Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. No one can tell how voices came to be... or songs. We never uttered words until that night.
The fateful passing into galaxy.
We'd lived without sound, no dancing or a song. We felt, we smiled, we knew each other by the way we walked. And what eyes couldn't tell, swords could. And later, laser shards.
Why did we need them? When did they land?
After decades of silence, I woke up. It was nighttime, and the stars were moving. Slowly, then faster... like a storm was about ready to hit us. Meteor splashes are common, so I didn't give it much thought. But then, a green flash lighted up the whole sky.
We weren't expecting the governors. And theirs is the only ship I knew to bring that light.
What could it be?
One second, two... a vibration started at my feet... then the whole ground shook. And slowly, just like in my worst nightmares... a din began.
Cackles, screams, shouts. Who stole the silence? Who tricked the vacuum into giving voices life?
Each of us started speaking. Unwillingly, then faster, louder, varying tones. Songs came in the following days... and sound scratched conscience. Until all we could think of was the noise.
It used to be so silent; I loved my quiet hours. I could think, believe. With voices surrounding my every move, I pause, I doubt, I question.
Faces I used to trust look alien; the sound is more than words.
Waves crept inside while we were resting. They reshaped bodies, not just tones. The songs that come now couldn't be uttered by any human voice I know... or used to.
We kept no mirrors, but the lake showed me the truth.
I crept last night to its shore. Cautiously, lest I awoke the wrong voice... or hand. No swords found me as I advanced. I heard every ripped branch and leaf, each whisper in the wind. Alert, laser blade ready, I went on. I had to find out.
For better or for worse, our life is transformed. Why voices landed, none can tell; how the vacuum shifted to let them in defies our sensors.
The lake lies still... the only quiet place left in this world of never-ending sounds. Even now, after midnight, loud breathing, tiny songs... and questions follow.
My ears, feet listen... so unforgiving the noise that goes on... never a break... never at rest. Is there still room for peace?
I tread on the shore, watching the moving clouds for any sign of lights. The moon creeps in the murky sky... no leaf turns now... the sand is quiet.
I touch the sand, caressing the last sign of an open mind. This calm right now, it's gone in daylight... no place for thoughts to go on whispering. Only loud voices telling dreams... breaking each home apart... taking bodies away to another world.
A mirror greets me now. The largest in existence. This lake has guarded our lives for hundreds of years. And when invasions came, it turned into a pot of molten lava to give us our last aid.
The lake has always been here before I was born; before this dust came to be. Before planets merged into a screaming world.
Moonshine touches my face.. it feels warm, a caress. I can't face sunny days; I lost too much in trying to survive.
One leaf descends... lingers in silent air—a velvet shadow on the water waits. The leaf falls ever slowly... it touches the surface, water lifts in an embrace. Then fangs come out, higher than hills.
That leaf is a memory inside the lake's heart. It only feeds with plants and dying leaves. But still, each time I see the fangs, I feel a need to run and hide.
I take hold of myself and push my steps further.
I need to see, to know.
A golden sheen comes to the surface. One drop flies toward me. This is the secret code. Enemy or friend, the water has to know you first.
I let the drop rest on my forehead, linger on my chin, then jump to my fingers, touching each fingerprint gently. And then, it melts—a sign of kinship... peace.
I take one more step... and again. I take out my shoes and walk on the sand. Kneeling on the shore, I beckon to the lake. A stream comes forward, and a puddle forms close to my arms.
As I wait for the lake to fill the puddle, doubts come back. Should I have come here? What if I see destruction? Can voices find out about the lake?
Before I have any time to quiet the questions in my mind, a breeze lets me know it's time to look. The puddle is ready... but am I? I have to be.
I won't get another chance.
I lean down, tuck my hair back and rest on my arms. The puddle is below, showing me clearly the night sky and myself. More lines, more shadows on my skin...and something else. A branded letter on my neck. 'R'
What could it be? I don't remember being tattooed. Not recently, not in my childhood, not ever. All skin signs are frowned upon... there used to be a punishment for branding in the old days.
I touch my skin and feel nothing. I press harder. If the lake shows it, then it must be there—still, nothing. I put a flashlight to my skin and point it where the letter is. In the puddle, the branding is instantly gone with the light.
I turn off the flashlight and look again. The "R" is there again.
Do I have a floating tattoo? Shown only by moonlight? Have I become one of the undead?
I try to speak, and a strange sound comes out.
'You're not your own anymore. I choose you—galaxy defeater. I've been waiting inside this lake for millennia. You are the answer, coming by stars and moonlight.'
© 2022 Amy Christie