The silence can be comforting and slightly unsettling. It’s not that there isn’t noise out here. There’s plenty of noise if you really listen. The crackling of the wood in the fireplace, the wind and tree branches in their eternal tug of war and the fat raindrops tapping on the roof during the occasional rainstorm. It’s been mostly snow for the past few weeks. Storm after storm, blizzard after blizzard, and the temperature staying in the teens maintains the snow at twenty to twenty-five inches. Most folks would be upset and complain about being trapped indoors, whine about cabin fever, and proceed to go stir crazy. But not me, I welcomed the solitude.
People fantasize about escaping their demons, going into an island of solitude and self reflection, and “finding their true self”. They use self-help books, religion/spirituality, or drugs to seek the enlightenment missing in their life. They want that “Ah-ha” moment where everything becomes clear and the sun shines a little brighter. There is the hope that everything they had ever dreamed is still possible. Well, that’s the reason I’m here at least. The demons were miles away, out of sight and out of mind, as they say, until the past few nights when they decided to pay me a visit.
In my most private moments, when I am alone with my thoughts and the sorrow fills my soul, they start trying to get into the cabin. Their weak blows thud against the wood in a vain attempt to gain entry.
I tell myself:
They’re dead. They can’t possibly be here. They’re dead….
But this doesn’t work. Why would it work? Feigned ignorance isn’t bliss. There’s no comfort in self deceit. There is just madness. The energy it takes to convince myself is draining and only leaves me exhausted. And that is when the world seems dismal, dark, and depressing. That’s when they get stronger.
Hope is a wicked game of the mind. Unfortunately, no one can leave you in the ignorance you desire. There’s always someone, or in this case, something, to show you the light you don’t wish to see; to give you the information that you never wanted. Why they need to ruin it is a mystery to me. Leave me to my delusional and keep your reality for yourself.
Reality hit the day that Emma Brighton was rolled into the emergency room. She had been in a car accident and critical condition didn’t even begin to explain what state the girl was in. I attempted everything in my power to keep her heart going but the damage to her little body was too much and she slipped away into the darkness of death. Emma never spoke to me that night and I wished I could have at least heard her voice. Tonight, she taunts me through the door of the cabin.
“You should have saved me….You should have saved me….I was only nine….”
I didn’t recognize most of the voices outside but there are others out there that I did. Mr. Slater died of an infection after having his appendix removed
“If you’d washed your hands, I would still be alive!”
Mrs. Gravatta complained about the gunshot wound in her chest.
“You’ve saved plenty of others shot before, why did you let me die?”
The thumping grew louder as more voices joined in this the chorus of the dead. All their combined might smashed into all sides of the cabin leaving me without escape from the onslaught. I screamed at them to leave me alone. Pleaded with them to understand there was nothing I could have done to have saved them. They didn’t listen and they didn’t care about my justifications. The pounding grew to a climax when I screamed at them to stop and grabbed a gun from the cabinet for protection.
The thumping stopped and the voices quieted. In unison, they chanted together:
“Join us…you failed us. Join us…you failed us”.
There was a seductive quality to their chant. Slowly, I lifted the gun to my mouth and placed it in the back of my throat. They chanted louder until it felt like they were right in my ears. The desire to pull the trigger was almost as powerful as a drowning man fighting to get air. I was about to oblige when the chanting stopped. They waited to see if I would do it. They were going to abandon me as soon I pulled the trigger.
If the dead wanted me to die, they were going to have to do it themselves. I pulled the gun out of my mouth and charged the front door shoulder first slamming it open violently. I readied my gun and looked in both directions for the culprits. I searched the perimeter cabin and found no one or nothing against the walls. There were no footsteps in the snow.