A Fear of Silence

📅 Published on January 1, 2021

“A Fear of Silence”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 7 minutes

Rating: 9.20/10. From 10 votes.
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Back in 1956, I signed up for a psych experiment in college. They had a float tank, one of those sensory deprivation chambers, and they needed people willing to be closed up in it.

Easiest experiment in the world, as far as I was concerned. All they wanted was for me to lay in the water for an hour, and they were going to pay me five dollars? This was the ‘50s, mind you, so that’s like getting forty, maybe fifty dollars today. I signed up in a heartbeat. So did half the campus, judging by the line when I got there, but I got lucky in the lottery and was chosen. Well, it seemed lucky at the time.

At first, it really was the easiest money I’d ever made. I’d come in three times a week, put on a specially wired wetsuit that the eggheads had made, and climb into the tank. They’d hook me up, close the lid, and I’d just float there for an hour. For the first few minutes, I’d find myself listening to the water and smelling the salt, but soon even those would fade out and I’d just be—drifting.

I know that sounds obvious, but I don’t just mean in the physical sense. I’d come unmoored in there, completely detached from my surroundings and my self. Some of the other participants reported having visions, out of body experiences, but I never had any of that. I was always just gone. Not gone anywhere in particular; just gone.

Sometimes, it felt like they were opening the lid seconds after they closed it. Other times, I’d swear that I’d been in there for years, even decades. I’d come out of those times blinking and shocked to find that I was still a young man. I felt I’d lived lifetimes, and just somehow couldn’t quite remember them.

I was never asleep. Their wetsuit doohickeys checked on that. Alpha waves or something, I don’t know. I did fall asleep a couple of times in the early sessions, and both times I was startled awake by what sounded like a cannon firing right by my head. That was someone knocking on the outside of the tank. Let me tell you, I don’t care how deep a sleeper you think you are. The way that tank reverberated, it could wake the dead.

I never knew what they were recording or what they were looking for. They’d ask me questions when I got out, but they were always open-ended. Tell us about your experience, things like that. Then they’d just listen while I talked, pencils scratching and big cameras rolling. They were big-budget for those days. It must’ve been some sort of government grant.

They never really got their money’s worth out of me, in my opinion. I never had much to report in the aftersession. My experience was always the same: I was nowhere, doing nothing. The only difference was how long I thought it had been. I dutifully told them each time. It felt like I was in there for thirty seconds. It felt like I was in there for forty years. They wrote it all down every time and gave me my five dollars, so I was happy to keep coming back.

Then one day, it was different. I was in the tank, I was nowhere, I was nowhen. And suddenly I could sense something else. I could see it, but not with my eyes. My eyes saw only blackness, yet I had the impression of something else there. If sight were speech, then my eyes didn’t have the words to explain whatever this was.

I felt it in the same confusing way. It touched me, an exploratory caress, but not in any physical sensation. I felt ideas, felt them as textures and pressure. I wasn’t equipped to understand them that way, but somehow I felt they were negative.

And I heard it. I heard it with my ears, the sound of it. It scratched and it tore, little ripping noises like a metal rasp being dragged across a carpet. It dragged, a heavy, wet sound that spoke of rotten ooze and putrefaction. It rattled, the sound of cicada husks stirred by the wind, the noise of an old man’s dying breath. All this I heard, the only sounds ever to reach me in the tank. And quiet though they were, and lost though I was, I heard them gradually increasing in volume as they grew closer, ever closer.

I was nowhere. I was no one. Yet this thing saw me, knew me. It was coming toward me. I could almost see it, in the blankness where there should have been blackness. I could almost feel it, in the ideas running over my skin. And I could hear it, hear every blasphemous noise it made. I do not know why my ears perceived it so perfectly, but every sound it made imprinted on my brain there in the dark.

And then suddenly, I was gasping and floundering in water, a rectangle of light before my eyes. The hatch was opened, one of the experimenters offering me a hand out. He saw my confusion, my disorientation and asked, “Did you see something?”

That day, they got their money’s worth. In the light, it seemed silly, a passing fancy, but I told them of what I’d heard and experienced. I replicated the noises as best as I could, but they were never meant to be made by a healthy human throat.

Maybe I should have quit that day. But by the time I returned three days later, I had convinced myself it was nothing but a nightmare, and I wasn’t about to give up my meal ticket over something so simple. So back into the tank I went.

Again it came, while I was lost in the black. I heard it again, its terrible broken carapace scraping along the ground, dragged along by countless skittering legs. I knew it came for me, and bodiless, I tried to run. I had no way of knowing if I moved or not, though, and steadily it closed on me through whatever passed for distance here.

