Friday, October 28, 2016
8List commissioned me and several other writers to write new horror stories in time for Halloween. Contemporary events inspired me to write about a new kind of monster, something that seeks to destroy us by pitting us against each other...
What is left of the small city is awful quiet: it is a wreck of forbidding silence, the streets appearing abandoned, the low buildings ominous in their hush. Along Alfonso Trese, its main strip, the emptiness howls, and Teresa swears you can hear the silence. Silence has an invisible ringing sound, like a tinnitus of the soul, and enough of it can make you go mad. And so you quickly learn to strain to catch any stray sound, enough of which can keep your sanity; the possibility of crickets, for example, or the possibility of tires burning rubber on distant asphalt streets. The worst are the phantom sounds, Teresa realizes, because they quicken your pulse, only to give you in the end a terrible nothingness deadlier than dashed hopes. But so far, in the past few days, there has been nothing; or nothing at least near this house along Alfonso Trese St., an apartment that squats atop a small downtown grocery store near the corner of Hibbard Avenue—a life-saving convenience, Teresa had quickly realized not too long ago. On rare moments when Teresa finds herself complaining, everyone else in the apartment with her shushes her in panicked whispers: “Paghilom! Paghilom!
”—said in registers so low, it proved not impossible the descent close to silence that voices could go to: what comes out of their mouths aren’t words to Teresa’s ears, but fear-stained whiffs that sound like cat farts. Only Lola Dolores understands, and hugs Teresa or her sister tight when the silence becomes unbearable. “Don’t mind them,” lola
says, wiping the perspiration on Teresa’s forehead with handkerchief now pungent with old sweat. They know—they assume—that people like them have barricaded themselves in their apartments and houses all over the city. And like them are probably alternating troubled sleeping with a wakefulness attended to by listening with baited breaths for the occasional distant wails of strange siren sounds. They have no idea what the sirens are for, except that it comes around dusk-time, and not always every day. Now and then they’ll look out the slats of their barricaded windows to the street below, always in a vigil, always waiting for something. Teresa closes her eyes as she feels herself sinking in her lola
’s embrace. This is the only safe place she knew, even her fourteen-year-old self knows that.
[More at 8List
Labels: current events, fiction
 This is Where You Bite the Sandwich
GO TO OLDER POSTS
GO TO NEWER POSTS