"Because not everybody wants to play the hero."
Silence was his friend. His ally. His sole confident. Silence could never hurt you, or lie to you. Silence could never take a brand to your skin, or a whip to your back. Silence was incapable of lying, the ultimate truth. Silence had been there since the beginning, and would be all that remained when everything had gone. Silence meant that he wasn't screaming in pain. Silence meant that he was alone…and being alone was the only time that he felt safe.
There was only one enemy to Helel's silence here; the drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Always that goddamn annoying drip. Why was it that no matter where, no matter when, every dungeon (or dungeon-like area), in existance had to come complete with dank and damp? There was actually a method to the madness, other than the fact that owner of said space never bothered to clean up. It was psychological, a tactic used to break the will of those in captivity. Not even the conditions themselves, but something as menial as the constant dribble of water. Supposedly, the inconsistent fall of the drops scrambles the brain, whose natural instinct is to create a pattern between the timing of the drops. The inability to create such a pattern, however, has a tendency to drive the victim insane.
Fortunately, Helel was quite familiar with water torture…or any form of torture, for that matter. He knew a million ways to kill a man, and ten times as many to make them wish they were dead. Unfortunately, not a single one would help him escape from his captivity. Not unless his thoughts could somehow transform into a key to uncuff the shackles chaining his wrists and ankles to the floor.
There was no way to tell how long he'd been locked away in his cell. There were no windows, or sources of light at all for that matter. They'd brought him in while he was unconscious, meaning he could have already been in there for days before waking up there, alone.
And alone he had remained for these countless days, shackles binding his feet together and his arms behind his back. His captors had never returned, to check on his remains or otherwise. Obviously they had little concern for his status, because no food or drink had been delivered. Hell, the drip was the only thing keeping him alive, Helel forced to sit there for hours on end with his head cocked back and his mouth wide, just for a few mouthfuls.
As much as the drip was his enemy, it was his lifeline as well. The noise was the only thing that let him know he was still alive, was the only thing keeping him alive. One day, there would be no drip, and
there would be no Helel either. Sometimes, he prayed for that day.
In the beginning (which was funny to the man, considering time didn't really have meaning here), Helel had tried to keep his spirits up by talking out loud. Screaming, telling stories, making jokes, it didn't matter as long as he heard the sound of his own voice. Now…it had been so long, he wondered if he could even speak anymore. And truth be told, he was afraid to find out.
Today, Helel was conversing with the Silence. Reminiscing over things in the past, such as the last time they'd seen the light of the sun. Or inhaled something other than the stagnant, rotting air of his cell. In truth, it was becoming more and more difficult to convince himself that there even was a world outside of this darkness. Maybe it was all just a figment of his own fractured imagination, images and memories composed to occupy his mind. Perhaps...perhaps there was no world outside of the darkness. But then, what did that make him? Maybe he was all that remained...or even still, maybe he was all there ever was.
Sitting there, Helel continued to contemplate the mysteries of his own personal universe, sifting through memory after memory in hopes of sifting the truth through the sluice of make believe. But just as he'd finally managed to convince himself that everything he knew was a lie...Fate decided to hit him with the punch line of it's cosmic joke.
A tiny pinprick of light winked into existence a good distance away, hovering in midair like some sort of will-o-wisp. Now he knew that he was delusional, watching in a morbid fascination as the light bobbed closer and closer towards me. Perhaps it was the end, a specter coming to guide his soul to the afterlife. Eyes closed gently, a peaceful expression overtaking Helel's features as he eagerly anticipated the end of his suffering…
"Oh no…My sweet Morning Star, how horrible you look…"
A voice? And one he knew, for that matter. Instantly, his wavering sanity came into full focus as the young man opened his eyes in half disbelief. The "specter" had been a simple candle, the soft light almost too much for his photosensitive eyes after being locked away in the dark. But it wasn't the candle that held his attention so much as the one holding it, Helel looking up into the face of the last person he thought he'd see again; His mother.
She was a hauntingly beautiful woman, not far from the ghostly figure he'd originally deemed the light to be. Everything about the woman screamed angelic, from her perfect nose and arched brows to the penetrating blue of her eyes. Her skin was like pale moonlight, not a single blemish or scar staining her features. Raven black hair sparkled in the generous flame, the eerie shadows cast making her appearance almost ethereal.
He tried to speak, but through a combination of shock and disgust (not to mention the lack of practice), Helel would instead remain silent as she knelt down before him.
