The Voice

📅 Published on March 31, 2023

“The Voice”

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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


Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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“Brother Vance, tell us the latest prophecy!  Surely you have seen more by now?”  The man before me was a wiry, tall creature with hair that seemed to be trying to run from the center of his head as though it might escape some impending disaster. His eyes were a shade of blue that made ice seem warm, and there was a dullness to his appraisal that told me his thoughts were simple and dark.  He dressed in black slacks and a black shirt that showed off his clerical collar, lest anyone forget that he was an ordained priest.

He called himself Father Icarus, for he intended to lead us all into the light. Perhaps there had been a time when he was a good man, but that time was gone before I knew him, burned away by his continued attempts to climb into the sun.  All that was left was obsession, and a steadfast belief that he was in possession of the key to true salvation.

He believed I was to be that key, but the truth was that there was no salvation to find.

I saw the future.  More precisely, the future was spoken to me, whispered in my ear at night while I tried to sleep.

The voice of prophecy was like the tone of an old dial phone played across the bones of a washboard made of glass reeds.  It rattled the teeth in my skull, and stuck like hooks in my cavities sending sparks of hot-wire pain directly into my brain.  I wanted to beg it not to speak to me, but it seemed to find pleasure in my pleas, and I had long since given up hope of relief.

This was the voice of “salvation” that Father Icarus so believed in.  This was the gift they all sought from me, though they hardly understood that it was no gift at all.  At first I had stolen positive things from these nightly horrors.  I could turn my back to the blackness of the world if only I could find the silver lining at its edge, and not everything whispered into my ear was poison.

I prophesied storms, and was always right.  I told my peers where to plant their farms to avoid terrible floods.  I predicted births down to the exact hour, and prothesized the rise and fall of political figures.  Father Icarus always loved to hear my predictions, and none more so than the one he considered the true sign of my power.  I pulled from the ether the winning numbers of the largest lottery in our state’s history, and the church reaped the benefits of my prediction.

Surely, then, my powers were good and just!?  Surely the source of such great fortune couldn’t be evil?  The things I kept to myself were the things that showed the true nature of the voice.

I told no one about the rise of dark cults across the world.  I shared no secrets about the babies born with black eyes and razor teeth that cut their own way from the womb.  I wouldn’t have known where to start talking about the doorways opening to strange places that let stranger things crawl into our universe.  How could I begin to explain that other groups, just like ours, were popping up all over the world, and that their good intentions were turning into twisted nightmares?

The flock didn’t know that I had heard these things as well.  They didn’t know that the voice of prophecy had told me that the world was ending and that a time of suffering without end was coming.  I had been quiet for days, unable to see light in the darkness of my nightly horrors.  The worst of the prophecies were all that remained, repeated nightly like a madman’s favorite album.  Father Icararus was growing impatient.  After all, my lack of prophecy made him look bad.  It made his flock begin to doubt, or so he claimed.  The truth was that the Father’s flock had already accepted him as a newly-born savior.   I had no idea what he would have to do to chase them away, but it wouldn’t be as easy as not giving them a new prophecy for a few days.

“Surely the Lord has given you another premonition, son?”  He pressed me.  He’d been pushing me for days, and so in anger I gave him what he wanted.  “What gift does he have for us true believers?”

His nagging had grown to be too much.  If it was prophecy he wanted, then it was prophecy I would give him.

“A great darkness is coming, and it is hungry and eternal; the end of all things to have begun.  You will know it’s coming by the messenger, a man who speaks for the unspeakable.  He will herald the time of madness.”  The words were etched into my brain, and repeating them was easy.

Father Icarus’s expression faltered, darkened.  I thought for a moment that he was going to yell, rant or rave at me and demand I give him something less dark, but then he smiled.  His expression was like the breaking of a storm, but the light that shone through the dark wasn’t a pleasant one.  There was no hope in this silver lining.

“I’m not lying,” I said cautiously.

