Light streamed in from the windows as morning greeted. Shelly woke up to the heavy sound of silence. Grey skies in her mind played contrast to the sky blue ceiling in the room, empty save for the bed that she laid on and a vase of withered flowers. It seemed like such a long time ago, when she had last felt alive.
She tried to wrest her voice out of her dry throat. Finding no words, her soft gasp went unheard. She moved her fingers, barely, then her big toe. When she felt confident enough, she lifted herself off a sunken, stained mattress. Her bare feet touched the cold floor that was layered with dust. What happened? And how long had she slept?
She stood unsteadily, figuring out where she was. The hospital was as quiet as the deepest ends of the ocean, and equally lonely. The air smelt bad, and stale. She peered out before she stepped into the empty corridor. Her skin was drowning in sweat. Rhythmic drumming weighed upon her head, rearranging her features into a set grimace.
Her eyes wandered around. Some empty wards later, she stopped in her tracks when she noticed what were in a few rooms. The world around her began to wobble. She almost started to cry. I’ve never seen a dead body before, the frightened girl thought.
It took her a while before she could compose herself. Near a rotting corpse, she found a pair of boots and slipped them on, ignoring traces of stains on it. They fit well enough. Thirst clawed at her tongue, but none of the taps in the restrooms ran. The phone lines were dead. Quietude propelled her feet into nervous shuffling down the stairs.
Beyond the hospital’s exit, the city remained deep in slumber. Shelly remembered her way home, though it seemed unlikely she would make the distance back without food or water.
Under the dimming light of the day, she noticed the bikes that had fallen on the pathways and the lines of empty cars on the roads. Everyone had been in a hurry to leave. Such a hurry, they forgot about her. The wind howled like the cries of a tired newborn, whose throat dried from a day spent in tears.
Or the spirit of a stillborn. Shelly shook the persistent gloomy thought, then became fearful of the void left behind in her mind. She trained her eyes at the road before her and quickened her pace, hoping to find a trace of another living soul.
The darkening skies and silence got to her more than it already did. She felt the presence of ghosts, even if she had never believed in them. Imagined or otherwise, she could hear the slightest of sounds in distinct separation. Her boots clocked against the gravelly road. Her heart beat faster than her stride. No birds, no crickets. No life.
Just then, she heard a dripping sound from a nearby faucet. The stench wafted by, tickling at her nose. It forced tears that she thought had dried, but had only been waiting for this moment when she realised just how truly alone and terrified she was.
She turned her head, knowing fair well that it was a bad idea. But curiosity fought her instinct to run the other way. The wind howled again, only this time she knew she was mistaken. It was not the wind at all, she now saw. Beneath the trickling tap was the howling, emaciated corpse that had left it running, soon as he had laid eyes on the cure to his hunger.
Daily Prompt: Silent
City of Ghosts © 2017 by Jade A. All rights reserved.