The first sign was on television. In retrospect that might have been surprising, given the total unrest, but I didn’t hear it. Or if I did I didn’t understand, in my first waking moments, that the sound was louder than usual outside and that it wasn’t traffic, it was something else. Something raw, something human.
I’m a television addict. I actually can’t bear silence really, and I’m so often alone, and I live alone, so the television is like a friend in the room, constantly talking at me. But a convenient one. One I can talk back to without argument, or ignore whenever I want.
So I turned on the television, as usual, for the morning news. But it wasn’t the morning news.
The screen was red and black, and all that was on the program was someone screaming. Even on low, it was ear-piercing. I wondered if I’d somehow flicked the channel before switching off the television the night before and landed on some progressive, strange rock music station or something. But the screaming wasn’t resolving into music, even thrash metal.
Confused and still only half awake I flicked the remote. Every station was the same, or versions of the same. Sometimes people screaming, sometimes almost incomprehensible violence, sometimes angry faces flashing across the screen.
I thought, I’m asleep, and this is a nightmare. But I wasn’t asleep. I frantically kept changing channels, hoping to see some announcement that ‘normal programming would return soon’, but this seemed to be the only programming, the only programming available at all.
I shut off the sound, because it was too much, and then the sound of the streets started to rise to me. It sounded….the same.
I pulled back my curtains, looking out gingerly. And I saw the carnage, and realised the television was reporting the news, on every station, but even the new reporters were involved. Everyone on the streets were attacking others, it was a bloodbath.
I pulled back instinctively, wanting to hide. But just as I did I saw someone look up at my window and see me. See me.
Or did they, did they see me? How could I know?
There was nothing for it. I hid under the bed and waited.
And then I heard it. I heard the sound of my door opening like a thunder-clap against the rhythm of the screaming.
I suspect it might be one of the last sounds I ever hear.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016