In Search of Silence

by: Red Saffyre


“Shut up,” he screamed.  “Shut up, shut up, shut UP!”

His ranting received the kind of looks one might expect.  People tended to do one of three things: stare in
morbid curiosity or horror, glance at him briefly before looking away embarrassed, or ignore him
completely.  It didn’t take an expert to tell someone that he was crazy.  If his discussions with himself
weren’t obvious enough, his disheveled appearance also provided clues.  

It looked like he hadn’t been able to decide what to wear, and instead of choosing one thing, chose them
all.  He had a sports jersey under a dress coat, shorts over pants, and layers of gloves on his hands.  It
didn’t help that he was unwashed, either.  His hair hung around him in matted dreads and his stench was
overpowering.

At each stop on the way, the passengers said a silent prayer that their stop wouldn’t be the stop he’d also
chose to leave the train on.  With great anticipation, followed by great relief, most of the passengers on the
train departed, giving looks to those about to board that it might be best for them to wait for the next
service.  As the journey neared the end of the line, only a few passengers remained.

By that point in time, however, he was no longer screaming.  Instead, he had the look of an addict in
desperate need of his next fix.  After retreating to the back of the car, the insane man huddled himself into
a tight ball, talking almost imperceivably to himself while rocking gently back and forth.  His withdrawal from
the other passengers had lessened their fear of him.  Most no longer even looked around for him before
they left the train.

When the car reached the end of the line, there were only three passengers in the car, including the
whispering eccentric.  The first was a young looking woman with a small child held tightly to her chest.  She
looked very concerned for her child, who appeared to be very ill.  The other one might have been a Young
Pioneer, or perhaps a Komsomol.  Very straight-laced and proper, he had read a paper during the entire
ride, and never bothered to remove his headphones during the trip.  Neither of them had paid much notice
to the third passenger on the train, what with the other things on their minds.

As they disembarked, the transient followed, but not so close as to cause concern.  As the odd trio rose
through the Metro exit, the rain which had been hidden from them during their journey underground picked
up intensity to greet them.  Cursing the weather, the man and women set off in opposite directions.  After
a slight hesitation, the wanderer turned to the left to follow.

The unexpected downpour had left the Pioneer unprepared, and he had grudgingly turned his newspaper
into a shield to protect him from the water.  Hastily, he sprinted through the water toward his apartment.  
With out a backward glance, he threw open the door to his home and slammed it close behind him.  He
never bothered to notice the splashing sounds which dogged steps.  Nor did he bother to lock the door.

These two acts, or rather these two examples of his lack of action, spoke to his clear certainty that the
papers he’d been reading were wrong.  There was no serial killer in Moscow; it simply was a
misunderstanding on the part of the police.  Besides, even if there were one, he would never be a target.  
Serial killers picked easy victims, ones that wouldn’t be missed.  The paper said so itself, after all.  The
bodies they had so far attributed to the Ripper of Moscow, as they had dubbed him, had been filthy
prostitutes and homeless people.  Easy targets.  The Pioneer was convinced that he could fight anyone off,
including this crazy Ripper.

As the young man made his way round his house, turning on a light here, shedding his paper and
headphones there, putting a kettle on to boil, his mind was still elsewhere.  The paper had brought about a
concern for his family near the Black Sea.  The conflicts there seemed to be spreading, and it might be
necessary to send for them to come and live with him soon.  He shuddered at this thought, the thought of
sharing his private spaces with another person, but he was much more concerned for their safety.

While he waited for the kettle, he sat down in front of his computer.  There was a girl, Sasha; he was
expecting an email from her today.  He started to load the proper programs that would bring to him the
wonders of the internet, and left the old computer to grind its gears to the demands of this new
technology.  Returning to the kitchen, he stopped to turn on his radio after making himself a cup of coffee.

With out really listening to the program, he recognized that the commentator was discussing the Ripper.  
There had apparently been another body discovered, although they think it might have predated the others
by several months.  The police said they were working on the project as quickly as they could, dedicating all
of their free resources they had to hunt for the Ripper.  They went on to promise that the streets of
Moscow were safe.  When the program moved on to talk about the latest stock market numbers, the
Pioneer lost interest entirely.

Setting down to his computer again, he noticed that the internet had disconnected.  Quickly, he checked
that his modem was still working – it was.  He then checked to make sure that the proper cables had been
plugged into the proper places – they were.  Finally reaching the point of extreme frustration, he started to
reach for his phone to discuss the issue with his phone company.  That’s when he noticed it.

There, under his computer, was a muddy, wet foot print.  As he knelt closer to examine it, he also solved
the riddle of his computer problems.  His LAN cable had been cut.  Trying to digest those to strange
occurrences, he noticed yet another strange thing: someone was singing.  Thinking that the radio had
perhaps changed its schedule (there was only supposed to be news on this channel until 2100 hours), he
started to turn around.

“Drip, drip; Drop, drop; Snip, snip; Chop, chop,” a strange sing-song voice said from the other room.  
“Pretty, pretty; Red, red; Pity, pity; Dead, dead!”

Puzzled, the Pioneer left his computer and its mysteries, bent on discovering who was singing, and why.  He
found the source of the song in his kitchen, along with a scene he simply couldn’t understand.

Sitting on the floor of his kitchen was an odd looking person, the one he hadn’t noticed on the train.  While
that alone was disturbing in and of itself, what the man was doing was worse.  Somehow he had managed
to catch a rat, which he had slit from end to end.  Holding the creature from its tail, he was letting the blood
pool in complicated but nonsense patterns in front of him.  The stranger seemed very absorbed in his work,
and kept repeating his rhyme in the same sing-song voice.  The voice didn’t sound like the voice of an
insane man, but of a young girl having fun with colors on a bright spring morning.

The Pioneer was rational, though.  He knew enough about crazy people to be afraid of them, but also
enough to know that most of them are harmless.  Slowly, so as not to startle the man, he began to walk
into kitchen.  

“If you were wise, Peter Glazkov,” the man suddenly said, in a completely different voice.  “I would suggest
you run, but it’s really far too late for that.”

“How do you know my name?” Peter demanded.

No answer came to him.  Instead, the man held up Peter’s identification card and started singing again.  
Standing there shocked, he tried to figure out what he should do.  During this brief moment of indecision,
the situation changed drastically.

With one long fluid movement, the man threw the rat aside and stood up.  His image was frightening, and
the gleam in his eyes was not a good one.  In the next moment, he had taken Peter by the neck from
behind, holding a knife close to Peter’s throat.  

“Yes, Peter,” a new voice said.  This voice was clearly the true voice of the man in question, as it was filled
with fluctuations and intonations of one that was completely insane.

“Yes, indeed,” the voice continued.  “You should have listened to that advice.  You should have tried to
run.  It might not have helped, but it would have made it much more exciting for me.”

The voice paused while the speaker licked his lips.  Peter felt something strange and cold on the back of his
neck.  He thought it might have been the man’s tongue, but he’d never heard of a tongue being so cold.  
But shudder at the sensation was all he could do; he was otherwise immobilized.

“It’s so very nice to meet you, Peter,” the man continued finally.  “My name is Malkovich.  Please allow me to
get to know you better.”

The sounds of Peter’s screams were almost drowned out by laughter, which seemed to match in tone the
volume of Peter’s screams, gradually becoming quieter as the screams stopped.

In the end, there was only silence.  Beautiful and blissful silence.