Razor Mountain — Chapter 20.1

Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.

The sound was like a hammer on sheet metal. It resonated and echoed back on itself in the stone-walled room until it was an overwhelming roar of noise. First, it jerked Christopher from his half-slumber, spiking his heart-rate and triggering a frantic fight-or-flight response. In the steel-barred cell, he could do neither, and he found himself wide-eyed, hands over his ears, sitting on the metal bed with his back pressed against the wall.

As the banging continued, it enveloped him in sound so loud that he could feel it inside his organs. It felt like it was getting steadily louder, but it was possible that it only felt that way to Christopher as the overlapping waves of sound cascaded around the room and vibrated his bones.

He knew that sound was sometimes used as a weapon of torture, but he had never really considered how bad it could actually be. It made his teeth hurt. It was all around him, so there was nothing to focus against, nothing to push back against. He was unrestrained, but he felt trapped. As seconds and minutes ticked by, Christopher felt that he had to stand, had to find an outlet for the pent-up energy his body wanted to deploy against the pain.

He stood and moved to the bars of his cage, pulling on them impotently. They were firmly embedded in the floor and solidly constructed. He couldn’t budge them. They wouldn’t even rattle. Not that he’d be able to hear it.

He paced the too-small perimeter of the cell, his arms starting to ache from pressing his hands to his ears. He could feel the noise grinding him down. He had no idea if it had been going for minutes or hours. He wondered what kind of permanent hearing damage this would give him. He was beginning to think that he’d be willing to go deaf just to shut out the sound.

It stopped as suddenly as it had started, but the reverberations continued around the room for a few seconds, and even after they were gone, the echoes continued in Christopher’s ears, pulsing in time with his heartbeat. With the overwhelming sound gone, he felt like there was now an aching void between his ears.

He dropped his hands from his head. They were shaking. He stood, leaning on the bars, concentrating on the feeling of the cold metal against his forehead. Time passed, but his sense of time was too fuzzy to know how long. He sat heavily on the metal bed. Without the noise attacking him, the cell actually felt bigger, less restrictive.

He looked up at the cameras mounted high up the walls.

“What do you want?” His own voice sounded distorted and far away.

There was no response. He hadn’t really expected one. He didn’t see any speakers or obvious P.A. system, no obvious source for the horrible banging sound either. They had to be watching him, but what would they be looking for? Signs of a mental break? Christopher felt so exhausted at this point that he didn’t think he had the energy for a full-on breakdown. A catatonic state sounded like it might be nice.

He lay down on the uncomfortable slab of metal, turning to face the wall. If they thought he was trying to sleep, would they start up the noise again? The thought of enduring any more of that was enough to raise his heart rate.

He wondered if they could measure his vital signs without having him hooked up to a machine. Could they monitor his heartbeat? His core temperature? Maybe he wouldn’t be able to fool anyone.

Eventually, he got his breathing to slow. Surprisingly, even on the cold metal bed, knowing that some unknown torturer was probably just waiting for the right moment to inflict some new suffering on him, he began to feel the weight of exhaustion. He didn’t know if it was better to resist sleep or give in, and perhaps get a little bit of his strength back.

His body decided for him. He didn’t know how long he slept, but he woke to the heart-stopping sound of the metallic banging blasting into the room once again.

Christopher rolled over, laying flat on his back, eyes closed, and began a list of every expletive he knew, shouted uselessly into the sonic chaos.


Author: Samuel Johnston

Professional software developer, unprofessional writer, and generally interested in almost everything.

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