The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sound of Silence, by Barbara Constant

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org


Title: The Sound of Silence

Author: Barbara Constant

Illustrator: Schelling

Release Date: October 19, 2009 [EBook #30283]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SOUND OF SILENCE ***




Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net






Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction June 1962. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

 

THE SOUND
OF SILENCE

 

BY BARBARA CONSTANT

 

Most people, when asked to define the ultimate in loneliness, say it's being alone in a crowd. And it takes only one slight difference to make one forever alone in the crowd....

 

ILLUSTRATED BY SCHELLING


N

obody at Hoskins, Haskell & Chapman, Incorporated, knew jut why Lucilla Brown, G.G. Hoskins' secretary, came to work half an hour early every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even G.G. himself, had he been asked, would have had trouble explaining how his occasional exasperated wish that just once somebody would reach the office ahead of him could have caused his attractive young secretary to start doing so three times a week ... or kept her at it all the months since that first gloomy March day. Nobody asked G.G. however—not even Paul Chapman, the very junior partner in the advertising firm, who had displayed more than a little interest in Lucilla all fall and winter, but very little interest in anything all spring and summer. Nobody asked Lucilla why she left early on the days she arrived early—after all, eight hours is long enough. And certainly nobody knew where Lucilla went at 4:30 on those three days—nor would anybody in the office have believed it, had he known.

"Lucky Brown? seeing a psychiatrist?" The typist would have giggled, the office boy would have snorted, and every salesman on the force would have guffawed. Even Paul Chapman might have managed a wry smile. A real laugh had been beyond him for several months—ever since he asked Lucilla confidently, "Will you marry me?" and she answered, "I'm sorry, Paul—thanks, but no thanks."

Not that seeing a psychiatrist was anything to laugh at, in itself. After all, the year was 1962, and there were almost as many serious articles about mental health as there were cartoons about psychoanalysts, even in the magazines that specialized in poking fun. In certain cities—including Los Angeles—and certain industries—especially advertising—"I have an appointment with my psychiatrist" was a perfectly acceptable excuse for leaving work early. The idea of a secretary employed by almost the largest advertising firm in one of the best-known suburbs in the sprawling City of the Angels doing so should not, therefore, have seemed particularly odd. Not would it have, if the person involved had been anyone at all except Lucilla Brown.

The idea that she might need aid of any kind, particularly psychiatric, was ridiculous. She had been born twenty-two years earlier in undisputed possession of a sizable silver spoon—and she was, in addition, bright, beautiful, and charming, with 20/20 vision, perfect teeth, a father and mother who adored her, friends who did likewise ... and the kind of luck you'd have to see to believe. Other people entered contests—Lucilla won them. Other people drove five miles over the legal speed limit and got caught doing it—Lucilla out-distanced them, but fortuitously slowed down just before the highway patrol appeared from nowhere. Other people waited in the wrong line at the bank while the woman ahead of them learned how to roll pennies—Lucilla was always in the line that moved right up to the teller's window.

"Lucky" was not, in other words, just a happenstance abbreviation of "Lucilla"—it was an exceedingly apt nickname. And Lucky Brown's co-workers would have been quite justified in laughing at the very idea of her being unhappy enough about anything to spend three precious hours a week stretched out on a brown leather couch staring miserably at a pale blue ceiling and fumbling for words that refused to come. There were a good many days when Lucilla felt like laughing at the idea herself. And there were other days when she didn't even feel like smiling.

Wednesday, the 25th of July, was one of the days when she didn't feel like smiling. Or talking. Or moving. It had started out badly when she opened her eyes and found herself staring at a familiar blue ceiling. "I don't know," she said irritably. "I tell you, I simply don't know what happens. I'll start to answer someone and the words will be right on the tip of my tongue, ready to be spoken, then I'll say something altogether different. Or I'll start to cross the street and, for no reason at all, be unable to even step off the curb...."

"For no reason at all?" Dr. Andrews asked. "Are you sure you aren't withholding something you ought to tell me?"

She shifted a little, suddenly uncomfortable ... and then she was fully awake and the ceiling was ivory, not blue. She stared at it for a long moment, completely disoriented, before she realized that she was in her own bed, not on Dr. Andrews' brown leather couch, and that the conversation had been another of the interminable imaginary dialogues she found herself carrying on with the psychiatrist, day and night, awake and asleep.

"Get out of my dreams," she ordered crossly, summoning up a quick mental picture of Dr. Andrews' expressive face, level gray eyes, and silvering temples, the better to banish him from her thoughts. She was immediately sorry she had done so, for the image remained fixed in her mind; she could almost feel his eyes as she heard his voice ask again, "For no reason at all, Lucilla?"


