On Complacency

Moonlight saunters through an open window, specks of weightless dust shining in its suspension. Hovering. The edges of the light are pronounced. The sound of electricity lingers, vibrating sharply, ever present. Humming. The hum resides within and without the room, origin muffled behind a whirl of patterns colliding, crashing, becoming a singular presence of white noise.

And here I am, sitting. Slow oscillations, my fingers wrapped around a cold glass. Heart stopping and starting and stopping and starting.  I take another drink.  In the corner of the room nineteen red lines and two red dots blink in maddening unison. No point in resetting the time if with a quick flash it goes black every twelve minutes. Twelve minutes. Every goddamn time.

The noise is starting to get to me. I just can’t shut it out. It’s funny how something that surrounds you every moment of every day of your life suddenly becomes so intrusive when it’s abruptly taken away from you, allowing for a surreal moment of supposed peace until it comes roaring back into motion. The timing of the silence seems random although the gaps are increasing. The first time it happened it was just a moment. A power surge, I thought. Twelve minutes later and the silence held for a few seconds. Twelve minutes later, a half a minute. Next time, I imagine it could last for a few hours at least.

All of my ice is going to melt soon. The thought bores into me and I take another drink. The scotch is going to run out soon. Another sip and the liquid rushes through my system, warmth spreading out to my extremities and circling back to my core. My skin ripples as a breeze blows through the open window and I sigh.

At least for these twelve minutes, it seems like there are others out there, even though I know most, if not the rest, of the people in this fair town have sought accommodations elsewhere. Can’t blame them. The noise and subsequent silence has a way of disrupting one’s thoughts.

But the electrical pulse is like a shadow on the wall, an illusion of fire and light that sparks a sense of normalcy. Then it gets louder. I think. Has a way of drilling into your head. Disrupting... one’s thoughts. It… it’s just there. And so am I. Swimming. Drowning. Drinking. Yes, drinking. The glass is empty but the bottle still remains and so I pour another.

Time is almost up. I try to mentally brace myself for the shift. Thing is, as the gaps are getting longer, the silence is getting quieter. It’s as if nature has moved on as well. I haven’t heard a bird in days. I think the crickets went last time. Nearly perfect silence, but it’s hard to decipher the diminishing cacophony. I have tried. My writing was getting worse, drawn out scribbles like Rorschach blots, lines careening inward and outward until the entire mess is just a cloud of ink. I stopped trying some time ago.

I stayed here at first out of curiosity or out of a lack of options, I can’t remember. Now, I can’t seem to do anything else but sit in this chair and drink my scotch and let the waves move through me, leaching what feels like sparks from somewhere inside. The vibrations shift my skin.

It’s hard to… It’s hard to know what to…

I blink. I look out the window and peer into the cloudless sky. My head is getting cloudy. The humming is getting louder. I can feel the hairs on my arm raise as if they are saluting the reverberations, a call to arms to rise rise rise until suddenly it disappears.

But it’s not quiet anymore. In the distance I hear a shriek. One at first, then more, louder and louder and closer and closer so I close my eyes and bring the glass to my lips and swallow, praying for the silence to return.

by Daniel Diehn (@diedan)