A story from "Noise"
Marionette was walking down the street with her good friend Chérie
when she was startled to see a woman floating along on the other side
of the street.
Marionette stopped in alarm and stared at the woman as she hovered. Marionette turned to Chérie who was looking at her in puzzlement.
“Are you all right?” Chérie asked.
“Don't... Don't you see that?” Marionette asked, pointing at the floating woman.
Chérie looked at the woman and then back at Marionette. She shrugged.
Marionette turned back to the floating woman, but there was no doubting it. That woman was hanging in mid air.
Marionette decided to pretend it hadn't happened. Nobody else had noticed it. Perhaps it had only happened in her mind. She laughed and said Chérie's expression had been priceless.
Chérie sighed and they moved on.
Marionette probably could have completely forgotten about it, until a
few days later, when she saw another person floating in the air. It
was somebody else this time.
And she kept on seeing them. They were everywhere she went.
Just when she had put them out of her mind at last, she would see another one.
Nobody else could ever see them.
Finally, Marionette had had enough. She couldn't take it any more.
She was with Chérie again when she saw one of the floating people waiting in line at a food stall.
Marionette ran over to the young man and tried to figure out how he was hovering in the air.
Failing any explanation, she shook him violently and screamed in his face. She did not receive any response; from the boy, anyway.
Everyone around her was terrified and confused.
But Marionette didn't notice them. She stared in horror at the boy hovering in front of her. She had never seen one of them so close before.
He had no eyes. There were just deep shadows where his eyes should have been.
Marionette felt like screaming again. The boy still hadn't reacted.
Chérie was dragging her away.
“Get a grip, Marionette!” Chérie hissed in her ear.
Marionette covered her eyes as Chérie led her far away from the food stall.
Marionette tried to think about what these floating people might be.
They were like lifeless puppets; vessels devoid of soul. They were human, but empty.
Chérie put a coffee down in front of Marionette and sat across from her at the café table.
“...Have you been under a lot of stress lately?” Chérie asked.
“I... I'm seeing things,” Marionette murmured.
“Um... okay. What kind of things?” Chérie asked cautiously.
“You're... You're not going to think I'm crazy, right? You're going to believe I've seen them, aren't you?” Marionette worried.
“I'll believe that you've seen them, yes. Whether or not I think you're crazy depends on what you're talking about,” Chérie replied.
“I see... people without souls. They float in the air. They're everywhere,” Marionette said.
Chérie was thoughtful for a moment, thinking how she should reply. She took a sip from her coffee, then reached across the table and moved Marionette's coffee away from her.
“I think you should go home and get some sleep,” Chérie said.
It was dark at home. And cold.
Marionette looked around but all the windows were shut. She could see the street lamps on outside. She walked over to the window straight ahead of her and looked out towards the horizon.
Outside, the world was silent, cold and dark. Marionette wondered how many puppets were out there, floating through the night.
With nobody else around her, Marionette felt so alone. Like she was the only living being in a world of the dead. The world was vast, but empty, and Marionette was all alone.
She shivered and went to go find some blankets.
As the days continued, Marionette began to wonder where all the
puppets were coming from. The question changed, however, when she
realised that they weren't appearing out of nowhere, but rather
people were turning into puppets.
This thought hadn't occurred to her until she saw people she knew had turned into puppets. Someone she'd met a few times and someone she saw every week.
As she saw more and more puppets, she finally realised that everyone would turn into a puppet.
Really? Would everyone change? Even Chérie? Even... my parents?
Marionette really started to panic then. She wasn't sure what to do. Eventually she managed to calm herself down enough to decide she should call her parents on the phone.
There was no answer.
Marionette slowly put the phone down. She had to know if her parents were all right. She started thinking about how to get to their house.
She had never learned how to drive. Ever since that day in the car, she couldn't even bear to be inside one, so that was out of the question.
She took the train. Almost everyone she saw was a puppet. It made her panic even more. She hurried to her parents house and knocked on the door.
There was no answer, just like with the phone.
She ran over to a window and looked inside. She could see them in there. It was too late. They were puppets.
There was nobody else left now. Marionette raced towards home but
headed for Chérie's
place. When she knocked on Chérie's
door, she hardly expected an answer.
But the door opened. Chérie saw Marionette's terrified face and, with her forehead furrowed, she asked, “What's wrong?”
Marionette hugged Chérie and started babbling incoherently.
“Calm down, Marionette!” Chérie said.
“I can't! I'm just so relieved that you're all right!” Marionette wept.
“What's going on?” Chérie asked, peering out the front door nervously and then closing it.
“Everybody's... losing their souls. You're the only one left!” Marionette said.
Chérie didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say. Marionette was inconsolable.
Eventually, Chérie sighed. “How come you always depend on me so much?” she wondered as she tried to peel Marionette's arms off of her.
Marionette refused to let go. She just wanted to hold on to this feeling a little longer. She was so glad she wasn't alone.
Then she felt Chérie go limp.
Marionette slowly, ever so slowly, turned her head upwards. She saw deep shadows where Chérie's eyes should have been.
Marionette ran home. When she'd gotten there, she locked the door
behind her. She couldn't go out there again. Ever.
She walked over to a wall and leaned back against it, then fell to the floor.
She was all alone now. All alone with her thoughts. So she thought about it. She couldn't wrap her head around it all.
What was happening to everyone? What were these puppets? Why did they all feel dead?
For some reason, her mind kept on being drawn back, back, back. Everything was cold and dark and silent, but... but...
Marionette remembered a time when she'd thought the world was loud, with all its colours and noise.
After that day in the car, the world had been oddly quiet.
She'd been in the back seat of the car that day, looking out the window at the world rushing past them, although it occasionally took rests when they stopped at a red light.
She had only been seven years old.
Her parents had been too busy driving and navigating to notice what she was up to. It seemed they were always too busy after that day.
After looking out the window, Marionette only remembered that something happened. She remembered that the world rushed faster around them than ever before. She remembered the world becoming noisier than she'd ever heard...
And then she remembered going home.
Her parents were so quiet after that, and sometimes they ignored her. Sometimes they didn't even notice her presence at all.
And when she went back to school, she couldn't find any of her friends. Nobody else knew who she was talking about, and she began to wonder if they had all been in her imagination.
She was so lonely after that day in the car.
Now Marionette was sure that it wasn't that something had happened
to everyone else, but rather something had happened to her.
Where am I? WHERE AM I?
She felt something tug at her hand and she looked down, only to be paralysed with fear at what she saw. She slowly turned her head upwards.
Her eyes were fixed on the strings pulling her around.