Noise and Silence as Death
a prompted short story by The Overlord Bear
Prompt (from r/WritingPrompts): “It’s unknown who or what was responsible for the hijacked broadcast and sequential mass destruction of mass media outlets, but the effects were devastating.”
That was just easy for me to say at first, of course. Knowing that with mass media outlets destroyed for some reason, soon came the knowledge that I and a myriad amount of people were kicked out of our jobs for an indefinite period of time. It seemed so simple to deal with, as I could say that I could just grit my teeth and prepare to move to a nearby fast food or convenience store branch after waiting for the chaos to blow over from an evacuation center or something, but bureaucratic practices had me thinking that I should also inform my impending former employers about my plans to transfer.
But one thing I’ve learned about mass media employers is that they can be very zealous about maintaining their jobs. I’m not gonna try to even imagine how exactly they’re taking all this right now. They probably have automated emergency drones watching possible traitors’ homes as well. I should know, as they tasked me to operate such things before. We’ve taken up some shadier ways of fulfilling tasks like digging up dirt on corrupt politicians and executives and all that, after all. Still have my reservations about it, but I needed the money, and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere better at the moment. It’s not like I was the only one feeling forced to work illegally either.
Thus, I decided to lock myself up in my apartment for a long while, planning to go out again once the fridge ran out of food and my closet ran out of clothes. Maybe I could be hunted down for truancy, but considering the circumstances, I could say that I was trying to keep myself safe from those terrorists who just destroyed the mass media companies and all that, yeah? Besides, things would cool down in a few days…and I don’t need to tell my colleagues that it’s also because we’re not around to prolong the panic right now.
Of course, there was the noise from the neighbors. Shouts and screams were here and there, mostly from the more paranoid who either locked themselves in or moved themselves out. There were gunshots and smacks and shanks, but I wasn’t worried, as I had my own two handguns and bullet caches, and they took down some vengeful visitors who knew where I lived and whom I worked for. But I didn’t kill them, patching them up instead soon after and giving them copies of the news files I’ve been assigned to work on.
So relieved was I by all that safety I brought to myself that I forgot about my phone, which vibrated more clearly after being kicked out of my piles of dirty clothes. I had stuffed it there because of my attempts to go cold turkey on my mobile gaming addiction, vowing to focus on the slower and more depressing computer I had, but less use meant slower battery death, and I had also forgotten to turn it off in my tired rage.
So when I checked my phone, I expected the worst.
Dude, you fucking sold the company out! Those terrorists marked your apartment “SAFE,” and we know everyone else from there ran away and/or got killed! I’m right in front of your house right now, and I’m gonna fucking kill you, you fucking traitor!
That was the message on top of the stack of other missed messages my still powered phone had received. It was from several hours ago, when I had been trying to sleep by sandwiching my ears between pillow and mattress.
Realizing that I was still alive, I decided to stay locked inside some more. It lasted until a time I noticed signs like jovial chatting and chanting and such right outside my room. There, I further realized that there had been a very quiet lady perched on my unit’s floor with a scoped rifle for quite some time, and that her comrades were now wanting to meet me for intelligence agent recruitment and all that. I didn’t need to move residences, and I could move around and buy basic needs, but I just had to report even the slightest sign of possible resistance to whoever’s guarding my place.
Paranoia kicked in some more there, but I didn’t know what else to do besides that and…well, hope that I’m lucky enough to not be mistaken for a potential rebel.
Maybe I should limit my trips outside, then…Maybe once a month? Maybe I could even seduce that lady into working for me, too.
And then I’d remember why I ended up in the mass media industry in the first place: We think so lowly of our own lives, we’d rather just nose into others’ everyday. Wild guesses, invasion of privacy, sponsor pandering…Is there anything better than money, fame, and power?
Maybe I should start making an actual friend from here, then, ‘cause I like to think that there is. Who cares if someone calls me crazy? That’s just stating the obvious.
“Feeling free over there, lady?”
Author’s Note: Been realizing more and more about how I’m more synced with gothic fiction as well lately, considering how crazy my stories tend to go. God Almighty keep on helping us all.