Prose Header

Sounds Before Night

by LaVerne Zocco

He could not tell what the sound was, for he had been terribly sick and he still was in a delusional state with images in front of his eyes and sounds he heard in his ears. His fever had mounted for many days, and he had no idea where he was or what his malady was.

He could distinguish light coming in from a source into the room, but he could not even guess if it were the sun or the moon. He could sense there were other presences around him and in particular one shadow that came and went, bringing him warmth.

The sound, though, could not be ignored. It was a great whoosh as though it was streaming through a great deal of air. And then instantly after the whoosh he heard a thud that was muted but had a crashing feel to it. And then silence.

After a while — he didn’t know how long — he felt something being pushed into his mouth. It remained for a short while and then the implement was removed. There were whisperings going on, too, and groups of shadows around him. Then suddenly no shadows and no whisperings and no movements.

He soon learned that one apparent delusion was very real. It was that of a presence hovering over him, for he could see the large green ovals staring at him in a mist. But then he caught the strong smell of perfume, a lovely scent that even in his coma he recognized as soft lavender. And he heard a pleasing sound whenever this ghost or specter seemed to be around.

Then there were harsh rumblings that he realized were voices, voices of great authority, and a sound like barking orders that entered his dreams and agitated him with their urgency and impatience.

Then he was left alone. Everything and everyone disappeared one by one and the area was overwhelmingly silent and eerily quiet.

Then a while later, there were groping and grabbing hands pulling him up off his resting place. He fought the many pressures they put on his breathing, but he could sense there was no pity there. They pulled him this way and that, a hysterical and angry atmosphere of frustration. He felt blows about his face and kicking against his wobbly legs as he was picked up into the air.

The wind was on his face. He knew immediately he was outside in the sun and a breeze was blowing softly across his face. He was moved quickly along, and he stopped fighting the inevitable. That was when he heard drumming sounds, and after they stopped, the whooshing sound and the crashing thud at the end.

For the first time in three weeks he opened his eyes, just in time to know he was being forced to kneel down and put his head forward. With the drumming came a voice that seemed to be reading some sort of official document.

And that was the moment when he heard the whoosh of the blade as it dropped, and blackness came before he could hear the crashing thud. The cheering crowd would have told you that he, the Viscount of Paris, had been beheaded at the guillotine. He had been pulled from his sickbed to meet his fate in front of the revolutionary mob. But at the last he did smell lavender. And yet he never knew it was his mother who had gone ahead of him.

Copyright © 2012 by LaVerne Zocco

Proceed to Challenge 491...

Home Page