by Ahmed A. Khan
It was a bright spring morning when Gabriel’s life changed.
At the time, Gabriel was a moderately well-to-do writer and lived alone in a townhouse.
That morning, he switched on the TV. A cartoon was being shown but the sound he heard was not the sound of a cartoon but of news being read. Was something wrong with the TV? Had two channels somehow got mixed up? Then he heard the news reader announce the date. How could it be the 25th of May, today? Yesterday, when he had gone to sleep, it had been the 20th. What was going on? Had he slept for four days – a modern day Rip Van Winkle? He ran outside, picked up the newspaper lying on the doorstep and looked at the date. Twenty first of May.
So, after all, he had not slept for four days.
That was just the beginning. The whole day, he kept hearing voices: Voices of his friends, his neighbors, the voice of Jenny, and his own voice. What was going on? Was he going mad? But there was no insanity in the voices he heard.
He thought hard, struggling against a rising sense of panic. Slowly, almost shyly, a tiny idea raised its head. He had a hypothesis. It was fantastic. Nevertheless, he decided to test it.
Next morning, he switched on the television. Once again, the picture on the tube didn’t match the sounds. He heard the date being announced, and it was the twenty sixth of May. Hypothesis proved!
No matter how fantastic, it was probably true. His sense of hearing had extended four days and a couple of hours into the future.
He quietly sat at his writing table for hours, mentally working out the ramifications of his condition. There were various things, big and small, to take care of. For instance, if someone rang the doorbell, he wouldn’t hear it. He had to have some kind of visual indication for it. Then there was the phone. This was one instrument that would become almost totally useless to him… except for texting. And what about conversation with people? He could talk to them and they would hear him but when they talked, he would have heard it four days ago. How then to have a coherent conversation? The only solution was to tell everyone that he had gone totally deaf. Let them communicate via writing or sign language.
And life went on with all its strangeness.
Gabriel’s pre-sonic condition had its advantages. He made it a habit of hearing the business news bulletins on the TV, and armed with advance knowledge of the market, he started playing the stocks. Inevitably his income became healthier and healthier. In turn, he became quite a philanthropist and had no end of fun.
No one knew about his abnormality till he heard himself telling Jenny about it – Jenny, who reminded him of paddy fields and milk and honey and everything that is fresh and wholesome – and didn’t hear her scream or panic. So four days later, he did tell her about it and she, after a brief adjustment period, accepted it and said so in writing.
And one day, he wrote a note to her, asking her to marry him. She accepted and soon they became man and wife and lived happily for quite some time…
…till the time that he heard Jenny crying with grief. And this grief was over his death.
He immediately got busy straightening out his things, preparing his will, loving and cherishing Jenny.
The next day, he heard his friends come to bury him.
And then his world went dead silent for some time.
And then he heard a terrible voice say: „Who is your God?“
And he had three days to find the correct answer to that question.
Copyright © 2013 by Ahmed A. Khan
Ahmed A. Khan is a Canadian writer with Indian origins. He published stories in Interzone, HP Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Anotherealm and several anthologies. He edited Fall and Rise, an anthology of post-apocalyptic stories with a difference, SF Waxes Philosophical and A Mosque Among the Stars, an anthology of Islamic sf stories. He recently published a collection of short stories. His blog is at http://ahmedakhan.livejournal.com/
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