Silence - Short Speculative Fiction

Along with my technical passions I've also done literature. I've done creative writing courses with stories & poetry, and edited a college literary mag. Here is a short form speculative fiction story I wrote recently, in under 750 words. Comments and criticism of all sorts greatly appreciated.

Jon Pruente
Copyright 2009
Written 1-March-2009

The thump came through the floorboards first. The lamp shade rattled and the cabinet doors started a deep, low, buzz. Slowly the thump grew into a consuming sound that filled the room. She waited by the door trying to be patient. She knew the drills by heart and anticipated the next step. There was always a next step in the drills, but her father had taught her to be ready for the step that didn't come. As she waited she pictured what she might do if this next step didn't come.
The thump grew beyond sound into a pulse of pressure that shook the whole house. Everything on the shelves vibrated in place and the leaves on the fake flowers waved as if in a slight breeze. The wall shook as she leaned against it, watching out the narrow window. She was tense with anticipation.
"You must remain calm. Any time you can not remain calm you will make a mistake and it will consume your concentration. You will make mistakes, but you must overcome them and be ready for what is next," her father's voice spoke from her memories.
She breathed, for the first time in many seconds. She fought the urge to gulp air and forced herself to breath in deep and measured breaths. Every time her lungs filled she felt the thump inside like a pump jetting pulses of air against her diaphragm. It overpowered the beat of her own pulse in her ears.
"You can control yourself, given a proper goal. For your control to be effective you must have a secure knowledge how to complete your goal. Without that knowledge your will flounder and your actions may not further your goal. Your goal should always be to preserve your life," her father's voice intoned.
The thump drove its rhythm further into her body. She watched out the window, her hand poised near the doorknob. The door rattled in the frame and the vibrating window glass distorted the tangled lawn she could see outside. Peering through the glass she felt consumed by the pulses. And felt the tempo of the beat slow. The intensity of the pulses perceptibly weakened with the tempo, quickly dropping. Breathless seconds again passed as she considered the sudden change, and then came another thump. Not the thump of the rotors but the sickening sound of the metal body colliding with the earth. And with that final gasp the pulse gave way to near silence. Still breathless she heard only the wet flow of her pulse surging inside.
Tentatively she turned the knob and inhaled smoothly. The air of the house reeked of dusty abandon recently disturbed. The door pulled free and swung open with a squeal. She stepped onto the porch and breathed the sweet night air she had last tasted what seemed so long ago. The next step, she decided, had changed.
Down the steps and along the path to the street she saw the shadowy over growth and trees in the moonlight. At the street she turned and ran down the pavement and noticed the street light at the corner was out. She passed it and turned down the block. She saw deep shadows under the boughs down the street and turned in a circle looking down each roadway; all were in darkness, save what moonlight filtered through the high treetops. She ran along the street and stumbled as it rose into a hill. Nearing the top she turned and looked to the horizon over the trees and saw only the moonlit treetops. Natural darkness consumed the landscape and she began to panic.
The crash with no explosion, the darkness, the silence. They were well prepared, they were clean.
She struggled to keep breathing in the panic and she felt painful flutters in her chest. She turned back and ran on. The flutters stopped and her panic deepened as she realized her pulse had as well. She knew the shock normally would come but also knew that now it wouldn't. Everything electrical around her had failed as far as she could see, and so had everything electrical inside of her. So she ran with only the sound of her breath inside of her, futile gasping, waiting to be slowly consumed by the silence. She tried to savor each step she took, and to be ready for the one that didn't come.

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