“I know you’re not, my boy!” He seemed honestly pleased, and this I found even more disturbing.  “This is the kind of prophecy that we’ve been waiting for since you were first discovered.  Can’t you see, our congregation has lived through the times of light, but what really draws people together is tragedy . . . hardship!  These tribulations that you predict, they are a divine test. We will only grow stronger together, Brother.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but the fervor in the man’s eyes was enough to tell me that he wasn’t going to listen, not really.  I slipped away as he began his preparations for the end times.  I needed to leave this place behind.  I’d yet to get a premonition that directly related to Father Icarus and his followers, but I could sense the change in atmosphere.  Something bad was coming, and the longer I stayed where I was, the closer it became.

The real problem was finding any place that was safe.  Where would I go?

There are other worlds beyond this one.  You only need a key.  The voice crackled into my skull and I stumbled mid-step, barely catching myself on a nearby railing.

“What key?”  I was talking to myself, but there was no one around to hear me.

Go forth, and I will lead you.  This world is already dead, but you can travel to others.  Find the key.  Steal the van.

“I can’t just steal the van . . . people will notice!  They’ll come looking for me.”  The words, with their sudden direction, were making my heart beat fast in my chest.  Normally there were no directions.  Normally there were only descriptions of things that were happening, or going to happen.  This time the voice seemed to be actually talking directly to me, and I didn’t appreciate its notice.

Steal the van, Brother Vance.  Escape the darkness.

Minutes later I was in the driver’s seat of the compound’s van.  It was a new vehicle, one purchased with the lottery winnings, but it was still a large Van and so it wasn’t exactly meant for fast, stealthy escapes.  I had never driven it myself.  In fact, I had only driven a few times in my life, and it had been a much smaller car.

I caught myself trying to look in every direction at once and forced my eyes to focus on the task before me.  The morning was still dark.  No one would be out to check on the van.  I reached up and flipped down the visor.  The key fell down in front of me and I picked it up.  It was so easy.  Surely if they cared that much about the van they would have made more of an effort of keeping the keys in a safe place.  It was pretty much a sign.

Telling myself this allowed me to build enough nerve to put the keys in the ignition and turn the car on.  The engine roared to life, filling the air with what seemed like far too much sound.  I was committed at that point.  There was no going back now that my escape vehicle was running.  The door to the compound slammed open, and someone stepped out into the early morning dark.

“Who’s in there?!” a voice yelled.

I shifted the van into reverse, and slammed on the gas pedal.  The vehicle responded with much more enthusiasm than I expected, and a moment later I was tearing my way down the dirt road that led away from the place that I’d spent most of my youth.  I was finally going to be free.  The odds were good that they would come looking for me before long, but they’d be hesitant to use the police.  Not all of the things that happened in Paradise City were entirely legal, though Father Icarus assured us that they were legal in the eyes of God, which I took to mean that they were legal in the eyes of Father Icarus and that would have to be good enough.

Still, it was several hours before I stopped checking the rearview mirror every few seconds for an indication that I was being followed.  Freedom, however, was to be short-lived.  It was only a few moments after I’d stopped checking the mirrors that the voice spoke to me again.

Left, Vance.

It was a simple direction, and I had no plan as to where I would go next, so the direction of the voice was as good as any.  Still, listening to it made me feel like I’d given up one abusive overlord for another.  Father Icarus was an evil man, and it could be hard to tell at first, but the voice that spoke the prophecies into my head wasn’t evil.  ‘Evil’ wasn’t a word that could be applied to the kind of darkness the voice represented.  If chaos was a natural energy, than that is what the voice would represent, but even knowing that I followed the directions it gave me.  It was either that, or be truly alone, and I feared being alone most of all.

We drove far off of the main roads until we were on dirt paths climbing heavily wooded hills.  At times things became so bad I wasn’t sure that the van would pull through, but it always managed.  We traveled for more than five hours, but finally we came to the place the voice was leading us.

