Agonized Screams In Stone Silence
rating: +8+x

Hello?

Yes?

Goodbye.

Farewell.

Good day.

Yes?

Goodbye.

And they continued in the same circular logic—words devouring thoughts in repeated cycles like an ouroboros—the incomprehensible eternity of an ending that never comes. I listen and watch as they perpetuate the mindless monotony of the same cycle of three words: the greeting, the acknowledgment, and the end. Their world was now morphed into the same snapshot of a welcome. It felt impossible to interrupt them… sacrilege.

It all came to an end when I was given the task of questioning them for further understanding and knowledge of these individual creatures. Carefully, I approached the gathering of three marble statues, clearing my throat quietly as I did.

Greetings.

Yes?

Excuse me, but I have questions.

Yes?

The second replied after the silence of the broken chain filled the air. I felt the judgment of their thoughts weigh whilst I stood and attempted to figure out a response. Despite two of the trio lacking heads, I felt as though the unmoving statues had shifted their audience to me.

Are they going to continue?

I reckon they will not.

Alas, they’re still standing.

Yes.

Goodbye.

It seemed as if the pair had dismissed my approach and offer before I even had time to speak. During it, I was meticulously writing down every detail of the encounter. Only then did I choose to awaken the two again with my interrogation.

Sorry, I just wanted to take a moment and record what you two were saying. Now I can begin…

Ah, it speaks again!

Yes. It does speak again.

Could I know why you two just… continue to speak those same three lines? I almost believed one of you to be broken, given the repetition of “yes” and such…

They ask why our cycle restarts. Humorous, isn’t it?

Yes, quite.

Well, what’s the reason? I almost feel like you two are taunting me now.

I am the speaker, and they have become my new listeners. It is the sole reason for my existence.

Yes. It’s all we’re good for now.

They’re all broken beyond repair. One is stuck in circles, and the others scream in stone silence.

I’m having a hard time understanding… I can see they’re physically broken, but why is one capable of speaking and not the others? Maybe they could answer it directly?

Yes.

Why are you one of the others capable of speaking?

Sheer luck.

She tells the truth.

What? Because you just happened to retain that ability? The location we salvaged you from was notably more intact than many others. It’s very difficult to find constructs, let alone ones that aren’t in pieces.

Circumstance deems it possible that she could retain the ability. However, I deem it my role to keep all the others here entertained.

Yes. That is her role.

Oh, so these others… can you still hear us? Are they still living?

That’s correct. All are still living.

Yes.

Contemplating and taking my notes, I looked across the remaining ruins of the marble and stone statues within the room we kept the A.S.C.s in. The revelation that every single one was still living shocked me. They had been listening to the endless monotony of the repeated conversation and my own words. Something about that fact felt wrong. The intact one put it best; they scream in stone silence.

Well, if you can speak for them all, what might your names be? It’s important for people’s documentation of you.

Yes?

Well, you haven’t even introduced yourself! Tsk tsk…

No introduction. Shame.

Apologies, I’m Professor McDean. I was sent to help study and learn more about you all.

Professor. I see… You may call me Madam Dianna.

What about your friend here? Can they introduce themself too?

Yes. Persephone.

Oh, that’s a pretty name! Both of your names are nice, actually. How about all the others? Could you maybe tell me their names?

The broken? Their names? Pick one and I’ll attempt to recall.

Yes. She’ll recall.

How about the one that is seated with the two of you? She’s your size, Dianna.

Ah, her. That would be Daphne.

How about the torso that we have displayed against the nearby wall?

She would be Cicatriz. That’s something they were called before they ended up so mangled. They were merely missing a leg before this.

Yes.

Interesting… How did you all ever end up knowing each other if you were statues? It isn’t like you all could move.

Words travel. Gossip roams.

Yes. The news travels by word of mouth.

Would people just keep you updated then? Well, guess that helps break up the monotony of being stuck in one place all the time.

Ah, some of the others like yourself enjoyed it. They’d be sure to keep me informed all the time.

Lest we forget the conversations, yes?

Absolutely not. I’m sure Cicatriz and Daphne also miss the conversations. How lonely they must be…

Ah yeah, those broken ones must not have great lives. How come they aren’t uh… dead? Can you all even die?

