5. A Sudden Silence

5. A Sudden Silence

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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PARADISE HELL - Part 5

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I’m sorry, Diary, that I forsook you, but now we are resting there is so much for me to think about it’s better if I write it down as if you were a stranger from an unknown world reading my life for the first time.

So, dear Diary, here goes.

The mechanical voice has told us we were resting and then it became silent.

There was something unnatural about that silence as if a companion had that pervaded our senses for day after day and week after week was missing. It’s hard for me to explain, but it was suddenly a silence more deep than silence as we knew it before that moment.

I suppose it was the barely audible hum that disappeared. And being barely audible we hadn’t noticed it any more than we notice the sound of our hearts beating, though they’re hardly likely to be totally silent, are they?

Timmy!” I hissed to the boyfriend who was busying himself under the smock the ugly girl in front of me. No, that’s not fair. Not ugly as such but I’m sure that I’m a lot prettier and anyway I wouldn’t let anyone do to me what he was trying to do to her in public with all our people jostling around us. It didn’t seem proper, somehow.

So you want me now!” he hissed, “well, so does Tilly, and she’s fun!”

So are you, Timmikins,” she hissed with a look what I’ve stolen from you expression on her less than perfect face. But I know for a fact that Timmy doesn’t like being called Timmikins. I rather suspect that nobody called Timmy does, and his scowl in her direction made the point for me.

Can you hear it?” I asked him, ignoring Tilly or whatever her name is.

He screwed his face up in the way he ought to know by now makes me tingle all over when I see it, then shook his head.

I can’t hear anything,” he replied, “can you, Tilly?”

Of course not! What does the silly tart expect me to hear?” she replied, squeezing his arm in the way I’ve learned, through experience, that he doesn’t like either.

That’s the point,” I said, trying to sound meaningful. “You should be able to hear it because until this minute it’s always been there, and now it isn’t.”

Of course,” he whispered.

Take no notice of the silly tart! She’s only jealous!” said Tilly spitefully, but I ignored her even though I hate being called a silly tart,

No,” Timmy told her, frowning in a way that might have brought tears to her eyes, only I couldn’t see because her mane of hair was everywhere because I guess that what she thought boys like.

See what I mean?” I whispered, “something isn’t there.”

What’s the silly tart on about?” muttered Tilly.

Shut up!” Timmy hissed into her ears, blowing her hair into a swirling mess, “just listen!”

I don’t hear nowt,” she said after pretending to concentrate on the silence.

You’re right, Jenny,” murmured Timmy, “I should have noticed myself. It’s scary.”

What’s scary?” demanded Tilly, “You’re as daft as she is. Just you take you hands off me!”

With pleasure.” And Timmy detached himself from the wretched girl and rejoined me just behind her. “There’s something very wrong,” he said.

You can tell too?” said a new voice, an older voice, that of a cultured man if there ever was such a thing in our troglodyte world.

I looked at him. He was older than old, by the look of him with wrinkles on his pale face, no beard to talk of and thinning white hair. He was, in fact, possibly the oldest man I had ever seen.

The silence?” I said, questioningly

Exactly. I think the thing’s dead.”

The thing?” asked Timmy, frowning.

Yes. The thing. Let me introduce myself. I’m the surgeon who neutralises a quarter of the boys born so that populations don’t get out of control. You can call me Simon because that’s what I was called when I was born. I’ve been doing my less than pleasant work it for so long it seems for ever, though it can’t be seeing as I’m only forty years old myself.”

Why, forty? That’s older than old,” breathed Timmy, and then smiled apologetically. “Sorry,” he added.

And you wonder at the sudden silence?” I asked him, “you can tell?”

It’s the sort of silence that I’d call deafening,” he said with a smile, “though I dared say that’s a contradiction in terms.”

But it’s exactly right,” I told him, “I’m Jenny, and this is my boyfriend. I hope it wasn’t one of your operations that meant we haven’t been blessed with a child?”

Who can tell? Not me! But if it was it was all for the good. People with very little to do can breed at an alarming rate, you know, and the Snip together with some of the girls having contraceptives has kept our numbers at a reasonable level, maybe too reasonable I suppose.”

You mean my health tablets?” I asked him, “the ones I have to take most days?”

Yes. Those. If you really do want a baby you’ll have to stop taking those,” he said, “and hope your young man wasn’t one of my what I call snippees!”

I was mortified at what he’d just told me, and scowled at him though I guess it wasn’t his fault.

We’ve been trying and trying and trying,” I told him, “and it was my fault all along?”

He smiled gently. “But I’ll bet you had quite a lot of fun trying,” he said, then he changed the subject, “but what worries me is what we both noticed. The all pervading silence. Even with the gabble of voices all around, and the odd snore of old folks sleeping, you can hear that silence.”

What do you think it means?” I asked.

I rather suspect that the machine that started this journey with us, that had governed our lives from the moment we were born, has run out of whatever it was that powered it and that we, all of us, are on our own. We must either return to our hovels or make our unknown way to an uncertain future.”

That’s scary,” whispered Timmy, “but I’m not going back.”

Are you?” asked Simon the Surgeon of me.

I’m with Timmy,” I said to him, “and when I’ve finished this episode of our lives, writing in my diary I mean, I’ll go wherever he leads me.”

Tilly turned around and scowled at me.

See if I care,” she hissed, “just you see!”

© Peter Rogerson 17.02.21

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© 2021 Peter Rogerson


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Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

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