I drove past a heavy steel gate that had been left open.  The booth where a guard should have been stationed was empty, the glass broken and the door swinging wide.  It was a clear sign that whoever had left this place behind had done so in a hurry.  What was this place anyway?  It looked like some kind of military installation.  I parked my car on the inside of the abandoned gate and walked up to a door cut into the side of a hill.  I’d seen enough bunkers on television to know what one looked like, and this place was a bunker.

The doors were three feet thick and sealed by massive turning wheels.  Well, they weren’t sealed now.  The double door was hanging open, a cement tunnel crawling away from the entrance and deeper into the hill.  A single line of fluorescent tubes lit the path.

“Where am I?”  I asked, not entirely certain what kind of answer I expected to get.

This is a place where dangerous things have been kept, but no longer.  The key that you need is inside.  Follow my directions closely.  Going the wrong way here means that you will die a horrible death.

That was enough warning to keep me carefully on the path the voice wanted me to follow, even if the logical part of my thoughts were telling me that just getting away from here was the best thing I could do for my hopes at longevity.  Going down into this bunker didn’t feel like a good idea.

Still, the voice had led me this far, and now I felt as though I was committed to the path it was leading me down.  I followed the hallway, ignoring the branches in other directions, until I reached a set of stairs that took me down further into the facility.  There were security doors, but they’d all been left open, some clearly intentionally braced open so they wouldn’t shut.  It looked like a case of sabotage.

I turned a corner on the voice’s recommendation and heard the sound of distant screams bouncing down the tunnel in my direction.  This caused me to hesitate mid-step.

Don’t slow down if you want to live.  Your time is limited.

The chill this sent down my back got me moving again quickly.  I walked past doors that looked like they’d been pulled from the set of an insane asylum movie, heavy metal structures with a slot at the top where someone could peer inside.  Most of these doors were still shut, but a few of them were open.  The voice urged me not to stop and look into the rooms beyond, and so I kept moving.

Stop. It finally said, and I turned to an open door on my right side.  It’s in there.  Go retrieve the key.

I nodded and walked towards the door.  It was already partially ajar, and a part of me wondered if there would be anything left in the room at all.  Why was a key locked away in a facility like this anyway?  I pushed the handle on the door and it swung open.

Inside, the room was barren except for a pedestal in the very center.  Atop the pedestal sat a small black sack.  Or . . . perhaps it was brown, and it was actually quite large.  The more I looked at the bag, the less certain I was of anything about it.  It seemed to shift as I turned my head, as though I wasn’t seeing all of it at once, and I couldn’t make my eyes bring it into focus

“Is the key in the bag?”  I asked.

You will take the bag, put it in your pocket, and we will leave the same way we came, but faster.

“So the key is in the bag?”  I asked again, stepping forward towards the bag even though doing so made my stomach flop as though I was getting motion sick.

You are not to open the bag.  Just put it into your pocket and leave.  Time is running out, Brother Vance.

As if to emphasize the voice’s words, an unearthly roar echoed down the corridor, cascading off the walls as though searching for the next victim of whatever horror had summoned the sound.  I sprang forward on legs that suddenly wanted to shake and grabbed the bag, shoving it down into my pocket even as a feeling of utter revulsion swept through me, though the revulsion was quickly followed by a strong curiosity.

It was an insidious thing, this curiosity, nettling at the back of my mind in an insistent way.  It kept asking me if I really wanted to carry a bag whose contents I didn’t know.  Wouldn’t it be better just to give it a single look to make sure it was safe?  A quick peek into the bag couldn’t hurt . . .

Fortunately, for the time being, I had a far more pressing task to pursue, and that was my escape from this awful place.  I ran back through the halls as fast as my legs would take me, and I would have sworn that something terrible was in pursuit.  I could feel it at my back, its presence so pressing that I refused to even glance over my shoulder.  I knew that if I chanced a single look back, I would be snagged by my pursuer and dragged back into the dark of the tunnels to become just another screaming voice.

