pointed at Rogar, but also at her and all the others who so calmly watch. I send out a stab of my power and engulf and crush him in my rage. I steal his mind and make it mine. His miserable, worthless life flashes past us. A thousand wishes, a thousand places, a thousand faces run before our eyes. One face in particular holds itself before us. A mother beloved, but one who cannot stay. We clutch at her as she fades away. We scream. We relive everything. The horrors of our life: lies, abuse, hate…but with these come the good as well. Love, friendship, a woman we held to our heart. Guilt, anger, embarrassment, joy, lust, pity, happiness, amusement, disgust, surprise, awe…we feel and felt them all. It’s too much. All too much. The full-spectrum of human emotion is too much. I am the one now being crushed. The world collapses around me, the souls of memories evaporating into the universe. And as I retreat into the deepest corners of my being and wait out my last breaths, the sound of silence echoes in my ears.