To my surprise, the pair suddenly went quiet. I didn’t know if what I said was something blasphemous or simply unheard of. How does such a thing die? Does it simply continue to be until the very stone of its body erodes to dust? It certainly wouldn’t be a death like ours. How could Dianna and Persephone know if the pair were still alive? Was there even any definitive proof they had? I suppose I could only take their word for it.

Did I say something wrong? I’m dreadfully sorry if so. This is all for research, I assure you.

What you ask is not something we have an answer to. Only God knows.

Yes.

Neither of you two can answer both of those questions? How can you even tell they’re still alive if you’re not sure if you can even die?

We hear the voices you do not, dear. The insistent mutters and gasps for air, the whimpers and pleads, everything they attempt to get out. They’re trapped in their own cages of solitude. They can hear all of us, but you… flesh things can’t.

Yes. That is simply how it is.

Now, goodbye. I would say you’ve overstayed your welcome with that.

With that, I withdrew myself and left the group to be in silence. I walked the tile flooring and returned through the archive halls. The whole way, I contemplated my own existence. Were they any different than us in the way they continue to comfort the irreparable?

Once I had returned to my station at the observatory, I continued to look down through the windows at the A.S.C. storage. Faintly, I could hear the continuation of the circular logic. Again, their loop of unending greetings continued. All the broken constructs around them could only watch and listen. Daphne, and Cicatriz, all stuck to listen, agonized and screaming in stone silence. I couldn’t imagine how much worse it was before we found them, back when they were buried in rubble and dirt.

After what felt like an hour of watching, I finally took out a laptop. I decided to put in a request that would perhaps provide me with further understanding.

They picked out one of the two, Cicatriz. They were by far in the worst shape out of all the others kept in storage. The nude marble torso of her form was laid on a metal table, almost as if I were going to conduct an operation on them. To my right, a one-way window acted as the way for the other analysts and biologists to watch. Now, with all the preparation out of the way, I took out all the tools I would be using. All sorts of miscellaneous paranormal hunting equipment, set out neatly around Cicatriz in the hopes that it could pick up on anything.

Now that I have things set up, I can presumably hear you.

It’s okay to talk, I have some things you can try to use. There’s a small EVP device cycling through signals. Try talking to me using it.

Kzzt…Great… Aaa… the…

Did you say something? I can’t really understand it over all the static.

Going… Mmm… there it is… kssst…

Going? Is that what you said? Can you say something if you can hear me?

H… Ear… Kzzt… Yessiree…

Oh, this is perfect- Cicatriz is your name, right? It must be wonderful being able to speak after so long.

Bzzt… Seek… Trip… Mmm… Bzzt… M… Cuh… Dean…

I can almost tell what you’re trying to say, but this is definitely hard. I swear you also said my name there. Do you remember me from a few hours ago?

Yes… Aaa…

One of the clearest responses I’ve heard tonight… Uh, are you unhappy?

Nmm… Aaa… Calling it… Ksst… Empty…

Would that be a yes? I’m sorry to hear. We’re here to help though. Do you want to go back to that room with the others, or be put somewhere where you’ll get the chance to socialize?

New… Kzzt… Go… What you… Mmt… Away…

I hear that you want to be moved somewhere else. Is this correct? Can you give me a sign?

Aaa… Bzzt… Sss… Core… Eh… Kzzt…

Correct? I’m hearing a confirmation… I’ll take you there, but I have some other questions, okay?

Mmmt… Shoot…

Are you in pain?

As soon as I asked, the communications from the EVP machine ceased. A strong static overcame whatever response I would’ve received, and as if it were on cue, the electromagnetic sensor pods began to flash and beep with life. I was unsure if that was them attempting to convey their suffering. The volume of devices going off around me was almost startling, causing me to recoil and stumble backward a few steps.

I think you’ve made your answer very clear to me… Could you tell me if being around people would actually make you feel better?

Sss… Bzzt… Bzzt…

Um, hello? Are you still there? Are you just unsure?

Miss… Bzzt… Her… Eee…

Miss what? Oh! Oh, I see… misery. My condolences Cicatriz, I had a feeling being like this isn’t the best.

