The Sounds That Come After Screaming
By Ian Creasey
The alchemists just did their job; they had no personal spite, and they understood the limits of their human material. She — whoever she was — had no such dispassion. At first she barely understood the apparatus, and turned dials at random to see how I reacted. When she experimentally tweaked one control, creating a mild throb that I estimated at 0.25 pangs, I yelled as if agonised, to make her think she was delivering more pain than she really was. It was a mistake. Now that she knew the dial did something, she turned it up, and up, and up. For a while I screamed in earnest, until she turned me down to take a call on her crystal.
“Hello?… I can’t tell you…. It’s the secret lab, silly!… Well, what else is there to do?… Oh, all kinds of stuff. Listen!” With one firm twist she turned the dial to maximum.
My shriek must have registered on all the seismic monitors in Wyke. The pain was beyond agony, so much so that a new word was needed — or an old one, like hell. It lasted a few moments, a few years, a few centuries.
“Just a prisoner,” she said in the stretching silence. “No, I’m fine…. Yes, of course I’ll be at the party. I’ll see you later.”
About the Author
Ian Creasey lives in Yorkshire, England. He began writing when rock & roll stardom failed to return his calls. So far he has sold seventy-odd short stories to various magazines and anthologies. His debut collection, Maps of the Edge, was published in 2011; a second collection, Escape Routes from Earth, came out in 2015. His interests include hiking and gardening — anything to get him outdoors and away from the computer screen.
About the Narrator
Nick Popio is a social media consultant in North Carolina.