T

he weatherman had promised a scorcher, and the heat that already lay like a blanket over the room made it seem probable the promise would be fulfilled. She moved listlessly, showering patting herself dry, lingering over the choice of a dress until her mother called urgently from the kitchen.

She was long minutes behind schedule when she left the house. Usually she rather enjoyed easing her small car into the stream of automobiles pouring down Sepulveda toward the San Diego Freeway, jockeying for position, shifting expertly from one lane to another to take advantage of every break in the traffic. This morning she felt only angry impatience; she choked back on the irritated impulse to drive directly into the side of a car that cut across in front of her, held her horn button down furiously when a slow-starting truck hesitated fractionally after the light turned green.

When she finally edged her Renault up on the "on" ramp and the freeway stretched straight and unobstructed ahead, she stepped down on the accelerator and watched the needle climb up and past the legal 65-mile limit. The sound of her tires on the smooth concrete was soothing and the rush of wind outside gave the morning an illusion of coolness. She edged away from the tangle of cars that had pulled onto the freeway with her and momentarily was alone on the road, with her rear-view mirror blank, the oncoming lanes bare, and a small rise shutting off the world ahead.

That was when it happened. "Get out of the way!" a voice shrieked "out of the way, out of the way, OUT OF THE WAY!" Her heart lurched, her stomach twisted convulsively, and there was a brassy taste in her mouth. Instinctively, she stamped down on the brake pedal, swerved sharply into the outer lane. By the time she had topped the rise, she was going a cautious 50 miles an hour and hugging the far edge of the freeway. Then, and only then, she heard the squeal of agonized tires and saw the cumbersome semitrailer coming from the opposite direction rock dangerously, jackknife into the dividing posts that separated north and south-bound traffic, crunch ponderously through them, and crash to a stop, several hundred feet ahead of her and squarely athwart the lane down which she had been speeding only seconds earlier.

The highway patrol materialized within minutes. Even so, it was after eight by the time Lucilla gave them her statement, agreed for the umpteenth time with the shaken but uninjured truck driver that it was indeed fortunate she hadn't been in the center lane, and drove slowly the remaining miles to the office. The gray mood of early morning had changed to black. Now there were two voices in her mind, competing for attention. "I knew it was going to happen," the truck driver said, "I couldn't see over the top of that hill. All I could do was fight the wheel and pray that if anybody was coming, he'd get out of the way." She could almost hear him repeating the words, "Get out of the way, out of the way...." And right on the heel of his cry came Dr. Andrews' soft query, "For no reason at all, Lucilla?"

She pulled into the company parking lot, jerked the wheel savagely to the left, jammed on the brakes. "Shut up!" she said. "Shut up, both of you!" She started into the building, then hesitated. She was already late, but there was something.... (Get out of the way, the way.... For no reason at all, at all....) She yielded to impulse and walked hurriedly downstairs to the basement library.

"That stuff I asked you to get together for me by tomorrow, Ruthie," she said to the gray-haired librarian. "You wouldn't by any chance have already done it, would you?"

"Funny you should ask." The elderly woman bobbed down behind the counter and popped back up with an armload of magazines and newspapers. "Just happened to have some free time last thing yesterday. It's already charged out to you, so you just go right ahead and take it, dearie."


I

t was 8:30 when Lucilla reached the office.

"When I need you, where are you?" G.G. asked sourly. "Learned last night that the top dog at Karry Karton Korporation is in town today, so they've pushed that conference up from Friday to ten this morning. If you'd been here early—or even on time—we might at least have gotten some of the information together."

Lucilla laid the stack of material on his desk. "I haven't had time to flag the pages yet," she said, "but they're listed on the library request on top. We did nineteen ads for KK last year and three of premium offers. I stopped by Sales on my way in—Susie's digging out figures for you now."

"Hm-m-m," said G.G. "Well. So that's where you've been. You could at least have let me know." There was grudging approval beneath his gruffness. "Say, how'd you know I needed this today, anyhow?"

"Didn't," said Lucilla, putting her purse away and whisking the cover off her typewriter. "Happenstance, that's all." (Just happened to go down to the library ... for no reason at all ... withholding something ... get out of the way....) The telephone's demand for attention overrode her thoughts. She reached for it almost gratefully. "Mr. Hoskins' office," she said. "Yes. Yes, he knows about the ten o'clock meeting this morning. Thanks for calling, anyway." She hung up and glanced at G.G., but he was so immersed in one of the magazines that the ringing telephone hadn't even disturbed him. Ringing? The last thing she did before she left the office each night was set the lever in the instrument's base to "off," so that the bell would not disturb G.G. if he worked late. So far today, nobody had set it back to "on."


