Author's note: My entry for the Summer Solstice Silence contest hosted by ClericofMadness
You there, sitting behind the computer screen reading this. You clicked on this page expecting a ritual, right? It's all in the title of course. Well, I've got an interesting one for you. A ritual that I myself created, and am willing to share with you. Now, imagine this. Babies within a room, screaming and crying at the top of their lungs. A busy subway train where nobody seems to know how to keep their damn mouths shut. Perhaps your apartment neighbor is too busy playing his loud, obnoxious music upstairs to realize that people like you need their beauty sleep. Seeing a common trend here? The world is so full of noise these days that it seems like there's never a place on Earth where one can relax. But, what if there was? What if there was a place you could retreat to any time you like, and escape from reality? Well, perhaps I could offer a solution to your problem. There are no catches or drawbacks, you'll be getting exactly what you desire, and if you follow my instructions, you should be relatively safe. Ready to try it? Well, here goes!
Firstly, you'll want to set up your preparations. You shouldn't need much to practice this ritual, and you can set it up with common household items. You'll want to make sure you have a decent pair of soundproof headphones, a rose, a blindfold (or any material that can cover your sight), and a bag of ice. Also, although not required, I recommend you bring some duct tape. See? I told you that it didn't take much to perform this ritual. Now, it doesn't matter when or where you perform this ritual, but it is imperative that you go alone. If you go in groups, believe it or not, the trials will become harder and more dangerous for reasons which will become more obvious as you go on.
Now, in order to make this whole wacky ritual work, you're going to need to start performing it as soon as I read off the procedures. As soon as you have completely read the procedures, you have officially begun the ritual. That's right, this is where the first official instruction comes into play. By continuing to read past this point, you have agreed to continue on with this ritual, for as soon as you start reading the procedures, you are locked in for good. Warning: Do not skip reading the procedures and look at the paragraphs below them. If you do so, it is a sign to the higher powers that you do not wish to respect this sacred "art", if you will, and they will forever steal your five senses and leave you helpless. Yes, this ritual has dangers such as this if you do not follow my directions, and yes, being eternally robbed of your senses is as torturous as it sounds.
Cover the windows and lock the doors. You and the optional (although not recommended) group of people you are practicing this ritual with would rather not be disturbed after this ritual commences.
Find a bed or seat to lay or sit on. Make this place of rest comfortable, as your physical body will possibly be in that position for prolonged periods of time, and you wouldn't want to find yourself covered in aches and pains, now would you?
Set the items and materials collected before the ritual in a square formation around you. Now, think of the moments in your life which made you want to try this ritual in the first place. Perhaps a dinner date with a special someone was ruined because of a loud and obnoxious restaurant patron seated beside you. Maybe a small child crying in a movie theatre, ruining your experience for you. Whatever the case may be, try to ingrain that memory into your head. Picture the moment, and imagine the sounds, smells, and emotions within the memory. After you have done this, try to recreate the way you felt in that moment. Perhaps you were sad, or maybe anxiety or aggravation overcame you and swept all sense of joy away. Finally, open your eyes and look around you. Cup the bag of ice in your hands, place the duct tape over your mouth, place the headphones over your ears, and place the blindfold over your eyes. It is important you do these steps in order, for that is the order in which the trials await you. Finally, pick up the rose and give it a whiff. With that, you will have finished the steps to begin the ritual.
Hello there! If you are reading this and haven't read the procedures beforehand, expect to be stripped of your senses relatively soon! I'd hate to be blunt, but I did warn you about what would happen should you disrespect this ritual and proceed without reading through it properly. Should it be due to you not heeding my warning, or simply you not caring about your life in general, it is your decision that brought you here. However, if you broke the rules, you might as well use what time you have left of your sight and sanity to view what else this ritual has to behold.
Now, if you DID follow my instructions, then congratulations! You have now officially begun the ritual. Although these words are still on the screen of whatever device or pamphlet you used before, they are also being transcribed into your mind by me. By following through with the ritual, you have allowed me into your mind, and now I shall be your official guide through this journey. A Jiminy Cricket of sorts, except for the fact that if you don't follow my instructions verbatim, the worst fate you'll encounter won't just be making a literal ass of yourself.
