Every few paces a different speaker blared the cheerful daytime music that made the hairs in her inner ear quake. She tried to resist putting her hands over her ears to stop the intrusion of the bright melodies as she made her way back to her apartment building from the doctor’s office. He had completely dismissed her complaints about the headaches caused by the noise. She couldn’t think, and he didn’t seem to care.
She had wanted to really press him about it. Her hope was that she could possibly qualify for some noise cancelling headphones that had become so incredibly expensive since all the changes. The tech used to create them was in such high demand to keep the city covered in music that to get a pair would cost an entire year of her salary. She would never be able to afford them on her own.
But the doctor had his own music piped into his office. Each examination room had a speaker that played classical music meant to soothe. To her, it only had the effect of covering up the doctors deep voice. When she’d asked about how it was that he could play a different tune from that on the street, he answered without looking from her charts. She thoughts he said, “I have special permission to play something different for the benefit of my patients. Don’t worry, it’s still regulation and will keep the nasties away.”
Then he’d given her a smile too wide. One laced with barely contained condescension. She was sure he took her for one of those hyper sensitive and paranoid ladies who feared what would come without the music and could never have it loud enough.
She rubbed her head to relieve the pounding. At her building, she practically dived into the lobby to strip away the additional layer of noise from the people and cars on the street. The speaker near the elevators of her apartment had always been wonky and they’d never been able to properly fix it although she’d seen them try. It still worked within the regulation frequencies; it just played the music slightly muffled which fired a feeling of nostalgia in her brain that actually hurt. Oh the memories of sitting quietly and reading a book or just staring into space. God, how she missed it!
The same music played in her hall as that in the elevator. She entered her apartment to the exact same playing inside her living room. There was no escape from it. Not even in her bathroom.
As she always did upon first entering her apartment, she slammed her hands over her ears and pressed them together as if she were attempting to crush her own skull. She rubbed at her face as she considered doing something she knew she shouldn’t. If her neighbors found out, they could report her.
Sharp objects such as knives and forks, and even pointy things like screwdrivers, had been banned after several of the incidents. The only tool she possessed happened to be a plastic spoon. She took it to one of the screws of the speaker. She needed to be able to put it back together after she was done, so some care was needed though being so close to the infernal noise she wanted to do nothing more than rip it out of the wall. Slowly, she worked until the screw came out, and then, she pulled the speaker right off the wall. The noise stopped.
She shut the doors to the bathroom and the bedroom and sat on the couch. It was not the perfect silence of the old days, but it was enough to allow her to sit back, shut her eyes, and remember. Inhaled air traveled through her nasal passages, and she listened to it pass under her eyes. All the tension drifted out of her body.
They are lying to you.
She bolted upwards.
There is no danger. They want to control you.
It had been so long since she was alone with her thoughts. Had the thoughts always come on their own like this, unbidden? The thoughts continued, whispering, warning her of disaster if she didn’t act. She had been thinking it for so long, but she just hadn’t been able to focus enough to gather her thoughts this way. They had built up, and now, in a moment of complete relaxed quiet, they came.
You must tell others. You must make the music stop. There are no nasties in the quiet. There is no one here but your own thoughts.
She stood up and walked into the hall. There had to be others who felt the same as her. She had to find them.