I

t's getting worse," she said miserably to the pale blue ceiling. "The phone didn't ring this morning—it couldn't have—but I answered it." Dr. Andrews said nothing at all. She let her eyes flicker sidewise, but he was outside her range of vision. "I don't LIKE having you sit where I can't see you," she said crossly. "Freud may have thought it was a good idea, but I think it's a lousy one." She clenched her hands and stared at nothing. The silence stretched thinner and thinner, like a balloon blown big, until the temptation to rupture it was too great to resist. "I didn't see the truck this morning. Nor hear it. There was no reason at all for me to slow down and pull over."

"You might be dead if you hadn't. Would you like that better?"

The matter-of-fact question was like a hand laid across Lucilla's mouth. "I don't want to be dead," she admitted finally. "Neither do I want to go on like this, hearing words that aren't spoken and bells that don't ring. When it gets to the point that I pick up a phone just because somebody's thinking...." She stopped abruptly.

"I didn't quite catch the end of that sentence," Dr. Andrews said.

"I didn't quite finish it. I can't."

"Can't? Or won't? Don't hold anything back, Lucilla. You were saying that you picked up the phone just because somebody was thinking...." He paused expectantly. Lucilla reread the ornate letters on the framed diploma on the wall, looked critically at the picture of Mrs. Andrews—whom she'd met—and her impish daughter—whom she hadn't—counted the number of pleats in the billowing drapes, ran a tentative finger over the face of her wristwatch, straightened a fold of her skirt ... and could stand the silence no longer.

"All right," she said wearily. "The girl at Karry Karton thought about talking to me, and I heard my phone ring, even though the bell was disconnected. G.G. thought about needing backup material for the conference and I went to the library. The truck driver thought about warning people and I got out of his way. So I can read people's minds—some people's minds, some of the time, anyway ... only there's no such thing as telepathy. And if I'm not telepathic, then...." She caught herself in the brink of time and bit back the final word, fighting for self-control.

"Then what?" The peremptory question toppled Lucilla's defenses.

"I'm crazy," she said. Speaking the word released all the others dammed up behind it. "Ever since I can remember, things like this have happened—all at once, in the middle of doing something or saying something, I'd find myself thinking about what somebody else was doing or saying. Not thinking—knowing. I'd be playing hide-and-seek, and I could see the places where the other kids were hiding just as plainly as I could see my own surroundings. Or I'd be worrying over the answers to an exam question, and I'd know what somebody in the back of the room had decided to write down, or what the teacher was expecting us to write. Not always—but it happened often enough so that it bothered me, just the way it does now when I answer a question before it's been asked, or know what the driver ahead of me is going to do a split second before he does it, or win a bridge game because I can see everybody else's hand through his own eyes, almost."

"Has it always ... bothered you, Lucilla?"

"No-o-o-o." She drew the word out, considering, trying to think when it was that she hadn't felt uneasy about the unexpected moments of perceptiveness. When she was very little, perhaps. She thought of the tiny, laughing girl in the faded snaps of the old album—and suddenly, inexplicably, she was that self, moving through remembered rooms, pausing to collect a word from a boyish father, a thought from a pretty young mother. Reluctantly, she closed her eyes against that distant time. "Way back," she said, "when I didn't know any better, I just took it for granted that sometimes people talked to each other and that sometimes they passed thoughts along without putting them into words. I was about six, I guess, when I found out it wasn't so." She slipped into her six-year-old self as easily as she had donned the younger Lucilla. This time she wasn't in a house, but high on a hillside, walking on springy pine needles instead of prosaic carpet.

"Talk," Dr. Andrews reminded her, his voice so soft that it could almost have come from inside her own mind.

"We were picnicking," she said. "A whole lot of us. Somehow, I wandered away from the others...." One minute the hill was bright with sun, and the next it was deep in shadows and the wind that had been merely cool was downright cold. She shivered and glanced around expecting her mother to be somewhere near, holding out a sweater or jacket. There was no one at all in sight. Even then, she never thought of being frightened. She turned to retrace her steps. There was a big tree that looked familiar, and a funny rock behind it, half buried in the hillside. She was trudging toward it, humming under her breath, when the worry thoughts began to reach her. (... only a little creek so I don't think she could have fallen in ... not really any bears around here ... but she never gets hurt ... creek ... bear ... twisted ankle ... dark ... cold....) She had veered from her course and started in the direction of the first thought, but now they were coming from all sides and she had no idea at all which way to go. She ran wildly then, first one way, then the other, sobbing and calling.

