Silence

(11-Mar-2006 Note: I can’t remember when I wrote this, but it seems like late Junior High. My first contemplation of death, perhaps? I’ve left mistakes that seemed revealing in, but fixed some typos. I’m sure I was influenced by H.G. Wells and probably others, but it seems like a remarkably honest contemplation.)

The time traveller stared at his beautiful machine, ready to make another trip. This time he wouldn’t be caught short of evidence, he was prepared. He loaded all his equipment into the machine. Taking one more look at it, climbed in. He was still a little unsure of travelling into the past, but he had felt the same way about the future. Positioning himself for the nausiating ride, he eased the lever back a bit. People moved backwards around him, flitting like moths. He pulled the lever back a little more. The house disapperared, and gave him a good view of the sun streaking from west to east across the sky. A little more and the flashing of days and nights became a medial gray. He pulled back more, but the lever was sticking, so he gave it a jerk. It snapped back to the full position, then broke off. For a second he just stared in the awe. Then he started fumbling with the lever in a panic. The pressure built up, everything went fuzzy, then black.

When he woke up he couldn’t move. The earth was gone. Everyhting he knew was gone. He was in space. There were a lot of stars, planets, and asteroids around him. It was an awesome sight, and since there was nothing else he could do, he watched. After a while he noticed everything was slowly drifting towards a bright light to one side of the machine. He watched giant stars and planets float past. It didn’t look as if he was moving at all. The light was getting bigger. He remembered how even though he knew stars were bigger than the earth, he had always subconsiously believed Earth was the biggest. Looking over to the horizon was the biggest thing he had ever seen up close. These hug glowing giants made the earth look small and unimportant. They made him feel even more so. He watched for a while longer, then fell off to sleep.

Time passed, there was no telling how much. Now the time traveller could look one way, and see only deep pitch black. The other way there was a painfully bright light, where all the stars were drifting together. Something about the light provoked an intense curiosity in him, but if he looked at it for long, his eyes began to ache badly. Still, it seemed as if the light beckoned to him, it almost put a spell on him. He had to always have his guard up to keep his eyes off it.

He had regained almost all his movement now, but he still wasn’t thinking very clearly. All the dials on his machine had stopped, and he had no way of telling where he was in time. Spots continuously danced in front of his eyes from the increasingly bright light. He realized that if he kept going the way he was, sooner or later he would go blind. If he waited, there was a chance that when everything of his universe was gone, the time machine would stop. But he had a great urge to just stare at the light and let it take over. He got a feeling of peace and warmth from the light. He liked, it comforted him. He realized it could blind him, but what else was there to do? Without having the think more, the time traveller turned toward the light, then let it engulf him.

Suddenly the machine disappeared, there was nothing around him but light. Then he started to see colors. At first he could only catch a glimpse of a red or blue blurr. Then, like shy animals, they began to creep out in front of him. Blurry dots formed colorful patterns. Red squares, blue circles, yellow and black checkerboards danced before his eyes. Dizzy spirals made him sway. thin the colors separated and began forming things sround him. Darker blues, greens, maroons, reds, and browns flooded below him and made coeans, rocks, praries, and mountains. Light blues and yellows rushed above him and made a fresh, limitless sky. Then it was silent. A slow, cool breeze rustled his hair. He looked around but couldn’t believe what he saw. It was a land, almost like Earth. He took another look, then dropped exausted and fell asleep.

When he woke it was still there. It was warm, with a soft breeze and a cloudless sky. He was lying on soft green greass, trees all around him. There were all kinds of trees, all of them had some kind of fruit on them. Some looked like apples, one or two looked like orange trees, and the others he had never seen before. He stood up, and took a squarish-shaped fruit, with white and yellow stripes. It was better than any other fruit he had ever had.

It reminded him of his appetite, and he ran through the trees jumping and laughing, eating one of everything he saw. The meal freshened him up quite a bit, and he ran up a soft, grass covered hill to see where he was. When he got to the top he was overwhelmed. The world never ended. The horizon was so far away he could hardly tell it was there. He could see over great oceans to more green coasts. He could see past tall mountain ranges. Everything was perfect. A whole world, fresh and new.

He sat down. He noticed for the first time that it was perfectly warm, and all his clothes were gone. Everything he had had was gone. Only now he had a whole world. What would he do first?

He spent the rest of the day exploring. There were limitless gardens and orchards spread on grassy knolls everywhere. There was a brook running through the trees in a sheltered space between hills. He thought this would be a good place to sleep. Examining the landscape he determined that if he went downstream from the brook he would find a river. The river disappeared into a canyon, which would probably eventually come to an ocean. Upstream was a huge mountain range.

All the hills with the trees looked the same, and it was easy to get lost. He memorized the ones surrounding the brook, but if he wandered far off he had to depend on luck to get back. From the tops of hills he could see other types of landscapes, but he didn’t wander far enough to see anything but rolling hills and trees up close.

During the day he had seen no man made structures, no cities or anything. If there were humans like him there, they weren’t advanced enough to build large scale cities. Or it was possible they lived underground or out of sight. It didn’t make sense in a beautiful, perfect world like this, though. He decided to give his mind a rest, and go to sleep. He made a bed of grass by the brook, and dozed off.