It was close enough for me to smell its hunger when I found myself blinking in the light again, my heart pounding.

“Something’s got you spooked,” I remember the experimenter saying to me. “Your heart’s going a mile a minute.”

In the post interview, I told them of the noises again, and they showed me a surprise. They had put a microphone in with me this time, to try to identify the source of the sounds. They played back the tape, and we turned up the volume and held our breaths. I expected to hear nothing, but thought that perhaps the microphone would detect something mundane, some rustling from the lab outside that I had blown into nightmarish proportions.

And then, to my shock—it came. The softly shredding metal, the whispering tongues, the graveyard rattle. Quietly, distant, but approaching.

“There!” I cried, pointing at the tape as if I could identify the sound with my finger. The scientists looked at me quizzically. I frowned, for the sound had stopped.

“Back up the tape,” I told them, and they did so. I listened intently, and whispered, “There…there!” as the noises started again.

“I…haven’t restarted the tape yet,” the assistant told me, looking bewildered, and I looked up to see that it was true. The wheels were still, the tape unmoving. Yet in the silence, I could hear that dreadful creature moving, hunting me.

I looked from face to face. No one but me seemed to hear it, and when they spoke to ask me to describe it, I could not hear it either. In every silence, though, it resumed. Always far away, as if it had lost the scent in the noise. But when the silences wore on, always, inexorably dragging closer.

I laughed it off that day. I told them that the dark must have gotten to me, and that I would be back the next week for the next regular session. Perhaps I even meant it then, for as long as we were talking, everything was normal. But when I left the building to walk home, I could hear its subtle pursuit in every pause.

I sang to myself out loud on the way home. I clapped my hands in the pauses where I breathed, and kept the noise going. When I reached my dormitory, I turned on my ceiling fan and collapsed onto my bed. My heart was racing, but with the steady whir of the fan above me, the unearthly noises had ceased.

Slowly, my heart calmed and I relaxed. By bedtime, I might even have convinced myself that things were fine. Certainly I was relaxed enough to go to sleep, the spinning fan maintaining a soft sentinel above my head.

In the middle of the night, I awoke with a blood-curdling shriek. I could feel the horrid, uncanny touch upon my skin, hear the rustling like a field of corn, dry and rotted on the stalks, swaying in the wind. It was here, in the room, upon me! I shouted, babbled, anything to drive it back, flailed for the lights to chase back my fears.

My roommate was out of his bed, tangled in the sheets, shouting “What is it? What is it?”

“The fan!” I cried. “Did you turn off the fan?”

“I was cold,” he said, confused.

“Never!” I told him, desperately pulling the cord. Above me, my savior spun to life, white noise obliterating the silence. “Never turn this off again!”

I apologized the next morning, blaming it on a terror of the night, but reiterated my request about the fan. He accepted my apology, but a few months later transferred rooms anyway, citing a desire for peace and quiet.

For I had become a man of constant noise. I hummed to myself, tapped my fingers on desks during tests, clicked my teeth together when nothing else could be done. I played records constantly in my room, and I slept with the fan on every night.

Technology has been a godsend for me. I spent more money than I could properly afford to have a television, that constant stream of noise. I bought eight-tracks, home stereos, every loud gadget. I eagerly embraced the Walkman in the 80s: portable sound! And powered by batteries, those tiny life-savers. I had spent years in terror of power outages, killers of all electric noisemakers. The Walkman could keep going for hours, and finally I could breathe easily when storms made the lights flicker.

These days, aged though I am, I am a smartphone user like everyone else. My contemporaries laugh at my readiness to adopt the new technology, but for me it is a matter of life and death. I do not dare let the silence descend upon me.

And yet, I think I may soon have no choice. It has been twenty years since my hearing first started to fail, fifteen since my first hearing aids. They have grown smaller and more powerful over the years, but technological advances are losing the race against my failing body. I can no longer hear the susurrus of the fan, my constant companion all these years. Conversations have grown muted. And even with my phone synced to my Bluetooth hearing aids and the volume turned high, my music gets quieter by the day.

Yesterday, as I sat alone in my house, my phone rebooted itself to install an update. In the silence it left behind, I heard shattered claws clicking greedily, something foul and pustulent dripping in an open cavern, and a horrid sliding noise like raw meat being dragged across a grater. I hobbled to the kitchen and turned on the disposal, the blender and the microwave, but even so it was just barely enough.

I think soon all my efforts will be insufficient, and at last I will have nothing left but the silence.

Rating: 9.20/10. From 10 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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