"Lucilla!" The voice sliced into the night, and the dark mountainside and the frightened child were gone. She shuddered a little, reminiscently, and put her hand over her eyes.

"Somebody found me, of course. And then Mother was holding me and crying and I was crying, too, and telling her how all the different thought at once frightened me and mixed me up. She ... she scolded me for ... for telling fibs ... and said that nobody except crazy people thought they could read each other's minds."

"I see," said Dr. Andrews, "So you tried not to, of course. And anytime you did it again, or thought you did, you blamed it on coincidence. Or luck."

"And had that nightmare again."

"Yes, that, too. Tell me about it."

"I already have. Over and over."

"Tell me again, then."

"I feel like a fool, repeating myself," she complained. Dr. Andrew's made no comment. "Oh, all right. It always starts with me walking down a crowded street, surrounded by honking cars and yelling newsboys and talking people. The noise bothers me and I'm tempted to cover my ears to shut it out, but I try to ignore it, instead, and walk faster and faster. Bit by bit, the buildings I pass are smaller, the people fewer, the noise less. All at once, I discover there's nothing around at all but a spreading carpet of gray-green moss, years deep, and a silence that feels as old as time itself. There's nothing to frighten me, but I am frightened ... and lonesome, not so much for people, but for a sound ... any sound. I turn to run back toward town, but there's nothing behind me now but the same gray moss and gray sky and dead silence."


B

y the time she reached the last word, her throat had tightened until speaking was difficult. She reached out blindly for something to cling to. Her groping hand met Dr. Andrews' and his warm fingers closed reassuringly around hers. Gradually the panic drained away, but she could think of nothing to say at all, although she longed to have the silence broken. As if he sensed her longing, Dr. Andrews said, "You started having the dream more often just after you told Paul you wouldn't marry him, is that right?"

"No. It was the other way around. I hadn't had it for months, not since I fell in love with him, then he got assigned to that "Which Tomorrow?" show and he started calling me "Lucky," the way everybody does, and the dream came back...." She stopped short, and turned on the couch to stare at the psychiatrist with startled eyes. "But that can't be how it was," she said. "The lonesomeness must have started after I decided not to marry him, not before."

"I wonder why the dream stopped when you fell in love with him."

"That's easy," Lucilla said promptly, grasping at the chance to evade her own more disturbing question. "I felt close to him, whether he was with me or not, the way I used to feel close to people back when I was a little girl, before ... well, before that day in the mountains ... when Mother said...."

"That was when you started having the dream, wasn't it?"

"How'd you know? I didn't—not until just now. But, yes, that's when it started. I'd never minded the dark or being alone, but I was frightened when Mother shut the door that night, because the walls seemed so ... so solid, now that I knew all the thoughts I used to think were with me there were just pretend. When I finally went to sleep, I dreamed, and I went on having the same dream, night after night after night, until finally they called a doctor and he gave me something to make me sleep."

"I wish they'd called me," Dr. Andrews said.

"What could you have done? The sleeping pills worked, anyway, and after a while I didn't need them any more, because I'd heard other kids talking about having hunches and lucky streaks and I stopped feeling different from the rest of them, except once in a while, when I was so lucky it ... bothered me."

"And after you met Paul, you stopped being ... too lucky ... and the dream stopped?"

"No!" Lucilla was startled at her own vehemence. "No, it wasn't like that at all, and you'd know it, if you'd been listening. With Paul, I felt close to him all the time, no matter how many miles or walls or anything else there were between us. We hardly had to talk at all, because we seemed to know just what the other one was thinking all the time, listening to music, or watching the waves pound in or just working together at the office. Instead of feeling ... odd ... when I knew what he was thinking or what he was going to say, I felt good about it, because I was so sure it was the same way with him and what I was thinking. We didn't talk about it. There just wasn't any need to." She lapsed into silence again. Dr. Andrews straightened her clenched hand out and stroked the fingers gently. After a moment, she went on.

"He hadn't asked me to marry him, but I knew he would, and there wasn't any hurry, because everything was so perfect, anyway. Then one of the company's clients decided to sponsor a series of fantasy shows on TV and wanted us to tie in the ads for next year with the fantasy theme. Paul was assigned to the account, and G.G. let him borrow me to work on it, because it was such a rush project. I'd always liked fairy stories when I was little and when I discovered there were grown-up ones, too, like those in Unknown Worlds and the old Weird Tales, I read them, too. But I hadn't any idea how much there was, until we started buying copies of everything there was on the news-stands, and then ransacking musty little stores for back issues and ones that had gone out of publication, until Paul's office was just full of teetery piles of gaudy magazines and everywhere you looked there were pictures of strange stars and eight-legged monsters and men in space suits."

