Silence is a Tyme setting story by Terri Pray
Artwork by Samuel Pray created using Dax3D, Filter Forge and Photoshop
Her hands clenched, nails digging into her palms, jaw tight as she tried to shut it out. It didn't work, the high-pitched screech of a voice that rose and fell at odd points in time, continued to plague her. Brenda closed her eyes, breathing slowly in through her nose and out through her mouth, counting under her breath to twenty before she gave up. She glanced up, watching the play of clouds across the sky. Large, white, fluffy, they stood out against a brilliant blue sky. Trees rustled behind her, heavy with deep green leaves, the first hint of apples here and there, and bright blue flowers growing beneath their glory.
A place of peace in an otherwise busy world.
Her gaze shifted, for a moment, to the outline of the high temple of Thanatos, a mix of elegant spires and black stone. Like the park it was one of the few places she could relax, away from the stress of it all.
"Are you listening to a damned word I'm saying?"
"What do you think this is? A fucking game?" The woman continued to pace her way through the small park. "This isn't a joke. I've spent the last three days trying to get an answer from you people and all you have to tell me is the results aren't in yet."
She had to remain calm. Losing her temper wouldn't help. The woman wasn't the type to care who she upset or what she did, as long as it got her what she wanted.
"Fuck you! Get me your goddamn supervisor! Now!"
Brenda reached for her sandwich, breaking off a small piece before she tossed it toward the gathering of birds. The largest broke off, lifting into the air before it dived down onto the piece, pinning it to the ground before he attacked. Small beak tearing the bread apart with obvious glee. A dozen other birds followed him, pushing and shoving in an attempt to grab a piece, their calls ringing out, adding a natural background noise she could live with. An hour a day, that's all she ever managed to steal for herself out here. Her lunch, five days a week, a break from the office and the constant jostling for power that took place between the men and women working there. Oh, sure, they'd try it on each other, that was just a part of their nature, whereas she was a welcome distraction.
High heels clicked their way along the path, long legs, an expensive business suit, perfectly coiffed hair and an attitude that made it clear that she didn't care who got in her way, she'd walk over them, through them or on them, as long as she got what she wanted.
Don't look at the woman, it won't help the situation.
Brenda glanced at the birds and then back at the woman, despite her desire to ignore the loud presence, and frowned. She paced, her steps angry and determined, never faltering as she advanced along the path toward the birds. Would she give them a chance to move?
The click, click, click sound drew closer and the first of the birds lifted from his place, taking flight, circling once before it found a safer place among the trees.
Tension built across Brenda's brow, crawled down her neck and into her jaw. She shot the woman a look, one the suit wearing, loud voiced, intruder ignored. Just as she ignored the fact that the park was a quiet zone. You had a call, you placed it on pause and moved elsewhere, out of the park.
Not according to this woman. Either she hadn't seen the rules or, more likely, didn't think they applied to her.
"Nasty, dirty things," the woman hissed, kicking at the birds as they scattered, lifting into the air in a cloud of colorful feathers and noise. "Shouldn't be allowed."
Brenda's fingers clenched on the box holding the remains of her lunch.
"No, not you." The intruder hissed at the person on the other end of the call. "Are you a supervisor?"
Brenda looked away from the woman. She wasn't there. No one was there with her. It was just Brenda and the birds, nothing else mattered.
"Then get me a goddamn supervisor!" The woman turned, stalking back down the path. "What the seven hells is wrong with you people?"
Perhaps they were tired of dealing with people like this woman? She looked back down at the path, at the remains of the crumbs. Sooner or later the birds would return, but with the way the woman paced, she'd walk back through the flock, scattering them again.
What had they done to her?
Brenda scowled at the woman, her gaze fixed on the communicator. The rules were clear, the silence code enforced here, but where was an officer when she needed one?
"If you think I'm going to call another number, you're insane. Escalate the call, you know how to do that, don't you? Or do you need written instructions!" The woman's voice rose to a shrill scream.
Brenda pressed her hands against her ears, covering them. Shut up, the woman had to shut up. Didn't she understand why people came to the park?
Pain, pressure and tension warred behind her eyes. Her chest tightened, sweat beaded across her brow and across her breasts.
"If you hang up on me, I'll call back again and again until you deal with this mess!"
Tears burned in Brenda's eyes, pain lanced - sharp needle points - into the back of her eyes and she hissed, trying to breathe through it. She wouldn't lose control, not this time, this woman wouldn't push her to breaking point. She was stronger than this, better, she'd learned to control her temper but the migraines were another matter. God, she needed silence, blessed peace and quiet, just enough time to resettle herself before she returned to work.
"You piece of shit!" The woman pulled the communicator away from her ear and glared at the small piece of plastic. "You hung up on me, you ignorant…oh it's on. It's so on."
"No more," Brenda whispered. "Please, no more."
It wouldn't stop, no matter what, the other woman wouldn't stop. Anger, aggression, frustration, they rolled off the stranger in dark, sullen waves. Pain and nausea mixed, turning Brenda's vision into a kaleidoscope of mud touched colors with flashes of brilliant white.
"This isn't over," the woman growled at the communicator and stabbed a finger at the control. "Hang up on me, will you? Let's see how this works for you."
No, no more, she couldn't handle it. Peace, silence, relaxation, that's what she came here for, not this, not the shrill cries, the angry words, the ignorance and hatred that emanated from the woman and her conversation with the stranger on the end of the line.
Stop it, don't let it happen. Go to the temple, they can help, can bring it under control again.
Vibrations ran through her body, her vision narrowed, pinpoint focused on the communicator. Light blinded her, bright, sharp, needlepoints that pierced through her eyes and into her skull. Pressure exploded through those points, burning a path until she gasped and rocked back on the bench she had claimed as her own. Fire and darkness consumed her, eating her from the inside out only to vanish, die in the moment between one heartbeat and the next.
A scream, high and pain filled, broke through the daze that followed and she blinked, trying to focus on the source.
The woman curled on the floor, one hand stretched out, the melted remains of the communicator smoking in the palm of her burned and blackened hand, the scream fading, easing into hysterical sobs and gulps for air.
Brenda rose, rubbing one hand against her temple as she turned and walked away from the woman, following the path out of the park before she activated her communicator. Her gaze fixed on the Silence ruling at the top of the park regulations and a slight smile tugged at her lips. "Hello, yes… can you sent a medical team to River Park…yes, I'm afraid there's been a small accident… stay, no I'm sorry, I need to be elsewhere…. Where? Oh, the temple. Yes, that's right, I'll be right there if you need me."
Where else could she go now, except to the only place that would grant her the silence she needed…