Kzzt… Apollo… Sssh… Geez… Bzzt… Do it… Out…

Eager to go, are you? I’m glad you’re warming up to the idea, but I need to ask my supervisors if I can do that, okay? I’m going to turn these devices off, then I’ll move you.

Aaaa… Ghh… Mmmt…

The noises from the device continued as I shut off each machine one by one, leaving the EVP machine for last just in case Cicatriz had much else to say. Nonetheless, the time soon came when I had to shut it off. As hesitant as I was about doing it, I eventually clicked the button and packed it into the box where it belonged. The stunning silence contrasted the white noise I had listened so intensely to. For a moment, I continued to stare at Cicatriz’s broken body, knowing they still had so much to say.

My superiors were there to greet me on the other side of the examination room. They all had their notebooks and other methods of documentation, although they also handed me two slips of paper; a protocol for where Cicatriz would be stored for display, and a notice about similar tests I would conduct on the other damaged A.S.C.s in storage. Orders were orders, and as much as I thought it would be best to inquire more about whether the other A.S.C.s like Cicatriz even wanted to continue living, I knew it would be contentious.

How were we to give up history and a possible wealth of knowledge? Simultaneously, was it right to continue allowing them to suffer in such a state? Despite how little time I had with them, I still felt like I could gauge whether or not they had the desire to continue being. After I was given the time to move Cicatriz, I carefully loaded them into the cushioned cart. Just in case, I unpacked the EVP machine and set it with them in the cart.

Bzzt… Move… Ghhz… Rooms ah… Aaa… Ahead…

That’s right, you’re being moved to a place where you’ll get visitors.

Tssh… Kzzt… Mmmt… More… Aaaa…

I’m sorry Cicatriz, but I’m really struggling to understand what you’re trying to tell me. I’m sorry things have to be like this…

Bzzt… Mmmt… Brrt… Accept… Kzzt… All okay…

Are you sure everything is okay though? You don’t have to continue being like this. I’m not even sure you all can die. Can you?

Peace… Aaa… Bzzt… Bzzt… Unable… All… Aaa… Mmm… Peaceful…

You’re at peace? Even like this, you’re still fine with continuing on?

Mmmm… Sszt… Train… Bzzt… Quill… World…

Tranquil world? I’ll respect your opinion. I’m just baffled that you’re seemingly optimistic.

Tssh… Bzzt… Excite… New… Mmm… Thank you… Kzzt…

At this point, Cicatriz and I arrived at a backdoor into the new place where Cicatriz would be displayed. I entered The Castellos Collection, which was currently empty given the time of day. Past the small displays of the living entities tended to by the zookeepers was a display for temporary exhibits on entities. Thankfully, it seemed like a few attendants had already set up a comfortable stand for them.

Amongst the sound of the EVP static, I gently reached down to lift Cicatriz’s heavy torso. It was a bit of a haul, but eventually, I had enough leverage to carefully prop them up on the cushioned bars of the stand. Right after, I moved the device they had been using to talk. Lucky for them, I also brought wires to keep it powered, making sure everything was stable before plugging it in. The whole time, the static buzzed with life and words of delight and excitement. It practically drew all the other workers in the room to curiously observe.

I could only assume she was incredibly thankful for what I had done, even if I wasn’t sure it was the best choice to make. However, as much as I wished I could stay to listen, I knew I had a job to do. I said my own thanks to Cicatriz, returning to the halls and storage to copy the same task with others.


New Exhibit Notice!

Party

A display of our beloved constructs.

As of October 31st, we at The I.M.B.H.’s Castellos Collection are proud to present Spoken In Stone, a spooky new permanent display where guests can interact with Administrative Sentinel Constructs! Thanks to the work of Professor McDean, visitors to this exhibit can meet and ask questions to the mysterious Cicatriz, the poetic Dianna, the introverted Persephone, and the shy Daphne!

If you or someone you know would like to have a guided tour to be taught more about the discovery and history of these A.S.C.s, the hours are as follows:


Monday-Wednesday:
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Thursday-Friday:
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
5:30 PM - 6:45 PM

Weekends:
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
3:00 PM- 4:30 PM


Otherwise, guests can visit as they please!

For any comments or questions, visitors and guests can contact us by email to schedule trips in advance or speak to museum staff at the atrium’s directories.

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