Now, look around you. When you put on the blindfolds, you lost your ability to see, and your perception of the world got dark. But you can tell that what you're seeing isn't the same darkness as the blinding material covering your eyes, can't you? Go ahead and reach out into the darkness before you. Reach straight ahead and feel along the surface you just touched. When you feel the switch, go ahead and give it a flick upward. There, that's better. The light above you should have lit up. Please ignore the flickering of the light; there aren't exactly the best technicians in this new reality you've entered. Welcome to the place where senses make no sense. A place somewhere between your subconsciousness and whatever different dimensions exist. Now, approach the far right corner of the wall.
See the skeleton over there? See its hollowed bones and the black mucus dripping down from its ribcage? Go ahead and reach inside its jaw. You may have to pry its mouth open a bit, but due to the decay of the bone, it should be easy to crack it open. Go on, it's not like a dead man can feel pain. Now, do you see the key inside of its mouth? Take it from the skeleton and turn around. There before you should be a door that wasn't there before. If you want to enter it, put the key into the keyhole and turn the doorknob. You are now unlocking the full extent of this new world where you currently reside. Step through the doorway with caution. You are about to start the first trial.
You've now stepped through the doorway, and I bet you can't figure out what your first trial is. Well, not at first anyway. Here, I'll give you a hint. Pinch your arm as hard as you can. No, really, pinch it with the intent to inflict pain on yourself. You can't, can you? Your sense of pain and touch has been retracted. The room you're in should be fairly well lit. In fact, the setting should look fairly familiar to you. Most people either describe the setting as a school hallway of sorts, while others usually see a psychiatric ward or corridor. In all honesty, I personally don't consider the setting to be of much importance. Now, what may be important to you is what you're hearing right now. Do you hear it? It may seem faint at first, but surely you can hear it becoming louder ever so slowly. I can assure you that the moist gurgling sounds and the scraping of feet coming towards you is not just all in your imagination. Down the dark hall, you'll surely be putting all of your attention to now is beholding a creature that has come for you.
I can sense your heart is racing, and you have two choices. You can run in the opposite direction, or you can stand there and stare at your impending doom in the face. I do recommend the first option, because only a fool would stick around to see the monstrosity coming for him. As you may have guessed, you aren't the first one to come across this ritual. There have been others, and they desire the same as you. A place of silence. A resort of quietness where one can escape to for peace. However, there are creatures within this place that desire things as well. You find it strange to run, don't you? You can't feel the rush of wind against your skin. You can't feel your feet pounding on the ground. It's like you're weightless here. It's almost as if you don't physically exist. I wouldn't recommend stopping because of this though. Letting that thing catch you could cost you an arm and a leg, give or take some extra skin. And Lord knows that thing could use those.
You should be coming across the end of the hall by this point. Do you see the three doors? Rush to them and try to open them. No matter which door you try to open first, it will be the last door you attempt to open which will be the one unlocked. Go ahead, try to get out before that thing catches up to you. Oh, and, I should mention the door handles are molten hot. It's a good thing you can't feel the searing hot pain course through your body. But I'm sure you can see your skin begin to melt, and the bubbles begin to rise and pop on your hand and arm with each grip to the doorknob.
It's funny, isn't it? That you should be rolling on the floor right now, crying in pain as the melted and charred skin burns like hellfire, tearing your flesh and tissue apart. But no, you just opened the last door and passed the first trial. Congratulations, that wasn't so hard, was it? Now, do you see the room around you? Another small room with a flickering light in it, but in the center of the room is a glass panel, and below that glass panel seems to be a pit of darkness with no end to it. Just the type of eternal pit of misery and despair that one would want to dive into, right? Well, I don't see you having much choice, considering that door won't be able to keep the monster out for long. Oh, you thought he was a one-time deal? I'm afraid not.
There should be a grey sledgehammer in one of the corners of the room. There, the left corner behind you. Pick it up and smash the glass floor. I suggest you hurry; I'm sure I'm not the only one who can hear those long talons scratching at the door. There, one last hit and then you plummet below. Ready? Now jump!
Oh, what, you thought I would deprive you of your sense of touch for this whole time? No, I'm not that inhumane. Yes, I see you clutching your arm in pain as the sensation of hot iron rods pierce your flesh. Still, there's no time to sit and sob. Stand up and look around. Everything seems normal, right? You're now in a plain open field. Take in the smell of the dandelions at your feet. Listen as the birds chirp, and feel the wet grass underneath your toes. Now, look up at the sky. Enjoy the blue skies and fluffy white clouds above you, because that paradise will be short-lived. Look again. No fields, no dandelions, no blue skies. Just you inside of a cold, damp, stone room. Puddles of filthy mud and water randomly sprinkled about, and in the center of that room is a peculiar table with a plate on it. Approach it, go on, the plate won't bite. No, you'll be doing all the biting here.
