Buzzing Silence

Another LitReactor challenge.

I forgot how silence sounded like. After everything that happened, I still feel like silence is all I needed.

All of this buzzing in my head is making me nervous. In this world, we haven’t had a second of silence in 157 years. History taught us that with silence, death can arrive and quietly take us away. So our fathers and grandfathers and grand-grandfathers built this machine and implanted it in our bodies, so we can disturb death’s course without much worry.
I have lived in Orpheus 5 all my life, because 157 years ago our fathers and grandfathers and grand-grandfathers decided it is best we remain where we were born.
My name is Koenicius and this is my struggle.

Today is just another day. I open my eyes and see the two suns outside, in the clear, blue sky tinted with a hint of orange. This summer seems to be hotter than any other summer that has passed until now, in my 28 years of living. I get up from the bed, stretch my bones a little and think to myself “there are 3 more days left until the third sun comes up” and somehow this makes me smile.
Everyone hates the third sun, because this means that we won’t have night on Orpheus 5, not at least until the end of the fifth cycle.
I like the prolonged days of summer. It’s not that bright outside, but it seems more peaceful. It’s the only time of the year when I can ignore the buzzing.
Thinking of the annoying sound in my head makes me reach to my left ear and touch the small hole behind it. The audiotron is there, I know it, though I haven’t seen one or felt one. It is part of my legacy, as I’ve been told, and we all accept it as natural.
The audiotron helps us keep away death, but it’s mostly some kind of cheating. It keeps the brain alert, so we can’t ignore what’s happening outside. Outside of Orpheus 5, there are lots of things ready to kill you and they are just waiting for the right moment to come down.
Asteroids and meteors are just the first line of evil things out there. Then, ships and comets are next best thing. Then, all kinds of alien nations are against us. But mostly, the black waves of silence.
Some 200 years ago, an earthling discovered that sound holes have an enormous energy that could kill you, wipe your entire race in a second. It was believed that it was because a sound hole could suck everything around it in a split of a second, so everyone just avoided them altogether.
But after 20 years of research, a professor from Orpheus 5 found out what made sound holes weak. What they needed to survive was silence, so they quietly swallowed all the uninhabited planets around Orpheus 5, until ours was the last planet left of its solar system. Truisia, the solar system from where I am, had only 5 little planets and 3 suns, all of them devoured in a few years, before our forefathers discovered the audiotron.
It buzzes constantly, at a low frequency, so that our ears cannot percept it. It’s true for most of the cases; usually people from Orpheus 5 can’t hear a damn buzz. But few of us can still hear the goddamn sound. It feels like you can almost touch it and taste it, though you cannot really pinpoint the source or the level of the sound.
Sometimes it gives me headaches, because it’s like a humming combined with someone talking and it makes my skin itch. Whenever that happens I have to listen to music, and thank the gods, Orpheus 5 is the place where music is alive.
I drifted away in thought, yet again. Music and thinking about it makes me what I am today, so I am never in a hurry to get somewhere. My house is filled with the sound of music, making me float. It is the only thing that makes me happy, the only thing that makes me fly. I get dressed to the rhythm of the music, my smile getting bigger and bigger.
When I’m fully dressed, the screen in front of my bed turns on, as if someone knew I was presentable enough to show my face.
“Good morning, intern Koenicius. How can I be of service?”
I recognize the metallic voice, and I take a deep breath, while thinking about the first meal of the day.
“Good morning, Rabah. I was thinking of having some shushckalaki with a glass of temnas. Also, please bring my remmiat.”
“Consider it done, intern Koenicius.”
I turn around and go to the table next to the window. Waiting for my meal, I see my remmiat waving its tail and smiling at me. It’s a small animal, with six legs and a feathered tail, with two big, golden eyes and pointy ears.
“Good morning, master.”
I can hear the happiness in its voice, even though it does not speak. As most of our cybopets, my remmiat is a telepath.
I crunch down to pet it, and its tail starts spinning so fast, it lifts my remmiat from the floor. I can tell it is happy and this makes me even happier.
“I can see your battery is fully charged” I say, looking at its eyes.
“Yes, master. I stayed all night because I wanted to show you something.”
“Show me what?”
We are interrupted by an android carrying a tray with a bowl of shushckalaki and a glass of temnas. I can hear Rabah in the room.
“You order, intern Koenicius. Please enjoy your meal.”
I thank Rabah and the android and turn around to eat my food. My remmiat is still in the air, waving its tail at a slower pace. The screen where Rabah can he heard is still on and it will be like this until I fall asleep.
As I start eating, the remmiat starts talking again.
“I found some things from Earth. There is a band and they made some movies about us.”
“How did you find it?”
“I have my ways!”
“What ways, remmiat?” Rabah’s voice sounds clear enough, no sign of annoyance or disturbance. It is a little bit odd for a remmiat to go through this trouble to find music and films from Earth.
My remmiat remains still, looking at me with its golden eyes.
Rabah can hear our thoughts loud and clear, and we can’t hide a thing from it. I have never seen my Rabah, but I know what happens to those who disobey it.
“I found it in a history file from the Central Archive.”
We store a lot of things from Earth, mostly copies, but all of them in good shape.
I feel my remmiat a little worried and scared. Even though they are not real animals, remmiats feel fear and they always try to avoid Rabahs. I pet it on the head and I see its golden eyes getting clearer and clearer, until they reach a white I have never thought to be possible. My remmiat gave what’s supposed to be a sigh and then its eyes reversed to the original color.
Rabah said nothing afterwards, so I continued with my meal. The remmiat remained silent this entire time.
I only heard the constant buzzing behind my ear.
After I ate, I stood for a moment in front of the window, looking at the world below me. Since I lived at the 672th floor in the Suspended 47, I was always amazed at the swarm that happened everyday beneath me.

