Liadne pulled the covers over her head, just like she had when the trumpets sounded last night.
The thump, thump, thump of her heart was the only sound in her room. In the moments of silence between each beat she listened for the sounds that should have been—trash trucks dropping dumpsters, rattling mufflers on passing cars, the gurgle of the coffee maker, the whiz of a bicycle as it sped down the hill, voices of the village awakening outside her shuttered windows. She listened for the rapping fall of footsteps of a marching army, or the heavy tread of slippered feet on wooden floorboards. But she only found the silence that had lurked in falling clouds before last night. If not for the relentless beat in her chest Liadne may have thought she had awoken this morning to find herself deaf. It was the thump, thump, thump over the labored hrummph, hrummph, hrummph of her breath that let her know it was not her ears that had failed.
Liadne pushed the covers from her, and slipped one foot to the cold wooden floor. Chills ran from her toes to her neck, and she forced her other leg from beneath the warmth of the thick down comforter. She reached for the plush robe that lay across the foot of her bed, wrapped the velvety garment about her shoulders, and crossed to her shuttered window. Beneath each of Liadne’s reluctant steps, sun fell in slanting lines across the wood, warming the floor. Her heart told her to stop, leave the blinds as they were and go no further, but her brain urged her to reach for the latch on her window casing. The metal hook pricked her finger as she loosed it from its clasp. The pain was sharp but fleeting, and in that brief agony Liadne knew it was not her touch that had failed.
The opening shutters spilled sunbeams across the room, forcing Liadne to shade her eyes. For a few moments she stood, hand toward the bright sun above, eyes squinting upon the street she had lived on her entire life. Flowers bloomed pink in Miss Vionette’s window box across the lane, but Miss V. was not there to water them. Cobblestones all purple and grey, shone with no people to cast long shadows onto them. The untended street cart brimming with wares, the bakery display filled with the morning’s still-cooling bread, but no flour-dusted baker was there to hand out the loaves. Beyond the roofs of the town, resplendent against the clear blue sky stood her mountain—white topped and magnificent. It was in that lonely beautiful scene Liadne knew it was not her sight that had failed.
Liadne pulled her robe close and saw the drop of crimson dripping down her finger. She raised her hand to her mouth and sucked on the nuisance of a wound. Her salty metallic blood twisted on her tongue with the cotton-mouthed first breaths of the morning. Each breath flung tastes of spring, carried on the morning breeze, to her, but it was the quick life of her blood that overpowered all other flavors. Nursing her wound in the silence between the thumps of her heart Liadne knew it was not her taste that had failed.
She leaned out the window, and breathed deep to stifle her impending sobs. The bakery sent smells of flour and sugar as the bread browned to caramel coated crusts. The scent of snow from her mountain, crisp with the freshness of ice-cooled streams and tenacious plants fighting toward the sun, wove through her as they had every morning before. When her tears left her breathing in gasps and her nose was stuffed with the absence that lay below, Liadne knew it was not her scent that had failed.
She stood at her window hearing the silence of desertion, feeling the emptiness, seeing nothing but loneliness, tasting her inadequacy, and smelling only fear. It was in this moment Liadne was sure of what she had feared at the first call of God’s trumpets. It was not her senses that had failed her—it was her faith.
First published in the Enter the Apocalypse Anthology edited by Thomas Gondolfi spring of 2017.