Look down at the plate. Look at all those slimy, wriggling worms. Look at the twitching moths and maggots, squirming about and writhing in a crazy fashion. Do you see them? They're in pain. They're dying a slow, painful death. I understand fully that these beings are considered below you, but you surely must have sympathy for these living, breathing creatures? Put them out of their misery. Go on, kill them. No no, don't smash them. That would be a complete waste of the resource, wouldn't it? No, you see, your energy drains quickly in this land. And here, you need all the energy you can get. Go on, swallow them.
Why are you so hesitant? It's not like you'll be able to taste them. Go ahead and consume, you know you want to. Don't you feel the empty pit in your stomach? How unsatisfied and unsaturated you feel? Go on, chew. Do you feel those grimy, filthy creatures wriggling within your mouth? Their smooth skin rubbing against your gums? You can feel them struggling, but ultimately being broken to bits as they run down your throat and into your stomach. Yes, feel yourself being replenished.
Oh, what's this? You still have half your plate full, but you won't continue? Fine, but you need your energy, you know. I can make the pain in your arm worse. I can burn you beyond belief, and beyond repair should you make me. Now, I don't think you want that, do you? Go ahead, slide the rest into your mouth. Let them travel down your esophagus. There, don't you feel better? Good, now we can continue. Look to your right. Do you see the zipper in the floor? Go ahead and unzip it. Yes, unzip the floor. Now, climb into the hole you just unzipped. Oh, you don't want to? Well, I'm sure your nasty little stalker friend, who, may I add, is coming ever nearer to you as we speak, would be happy to help encourage you.
Hey, you there. No, not the fellow performing the ritual, I mean you, the one who didn't follow through with the procedures. This person's doing pretty well, aren't they? Halfway there, and unlike you, they actually have a chance at living the rest of their life in peace. Now, of course, they can't hear me. They're stuck in the floor for the moment, right where I left them. Anyway, I'm sure a million questions are racing through your head right now. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the spirit who invented this ritual. I too was disturbed by the constant noise within the world. Everyone was always shouting and being so rude and belligerent, and I wanted an escape from it all. So, I created a safe haven, where the senses don't apply. However, if humans wished to be granted entry to this world, they would need to prove to me that they truly deserved it. People like you, however, didn't feel the need to listen to me. So here you are, spectating this sacred ritual before I shred your body of every ounce of sense you have left.
Now, I'm no doctor, but all that time in seclusion, away from noise, can be damaging to one. I suppose my isolation did have its drawbacks. But what's the big deal? Who needs to see other living, breathing life forms when one can sit alone and not be bothered with the problems of the world? Even beings such as I prefer desolation to the outside world. But at what cost? The ability to have empathy for others? Tendencies to misguide others and lie? Well, a little trickery has never hurt anybody, has it?
Ok, unzip yourself from the floor now. That thing has passed, and it is now safe to come out. Observe the world around you. You're no longer in a dark, desolate room, but rather a room of clocks.
Tick tock, goes the clock. Tick tock, goes the clock. Tick tock, goes the clock. Oh, what do you mean there are no tickings or tockings? These clocks are working perfectly fine, I checked 'em this morning. It couldn't possibly be that you, gasp, can't hear them, could it? No, that's exactly what happened. Welcome to trial three. Your journey will soon be over. Of all the clocks in this room, I'm sure you've already seen the one you need to go to. That clock directly in front of you, yes. It's huge, isn't it? Approach that clock and place your hand on the wood. Good, now, close your eyes and feel the vibrations course through your veins. You can still feel those vibrations, right? Now, move your hand in a clockwise circle completely until you reach the point you started at. That's your 12. I'm sure you can guess where the rest of the numbers are. Place your hand on the numbers in the order of your birthdate. Remember, don't lift your hand from the wood. That would have consequences which I'd rather not discuss, but you're running out of time. Good, now that you're done with that, step backward and look up at the clock. There is now a staircase going up to the top of this giant clock. Walk up to the top of the staircase.
