2018-02-20 15:28 fiction science-fiction return-to-ebyx Benjamin Brood


The world was loud. Two children playing had discovered the stones. We began hanging the stones from the trees and bushes after we realized the stones muted sounds. When we spoke around them we were only as loud as a whisper. What would happen if we put all the stones in a circle around the village, we wondered. But it didn't work like we expected, as long as the stones touched the ground. We found out that if we hung them up — and if we hung up enough of them — the village was completely isolated from outside noise. Over time the buildings and airports and trains and mining and construction got closer and closer to us. It seemed like it happened overnight. Maybe we were asleep all that time, maybe for us it was the same as overnight, I don't know. I remember the day when we noticed the noise — although the noise had been there, in the back, growing, making us anxious — there was a day when a new airship, thundering overhead, no doubt traveling city to city, caused collective ear clamping, the entire village slapping hands onto the sides of heads. I looked out onto the village square and I saw everyone simultaneously scowl then cover their ears and then we looked around at one another and understood we could take no more. But what could we do? We couldn't stop the world. In fact there was every indication our village would become more drawn into this never ending expansion, that we would become as loud as the world, or be rolled over in the process. But the noise — it was driving us all crazy. We didn't know what would happen with the rest of the world, but we thought at least we might get rolled over in peace and quiet. We were enjoying this new found solitude when one day two men from some institute arrived. I don't know how they heard about the stones, the stones themselves would've prevented them from hearing it. They wanted to know how the stones worked. We told them the little we knew. The men seemed wary. Will they take them away? We asked ourselves. The men would stand around a stone, staring down at it, writing things down and saying the word "TEST" over and over again. Then yesterday the men left. We worry more men will return, and we worry that someone will want to mine the stones. But what can we do?