Tidbits from Gary

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whispers in the Darkness

"Whispers in the Darkness"
part 1 of 3
Gary Baker, February 2013

The screen flicked on. A scratchy scene glazed in apple green.

At first all that was visible was a blank wall to one side, the slate grey tones lost to the discoloration of the video feed. Midway along the wall stood a sturdy colorless lampshade without cords, though light emanated from it like any other. Along the back wall, just beyond the lamplight, hung a common unfurnished bed held to the wall by bolts with taught chains that kept the outer edge from falling.

People huddled together on the mattress pad like fear-struck pests lost in a catacomb of burrows. The farmer had the plow running, now the inevitable loomed before them as the blades picked up their whir.

Suddenly the camera turned on it's axis, rotating away from the wall to bring a woman's freckled face into view. Her cheeks were full, lit as though in some film noir movie, with tints of white in her neatly plaited blonde ponytail.

Behind her even more people huddled together with visible chills running through. A child here, a man there, three businessmen near the light of the doorway, with a woman with her swollen belly revealing a pregnancy two-thirds over laying out on the open floor.

Race was a sideline issue here. Mixed like fruit in a salad, no one seemed to care about human differences when something much worse had been written across their faces.

The woman nearest the camera sighed audibly with her head in her hands.

"Something happened," she breathed. "We were taken, that much is certain."

Something emanated from the group, a sense of disbelief hung in the air like rotting pea soup. Sour faces pulled at laceration lines on several, others lost themselves in the sight of something unseen.

Her fist struck the counter top with a loud thud. "Dammit, I'm a reporter!" She scowled at the camera as though looking at the face of a lost child. "If you get this, if anyone sees this, know this: I will find out what is going on. I was born for the details..." she trailed off, whispering to herself silently. "I was born for the details."

A sweaty heavy-set man against the side wall wearily fell against another, startling even as the leaner man's fists began to clench.

"Get offa me!" The brute snapped.

Heavy-set's eyes fluttered. "Shit, man, it was an accident, I didn't mean to-"

"There are children present!" Came the muffled feminine voice of one beyond the sight lines of the camera. "Don't let me catch you swearing again!"

A brawny man in the middle of the room grunted, looking to object when something made them all nearly jump from their skin.

A reverberating crash echoed into the silence, followed by the guttural notations of an inhuman dialect. It resembled a mix between Arabic, Russian, and the gurgles of a drowning dog.

And it gave all the heartwarming sensations that came with such a grim sight.

No one moved. The women clutched the children, even when they looked nothing alike, and the men seemed to turn pale as ghosts.

So many people, and yet it seemed as though every membranous cell had frozen in fear.

The silence of death drew out, the clashing pattern edging closer and closer until at long last it apexed.

No one breathed. The brawny man licked dry lips, with eyes like disks of moonlight in the shadows.

Everyone had eyes on the cell door.

With a soft scratch, the scene suddenly snapped to darkness.


The screen flicked on. A scratchy scene glazed in apple green.

Before the feed enhancers kicked in all that was visible was a blank wall to one side, the slate grey tone lost to the discoloration of the video feed  Along the far wall stood a colorless lampshade like a sentinel where, just beyond the lamplight, a common unfurnished bed clung to the wall by bolts with taught chains.

If not for the sallow cheeks and grim stares that people gave, it would have appeared to be some sort of smuggling operation out of Cuba or Mexico.

But there was no hope of a better life here.

The pregnant woman on the bed cradled her swollen belly with her eyes cinched shut, warding off the evils of the unknown by closing her mind to it. A man on the mostly open floor caressed photos in his wallet, the last connection to those he'd been taken from.

His cheeks glistened with remorse.

Then the camera view turned sharply with a loud scratching rumble, to reveal a woman with pleated blonde hair and freckles across her worried expression. She blinked faintly, trudging out of her mental stupor, then lifted one side of her lips in a poised smile.

"I miss the trees," she whispered, "I miss the sound of the wind through the leaves back home, and how the autumn breeze would make them rain down over the fields of barley..." Her eyes unglazed and she shook herself out of it, "but none of that exists any more. None."

Others eyed her warily. Change was something they clearly needed, and this escapade of the reporter acted as a beacon of hope for those close enough to listen in. Perhaps these recordings might reach help in time... and perhaps it would be these recordings that saved them all. Yet in the distance, across the few body lengths of empty space that few seemed to venture, a bearded man watched her with fire in his eyes.

Seldom moans broke free from the silence, children toiling in their own sleepless nightmare. Occasionally a near-breathless whisper echoed out as one person or another spoke to their own unseen ghosts.

"They've left us," she grunted with the physical twinge of a foul taste. "Whoever or whatever these things are that took us, they've left us."

She turned away from the camera to look about her surroundings.

It wasn't long before the woman turned back to the camera as though seeking a friendly face and anguish set in along her eyes. "We're starving and haven't done anything... it was days - I think it was days, maybe a week...? - since we last heard them beyond those doors."

Her eyes flickered with hope. "Perhaps they've abandoned us, left us this whole prison-ship-thing while escaping someone coming to save us!" Then her eyes went dark again, "or perhaps they just forgot we're here, with no way out, no way to sustain ourselves...."

A man sitting on the ground to her left eyed the camera and her with annoyance, then shifted away to lay in darkness again.

He had a scar on his cheek like the lines of a rake in sand.

The woman fell back into her thoughts as though imagining what would happen if the worst were true.

"Heaven help us," she breathed.

With a soft scratch, the scene suddenly snapped to darkness.


The screen flicked on. A scratchy scene glazed in apple green.

Along the rear wall a prison-cell bed hung by thick steel chains, covered in people like a leaf in the rain.

Off to one side stood a plain lamp without cords, illuminating the room with slight ambient photons.

The camera panned right, followed by a loud tearing echo, to face a woman with her blonde hair falling out of a once-neat plait. Her freckles hid bags beneath her eyes, and accentuated the ever-dripping streaks of mascara.

"I haven't slept in days," she groaned. "Any time I feel my eyelids beginning to succumb another scream wakes me." She sat upright, determined to face her recording device with a forced heir of dignity. "There are others out there - others like us, others in cells with nothing but each other for company..." She trailed off with a distant look in her minds eye.

"...and some of them have seen our captors."

The woman sighed and trailed her fingers across her lips to wipe away a slip of spittle dripping down her chin.

Her eyes glanced down in embarrassment with a mumbled "sorry", before she glanced around to see who'd noticed.

"No one knows what happened to our captors," she smirked, "maybe they forgot us... maybe they purposefully left us to starve...."

The woman heaved a loud grumbling sigh and lifted her arm toward the camera.

With a soft scratch, the scene suddenly snapped to darkness.

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