Somehow I made it back to the van.  As I was finally forced to look back the way I’d just come, all I saw was an empty doorway.  Whatever phantom had chased me through the halls had gone back into the depths, or perhaps had escaped into the world.  Either way, I was free to continue my own exodus.

I threw the van into reverse and escaped from that place as fast as the little people mover would take me.  It didn’t feel fast enough.  The pall of that nightmare place seemed to stretch far beyond its walls.  In fact, even as I rejoined the highway, I could still feel its cold touch upon my skin.  This was my second escape of the day, and some part of me knew it was the more dangerous of the two by far.  The strange pull of the object in my pocket was just another aspect of that.  It clung to my curiosity like a hook caught in the gut of an over-eager fish.

The end of this place is upon us.  The voice of havoc rang through my head.

“Then how do we escape it?” I asked, more afraid than I’d ever been before.  I didn’t want to live in a world that felt as alien as this one now did.  “I have the key, how do I get out now?”

The door.  The words slipped into my consciousness, bringing with them images of an old wood door set in the frame of buildings in what looked like a city alley.  If there was something special about the door, I couldn’t decipher the fact with just the short vision granted to me, but I knew I wouldn’t have to either.  The voice was still guiding me, and now I knew where we were going.

We traveled on through the night and into the next day.  I hadn’t slept, and every minute of driving was an agony, a personal fight to stay awake and aware.  Before I even knew it, we were pulling off of the interstate and winding our way into the depths of the city.  The buildings rose like spires around us, and the angry scream of the traffic kept me alert for this last leg of my journey.

Even in this place that was so alien to me I could sense the change in the world.  Shadows moved where they shouldn’t, and tempers flared at even the smallest offenses.  A man crossing the street against the light was accosted by an angry driver who dragged him to the ground and began beating him savagely as a crowd gathered and cheered him on.  I passed a small store where the clerk had drawn a weapon on a kid he’d caught stealing a can of soda.  Thankfully I was well past the scene when I heard the telltale bark of weapon fire.  A couple caught in a small argument tumbled across the ground, fists flying and hateful words drowning out the laughter of those who had come to watch it all unfold.  People were exploding with hate and rage.  I moved through them like a man wading into a swift river.  I could feel the torrent of madness washing around me, but I kept moving forward.  Escape was nearly at hand.

I followed the guidance of the voice down a narrow alley, and then another that bisected the first, the channels between the buildings becoming so narrow that I felt like I could scarcely walk without turning to one side or the other.  Suspicion was beginning to creep into my mind.  Perhaps the voice was leading me into some kind of trap.  Was I a fool for following it deeper and deeper into dark places?  The object in my pocket seemed to throb with intensity.  Maybe, just maybe, looking at it would help clarify the situation for me.

Just as those thoughts crescendoed into a body-shaking horror that I was certain would undo me, the door appeared before me, exactly as I had seen it in my vision.  It looked old.  The building into which it was laid seemed brand new by comparison, and the old brick structure had to be a few hundred years old.  Why, then, did the door look like it had been here far longer than the rest of the structure?  It looked like it would more appropriately be sat into the wall of a castle, or perhaps found amidst ruins buried in the woods for thousands of years.  The wood gave the impression that a solid kick might turn the whole thing to a pile of splinters, but when I reached out and touched the portal it felt as firm beneath my fingers as the bricks into which it was set.

I grabbed the handle and turned it, but it didn’t yield so easily to my grasp.  There was no keyhole anywhere on the door that I could see, and the panic started to slip back in.

“How do I open it?  Where does the key go?”  I tried the handle again, taking it with both hands and trying to force it.

Calm, Brother Vance.  Place both hands on the door and wait. 

