“It’s literally killing me.”
Schwi whispered this as angrily and as loudly as she dared. She was completely done. She doubted very much that her doctor could help her or that anyone could for that matter, but still, she was here now, and she might as well be honest. That was the whole point in making this appointment after all, right?
The doctor, standing across the room in her prim outfit and plain lab coat, smiled a little understanding smile and pointed to her wrist as though there was a watch there and then moved one arm below the other as she pantomimed shooting a basketball.
O, now here we go thought Scwhi.
“Now Swish, that sounds a little hyperbolic to me. And there’s no need to raise the ambient decibel level in the room like that. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t have a good grasp of the new language.”
As she mentioned it she pointed to the little black patch on the wall that had been silently glowing red with the numbers 25 when Schwi had spoken but which had quickly crept back down to its normal cycle of oscillating between 10 and 15 after which the doctor had proceeded to finish off her thought entirely through the use of hand signs to illustrate her proficiency with them.
Scwhi shook her head in emphatic disagreement. The doctor just didn’t get it. She pointed at the woman, quickly brushed her thumb against the underside of her chin and aggressively threw her thumb and forefinger away from where she briefly touched them to her forehead.
“You don’t understand.”
“Then explain it to me.” The doctor mouthed back.
Hm. Maybe there was hope for this meeting after all. The doctor seemed at least willing to listen to her and the woman’s expression seemed to indicate a general willingness to hear what she had to say. So, Schwi delved into it, trying her best to stick to hand signs for what she could.
“Being quiet is killing me.”
This was normally where Schwi got shutdown but this doctor was nodding along, signaling for her to continue. So she did.
“Living like this….. sometimes I’m not even sure that I can call this living. Sometimes I just sit and stare straight ahead, completely unable to move, torn apart by the thought that things will always go on like this. Forever. That this will never end. Just the idea that I will never be able to live a normal life. I can never sing or laugh when it feels right. I haven’t had sex in months for fear of the noises I’ll make and just the idea that this will go on and on and on, it sits with me, almost all of the time, and I just use it like a tool to bludgeon myself. And most days I feel so worthless and hopeless and completely unable to be me or to even TRY to live the type of life that I really want to live that I don’t even know what I’m doing here anymore.”
Schwi looked up from the point she had been staring into the floor as she had made her appeal to the doctor, tears consuming the edges of her vision, to see that the woman was still nodding, but now, clearly with a solemn solidarity.
“And you feel like you are at the end of your rope and you have run out of ways to try and cope with this situation?” the doctor signed.
Scwhi was ecstatic. Everyone else she had seen had told her to just deal with it. That this was just the way the world worked now and it was just as annoying and problematic for everyone else but they all soldiered on and did what they had to. She had been a little surprised to hear some of her closest friends tell her this, but when the doctors she spoke with told her with almost identical wording, more or less the same thing, she had been genuinely shocked. If she couldn’t ask for help from the people who were supposed be there for her and she couldn’t get any from the professionals who were supposed to be able to take care of you when you needed something more serious, then what was she supposed to do exactly?
“Well, Swish, I’m afraid that what you are describing is not at all uncommon. Humans didn’t evolve to live silent lives, in fact, one of our earliest and most defining inventions as a species was the creation of vocalized languages. On average, I would say that somewhere between one third to half of the patients I see are coming to me for the treatment of some negative effect that the extra dimensional beings have had on their mental health and general wellbeing.”
Was there actually hope to be had then? If Schwi wasn’t alone in being completely crippled by the thought of needing to remain as quiet as possible, as far below 50 decibels as she could at all times on pain of a barely conceivable type of death then was there maybe a way out of this? A way for her to move forward up a well-worn path that many had taken before her?
“Of course. While one of our best traits as a species is just how adaptable we are, sudden change can be very difficult for anyone to deal with, let alone the entire world having to try and excise an entire fundamental part of human society as fast as possible. It’s left us all reeling and I doubt the magnitude of this change will ever be fully reckoned with.”
This was the first time Scwhi had felt any real chance at positive change in what felt like a very long time. She couldn’t help herself. She whispered rather than signaled:
“Well Doctor. What can we do about this? What are our options?”
The woman smiled, pleased with Schwi’s hopefulness and, eyeing the numbers rapidly counting down again on the wall, she picked up the clip board from behind her on the counter that she had been leaning against. Finding it difficult to sign and flip through charts at the same time she mouthed.
“Let’s see… according to your chart here you have been ping ponged between…. 7 different doctors before being recommended to me. I think that might just be the most I’ve seen someone’s specific issue go unaided before arriving at my door.”
Schwi smiled sheepishly. The doctor put the clipboard back on the counter and continued signing.
“As I was saying, most people don’t really have any idea how to deal with this ever present threat and that includes doctors to. Most of my colleagues have yet to develop proper strategies for helping people who have been truly effected by the need to remain silent, such as yourself. Most of the other doctors I have talked to try to treat the patient as they would in the course of diagnosing and treating any other emotional issue; Use the symptoms presented to try and figure out the best way to combat and understand what the patient has. But this isn’t some mystery illness presenting symptoms, we know what is causing this, right?”
