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.


7. Chapter 6: Ghost

            “What’s the matter, Ghost? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Muse laughed at her pun, but Ghost barely smiled. His heart was beating so fast, he thought it must explode. He still couldn’t believe what he’d seen.

            Muse settled down beside him on the couch. After only a week, her father had allowed Ghost to move from the storage room to a spare bedroom. Ghost, unable to even fathom the idea of belonging anywhere, hadn’t unpacked anything yet. Although, looking around he realized that he really only owned a change of clothes and a few mementoes from his old life.

            Taking Muse’s hand, Ghost pulled her back up and to the window. He signed to her as patiently as he could, trying to make her understand. She was getting better, more used to how his mind worked, but it still took a minute.

            “You heard your voice? But that doesn’t make sense! Maybe you were-” Muse cut off when Ghost shook his head vigorously. “But how, then?”

            Ghost pointed out the window, to the roof across the way. Then to his eyes. “You saw something?” Nodding, he motioned toward the little picture on the desk. It was a family portrait, with the innkeeper and his three daughters, and another, older woman who was supposedly their mother. “You saw your family?”

            After a few more signs, she understood. “You saw your younger brother. It was his voice, but it sounded like yours. Did he see you? What did he say?”

            Ghost sighed, or at least he tried to. It was more of a soundless gust of air, but Muse understood. Shaking his head, he sat back down. “Why didn’t you go to him, Ghost? He has to miss you, and I know you miss them.” Sometimes Muse did things or said things that made Ghost remember suddenly that she really was only seventeen.

            Picking up a charcoal pencil and an old-fashion pad of paper, Ghost wrote out the story. It was times like these he was thankful that his mother had insisted he learn to read and write along with Inglorius. “After it happened,” he wrote, “I went home.”

            Muse watched him write, reading over his shoulder, but she didn’t interrupt, so he continued. “I saw my mother. She saw me. I asked to see Shade, but she wouldn’t let me. She said a monster like me could never be her son. She threw me out.” Muse’s hand gripped Ghost’s shoulder reassuringly.

            “I’m sorry, Ghost, I didn’t know. But you saw him again, right? You heard his voice?”

            “He was running from them, and didn’t see me. He looked so much older than before. I can’t let him see me like this, Muse. He can’t see it. He’s doing what I couldn’t, standing up for what’s right. He’s fighting a battle, and I can’t help him.”

            “Why not, Ghost? You are a fighter still! Every day you live, you spite the Council a little more. Why not help him? We both could!” Muse’s voice was hot and angry in his ear. The voice of the temptation Ghost had fought down so many times. He would only bring the resistance down if he tried to help them.

            “Muse, you don’t understand,” Ghost wrote. “You saved my life.”

            The girl laughed, high and sweet. “My father would never have killed you. You know that, right?”

            Ghost nodded. “Not from him,” he continued sadly. “From me. I was wandering, lost. You gave me life again. I can’t take yours. I can’t steal Shade’s. I will do what I can for him, but I will not go back. I cannot fight without any weapon.”

            Muse came around to look him in the eyes. Ghost saw her sympathy, her pain, her longing. And he saw her fear, buried deep though it may be. She was as afraid as he was, maybe even more. And he couldn’t reassure her, because every time she looked at him, she was reminded what her fate might well be. If she became a Silent, it would be Ghost’s fault.

            “Does it hurt?” She asked him, reaching out to touch the scar at his neck. Ghost flinched back, then shrugged. ‘Sometimes,’ the shrug said, and Muse understood.

            Ghost suddenly regretted saying it – or, rather, showing it, as the case may be. He wanted to make her smile again, wanted to melt away her pain. After all, he owed her that much. He pulled a folded paper from his pocket and handed it to her.

            “God gave us life so we would die,” she sang experimentally, then looked at him for guidance. Ghost pointed up, indicating higher. She sang it again, higher. Sweet and sad and mournful. He nodded.

            That night, he sat at a table and listened as she sang the entire song. It was the first of the songs he had written for her, but he had more. Maybe he could have a voice. The thought was comforting. He could speak to the world through Muse.

            “God gave us life so we would die. Hope so He could see us cry. Love so we would make mistakes, and hearts so He could watch them break.” She sang the beginning perfectly. Slow and sweet and high and piercing all at once. It made Ghost think of a time when he had stood before the most powerful men in the world, and spit in their faces. Literally. The memory brought a smile to his face.

            Then the song changed. It was faster now, lower. A battle song, a hymn of war and power and freedom. It was a song of death. “We just have to move on. Make it through the night. Last until dawn, when we’ll see the world in a new light.” But what if dawn never came?

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