In a dystopian reality where music is everything, the world is ruled by a Council of corrupt dictators. The greatest punishment possible, reserved for only the worst of criminals, is called Silencing. But one Silent proves that, even if he is a outcast, shunned from society, he still has a voice.


5. Chapter 4: Silent

            “Father, you know nothing about this man! You cannot judge him because of something the Council said he did. You know that.” Muse’s voice was heated. Angry. The Silent boy was shocked. She knew what he was, but didn’t care? Her father was also apparently stupefied. He just stood there, sputtering, staring down at the Silent who crouched defenseless on his floor, metal whip forgotten. “You hate the Council, Father. So does he; I know it. You saw him, today. Being what he is, and still being willing to draw attention like that to himself! You don’t even know why they Silenced him, for God’s sake!”

            It was times like these that the Silent missed his voice most. He wanted to thank the girl, wanted to explain himself, but couldn’t. He couldn’t even interrupt. He was just forgotten, trapped there, until they remembered. Most likely, that would be when the man remembered his whip.

            “Well, then have the thing tell us! It seems to listen to you. Maybe you could tame it.” The angry vindictiveness in Muse’s father’s voice made the Silent wince. Why, when he barely felt physical pain, could words still hurt so much?

            Muse turned to the Silent then. She was so young; she didn’t even know how to hide her emotions yet. Her face was an open book to him. Kindness and compassion and pity and fear all mixed together. “Can you show me? Please?”

            The Silent tried. He pointed to his throat, to the scar there, and then his tongue. “Your voice,” the girl guessed. The Silent shook his head. He brought his hands up and out, then motioned from his lips to her ear. “Singing! It’s singing!” She turned to her father. “You see? Just at least try.”

            The Silent held out his hand to Muse’s father. He looked baffled, so the Silent reached further, pointing at the whip. Muse, with an exasperated sigh at her father’s reluctance, grabbed it for him. The Silent wound it around his hands like chains. The girl guessed it immediately.

            “So, you were caught for singing, then? But is that such a crime?”

            It took longer to make her understand. Finally, she did. Turning to her father triumphantly, she explained, “He is a revolutionist, Father!” The Silent winced at the categorization. He had been a revolutionist, but no more. “You saw! He was caught because of his song, and when he wouldn’t give up any of the others, they had him Silenced! It makes sense, doesn’t it?”

            Mute’s father seemed to consider this for a minute. Then he looked at the Silent. “One question, then. Which Councilman was it? Who gave the order?” The Silent held up his hands, nine fingers raised. The man let out a gust of breath, and reached down to pull his daughter up off the ground. Then, shockingly, he did the same for the Silent. Actually touching another human’s skin was strange, especially after they knew what he was.

            “It’s an open secret that only certain Councilmen Silence for certain reasons. The real secret is which ones. Three and nine hate you rebels. Seven and twelve hate thieves, and eight hates rapists most. The others don’t Silence. They kill. Only someone who knows them would know that. If it was Nine, it makes sense. He’s the only one who takes trophies.” Muse’s father explained as he led them toward the back of the tavern. “I had to be sure that you were speaking true.”

            The Silent grabbed the man’s arm. The question was in his eyes, and the man saw it. “How do you know that, then?” The Silent asked in that look.

            “I was Four’s Executioner, years ago. Before you were even born, Muse. I saw death every day. I watched the Thirteen destroy this world’s youth. That, Silent, is why I hate the Council. I saw their every evil. Their every sin. They preached to the world of justice, and in the shadows they murdered children.”

            The Silent hung his head. It hadn’t been the Council that had murdered him. He had lived, even after he had been Silenced. But, when he had gone home, had seen that hatred in his family’s eyes, he had died. He had become just another Silent. No voice, no purpose, no reason to live. No one who cared whether he did or not.

            They passed through the tavern doors, into the back room. A staircase led up to where the family slept, and another door led into the alley behind the tavern. Standing at the foot of the stairs, holding a wooden beam in her small hands, was Maia, the singer-girl. She looked absolutely terrified.

            “She must have heard me scream. Fuck.” Muse’s father turned sharply when she cursed, but didn’t say anything. She just smiled at him, then turned to her sister. “Maia, it’s alright. Everybody’s fine. Do you remember this man, from earlier?” Maia’s blush said that she did. “Well, he’s hurt, and he’s going to stay here for a while. Can you bring some blankets down?” Maia nodded and, still pale, rushed up the stairs.

            The Silent looked back and forth between Muse and her father. He had thought that they were going to send him out the back, so that no one would see him leave. That was his best-case scenario. He had thought he would leave, and they would wait to call the Enforcers for a few hours. But they were letting him stay?

            Muse’s father must have seen the tears in his eyes and known. “Look, boy, we can’t just call you Silent, or kid, or any of that. Maia and Lena need a name to put to the face. Can you show us what yours is?”

            The Silent grabbed a handful from a bag of flour. Carefully, he spelled out the name he hadn’t heard in three years.

            When he was done, Muse said, “Hi, Ghost.”

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