As I went outside, a warm wave hit me all around. My remmiat was flying next to me, and its spinning tail was making it a little difficult for me to keep my balance. I wasn’t feeling like flying today, but I managed to stop my rapid fall and instead I chose to swing through the hot air and other Orphians that were flying around the city.
I am getting closer to the ground; the number of people decreased with my falling and the buzzing wasn’t so loud, I could finally keep the proper balance. My remmiat floats next to me, its tail spinning at a more normal pace, its eyes golden-worried.
After I landed on the ground, I could see that almost no one was on there, because that meant they would have to move slower and their tickets would be used even faster. I had unlimited tickets, so it was no problem for me to take the hard way.
I liked walking because in Orpheus 5 the sound goes up, rising to the sky. On the ground it is the closest thing to silence and peace, and since everyone was in such a hurry or they were so poor, almost no one walked by foot. No one liked to use their hard earned tickets just for the pleasure of walking.
I took my time in analyzing the tiles on the floor, the buildings around me. Almost none of them had doors on ground floor anymore, and it seemed like the first stories were unused. I take the same route every day, in and out of the house, and I take my time during my day walk to think about silence.
Everyone up in the sky seems happy. Everyone from above is oblivious to the constant buzzing; they feel like it is part of their natural lives. I know that there are few of us who can hear it and it bothers me not knowing who they are. Everyone else seems happy to have the Rabahs on their tail at every moment, though they view them as helpers. People in Orpheus 5 are controlled by Rabahs and not the other way around. They are under constant supervision, from the very first moment they open their eyes until the second they fall asleep. And who knows what happens during sleep. Rabahs can hear you think.
People that live on the down are rarely heard or listened to, because they don’t have the means or the will to stop something. They haven’t been implanted with the audiotron, because at this level the audiotron can’t stop the sound holes.
People on the down are ragged and hungry mostly, and the Rabahs use them to clean the city. People on the high are used for science and music, everything done under the careful watch of the Rabahs. People on the down do the hard work and get nothing, while people on the high get tickets to use them as they please for their intellectual effort.
I wander through the city every day. I just want a moment of silence. Nothing on this planet can give me that, so I take whatever I can get, even if that means creating music while walking next to the people on the down.
After walking a day’s worth of time, every evening, I come home. My remmiat is always next to me, happy, but tired. It goes to its place, to charge its batteries. I go to my room, where Rabah is patiently waiting for me.
I don’t even glance towards the screen. I know it can hear me think, so I try not to think about it. But it’s late, and I can’t stop thinking about silence, not with all the buzzing in my head.
“You’re thinking about silence again.”
The voice is clear and loud and it speaks the truth. I don’t even need to say yes or no.
“Your days are numbered. I hope you know that.”
Again, no yes or no answer is needed.

Everything around me is silence. How did it get to this?!
Everything buzzed until a second ago, so how is this possible?
I am not sure if I should open my eyes. I am afraid it is just a dream. What if Rabah has killed me and this is the silence I deserve in death?
I take a deep breath and I listen again. It is indeed silence.
I never knew this could feel so good.

I let out a roar. It covers the sound my audiotron makes, so loud and clear and liberating.
In the background, Rabah is barking orders, calmly.
I know my days are numbered, but I don’t care. I go deeper and deeper behind my left ear, until I reach the audiotron. I try to pull it out, but my brain is hit with a wave of pain. I don’t care. I want it out!
I pull as hard as I can, as if my life depends on it.
I stop when I hear silence. Pure silence.
My hands are covered in blood, my blood. It’s warm and blue, and I hear only silence.
The Rabah’s distant bark doesn’t scare me anymore.

With great silence, comes great responsibility.
Between me and the skies, there is nothing. The screen is broken, the Rabah is silent too.
It feels wonderful to see the world, to hear the world without that constant humming in me.
In the distance, explosions of sound and color burst out of nowhere. I don’t know where to look, because everything on Orpheus 5 becomes louder and more orange than before.
The Suspended 47 trembles and shakes. The land beneath it is now cracked open. I still feel happy and thankful for the silence.
The skies above Orpheus 5 are not orange anymore. That orange turned into some kind of bloody purple, but now it’s completely black.
I look above me as this dark, dense mist covers the sky. It brings only silence and death.
Somehow, the sound hole doesn’t frighten me anymore.
I forgot how silence sounded like. After everything that happened, I still feel like silence is all I needed.

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