Can you hear a noise? I'm sure it's...probably thnf semlinth plagnfth..
|I must have uttered one of those embarrassing, snuffling, dry-lipped noises you make, when in that dream-like state between dead to the world, and fully awake.
I'm certain you heard it.
You did, didn't you?
Ohhh, my neck hurts when I nod. I must have slept crooked in the night. There's a crick just...mmmph!
Yes, you know there was a noise. You heard it, and bundled the blankets over your head, I know what you're like, nestling into the warmth of ignorance, so you couldn't understand the baying of the dogs. Farms always have dogs, but not dogs that bay like these.
Unsettling isn't it, when you hear them in the dark, but you dare not solve any puzzle at night?
I heard a knocking, and my mouth was dry and fusty as I opened gummy eyes, clutching at the sheet and blankets. Trying to make sense of the bulky shapes, of black on thunder grey, close to my pallet, only multiplied the choices.
The starving fire was almost dead, with hardly a glow to help guide my eyes to urgent meaning.
The knocking comes again, but I know it's the wind outside the cabin, buffeting at the boarded shutters, bluffing the latched and pegged planking door.
Was that a shout?
We built this cabin to withstand most elements, and I knew nothing would bring us harm, provided we kept within it's protective enclosure. That's where our plan always arrived. A small but deep well sulked at the rear of our dwelling, rubbing against the vertical rock wall - the side of the whole mountain.
Nobody was gaining entry that way, unless it was an angry earthquake sow, and her litter of tremors. The well should sustain us with water, enough for months, years if necessary. Even to fight against fire; it could be brought to bear. Pray it would never come to that...
As for elsewhere, there was not a chink we had left unguarded, plying every crevasse with molten iron until even our very breathable air could only slip through a tortuous path, in the heights where the rock covered ceiling beams met. I doubt even a rat could drag his ribcage through there.
I lay there, listening, though the cabin felt secure, the attack outside gained ferocity, and the violence formed a primordial shape of something darker, and older, than nature's moods. This was no ordinary storm.
There comes a strange warbling, distant yet urgent. My spine tingles and my heart is a cold stone.
I can sense you don't believe there's a problem. The noise, this new vibration, creates a fingernail scratched blackboard tension that even the lifting hair on our necks cannot ease.
Why, I think your eyes are shiny, small lightning bolts within...no...not welling tears, nor films of terror, but shields of mockery.
The cacophony is in my head now, and I'm lying on my bed again, my eyes heavy, requiring lifting of the lids, heaving them open against strong opposition. They are not stuck to my cheeks, but coated with something thick and heavy. The thin skin lids are too burdensome, and I feel your compelling gaze, willing me to give in, leave them closed, relax and submit to the lethologica of dreams.
But, lift them I must, goaded by your stare, and that infernal noise, insisting, bursting into my conscious thought, provoking understanding.
I know that sound!
There is a telephone ringing, it's trill has rhythmic gaps, beginning and ending, ending and beginning; the repetitive thud of a railroad car as it crosses the joins.
I know I should spring out of bed in automatic response, and answer that call.
I should pick up the plastic hand-piece joining speaker and microphone, in their respective housings.
I finally do open my eyes to the cabin's interior, candle still burning in unwavering purpose as if calmness was never in doubt. The flame silently disregards the wind outside, ruling this kingdom of fire, air, water, soil, wood, iron, and stone, effortlessly.
I drag myself upright, swing my leather girded legs over the rough timber bed poles, plant my boots on the swept earthen floor, and stand up.
With clenched teeth, I lift one foot to take a step, I know not where, but just then, yes, you knew it was coming didn't you? Ahh, my crows feet deepen as I smile at you, without turning to look.
The phone stops it's distant ringing.
I stand still, hissing breaths of an exertion that was not yet required.
I'm acutely aware that you want me to stay standing, just in case it starts ringing again, because you know about Murphy's law. I've always had Murphy as a close brother, and every thing that he said, about failure happening at the worst possible time, was true.
I found myself, as determined as I was to remain standing and wait, upon my bed once again, with my eyes stuck shut by this frenetic resistance.
You'd help me find a way out of this mess. Surely you would, wouldn't you? Please?
I should have just swallowed my pride and asked for help before now.
I'm sure my mouth was opening to beg, when something came into my thoughts. I relaxed for a couple of seconds, onto my crude bunk, to think.
There seems to be missing a phone number. It was just...just there. So close. But I can't reach it. I couldn't find the thought, of the first number. Well, maybe I can grasp the first two or three digits, but the rest trail away into a numbness that no number fit. Even zero didn't seem to gel with silence. Blank thoughts didn't convert to zeros.
Then I realise that I couldn't remember the phone number for Awakening. I could hear them shouting my name, banging on the door of my room, urgent people, relatives, close ones too and all, you know? Even people who didn't like me at all came to visit that door - to try.
They all tried and continue to try.
And so do I.
But no matter how I ruffle through the Yellow Pages, or White Pages, the number isn't in sight.
The A's, right through to the M's and further, deeper into the book. Turning it upside down only changed the page to the rear of itself and I found myself beginning at A's again. I know Awakening doesn't require an area code.
It's not in the book. Perhaps in an earlier version. Last year I might have been successful, but you know how it is with technology, and the changes that board meetings and committees dream up among themselves.
It took me a nasty long while, perhaps an hour of panicking, before I saw my own foolishness. YOU were here. You were here all the time, and I only had to turn and ask you to help me remember the phone number for Awakening. Then I could find the telephone that's around here somewhere and dial the number, and there we'd be, awake and all things back to normal.
No cabin, no mountain, no well, no windy storm, and no bad spirits trying to break in here.
But I turned to ask you, and there was nothing there. All this time I had depended on you, heard you answer me, laughed with you, shared your tears and you mine, and now, when I needed you most, you disappeared somewhere.
Perhaps you've gone to that place where the telephone was lost.
But all I can see is a dusty old shaving mirror hanging impassively on a nail, empty of any reflections.
That's because mirrors don't think, don't reflect any sense, if there's none there in the first place.
Mirrors don't reflect darkness. Mirrors don't usually talk to you, unless the mirror belongs to the evil Queen, or Snow White.
No. You aren't there. You aren't lost. You are...me...and...and I was talking to myself. That's why you can never help me remember the phone number of Awakening.
These cabin walls are strong, the mountain slope of even thicker resistance to any and everything.
Nobody will be coming in, and nobody will be getting out. Not until I find that phone number.
And the phone keeps ringing, cannot be reached because it's lost, probably lost on the outside where they don't need the number. They aren't searching for it, rifling through filing cabinets, text messaging friends to ask, moving refrigerators out from the wall to look among the dust, cobwebs and mouse poo.
They don't remember forgetting it.
Because they are awake...
Note for reviewers
The differences used with past, present and future tense are deliberately confusing, emphasizing the character's dream like state.
As I've experienced hours, days and months alongside people with acute disabilities, I realise that this story is about those souls who are, (Autism, Epilepsy, Lennox gastaut syndrome, etc) or have become (Acquired Brain Injury) locked inside their bodies, non-verbal and perhaps unable to communicate much if at all with those around them.
That's who this story represents. Those silent people. This is what life is like for them on a daily basis. People try to reach them, and they try to respond.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of their frustration, fear, anger, depression, people's misunderstanding, and all those other situations that wouldn't occur if they could simply speak or communicate.