Wednesday, 12 November 2008

22. Mute


I've been in shock, we've been in shock.

But I need to get down what happened when we went out.

I didn't want to, B. knew that. But we had to and I knew that.

We went out of the front - peeled the tape away, unlocked the door and stepped right out.
What were we expecting? Something. But it was still, silent, no change except for the leaves we stepped onto.

So we walked - first next door. No sign, no one there, no car. The next house - the same. And on.

I've never felt panic like that. All of my muscles constricted, impossible to move to breathe. Complete confusion, dizziness, sickness. Without speaking we just sat, in the leaves, on the road.

If the cold hadn't begun to creep around us, I don't think we'd have moved.
But the desire to keep living was there somewhere and it took us back home, where we stayed, holding each other, not speaking, for hours.

Finally B. broke the silence. "They're dead then."
"We need to know."

So we steeled ourselves. Wrapped up warm against the shock to come and left our shelter again. Every house on the main street we stopped at. Every one the same. Curtains open, doors closed, no sound, no life. We didn't speak, the silence ruled and it wasn't ours to break.

Then, finally, a change. Something new, unexpected. A barrier, visible, awaiting us further down the road, just where the houses stopped.

We ran, hurtled. This will be the checkpoint. This is where we get our information. This is where life begins again.

The closer we got the greater the fear, the fear that we could trust our eyes. What we saw was a wall, tall, white, metal, which stretched out both left and right. And we could hear it, an insistent crackle like a pylon. At the top circles of steel spikes. It had been designed to keep people out. Or in.

Still no words. We just started walking, following this snake, looking for the break, the entrance, the exit. Underfoot was earth, where obstacles had been cleared. We walked through gardens, fields, yards unhindered. The smooth white always beside us. And saw no one. Heard no one. Until, hours later we knew we had travelled the full perimeter and that our wall had no break, no entrance, no exit. And then we went home and lay, not knowing what to say or do or think. Letting the silence keep its reign.

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