Nothing moves, nothing speaks, nothing disturbs the stillness of this night. I daren’t breathe out of fear of hearing it. The darkness closes in around me as a wave on the sand, crashing down, ebbing to and fro, waring me away little by little. I stand still, quiet, unmoving against the darkness. I fear moving my feet over the leaf litter beneath my heels. How much noise those crunching yellow and orange husks would make, once so green and vibrant, full of life, now only bring me danger. Slowly I bring air into my lungs, like the caress of a lover over my tongue, filling my own body with life, the air shutters out of me as I struggle not to make a sound. This forest, not moments ago had buzzed with the sounds of night, crickets singing to one another of their day, birds calling their nightly prayers to the stars above, deer settling into the meadow grass for the night. Now there was nothing, just heaviness, had all gone from this world but me and it?
I could feel it, its eyes on my skin, the hair on my arms standing on end. I could not see it, no the darkness was too thick, but it could see me. I knew not even if it was even real, was it just a figment of my imagination, no this feeling was too real. My skin crawled, my ears rang from the sound of my heart pounding in my chest, my hands shook beside my hips, not even a breeze ruffled my hair. The weight of the air around me made breathing without making a sound, difficult, as though even the world had stopped moving, the air tasted of mold, stale, stagnant, something about it made the primal part of my brain yearn to run in fear. Something was there; something had caused everything to fall quiet, animals did not just disappear from the world at once, the air did not still, the earth had not stopped. My heart leapt and my blood ran cold as a snap came from the dark in front of me. I swallowed the lump in my throat and willed my eyes to see what was there.
Could I be dreaming? Could this all just be a bad dream? I touched my fingers to each other and squeezed my palms together, I was here, this was real, there was no waking up from this. The air grew thicker, my slow breaths came harder to pull from the darkness. If it had been possible to grow more still I willed myself to do it. There was a rock beneath my shoe, it was beginning to hurt my heel, but I dared not lift my foot and move, the leaves would crack, it would know where I was if I made a single sound.
Slowly, without a sound, hoping that I did not even move, I took another breath. I was alone in these trees, I told myself, there was nothing there. Another snap and the crunch of the dry and molding leaves under a large and heavy object, it was moving, closer. I closed my eyes, it was easier this way, I could not see through the darkness, this way there was nothing to see. I could hear it breathing, rattling, wet, feral, yearning. It was close now, the smell of mold and forest gave way to something, else.
I opened my eyes, glowing red orbs floated before me. Cold wrapped around me, like hands that had been too long in cold water. I did not fight, I did not scream, I just stared helplessly at those red eyes before me. Black, unyielding, unwavering, its pupils watched me, would it take me now? The cold retreated, the eyes blinked once and again and were gone. The crunch of the leaves faded into the distance.
One by one the sounds of life returned. I let out the breath I had not realized I held and felt to my knees. The ground beneath me exclaiming my presence with the sounds of the fallen leaf litter. I pressed my face to my palms and wept. I sat back and stared up at the sky overhead, the star glinted and sparkled, unaware of what had just happened to me. I ran my hands over my arms to smooth the goosebumps. My hands traced over welts that had to been there before. I felt them, large and still cold to the touch.
I had been marked but the darkness, by the beast, by this demon that stalked the trees.
I ran. It followed. The demon would catch me eventually but as long as there was sound I was safe.
I felt it behind me when I stopped panting, my hand against a brick wall, the light overhead flooding down over me. I had to be safe here, the streets of a city, the presence of noise and light. I took deep breaths and waited for my heart to stop pounding. I looked down at the welts on my arms, bright red, four long lines, traces of the fingers of the creature that had touched me.
I closed my eyes again, the hair on my arms and neck standing on end, my stomach tightened, my throat dried. The sounds of the cars on the street faded. There they were driving right past me but I could not hear them, I could not even feel the draft from their shining metal shells as they zipped by, their drivers concerned more with where they were going then a lost woman on the sidewalk, her clothes ripped and tattered, her hair disheveled and matted. I shivered, I heard the heavy footfalls on the sidewalk, why was that all I could hear. I turned around and a hand pressed over my mouth. He grinned down at me, this demon, this monster, this beast. I would be the next, another with no voice against his madness. I was a Vanished, I was nothing to them, and I was everything to him. I would be silent.
I am Silence.