Silence is Survival

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by: Kelly Anne Blount

What do you mean it's still blocked? I signed frantically.

Liam's skin turned ashen as his face twisted in agony. The mission failed, Sophie. They're all dead, he signed.

I turned around, vomited, and punched the padded wall.

Liam grabbed my arm as I brought it back. His eyes flashed with anxiety.

My face burned. While we'd done our best to sound-proof the underground caverns our family called home, we still lived by one rule. Silence is survival. My outburst could have alerted them and cost us our lives.

Clutching my hand, I stared at the diagram in front of us. The roaring waterfall that gushed over the only entrance into our settlement had all but stopped. Without the noise generated by the rushing water, they would find us in a matter of days. The smallest vibration or sound was like a beacon. Calling them to annihilate the source.

We don't have another option, I signed. Suit up.

Liam emerged ten minutes later.

Ignoring the icy dread settling in my stomach, I slipped on a pack of explosives as we made our way past our parents.

They wrapped their arms around us, squeezing tight and signing, I love you!

Ready? I signed as we stepped away.

He nodded.

With the turn of a key, a door slid up and an opening appeared.

Silence is survival.

I secured my night vision goggles before crawling out.

We made our way through the thin veil of water and started ascending slippery rocks.

Reaching the top, I cringed. A massive rockslide had clogged the river with debris. Only a small trickle of water pushed through.

I took a step forward but froze. A bloody boot lay in front of me. A cold sweat broke out across my brow as I willed myself not to vomit.

Focus. We needed to place the explosives in the debris and get back to the cave before they heard us.

Entering the water, we moved slowly and methodically. I placed my bundles of C-4 at the far end of the blockage, while Liam slid his in between submerged tree stumps.


My heart leapt into my throat as an owl pushed off a nearby branch. It crashed down, landing in the mud with a squelch.

Before I could run, a flash of hot pain erupted across my leg. Looking down, I stifled a scream as a long tendril with razor-sharp claws on the end wrapped itself around my thigh.

I grabbed a machete out of my belt and began hacking until the wiggling appendage fell to the ground.

Racing toward the shore, I linked my arm in Liam's, pulling him behind me.

Shrieks erupted from the woods.

I fished out the detonation device and shoved Liam forward.

"Run," I screamed, pressing the red button.

The explosives ignited as they charged. Tentacles and armored body parts flew into the air as the powerful blast overtook us. Liam pulled my mangled body to safety as the rushing water muted their screams. 

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