It was Schwi’s turn to nod along in vigorous agreement.
“So, since there is no real way to actually resolve the situation which has been causing you stress, at this point, I tend to recommend medication. Normally, I would say that we should start with a low dose of something of the anti-anxiety variety and work our way up from there but it would be irresponsible for me to not ask if you have any personal history with anything that might work better for you like opioids or cannabis.”
Schwi was stunned. She couldn’t believe it.
“You wan’t me to deal with my problems by getting so fucked up that I don’t care about them?”
The doctor was looking nervous now. She took a step closer to Schwi as she eyed the numbers which had been steadily moving up to 30 as Schwi had been speaking.
“Now, Swish, honey, there is no reason to get upset. I’d be happy to work with you through some other forms of therapy if you like. I just find that, when people start to be effected by the necessary quiet to the point that they need help with it, a two pronged approach of medicine and therapy usually works best.”
The doctor signed quickly, putting an emphasis on necessary, trying to placate Schwi and to get her to calm down. But Scwhi was starting to lose her grip. She could practically feel it. She had been SO CLOSE to living in a world where things could actually get better. The doctor had made her believe that she had some special knowledge, that there was a real chance Schwi could live a normal life again. But no. All she had was dope. Just one more worthless placation with a promise of therapy and medicines which all did nothing.
“I don’t want any pills! Do you think you’re the first person to offer me medication? I had been so sure that you had something, that you had------
Schwi’s rant had been stopped short as the doctor had stepped forwards and firmly clamped her hand over Schwi’s mouth mid-sentence. The woman’s terror was now plain, her face contorted with the anxiety of the situation as she looked back to Schwi from the glowing 51 which sat still in its display on the wall.
Whispering now, as quietly as she could so as to add as little to the ambient noise of the room as possible without releasing Schwi, she pleaded with her patient, their faces now mere inches apart. She urged the panic in her voice to move the young woman to realize the severity of the situation she had now forced them into and to force her back into silence.
“Listen to me Swish. We should be all right. Nothing has spawned in here yet and the 50 number is just a recommendation. If we dial things back and go back to using just signs-----
But it was the doctors turn to be interrupted. Schwi had been pushed over the edge. There was no future for her. No day where things would get better. And there was no one who would be able to or was interested in helping her. Everyone just told her to suck it up or booze it up and to just deal with the constant, crushing pressure of chopping off most of her primal urges. No screaming. No singing. No fucking. No normal conversations or laughing at a joke. There would never be a time in her life when it was okay for her to weep openly. Schwi couldn’t even run as much as she wanted because what would happen if her gasps for air or, heavens forbid, her laughter at the end of a long sprint were too loud and it got everyone killed? It was too much. Schwi couldn’t take it anymore. So, when the doctor grabbed her, after her shock wore off, she grabbed the woman and shoved her away. And Schwi shouted with the bubbling ferocity of years’ worth of emotions held barely in check:
“GET. OFF OF ME!”
The doctor had clearly been worried that Schwi would do something like this but, now, it was clear that she had no conception that it was something that could actually happen. As she looked back to see that the numbers on the wall had peaked at an unthinkable 71 decibels she was at a loss for what to do or what could be done. She stared at Schwi, her expression, a malformed rictus caught halfway between terror and disbelief.
Schwi herself was shocked. She couldn’t believe that she had actually had the balls to yell anything. And it felt so good. So good to actually be able to do what she wanted without having to try and suppress every loud emotion that she ever felt. But had she gotten away with it?
Scwhi did a little double take and looked around the room. The numbers on the wall were quickly dropping, they were down to 53 now and yet there was no alien presence rending space, at least nowhere apparent.
Schwi spoke, a twinge of optimism coloring her speech and forcing her to try.
“Well. There don’t seem to be any-----
This final interruption came in the form of the air between Scwhi and the doctor becoming two dimensional. A flat translucent pane of breathable oxygen was stretched before them, fully usable as chemicals their lungs could process to keep them alive, equally as transparent and yet, now, flat. And what had caused this was the colorless rip in the air which had appeared just to the left of the doctor but equally spaced between both women. A cut about six inches long had materialized midair at some point and forced this strange transformation upon this small part of their universe in preparation for:
Or at least it looked like a root to Schwi. A long brown thing that was crooked and curved and ended in a dull point snaked its way out and across the length of the flat air between them. It moved like a plant given creaky life, like a snake made out of bark, slow and deliberate, the thing would have stiff joints if it wasn’t all one piece, and yet it was still somehow slithery and fluid, somehow reminiscent of the flat air into which it had projected itself.
The air around the thing started to boil and pop and there were no longer two dimensions but 5, 6, 7, 8, and the brown limb started to distort as colors and expressions of the universal constants being torn asunder exploded the air around it into fractaling madness. The thing turned then, and it turned towards Schwi, looking for all the world like it was sensing her with the tip of its morphing appendage and the thing, seeing her there, let out a delirious screech into the world.
