Hear No Evil
To God the Father.
I belong only to You.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
He wakes up to silence.
It takes a brief moment for his eyes to get used to the darkness that surrounds him.
He is in a room. A room that starts to suffocate him the moment his eyes trail around the empty space.
So much empty space.
It should be peaceful, but it feels hollow, lifeless, like a bottomless pit that swallows one’s sanity. A blackhole that serves as a pariah for the ominous, the barred.
The room is bare. There is no single furniture that occupies the floor other than the wooden stakes that line the four walls of the room seemingly standing as a makeshift fence.
He is chained to one stake. Shackles enclose his wrists in a death grip while the chains ensure of his captivity.
The walls are made of thick logs from the sturdiest wood, but are devoid of decorations with no single protruding nail in sight. There are two small windows on either side of the room, sealed with barricades of lumber. No light from the moon can enter the room, except for one source of meager light.
At the center of the wooden floor there lies a melting candle. The light from its flame casts shades that fill the walls with haunting abstract images. The dark obscurities that bear witness to the soundless hum of the nocturnal whispers, as they sing the Ode to Hades- a lifeless melody reminiscent of inevitable demise.
The whispers lurk around every nook of the room where the light is forbidden, waiting to scream the throbbing tune that chills and breaches the barrier between flesh and soul.
His head throbs, aches. But it has nothing to do with his odd situation.
He cannot remember anything. He remembers nothing.
He takes a deep breath, before he latches onto his last bit of hope. The last remnant of stability that never fails to straighten his crooked life.
He reaches for the cold chain hanging around his neck. He touches the cross at the end and kisses it, pausing for a few moments to reflect. He raises the pendant and makes a sign of the cross before reciting the Lord’s Prayer like a chant.
He knows every word by heart. He knows every verse by rhythm.
He is taught all prayers at an early age, with his parents both a devout servant of God.
His parents are pure. Untainted. Unblemished. They raised him and his siblings to become a loyal servant of the scriptures.
Sin has never touched their door.
Their faith has always been stronger than anything else. Not even this vague situation he finds himself in can take away the devotion embedded in his heart and soul since he’s born into this world.
A smile adorns his lips as he reaches the end of the prayer.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end.
The words of the Lord have always made him feel peace.
Richard opens his eyes and makes the sign of the cross. Again. He places a kiss on the piece of silver. Again.
And then he lets it go.
Slowly, he rests his back against the wall, his leg stretched out before him.
He barely notices that he’s barefooted.
His eyes trail across the room once again- from the ceiling to the floor to the walls and finally, to the small door located a few feet away from his bed.
He stares at the door.
It doesn’t open.
He releases a weary sigh and closes his eyes. It doesn’t take long for him to surrender to the darkness, the peaceful look on his handsome face forever embedded. His breathing evens out, a tiny snore filling the once silent room with the breathy air coming from his slightly opened mouth.
He falls into a deep slumber. A deep dreamless slumber that he will be grateful for soon.
He fails to notice the eyes staring at him.
The candle melts and the light dies, surrounding the room with darkness.
He wakes up to the sound of the door opening.
Richard blinks the last of his sleepiness away and focuses his gaze at the direction of the door. He hears, more than sees, as it slowly swings open.
It’s dark outside the door, which means there is truly no other source of light other than the candle in the room, which has long since died.
His eyes never waver. His heart remains still. He waits for the inevitable occurrence that will surely happen.
A gut feel.
And then he hears them- the quiet footsteps and the clang of dragged chains all over the wooden floor.
The sounds totally cease.
The blackness in the room prevents him to see what he is supposed to see, but he knows that someone else is in the room with him.
He hears another short clang, one last final drag of chains, before the sudden set of hurried footsteps.
He listens. The footsteps seem lighter than the previous ones he just heard, as if the feet belong to someone who’s as light as the air.
Then silence. Another silence. But it’s not comfortable. The silence is there to remind him that there is someone in the dark watching him, feeling him.
A gush of air to his left. And then a giggle. A soft one that ends as abruptly as it starts.
His mouth moves first before his mind- he’s reciting the words even before he knows what he’s doing.
He starts praying.
He closes his eyes, refusing to be consumed by the fear that suddenly threatens to devour him whole.
“Our father in heaven, holy be thy name…” he starts, his voice a little bit shaky and hoarse.
He can hear the footsteps louder now.
“…thy will be done on earth.”
And then they stop. The footsteps stop.
He can feel it. But he refuses to acknowledge it.
The sudden presence beside him.
He continues to pray, uttering the words that usually strengthens him, his hand tightening on the metal cross he’s holding.
“Give us this day, our daily-”
“-bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
“Lead us not into temptation…”
He ignores it. He tries to ignore the sudden mellifluous voice that joins him in his prayer.
But it’s not easy. It’s never easy. It chants into his ear, like a pulsating rhythm that speaks of temptation. It refuses to be ignored, its sound drilling holes into his subconscious.
He shivers. Shivers so badly. As he feels its hot breath fanning the skin behind his ear. The hairs at the side of his neck stands up like soldiers in attention, but he refuses to turn his head.
“Redde debitum tuum. Redde debitum tuum. Redde debitum tuum,” the voice whispers, the words coming out from its mouth as swift as the wind.
He finishes the prayer and repeats it again, his voice joining the voice reciting words in a language he can’t fathom.
“Ad respondendum domino. Ad respondendum domino. Ad respondendum domino. Ad respondendum domino!”
Richard hears the light footsteps walking away from him. He hears the deliberate slow swing of the door. And then finally, the soft thud of a door closing.
He finally opens his eyes. He can feel his heart pumping blood furiously back to his veins.
He looks around, his eyes blinking fast to get used to the darkness. He still cannot see anything, but he can hear heavy breathing a few feet in front of him.
“Is there anyone there?” he finally asks, his voice a whisper just in case the being, or whatever or whoever it is who owns the voice, still lurks outside the door.
The heavy breathing stops.
“What’s… what’s your name?”
Richard falls asleep with the silence, and ironically, with the quiet sound of another breath mingling with his.
He stops counting the hours.
He doesn’t have a way of confirming the exact time of the day anyway. Or if it’s even night or day. The room remains dark, its blackness a vast mystery for him to even try solving. No flicker of light casts itself on the room- it’s as if the sun never shines wherever he is.
There is only shadow.
It doesn’t take long for him to stop questioning things. Like why he doesn’t feel hungry or thirsty. Like why he doesn’t feel fear despite the soft whispers that accompany him in the darkness at times.
All he knows is that it’s not normal. But he has come to terms with it. Acceptance allows him to hold on to the last bits of his sanity.
The voice never comes near him again, but the door continues to open and close.
Sometimes he hears footsteps. Sometimes he doesn’t.
Sometimes he feels breathing beside him. Sometimes he feels a presence.
Sometimes he feels eyes on him. Sometimes he swears he sees them from the corner of the room.
But he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know anymore what is real. All he knows is that the room feels a bit fuller, the atmosphere changing every time the door closes. Richard is sure he is not alone anymore.
And has never been alone for the past few days.