Liam W

A World of Broken Things

Sounds echoed through the mechanical guts of the ship. Strange, inexplicable sounds that didn’t match any noise heard before. The pipes that made up the walls of the room were rusted and seemed dead. The darkness pressed around claustrophobically, choking the breath from the lungs of anyone who unwittingly stumbled into its clutches.

The noises grew louder, echoing more and more. Eyes appeared in the dark, blinking and moving and disappearing. The darkness pressed somehow closer, filling the room entirely, turning everything pitch black.

He woke up.

He was slumped against a wall, his legs pressed against a door, as if to keep it closed. His eyesight wavered as he lifted his head and blinked the sleep from his eyes.

The cold metal floor pressed up against his exposed ankles and arms, causing him to recoil slightly as the chill became apparent.

He was tempted to rest his head against the wall again and sleep, but even as he contemplated doing so, he began to hear the whispers outside the door. More correctly, he began to sense the whispers outside the door. They crept silently into the room, snaked over the floor, climbed up his body, and burrowed into his mind.

His head inclined forward slightly to hear them better. They grew a little louder. He struggled to his feet and managed to force the door open. The whispers became screams and he staggered backwards, hands over his ears. This, of course, didn’t help, because they were in his mind.

He felt his way forward into the hallway, fighting the screams as though they were a strong wind pushing him backwards. He made it to the hallway, groping in the darkness.

Then they were gone.

The screams stopped and he almost collapsed in relief. He stood there for a moment until his eyes adjusted. The walls were a mass of pipes, layers and layers of piping that seemed incredibly familiar. The memory tickled his mind, teasing him.

He shook it off, the whispers were back. He looked around the room, trying to find where they came from. The pipes looked like snakes, he thought, seething masses of snakes. They seemed to form a cave-like hallway that stretched out into the dark, though he could see a dot of light at the end. The whispers guided him toward the light, calling to him with a silent siren’s song.

He followed without thought, feeling his way forward as much with his mind as his hands. It was like there was a cord that tethered him to the whispers as they ran away down the hall. He passed other winding halls and ladders that reached way up into the dark. Still, he walked toward the light.

The hall ended abruptly at a cement corridor, the light given off by a lantern hung from the ceiling. The whispers grew louder and he could catch parts of what the whispers said.

“-lost-”

“-as forgotten his life. . .”

“-lost boy-”

“-forgotten his nam-”

He stood there as the meaning of those words washed over him. He began to panic as he realized they were true. He didn’t know who he was, he didn’t know what his life had been up until this point. He didn’t even know where he was.

He began to panic.

He didn’t know anything about himself, he didn’t know anything about this place, and he didn’t understand why he was so drawn to these whispers in his head.

The panic dug its claws into his heart and pulled on his stomach. The boy curled up, eyes flickering around. He fell against the wall and kept his knees drawn up to his chest, putting his hands over his head, he began to take deep shuddering breaths that stung his throat like the tears stung his eyes.

He stayed there, huddled in a ball in the dark.

It was a long time before he moved again, coming to his feet and wiping his eyes. He glared at the lantern on the ceiling, stretching for what seemed like miles before disappearing.

He knew what he had to do.

He listened to the noises of the ship, the chilling, inexplicable noises. He smelled the rust and the old metal.

The boy shook his head. There was no more time to stall, he had to push on.

Without so much as a glance backward, he followed the whispers into the dark.