When he woke up the sky was already starting to light up. He sat up, and looked for the sunrise. It was strange, but he couldn’t find it. The was an unusual morning, nothing like mornings on his home planet. He stood up, and went to the nearest hill to satisfy his curiosity. The morning made him uneasy, there was something wrong. Something besides the sun. As he climbed, he also realized that the temperature was still perfect, and he was very comfortable. At the top of the hill his suspitions were confirmed. There was no sun. He sat down. Nothing was right now. The sun wasn’t there, nothing was there. He looked up at the sky. No clouds, no birds, just sky. He hadn’t even heard any birds. Their chirping in the morning had always been comforting to him. He sat back and listened. There was complete silence. He could feel a breeze, but it made no sound. The bubbling brook at the bottom of the hill made no sound. It was a quiet world. The only sound was him. He was still convinced there was some sort of life there, though. He was determined to find it. He wouldn’t be alone for the rest of his life.

He thought it would be a good idea to get his mind off the subject and get something to eat. Grabbing some fruits on the way, he made his way down to the river. There he sat and ate, trying to decide what to do next. What was there to do? He could build a shelter, but he had no tools. Besides, he hadn’t seen any use for a shelter in the time he was there. He could try to make some clothes, but he hadn’t seen any animals to hunt yet either. Everything, except company, was provided for him here. It seemed all he had to do for food was reach up into a tree. There were small freshwater streams running all over the place. It never got too hot or too cold for him. He didn’t need to get anything done. All the time in the world was his.

After a while he got up and started walking away from his river. Before he had been reluctant to explore very far from it, but if he got lost it wouldn’t kill him. So he marched at a hiker’s pace. The farther he got from thestreams, the fewer trees there were. The grass was changing from green to a more yellow color. By the time it was dark he was walking through a grassy plain, with an occasional tree here or there. He still hadn’t seen any life, but was still convinced it was there. The silence had been getting to him. Now he hummed little wandering tunes all the time, letting off only to eat. Now he laid down and faced the starless sky. As he drifted off he saw himself…

He was on a tiny, barren planet floating in the middle of nothing. He was walking around it, again and again and again. There was nothing else to do. Every once in a while he would scream a sick, maddening scream, only to have it muted out by the nothingness around him. He wanted to die, to end it all forever. But he couldn’t. There was nothing he could do but walk around, around, around…

He woke up startled and sweaty. The sky was already glowing brightly. He remembered his dream. The only thing to do was to keep going. So he got up and began walking again. He was hungry, but there were no more trees around. He continued through the grassland, not sure where he was going. For the first time he was uncomfortable and hot. His energy level was down from not eating. Not even knowing why anymore, he trudged on. The grassland slowly faded to plains. When he first stopped to rest he was so hungry it made him dizzy. His throat felt dry and cracked. Sweat dripped from the end of his nose, and off all of his fingers. He waited, but nothing got better. So he raised himself and stumbled on. Now he started to see things in front of him. His mother, yelling for him to stop playing with his friends and to come in and eat. His servants at home, leaving after he refused dinner. Steaks, cooked in various ways floated past him. He saw women beckoning to him. He saw himself walking over and over around a barren planet. There were coctails the size of water towers right within reach. There were kids working at a lemonade stand that he had passed by. There were cool desserts with lots of fruit and cream. Then he collapsed and couldn’t move. He closed his eyes but the hallucinations were still there. They teased and tantalized him, never leaving him alone. He would grab at something that looked perfectly real, and it would disappear, or his hand would pass through it. All at once the hallucinations left, and he felt as if he was dead.

At first everything was black. Just black silence like the nights. Then he started dreaming. He dreamed of his home. He dreamed of all the people he had known. He saw the people he treated badly in his life. All the things he had done wrong. If only he had known how much one person could change things, if he had cared more. Then maybe he wouldn’t be alone on this silent hell planet. Maybe he would still be home. Just as the thought of home began to comfort him, he woke up. There was something wet beside him, and he drank it. After he had had his fill, he looked up and saw the glowing sky. There was something evil about it now, like it was fighting him. The water had given some of his energy back, though. A little way off all the vegetation disappeared, and sand and rock took its place. He got up. Behind him he could see the lush rolling hills with their delicious fruit trees beckoning to him. He looked away, not wanting to be tempted too much. He started on his way again. It didn’t take long before the hallucinations came back. They were a bit more frightening this time. At first there were just illusionary objects blocking his path. Some of them were hard to tell apart from real ones, once or twice he leaned up against a rock that wasn’t there. There were a lot more rocks now, and he felt as if he was struggling uphill. Hallucinations became more intense. He saw relatives of his with terrified looks on their faces waving for him to turn back. He passed his mother only to see her in front of him again, with an evil smile that made him cringe. It was getting harder and harder to tell fantasy from reality. He thought he was on a ledge, a cliff dropping off to one side and rising up on the other. The ledge was getting smaller, there were children in front of him. When he got close to one, still waved for him to follow then jumped off the cliff, still facing him and waving as she fell. He listened for a scream, but nothing broke the silence. Now whenever he approached someone they would get that evil grimace and jump over the edge. Looking down he could barely make out the bottom, it looked littered with bodies. It seemed so real, he had to work not to believe he was killing all these children. The ledge was almost too small to walk on when he came to a cave in the cliff wall. He went a ways in, then rested against the side. There was sweat covering him, and his heart was racing. He closed his eyes, and relaxed a little. Then he heard a sound. A real sound. Adrenalin rushed through him. Someone was whispering for him to come deeper into the cave. He got up and wandered toward it. “Farther, farther,” it whispered. There was a bend, and a glow was reflecting off the walls. He turned the corner, and there was the most evil, hideous creature he had ever seen. It pointed something at him and screetched, “You!” The time traveller turned around and ran. He ran harder than he knew he could. It was laughing behind him. He closed his eyes and ran harder. Suddenly the ground slipped out from under him, and he was falling. His eyes popped open, and he saw he had run off the cliff. The wind rushed past him. He looked down, then passed out.

He felt a peacefullness seep through his body. “This nightmare is finally over,” he thought.

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