screaming silence
Who? "treasure hunter" What? "blender" Where? "Aboard a boat"
All was quiet, but for the swirl of water as the boat eased its way across the oversized lake.  Every now and then an oar would snake out to dip softly in the flat expanse of dark blue-green, sending the slightest of ripples ahead to warn the island of their coming.  It was pitch-black out, but that did not matter to him; he was a mercenary Hunter, oblivious to the vision handicaps those pathetic humans found so much difficulty with.  He could find anything his temporary master decreed... tonight it was treasure, some kind of jewel-encrusted blender (like a fancy shield; blenders were great symbols of power among the kingdoms).

He remembered that one most important rule that had been specifically drilled into his head the day before his mission.  'Don't touch the land,' they had said.  'Stay in the boat, and make not a sound, no matter what.'  Yes, yes.  This may be his first official mission, but he wasn't green.  He could take care of himself, whatever the cost.

The island loomed larger and larger into view, and he used his paranormal eyesight to scan the rocky edges for any sign of the opening that would take him - by water - to the center.  He had to slip in as quick as possible, and try to remain undetected.  As long as he made no noise he should be fine, they had said.  They'd better be right, for their own sake.

He saw it... a slight crack in the eastern rocky wall, looking to be no more than a couple of inches wide.  Thick foliage grew along the edges, bursting out from the other side of the crack, making it look even more impossible for the boat and its inhabitant to slip through.  The Hunter ignored this completely and continued onward, approaching the crack at an angle.  At the last minute, when it seemed he would nose into the cliff, the crack opened up into a cave entrance, much bigger than it had at first seemed; this did not affect the Hunter, he merely pushed his small boat forward to the other side, entering a river-like channel.  It was a jungle inside, the dense and humid atmosphere an alarming contrast from the frigid one outside, especially since the rock walls rearing high up left a wide opening, like a deformed volcanoe.  The mercenary looked up through the crater towards the stars - so far above him - and started to feel the slightest trace of unease.  He was in the island.  It seemed too easy, especially from how much they had drilled and prepared him for this.

Thirty minutes later he found his nerves jumping the tiniest bit as he came to a fork in the river.  They had said it would be a straight path as long as he kept to the water... what else had they been wrong about?  Was this why none of the others had made it back?  Using his instinct, he chose the river leading left and proceeded to ignore his feelings.  It would all be worth it when the job was done.

Another twenty-five minutes passed and he came to another fork, exactly the same as the first had been.  What was this?  He chose left again, noting the area around him, remembering the big flat grey rock with a speck of blue at the top, and the huge white tree right above it.

Twenty minutes.  Now he shuddered.  It was the same fork, he was sure of it... the same rock, the same tree.  He wasn't crazy, he knew he wasn't crazy.  The left fork must loop around back inconspicuously to rejoin the river.  He'd try the right river this time.

When sixteen minutes had passed he let out a sigh of relief; now he was getting somewhere.  This was new territory.  Immediately he threw away all thoughts of any kind of fear, scolding himself for being so pathetic.  He was a Hunter, for the Mighty's sake!  He had no reason to fear!

Then why was his skin prickling?  Why did he have goosebumps?  There was nothing with him other than the forest and the river.  Nothing.  He saw nothing, he sensed nothing, and if he detected nothing then there was nothing.

It was the silence that got him, that was it.  The way it seemed to press in on him with the heat, dripping beads of sweat down his forehead.  It was almost as if his ears didn't work... there was no sound at all.  No water, no birds, no anything.  Then again, they did say to make no noise.  Of course that should apply to everything else.  If there was anything else, at least.  He found it so tempting to splash his paddle in the river, just to see if sound was possible in this place.  He wanted to yell, to see if the wisps of steam rising from the treetops could actually waver with the vibrations of his voice.  But he knew he couldn't, he shouldn't.  Not in this forsaken place.

Ten minutes.  Onward he went, silent as ever, his own silence frightening him.  Why should he torture himself?  How bad would it truly be to make the tiniest of noises?  He argued with himself, reminded himself that they had said it was dangerous to alert the island of his presence.  But they had been wrong before, hadn't they?  Yes, they had.  They most certainly had.  So who said they were right this time?

He just barely managed to stop himself from shouting out, and pursued doggedly.

Six minutes more.  He had seen a spring, seen it, cool and clear, splashing down into the river from the base of a tree.  But not even that had made any noise.  It was not right.  He should have heard the splash, definitely, should have heard the spurt of water.  But no.  That had been unaturally noiseless too.  He couldn't help it... he whimpered.  Thankfully, though it was barely audible, he could hear himself.  Sweet sound, no matter how soft.

Three minutes later.  He had not made another sound, though it was so tempting to.  It was really starting to get to him, his nerves were jumping again, and he had to bite his lip until it bled to keep himself quiet.

All of a sudden a skeleton came crashing down from the overhanging trees, landing smack in the middle of his boat!  Even worse, that made no noise, when the thud and crunch of rotted bones should have at least echoed a little, and the leering skull should have cracked against the Hunter's head with a loud pop!  It was the last straw for the Hunter.  He yelled with all his might, screaming at the skeleton as he hurriedly shoved it into the river, screaming at the overpowering silence, screaming at his senseless fear.  Screaming just to hear himself, to know sound was still possible.

He stopped abruptly, listening to the eerie echoes of his voice as they bounced off of the rocky walls, screaming and screaming and screaming even after he had stopped.  He didn't know whether to laugh with joy at the sweet wonder of sound or to shudder at the horrible never-ending cry.

Two minutes later.  The sound faded, bringing everything into silence once more... for but a moment.  Then, like the skeleton, it happened suddenly, though this time there was sound.  That's all there seemed to be now; the jungle broke into a wild roar, like the wind, full of screams, shrieks, snarls, and many other piercing, frightful, haunting cries.  The mercenary lept up in shock at the noise's intensity, yelling again as he clapped his hands over his ears.  It was a vain move.  The noise only got louder and closer, building up until he thought his ears would explode.  He never imagined he'd be wishing for that unearthly silence to come back...

One minute later.  All was quiet, but for the swirl of water as the boat sunk slowly to the bottomless depths of the island's river, a thin line of blood trailing behind.


angelsmiles   angelsmiles wrote
on 4/7/2011 6:25:15 PM
I like how you gave the sounds of a blender an imagery of sound...I noticed you picked the time frames as 16 minutes then 6 minutes down to two minutes....I really liked this short story...very talented.

JGM81192   JGM81192 wrote
on 1/4/2010 9:40:48 AM
The beginning honestly made me laugh...jewel-encrusted blender... xD Then, well, onto the praise. The middle was just. Imagery. Perfect imagery. The end. Morbid. Well done.

kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 1/22/2009 6:35:03 PM
Interesting. I would have written this in first person. Just a thought.

Moonrose   Moonrose wrote
on 1/18/2009 9:05:51 AM

Michele   Michele wrote
on 1/18/2009 6:35:22 AM
WoW! -- You are a very talented storyteller! Imaginative & original description!

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Rating: 9.7/10

I couldn't help but repost this one... hrrmm, I should go over it and edit it a little sometime. lol any tips, criticism?