I did as the voice said, though my hands were shaking as I sat them against the worn wood of the door.  I laid my palms flat and waited.  The door was cold, as though it had no regard for the relatively warm weather that existed around it.  It was cold enough that after a few moments of resting my palms upon it, they started to hurt.  I was about to repeat my discomfort so the voice knew what was happening, but as I opened my mouth I felt a click within the door, as if some unknowable lock had just set its pins.

Now, open it now!  Quickly!

I scrambled for the handle, twisting it sharply and pushing at the door.  It had to push open because there was no way it could be pulled open in the narrow passage.  The door fell wide, and I toppled through it, my stomach swinging freely as I lost balance and cascaded through the opening.

I was overcome by a sensation of movement for a moment, as though I’d fallen for much, much further than I could have, and then I was laying on the ground righting myself.  I heard the slam of the door behind me and I turned quickly to see that – indeed – the door had shut itself in my wake.  What I didn’t understand was how the door was sitting at an angle above me, apparently lodged in the side of an old tree.

The frame was exactly how it had been on the other side, but the position was impossible.  I could not have stepped through a door in an alley and walked out of a tree in . . . well, I wasn’t certain where the tree was, but a quick look around told me that I was nowhere near a city.  Forest spread out around me as far as I could see in any direction.  I couldn’t even hear a car or an airplane.  Wind rippled through the branches of the trees and I shivered.

It was cold in this new place.  The trees had cast off their leaves and the taste of snow was in the air.  I was ill-dressed for such weather in my light slacks and short sleeve t-shirt.

“Where am I?” I asked, not yet feeling the relief I’d hoped to feel upon passing through the door.  This place felt strange, if not as tainted as the one I’d left.

“So ungrateful, Brother Vance.”  A voice rose up to my left and I almost fell over my feet turning to see who it was.  Some terrified part of my mind told me it was going to be Father Icarus, that he had followed me all the way to this new place and he was going to be furious, but it wasn’t the mad Father who faced me.  It was something far worse.

The voice had spoken of this one.  He had eyes as black as the space between stars, and colder than the ocean in winter.  His smile stretched too far on his face, as though his mouth could open his head in half and he might devour a man whole, though he was no bigger than one himself.  Still, large though he might not have been, his presence was vast.  He was a beacon of maliciousness that flared like black fire where he stood.

“We brought you all the way to this new, safe place, and all you do is complain that you’re cold, and the world is strange.  That is behavior most unbecoming of a man of your accomplishments.”  The uncanny man spoke with a voice plump with false sincerity, and one that addressed thoughts I hadn’t even given words to.

My body shivered, not from the cold, but from facing this nightmare in the flesh.  “What accomplishments?” I managed to ask, for I had done nothing but run away.

“Why, you’ve done the most important thing a man can do in service to the Wurm, Brother Vance.  You moved the beacon to a new world.”  It smiled then, thousands of teeth filling the wretched gap in its face.  “You’ve brought the Wurm to a new place to feast.  As a reward, we will let you watch as this new world is consumed.”

I shook my head.  “No, I… I was just trying to get away!”

The dark creature laughed.  “Our heroes are often born of cowardice.  It is fear that lets us inside, that empties out a place for us to take root, and, Brother Vance, I promise you that we are rooted in the very fabric of who you are.  We chose you to carry our prophecy, and then we chose you to carry the beacon.  You were our champion from the very first time you woke up sobbing from one of our visitations and we have feasted on your misery ever since.  We drove you right into the hands of Father Icarus, and even now his compound is burning with all of the precious flock tucked away inside.  You helped to do that, Vance.  You should be proud.  Their screams burn brighter than the carbon in their bones!”

Laughter seemed to echo all around us, rising as if from some damned audience, and it was joined by the sounds of people screaming in heart-wrenching agony.

I fell to my knees, shaking in horror.

The Uncanny Man shook his head.  “Tsk, tsk, Brother Vance.  There is no time for sloth.  Our master hungers.”

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Heath Pfaff

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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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9 months ago

this was creeepy im scared to be alone

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