The Books of Shallice

The Rain in the Silence


Andrew Norman

This story takes place in the Lovecraft mythos and has violent imagery.

At one point in my life, I enjoyed silence. My mind is frequently racing, so sessions of silence help to calm me down. They make it easier to sleep and concentrate on work. It’s nothing like meditation– It’s just sitting quietly for an extended period of time. I got a pair of earplugs to help keep even small sounds from distracting me, like the sound of my air filter or the neighbor’s dog barking.

Sometimes I would sit in this silence for maybe an hour or two. I could feel the calmness settle after about thirty minutes, but I just enjoyed the peaceful feeling of no distractions, internal or external.

One day, after work, I ended up sitting like this for four hours. I then noticed something: I could hear light rain even though I had my earplugs in. It was very quiet, but unmistakably rain. Since no earplugs can block out sound entirely, I thought that maybe it was raining, and, somehow, the sound of rain was bleeding through better than other sounds. So, I opened the blinds on my window. It was dark because it was night, but it definitely wasn’t raining. I removed the earplugs and the rain sound stopped, replaced by the sound of my air filter.

Over the next few months, I continued to sit in the silence periodically. The rain sound wouldn’t always come, but, when it did, it began to be louder and come earlier.

Eventually, it only took me about an hour to hear the rain. If I couldn’t hear it by the end of an hour of silence, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to hear it at all that night. It had gotten to be as loud as if I were sitting by a lake, hearing the rain pound against it. It was a very relaxing sound, and I always looked forward to my silent sessions. This continued for months.

One day in about the middle of June, I later found out close to Litha, the summer solstice, I was sitting in my living room while listening to the rain in the silence. I began to hear something apart from the rain: Movement. It sounded as if I could hear people moving around, and moving objects– wood and stone were being stacked. I simply continued to listen, paying very close attention.

After some time, and at this point late at night, the rain stopped, and I could hear the people, without saying a word, start a fire. After a few minutes of hearing the crackling of the fire, some chanting began. I couldn’t understand what the chants were– It was in a language that I didn’t know or recognize. It continued for hours. At times it was a calm, soft chant, and at others it was a wild, cacophanous frenzy. Still, I listened.

At the height of one of the loudest moments, the chanting stopped abruptly. I could only hear the fire.

After about thirty seconds, I heard a sudden, terrified, and violent scream from a woman's voice. Eventually the chanting continued, over the sound of the unending screams.

I couldn’t stand the sound anymore. I pulled out my earplugs, and the chanting, the screaming, and the fire, had stopped completely, replaced by the ambient sound of my air filter. I looked at the clock and it was past three in the morning. I assumed I had fallen asleep in my chair and had had a nightmare.

I heard the same thing the next night. The same rain, same fire, same chant, but now a man screaming. Again the next night, with a different man screaming. I was certainly not asleep– My eyes were wide open.

I decided to investigate and take it a step further– I got a sleep mask. In addition to hearing nothing, I was going to see nothing.

The first hour or so was, as usual, nothing. I heard nothing and saw nothing. Then, I heard the rain, and now I could see the rain. I could see a swamp in the waning daylight, as clearly as if I were there. I seemed to be standing on an island in the middle of this swamp, and the rain was falling off the leaves of the trees and into the water. On this island were the remains of a bonfire, presumably from the night before, as well as some kind of tall pedestal with nothing on it in the middle.

Soon, people began to gather on the island, coming out from the swamp, I think somewhere around thirty altogether. They were dressed in typical American clothes– Some wore jeans and t-shirts, some wore hoodies, some wore kakhis and polos, some wore sweatpants, some women wore skirts or dresses. The only thing that was really unusual about their appearance is that the bottoms of their legs were filthy from walking in the swamp. They brought the materials for a bonfire, and put a hideous statue on top of the pedestal.

The stone the statue was made from looked similar to soapstone, but was a sickeningly green color, and, judging from how it was being carried, was extremely heavy. The carved image was an obese figure that seemed vaguely humanoid, sitting on the ground with its knees in the air, and its hands resting on its knees. Coming out of its back were two wings that looked almost like a bat’s wings, but longer and thinner. The head was certainly not human, with an odd shape, disproportionately large eyes, and tentacle-like appendages at the bottom. Overall, the head looked more like a cuttlefish’s head than a human’s head.

When the preparations for the bonfire were complete, the rain stopped. The people there gathered in a circle around the bonfire, and what looked like a heavily-drugged woman was led close to the bonfire by an extremely tall figure dressed in a long black robe and hood, carrying a lit torch. I couldn’t see the figure’s face because of the hood. His movement was unnatural and confusing. I’d never seen a human or animal move like that.

The hooded figure used the torch to light the fire, and the chanting began. The chanting was the same as the other nights, when I could only hear and not see. There were calmer moments and wilder moments. During the calmer chants, the people either stood still in a circle around the bonfire or slowly walked around it, making gestures that I’d never seen before. During the wilder moments, some people appeared to have seizures, while others performed a kind of highly-energetic ritualistic dance. During all of this, the drugged woman stood, swaying, struggling to keep her balance, hardly aware of what was going on, and the hooded figure stood silent and motionless.

At one point, the chanting stopped, and everyone re-formed into a circle. More hooded figures came out of the swamp and onto the island, I counted ten more, and simply stood outside the circle to watch. The hooded figure in the center of the circle produced a crudely-made dagger made out of what looked like an animal bone from his robe and held it up. One man came out of the circle and took the dagger, and began stabbing the woman in the stomach. Drugged as she was, she knew pain, and began screaming hysterically as she fell to the ground and the man continued forcing the knife into her stomach. When the man was done, he handed the bloodied dagger to the hooded figure, who put it back into his robe, and the chanting resumed. Before rejoining the circle, the man took the still-screaming woman and threw her into the bonfire, which began to glow green– the same sickeningly green color as the chimeric idol.

While the chanting and the screaming continued to become unbearably loud, the hooded figure started to slowly turn towards my vantage point, as if he knew I was watching. I was nearly too afraid to move, but managed to yank off my sleeping mask and pull out my earplugs.

I was again, in my living room, seeing the television that was powered off in front of me and hearing the low hum of my air filter.

I knew I could never have another one of these sessions again, but I sometimes still hear the rain in the silence.