Within the Screech

I have been sent the following.  You need to know.  More to follow.    golgotha.

Harry used to do everything the blackboard said.

The house he grew up in was always dark, he remembers that.  Furniture, wallpaper, even the paintings were all in sombre colours.  His father was a maths tutor.  He helped high school drop-outs and adults taking night classes learn just enough about numbers to get by.  He tried to help people that the system had failed, get them get back on their feet.

He worked out of the quiet, empty front room, drawing simple calculations on a battered old blackboard set up on an easel.  Harry was only little. He wasn’t allowed in the tiny classroom. But that never stopped him waiting until he was alone, to go into his father’s room and rest his head against the cool slate.  He was alone a lot.  They would never admit it, but Harry made his parents nervous.  He was so solemn, even when he smiled.

One day, the blackboard spoke to him.

He heard it in the screech.  He liked to scrape his nails down the surface of the board.  There was something in the sound.  A whisper, from some forgotten place in between the edges of things.  It helped Harry, showed him how to stop feeling sad and frightened.  It told Harry to do things.  Just a few small things.

By the time anyone realised what was happening, what Harry had been doing, too many lives had been ruined to ever completely sweep it under the rug.  They threw the blackboard away, burned the easel.  His father would only write his calculations on paper after that.  They didn’t understand the connection with his actions, but watching Harry scrape his nails down the board, smiling through that awful sound, terrified them.

Harry has only the vaguest memories of the wake.  It was so long ago, and he was so young.  He remembers his dark house.  He remembers that no-one would look at each other.  He remembers being mostly alone; nobody wanted to be in a room with him.  He remembers the tiny coffin, though his parents wouldn’t let him anywhere near it.

There were a lot of waiting rooms after that.  In the end the doctor showed him other ways to stop feeling sad and frightened.  The medication gave him back some of the control that only the whisper within the screech had given him before.  People tried to forget, and almost managed it. Things evened out.

When they hear that screech, most people flinch, try to make it stop.  There’s something in the sound that sets them on edge, gives them a sense of something terrible.  They don’t understand it, can’t hear the true nature of it, but it upsets them all the same.  Harry could hear it.  The whisper greeted him like an old friend, gave him purpose and control.  Harry liked it, before they took it away.

Harry stopped taking his medication recently.  He’s sick of the way the pills dull his senses.  He doesn’t want to perceive the world through that mist anymore.  He lives alone now.  He’s struggling at work, and he misses his parents, even though they were barely more than strangers.  He wants the sense of control back.  The real one, not the medicated counterfeit.

He’s set the new board up in the front room.  He hadn’t been in there in nearly twenty years.  But he hasn’t tried to listen for the whisper yet.  He’s frightened.  Frightened that his old friend has abandoned him.  He doesn’t have the nerve to try yet, but he will soon.  He’ll go in there, rest his head against the cool slate and listen to everything the whisper has to say.  The balance will return.  He’ll do anything to be in control again.



~ by golgotha on January 17, 2012.

7 Responses to “Within the Screech”

  1. 🙂 Thanks.

  2. Sent by whom? As you very well know, there is but one way to be so intimately familiar with madness.

    Your efforts will never be in vain, for it is their very nature to touch the unseen.

  3. Ms. Marionette, it is a true pleasure to see you again. I thought you had been lost to us.

    As for the tale, why anyone would actually want to perceive the world with clarity is certainly beyond me, sir… though you did mention that you always wished for greater control…

  4. The execrable speck that was sending these dispatches has let me down. There are enough for now, though. Perhaps I’ll let you see them.

    You need to know, after all.


  5. Sir,

    Are we done here?

  6. And we wait.

  7. And we wait.

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