"My poor child…you must hate me…you must hate all of us. But this is for the best, you know that…You aren't strong enough for what's to come." Her voice was soft and compassionate, long fingers coming to stroke the side of his face with motherly tenderness. He should have pulled away, but…after being alone for so long, he craved contact with another human being.
"Your father thought you'd have long since perished but…I had high hopes. I knew you were better than they gave you credit for. Oh how it hurts me to see you like this, Morning Star." Somewhere amidst her words, his mother had thrown her arms about his impoverished frame, sobbing softly into his neck as Helel fought back the hot tears burning in the corners of his eyes.
Swallowing once, then again, the man opened his mouth and made several croaking noises before rediscovering his voice. "H-How? How l-loong?" Ugh, it was as though someone had tried to sand down his throat. At a time like this, Helel couldn't help but wonder if he'd rather have received water than a visit.
The candlelight gave her eyes a sunken, haunting look as his Mother finally unburrowed from the side of his neck, hurriedly wiping the fresh stains from her face in an attempt to regain control. "…Three weeks or so. I didn't want you to suffer like this, Helel! I…it's just…"
For the first time since she'd arrived, the young man was finally able to conjure up a decent emotion other than blank shock, the conceived disgust rising within his belly and giving birth in a sneer. "Right," he started quietly, still attempting to find his voice. "You just didn't want my blood on your hands. As if you aren't still killing me by throwing me in a prison to r-."
His words were interrupted by a sharp slap to the side of his face, the force enough to fully turn his head to the right. Pain...now there was something he was used to. "How DARE you? You know exactly why things had to come to this! I did everything I could!" Amazing how she could transform from heartbroken to furious and indignant in an instant, proof enough to show Helel that this entire conversation was worthless.
For a moment, she seemed to not even hear the bitter order fall from his lips even as the rough words tore at his raw throat. But he wouldn't repeat himself, instead bracing for another taste of pain at his "insolence." Even that was better than feeling nothing, he decided. But instead, she wordlessly retrieved the candle from it's place on the floor and stood to her feet, leaving his body half-immersed into the darkness. Then, with one finally glance into
the royal blue eyes that were a perfect match to her own, his Mother turned on her heels and began walking towards the exit of the dungeon.
And just like that, all the hatred and repulsion was swept underneath a thick blanket of sorrow and abandonment, Helel wanting nothing more than to scream out for her not to leave. For his Mother to to turn around and hug him once more. But he knew that neither of those things would happen, because that's just who they were. A mother and son only in name, no matter how many tears attempted to wash away the lie.
His body gave a visible (or not, what with the impending blackout) jolt when the steel door slammed shut with a sudden bang, leaving Helel alone with the Drip once more. He'd almost forgotten about his gift and curse until it was all that he had left, making the young man miss the company of his Mother that much more. No…not his mother, not anymore. No parent would condemn their child to such a pathetic existence, if you could even call it that much.
Seeing her had been like putting a bandage over a gaping wound; it had staunched the flow of horrific solitude for a little while, only for it to come gushing out like a waterfall once removed. How did the old saying go? You don't know what you have until it's gone? Yeah, Helel was beginning to understand that really well now, between this and his freedom, itself.
Wait…what was that? Or rather, what wasn't that might have been a better suited question. Something was out of place in the cell, something that shook Helel down to his very soul…if even such a thing exised. A sound? No, worse, it was a lack of sound that held the young man in fear. The Drip. The Drip was gone, no longer a constant (if erratic) reminder that he was still alive. His steady companion and part-time enemy gone, abandoning him just as that woman had.
"No…" Brand-hot tears had begun rolling down his cheeks, searing Helel's face as he cried out hopelessly for the Drip to return. Falling helplessly to the side, the man desperately rubbed his face against the damp patch that proved to be it's final resting place, receiving only more silence in return.
"Come back…!" Who was he screaming for now? His Mother? The bodiless water that had twisted its way into his subconsciousness and become the focus of his entire world? Helel didn't know, but this wouldn't stop him from screaming into the echoing heavens, begging for "them" to return. "COME BACK! PLEASE? Please…"
Defeated, his body crumpled against the ground as though the tears had drained the last bit of lifeforce from his already destroyed body, leaving only a fractured psyche behind. There was nothing else that remained of Helel, nothing that even remotely resembled the man he'd once began. Now, all that was left was the Silence. Maybe it would finally consume him, embody him, take him to his final resting place. Yes…rest sounded good. Maybe sleep would bring the Silence, pull him down to a place where he'd never have to wake. And so, Helel closed his eyes for what he hoped would be the final time, in need of reprieve from today, and with no hope for tomorrow.