A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| Words On The Wind
When I first heard the sound it was no more than a distant hum. There was a slight harmony to it, some up and down of the notes but I could not make out any words.
Still, it drew me towards it.
I moved slowly at first, stopping every few steps to concentrate on the sound. With no real idea of where it was coming from, my only way of making sure that I was going in the right direction was to pause and to listen. Several times I had needed to backtrack, for the sound was pulling me into the woods, deeper than I had ever gone before. The undergrowth was so dense and full of brambles that it was impossible to make any progress off of the paths, and even those were so overgrown that they were hard to see.
I didn't care about the snags and the scratches, for the tune was louder and its pull was stronger than ever. I had to find the source of the singing, for every single part of me wanted to join in and sing along, even though I did not know the words.
The voices soared and dived, swooping and entwining with each other. There were multiple singers, definitely more than two. Would they think that I was intruding? The middle of the woods was not somewhere that you would choose to go and sing in if you wanted an audience.
The tone seemed to resonate inside my head, and I found myself humming along.
The nearer I got to the singers the more sure I was about the direction that I should be taking; at least if I wanted to get closer. There was no real choice for it gripped me and dragged me, and although the words seemed nonsensical to me, I began to copy some of them.
There was no accompanying music. The voices were raised in some kind of acapella chant that was both soothing and powerful all at the same time. Did I feel any sense of uneasiness about joining in with something I knew nothing about? Maybe on a conscious level, but the song was primal and over-rode any logical reticence. My heart longed to join in, and my mind was engaged in sifting out sounds, forming them into patterns that my throat and mouth could then reproduce.
They stood in a circle. All had hoods pulled over their heads, but were not wearing robes or anything, just regular hoodies and jeans. I moved towards their circle and the two nearest me moved apart to make a space without interrupting their singing. If my brain did not know the words, my mind did, as I joined in, mid range.
Each person seemed entirely self-contained, as though they were as mesmerized by the song as I was. No one seemed to acknowledge the others in the circle, but like me concentrated on the ground in the center. I found myself holding out my hands, palms turned down towards the ground as our voices swelled and faded, over and over again.
When the fallen leaves, in varying states of decay, began to lift, I was aware at a very subliminal level that I was involved in something... wrong. That knowledge did nothing to deter me though and soon the ground began to churn, as though something was pushing up from underneath it. Nobody stopped singing, even when the earth began to swirl around.
I felt pebbles from the earth hit my face. I felt the ground, the mud, the bits of dead and dying vegetation enter my mouth... my nose... It pummeled against my eyelids that were then closed in an automatic response to protect my eyes. And even when I thought the earth would choke me, I carried on singing.
Something made my eyes snap open. We stood in a circle, with everything inside it and outside of it swirling around as though caught up in some kind of tornado. Our voices grew louder, stronger; those words became more pronounced and it was as though we were ripping apart the fabric of the earth and tearing it up into some kind of chaotic mass.
Louder and louder we sang until suddenly, in unison, we flung our hands in a downward motion. One minute I was up on my feet, and the next I was being hurled backwards by some invisible force. My body hit the bough of a tree and I crumpled to the ground.
The next thing I knew I opened my eyes and found that I was all alone. There was no sign of any of the other singers, and there was no sign of life. Trees and shrubs had been uprooted, weeds and grass had withered. Whatever chaos we had unleashed had turned the land as far as I could see into some kind of desolate wasteland.
I felt something trickle down my face, and I reached out to wipe it away. Blood mixed with fragments of dirt. As I inhaled my lungs rattled, full of particles that had whipped through the air. Water! I needed a drink, but I no longer knew which way to go to get home.
Did I even have a home or had the force we had summoned wiped out the entire area? I could not stand for I was too weak, so I began to crawl, horrified at the apparent power of the song whose words already had left my mind.