Silence and Sound

Today the world started out quiet, just as it had been the day before.  And the day before that.  Indeed, I had lost track of when I last heard a sound not created by me.  Outside, no animals chittered, no birds chirped.  The air was still, and there was no water to run.  Even going outside was to risk becoming part of the silence.

Inside, I had everything I needed.  Except for something to occupy my ears.  For some time, I tried talking to myself.  That worked for awhile, but eventually my own voice began to grate.  I felt like a monk who had taken a vow, not just of silence, but of deafness.

I ran water in the sink now and then, just to break up the monotony.  The recycling system insured that none of it went to waste.  I was more careful with the hum of electricity.  The solar panels were still functioning, but I didn’t want to risk running out of power.  I found other ways of making noise, but I had never developed any musical talent, and what I could create was limited in its variety.  Over time, I just went through most of my days in silence.  I still noticed it, but it became more tolerable as the days went by.

Today, however, there was a noise.  A roar and then something slamming into the ground, shaking my tiny world.  I had not used the monitoring system in a long time; the scene outside never changed, so it seemed pointless.  But it flickered to life as soon as I turned it on, as though it had been in use just the day before.

After a few minutes of adjusting the camera, I found the cause of the commotion.  A crater, maybe fifty yards from where I was.  In the middle of it, still smoking from its descent, a metal object of some sort.  A capsule, perhaps?  It looked too small to be a ship.  Nothing stirred from it.

I sat for a long time staring at the screen and wondering what to make of this development.  Had someone found me?  Or was this mere coincidence?  Going outside to investigate meant entering into the heart of silence’s realm.  But there was a chance that I might discover something to break its hold.  In the end, the decision was easier than it might have appeared.  I had to venture out once again.  It seemed I had not begun to tolerate silence after all.

The Happiness Cure

A red light drew her attention, and she called over one of her colleagues.

“What’s going on, Cass?”

“This one is fading.  We need to intervene.”

Kushiel looked closer at the board.  “Who’s on?”

“Maal.  Which is perfect.”

“Agreed.  Get a couple of the lesser host down to his stage, and let him know what is going on.  I’ll go retrieve our patient.”

Cassiel nodded and began typing out the orders to be sent out.  Kushiel went from the control room to one of the adjacent antechambers.  The identity of their patient popped up on a screen, and he entered a few commands.  Almost immediately, the man he had summoned appeared in the chamber.

There was a question on his face as he looked at Kushiel.  “You asked to see me?  I hope it won’t take long; I was at choir.”

Kushiel smiled.  “We will get you back as soon as possible.  As you know, this place is for your benefit, a reward for your life of service and faithfulness.  As such, your happiness, as well as that of your brothers and sisters, is of paramount importance to us.”

The man nodded.  “Yes, I know.”

“Your happiness, however, has begun to wane.”

“I suppose it has, but singing helps.”

“Yes, but it is still below acceptable levels.  That is why I’ve asked you here.  You may recall from your life that happiness requires suffering.  Thus we find it important to occasionally remind our residents of what suffering is so that they can rejoice once more in the benevolence of Our Father.”

“You mean to torture me?”

“Goodness, no!  No, we simply show you the suffering of the damned.  We find it is very uplifting.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

“Good.  Have a seat on the couch.  Past this curtain, a screen will show you a vision of their suffering.  Would you like anything while you watch?”

“Actually, I haven’t had popcorn in forever.”

“Very well.”  A tup of popcorn appeared in front of him.  “I will leave you to your viewing.”

The curtain opened.  Two men were tied to posts as flames from the rocky ground beneath them licked their feet.  A demon, horrifying in appearance, walked into view.  His smile dripped evil as he sharpened a wicked looking blade.

Kushiel left and reentered the control room.

“How is it going?” Cassiel asked.

“Fine.  He was already engrossed.  Any effect yet?”

“Starting to tick up.  Probably won’t take long.”


After nearly half an hour, the red light turned yellow and then green.  Cassiel nodded to Kushiel, who went back into the antechamber.  Cass threw a few switches, and the lights in Maal’s theatre turned from red to green.

Maal immediately shed the appearance of a demon to return to his normal robes.  The two principalities stepped down off the posts.

“I’m glad that’s finally over,” one said.  The other agreed.

“You both did well.  Another soul uplifted,” Maal said.  “Please return to your other duties.”

They left, and Maalik began cleaning up the stage.

83.7 Percent

“Well, that’s most of them.”

“How is that most of them?  There are still a bunch of boxes on the truck.”

“Yeah, but this is more than half of them.”

“Most isn’t just more than half.”

“Yes it is.  What do you think it is?”

“It’s…  I don’t know…  Most.  Like, nearly all?  Certainly more than just more than half.”

“So is 60 percent most?”


“70 percent?”

“Look, I don’t know.  75 percent maybe?  Or 90 percent?  It’s not a hard and fast number.  I just know that it’s more than 51 percent.”

“You’re crazy.”

“No I’m not.  Ask anybody.  They’ll tell you that most is more than just 51 percent.”

“Talked to everyone, have you?”

“Of course not; it’s just common knowledge.”

“How is it common knowledge if I don’t know it?”

“Well, maybe you just missed that day in school.”

“I repeat, you’re crazy.”

“Well, then, if most of the boxes have already been moved, you shouldn’t mind getting the rest yourself.”

“Ha, ha.  Nice try.  Let’s get back to it.”

“That’s what I thought.”


The sun hung high overhead in an otherwise empty sky.  The air was still and heavy with heat.  He made his way down the street looking for some sort of reprieve, but there were no trees and no obviously open businesses in which he might seek shelter.  The sun seemed determined to melt him.  As the sweat dripped down his back and off his forehead, he became convinced it would succeed.

A single car drove past him, kicking up dust and making it even harder to breathe.  He hated the world at that moment.  There was nothing about it that was good.  Nothing he could think of, anyway.  Something cool, something wet.  He didn’t want much.  Just something that could break up the oppressiveness of the day.

Despite his willing it, no cloud appeared that might produce rain, or even hide the sun for a few moments.  All he could do was keep walking and hope he might come across something to provide some relief.  Above him, the sun continued to beat down, refusing to show even the slightest mercy.