I pried the wooden boards away from the door, fumbling with my old set of keys to the pub. Wiping liquor sweat from my brow, I checked the dark streets. Empty. I picked up the two cans of gasoline and marched in.
As soon as I was through the door I could hear them, their many voices whispering in the shadows. I had almost missed them. My hands shook as I took a swig from the whiskey bottle in my pocket.
I slid past the stacked tables and chairs and stopped at the dust coated bar. I traced my hand in the surface dirt and remembered the many times I’d be pulling a pint at the bar and frozen, trying to hear the words, straining to decipher their song.
Once I was captured by their song, only my wife and daughter could break me out of my trance, with their screaming and fists. I would come to, and see the beer pouring over my hand onto the floor and a room full of eyes staring at me.
I unscrewed the stoppers from the gasoline cans. Their voices were rising, trying to snare me. I could feel their panic distorting their singing and I smiled. They knew I had come to silence them, for taking everything I loved away from me. To make them pay.
I poured the petrol around my feet. Their voices harmonised, growing louder. Their song was attacking me now, creating waves of hurt and nausea to stop me. The gasoline cans clattered to the floor.
My body began to shake with pain as I struck a match. Their shrieks cut through me with a terrible beauty. My hands automatically moved up to my ears to block out the song, which was useless, as the glorious noise was inside my head. Even now, as the taste of blood stung my mouth, I still wanted to know what they were singing.
I cried out as their din overpowered me, forcing me to my knees. I prayed that it would end, that their sublime screams would finally tear me apart.
Then, it became clear.
As the match fell from my hand, my mind was filled not with words, but images. Birth, love, pain, family, war, sex, grief, murder, end, joy.
I felt nothing as the flames engulfed my body. I was lost in their song.
About the Author
Michael Hann recently published a zine called I’m Afraid of Everyone, an edgy and dark collection of short stories. He regularly writes gig and album reviews and interviews for NARC, and one of his short stories will be featured in the literary magazine Kerouac’s Dog in January 2011. He is currently working on my first novel, whilst gathering and producing the content for vol. 2 of I’m Afraid…