You're now on top of the clock. Good, now, look down at all the other smaller, lesser clocks. Feel the vibrations of the entire room. Feel them run through your body. Now, close your eyes, and don't you dare open them. The beast is in the room with you now, but don't run. Just saying those words, your heart rate increased heavily, didn't it? Well, you're going to have to settle down, because this next step, in particular, is tricky. Keep focusing on the vibrations. Do you feel the rhythm? The pattern in which the clocks tick and tock? Try to match your breathing and heart rate to that of the vibrations. If you can do this, you'll be invisible to the creature. Now, this is not the time to ask me why I didn't tell you before that the beast wasn't able to see you. Calm your breathing and go to the beat of the clock. The creature stalking you isn't one simply interested in murdering you. No, it has an actual plan. You see, in this sensory deprived place, the beast has only one of its senses. That sense is hearing. Its hearing is so precise, that it can distinguish between your breathing and the sound of the clocks ticking. You came here because you wanted a place where sound doesn't exist. Well, the creature wants you so it can steal your senses. Senses which it has been deprived of for quite some time.
Now you have completed the third stage. What I want you to do, is jump off of the clock you're currently standing on. Yes, I see that it's high above the ground. I still want you to jump. Would I ever lie to you? Of course not! When have I ever lied to you so far? This jump will lead you directly to your fourth trial. You're nearly there, don't quit now. Besides, I'm sure the monster would love for me to tell it where you are. I hope that's enough of an incentive for you? Good, now jump.
Well, what did you think would happen upon jumping? Did you fall to the ground? Of course you did! That's how gravity works. Granted, this was mostly for my enjoyment, but I'm not sure what else you expected. Have a look around you. Is the landscape different again this time? Oh, wait, you can't see. You've gone blind, haven't you? Well, you, my friend, are inside a system of tunnels and trails. The walls aren't too far apart, so you should be able to extend your arms and touch them. Feel that nice, mossy texture? Now, walk forward and guide yourself with your arms. What you need to do is find the exit to this maze. Continue walking forward until you feel the bump in the wall. Feel it? Grasp the bump and pull it downward.
Congratulations, you just pulled a trap. Traps aren't good here, so I suggest you don't pull any more of them. Now, do you feel the sharp, searing pain digging into the meat of your leg? That's the trap at work. You wouldn't want to be caught in a trap, because as you can see, the blades are twisting and turning, pulping your skin and muscle tissue. Now, grab the walls and pull yourself out. Oh boy, it's a good thing you can't see your leg right now. Your skin is completely shredded below the thigh.
I'm surprised you're angry with me. You should have expected to make sacrifices. I can't just give gifts away for free, now can I? Now, keep walking before I activate a few more traps for you on my own accord. You know, you're lucky a being such as I would even consider giving you a gift such as this. Keep moving forward, you're almost done. Reach forward and grab the door handle. Pull it open and walk through. Your sight should be back now, and you should be standing in a room similar to the one you started in. There's the flickering light and everything.
Congratulations on passing the ritual. You have proven to me that you are truly deserving of your haven without sound. Now, stand still as I explain to you what this prize means. You have gone through the four trials of this ritual, and through them all, you have proven to me that you are capable of triumphing over the challenges. Now, don't mind the sensation of your skin sizzling. Those boiling bubbles are back, and not just on your hands and arms, but on your face, your legs, and your torso as well. I know you're in pain now, but believe me, you will be utterly joyous when this is over. Can you feel the heat melting your nose away, leaving it just a charred blotch of burnt flesh? Feel your eyes disintegrate within seconds as the heat intensifies. You can even feel it inside your mouth, can't you? Burning the roof of your mouth and your tongue.
I know you can't hear me right now. The pain you're under is probably too great to bear. But trust me, I'm fulfilling my promise to you, aren't I? By now, the only remnants of your previous self is your ears. Ironic isn't it? That you wanted to lose your hearing, yet it is the only sense you shall retain. Don't worry though, there aren't many causes of noise here, where you'll be staying. However, I can hear, based upon the desperate, drowned-out gurgles of agony escaping what was once your lips, that this outcome may not suit you well. You should have wanted this, so I'm confused as to why. However, I'm sure that you'll enjoy this silence and solitude eventually. It worked wonders for me.
However, if you want your old form back, I recommend finding the next person who performs this ritual and stealing their senses too. Don't worry about finding them; your hearing will be precise enough. By the way, thanks for the rose you brought me. Smell wasn't exactly required, but I do wholeheartedly accept the gift. In fact, none of the sense trials were completely necessary. However... it sure does make for one hell of an entertaining story. Oh, and for those of you reading this, thank you for following through this journey. This has been a very rare success of this ritual, and I'm glad you could join me to witness it. Hold on a bit, I know I promised to strip you of your senses and emotions. However, there appears to be someone else attempting to perform this ritual.
And by the looks of it, the one who most recently partook in the ritual is already anxious to meet them.
Written by Icydice