It was something indescribable, more an infusion of noise into itself by removing the vibrations from the atmosphere than a proper earthly sound. It was the screech of pressurized gas exiting its tank, played in reverse and constructed from the ambience of the room being sucked through the pocket in the air to this things dimension and reverberating back out to the corners of all of its limbs.
The crooked thing began to move towards Schwi bringing the rend in reality with it, the world dissolving into a cacophony of colors and patterns around Scwhi as her adrenaline displayed the whole scene at 50 percent speed.
It was coming for her, this thing, this consequence that Schwi had been warned about time and time and time again. But she had finally broken and ignored the rules and this was her price to pay. And she was ready, she supposed. She couldn’t take living in fear of this any longer. But she sure did wish that she had had some more time to stay alive though.
The thing moved towards her in a wide arc across the room bringing its kaleidoscope of fracturing reality with it, blinding Schwi to the rest of the world as it drew closer to its target, slowly enveloping her entire field of vision and her sense of everything around her, screaming the whole way, yelling and pleading, at the top of its alien lungs.
Schwi shook violently. There was no reason to hold it back anymore. Death was coming for her, it was her fault, she deserved this and she might as well let it all out with her last few moments on this Earth and in this dimension. Much to her own surprise her emotions weren’t actually that loud at the end. She gripped herself and rocked back and forth as tears streamed down face. She sobbed softly at the irony and tried to give herself comfort, one last time.
The thing though, it seemed confused by this. It stopped and the tendrils of hyper reality moved beyond it, the squirming overlaps in the fractured air reached out towards Schwi, invited her in with the warmth and beauty of their chaos. But the thing stood still for a moment as its shroud reached out to her. And then, unbelievably, inconceivably, the screaming unfathomable intruder into their reality turned around. The head of the branch, now hardly recognizable in the infinite permutations of reality that rendered the air around it visually impenetrable, it turned back…. Towards the doctor.
Schwi had been slow to realize but the screaming…. The screaming was coming from the doctor…..
“OVER HERE YOU DENSE INTERDIMENSIONAL FUCKERS! TAKE ME! I’M RIGHT HERE! TAKE ME!”
And so they did.
There were more of them now, Schwi could see, as the cosmic dissonance attached to the thing moved away from her. Two more cuts had opened up in the air around the doctor, with another materializing as Scwhi looked on in horror. Appendages appeared out of the new tears in reality and slithered their way around the doctor’s limbs. The air around them began to boil and the doctor began to scream, now, presumably, from pain.
Somehow, as the initial, turgid tentacle finally wrapped itself around the doctor’s middle and her whole body was overtaken by the blinding, hyper colour miasma of the creatures consuming her, the woman actually started laughing.
Laughing, crying, holding back terror and pain through grunts and shrieks, she lashed out at the things with one last verbal barrage.
She screamed at the things taking her, taunting them with everything she had. But nothing made it past her viciously trembling lips. Much to Schwi’s horror when the doctor screamed no sound came with it. Even before taking her the things had already begun to consume her. And now, after mere moments in their presence she too began to warp and distort as they did, little pieces of her bending away to move and circle with the fractaling distortions all around her.
Clearly at a loss, beyond anything one hopes to ever imagine, the doctor screamed her silent scream and was torn into pieces. The appendages which gripped her, each pulling with their own strength as well as that of the swirling patterns which surrounded them pulled the doctor in separate directions.
There should have been a tearing sound, the noise of flesh ripping, of bones breaking, of a living creature being torn to shreds but instead there was nothing but silence and color and an incomprehensible reality taking place despite much effort to prevent it.
There should have been blood and gristle and gore. There should have been all the signs of death and struggle and fighting. But instead there was just silence.
As the doctor was ripped into pieces and Schwi held her hands to her mouth in a desperate attempt to make the doctors sacrifice worth something, there was nothing. Nothing but the incomprehensible reality carrying itself out right in front of her.
As the doctors bits were ripped from each other they hung in the air for a moment, the rules of reality having been thoroughly rent by this brief and yet infinite intrusion, the bits of her just hung there, disconnected and somehow bloodless despite the awful force it took to separate her into these massive chunks. The doctors dying expression of incomprehension at what was happening to her burnt itself forever into Schwi’s mind as one last reminder of her intense failure and then the doctor was gone.
Her pieces climbed the air, her flesh dividing and morphing in its own grotesquely fractaling spirals, disconnected yet fresh, perfectly disfigured, and potentially, horribly, still alive. Her disenfranchised form gave way to points of nothing and like that everything was gone.
Schwi was left alone in an inhumanly quiet appointment room, where she slowly picked herself up from the doctors table and sat, trembling quietly, on the floor in her one piece hospital gown as the glowing red symbols on the wall slowly ticked their way back to their standard pattern of oscillation.