Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Last Call (short story)

   His arms tightly pressed against his stomach to ease the pain of hunger, he sat on a chair and balanced his body back and forth. The cracking noise of the old chair was the only sound in the basement. There was no light and no fresh air.
The man who was not taller than a 6 year old child, did not understand what was going on. His tears formed irregular grey stripes on his stale cheeks but he did not wipe them off.

   He could not remember how long he was sitting there, he lost touch with time and reality. And there was not only silence in the basement but the whole house was dabbled in stillness. He did not speak. Father and son never spoke to each other. The father did not know what to say to what he called 'the creature that was called his son'. The father could not bare the sight of the child with the enormous head on a body with short legs and arms, drooling like a baby and not able to say clear words.
But the father never took the effort to teach his son words, he never had the patience his wife had  but she died of a broken heart when the boy was 3 years old.

   The man could not remember his mother any more. Although, sometimes, listening to the quiet sound of little rat feet rummaging the straw of his mattress in the basement or the moving curtains whispering in the wind blowing through the broken windows in the kitchen upstairs, he thought he heard her sweet voice, calling him by a name he could not repeat.
The basement was so familiar, he spent so many hours here after his father locked him up when there were voices at the door. His father felt ashamed and no one knew about the child who now became a man.
The last visitor was a while ago but he did not know how many days. And ever since there was this complete silence.

   The hunger forced him to leave the basement and not without great fear, he climbed the concrete stairs, pushed the shutter in the floor open and entered the kitchen; the only place he knew. All other doors in the house were locked and knowing this, he did not even think of opening them.
He made a strange noise when he finally realized he was all on his own. He did not see his father or any other person. It confused him but it did not bother him too much. He looked around and found the phone off the hook. He never understood where this black machine was for but he remembered his father occasionally talking to it and than placing the horn back. He also remembered his father turning the disk with all the holes and he wondered why. He climbed the chair in front of the desk and imitated his father by placing the horn back, lifting it again and turning the disk. While he held the horn against his ear, he heard the voice of a woman who said "Hello?". The voice sounded familiar and he wanted to say something but his untrained vocal cords only produced a raw sound. Than the woman hang up.
He was devastated and wanted to hear her again. He dialled and dialled. Sometimes he heard a man's voice which frightened him, sometimes a woman and sometimes a buzzing sound. Every time he heard a gentle voice he tried to say that one and only word from the past that slowly drifted to his conscious: "Mo.... Mo...."

Photo: 'soul_mining'
   Eager to hear that soft voice again, he did not give up and only stopped when he needed something to drink. When there was no water left any more, he managed to open the bottles, again imitating is father. He placed all bottles on the desk and drank when thirsty. After each drink he felt warm inside and it eased the hunger. Than the day came that there were no voices any more. Ad no buzzing sounds; the phone kept quiet which terrified the man tremendously. He tried to repair the wire with pieces of string he found in various drawers but silence remained. He kept on drinking and dialling until he panicked.
The passed sound of all voices he had heard, all buzzing sounds, swirled around in his head like leaves in an Autumn storm. He grabbed his head and ran around in circles, trying to hide for the cacophony of sounds that drove him mad. It was than when he remembered the shutter that lead to the stairs to the basement. The basement where he was put when there were voices in the house. He used all his energy to lift the shutter, the hinges made a squeaking sound. He finally managed to put his foot on the stair and still panicking he tried to move his short legs downstairs. He lost grip and fell; his body spinning round like a doll made of fluffy cloths. It was only seconds before the shutter fell back in place and only seconds before his head touched the ground with a sickening cracking sound that he finally shouted: "Mommy!!!!!"

   "Hello??" He listened to the soft feminine voice. "Hello? Anybody home?". But he could not answer any more. His body long ago mingled with the dust of the basement floor and nobody would ever recognize him. Still he tried to call and call.
The girl who entered the abandoned house could swear that some one answered her hello and when she repeated it, she heard it again at the same time the curtains moved in the wind that blew through the broken windows in the kitchen.


Word of thanks: the photo of @soul_mining (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Dan!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @soul_mining

Note: the story is pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!

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