"So what do the magazines have to do with you and Paul?"

"The way he felt about them changed everything. He just laughed at the ones about space ships and other planets and robots and things, but he didn't laugh when came across stories about ... well, mutants, and people with talents...."

"Talents? Like reading minds, you mean?"

She nodded, not looking at him. "He didn't laugh at those. He acted as if they were ... well, indecent. The sort of thing you wouldn't be caught dead reading in public. And he thought that way, too, especially about the stories that even mentioned telepathy. At first, when he brought them to my attention in that disapproving way, I thought he was just pretending to sneer, to tease me, because he—we—knew they could be true. Only his thoughts matched his remarks. He hated the stories, Dr. Andrews, and was just determined to have me hate them, too. All at once I began to feel as if I didn't know him at all and I began to wonder if I'd just imagined everything all those months I felt so close to him. And then I began to dream again, and to think about that lonesome silent world even when I was wide awake."

"Go on, Lucilla," Dr. Andrews said, as she hesitated.

"That's all, just about. We finished the job and got rid of the magazines and for a little while it was almost as if those two weeks had never been, except I couldn't forget that he didn't know what I was thinking at all, even when everything he did, almost, made it seem as if he did. It began to seem wrong for me to know what he was thinking. Crazy, like Mother had said, and worse, somehow. Not well, not even nice, if you know what I mean."

"Then he asked you to marry him."

"And I said no, even when I wanted, oh, so terribly, to say yes and yes and yes." She squeezed her eyes tight shut to hold back a rush of tears.


T

ime folded back on itself. Once again, the hands of her wristwatch pointed to 4:30 and the white-clad receptionist said briskly, "Doctor will see you now." Once again, from some remote vantage point, Lucilla watched herself brush past Dr. Andrews and cross to the familiar couch, heard herself say, "It's getting worse," watched herself move through a flickering montage of scenes from childhood to womanhood, from past to present.

She opened he eyes to meet those of the man who sat patiently beside her. "You see," he said, "telling me wasn't so difficult, after all." And then, before she had decided on a response, "What do you know about Darwin's theory of evolution, Lucilla?"

His habit of ending a tense moment by making an irrelevant query no longer even startled her. Obediently, she fumbled for an answer. "Not much. Just that he thought all the different kinds of life on earth today evolved from a few blobs of protoplasm that sprouted wings or grew fur or developed teeth, depending on when they lived, and where." She paused hopefully, but met with only silence. "Sometimes what seemed like a step forward wasn't," she said, ransacking her brain for scattered bits of information. "Then the species died out, like the saber-tooth tiger, with those tusks that kept right on growing until they locked his jaws shut, so he starved to death." As she spoke, she remembered the huge beast as he had been pictured in one of her college textbooks. The recollection grew more and more vivid, until she could see both the picture and the facing page of text. There was an irregularly shaped inkblot in the upper corner and several heavily underlined sentences that stood out so distinctly she could actually read the words. "According to Darwin, variations in general are not infinitesimal, but in the nature of specific mutations. Thousands of these occur, but only the fittest survive the climate, the times, natural enemies, and their own kind, who strive to perpetuate themselves unchanged." Taken one by one, the words were all familiar—taken as a whole, they made no sense at all. She let the book slip unheeded from her mind and stared at Dr. Andrews in bewilderment.

"Try saying it in a different way."

"You sound like a school teacher humoring a stupid child." And then, because of the habit of obedience was strong, "I guess he meant that tails didn't grow an inch at a time, the way the dog's got cut off, but all at once ... like a fish being born with legs as well as fins, or a baby saber-tooth showing up among tigers with regular teeth, or one ape in a tribe discovering he could swing down out of the treetops and stand erect and walk alone."

He echoed her last words. "And walk alone...." A premonitory chill traced its icy way down Lucilla's backbone. For a second she stood on gray moss, under a gray sky, in the midst of a gray silence. "He not only could walk alone, he had to. Do you remember what your book said?"

"Only the fittest survive," Lucilla said numbly. "Because they have to fight the climate ... and their natural enemies ... and their own kind." She swung her feet to the floor and pushed herself into a sitting position. "I'm not a ... a mutation. I'm not, I'm not, I'm NOT, and you can't say I am, because I won't listen!"

"I didn't say you were." There was the barest hint of emphasis on the first word. Lucilla was almost certain she heard a whisper of laughter, but he met her gaze blandly, his expression completely serious.

"Don't you dare laugh!" she said, nonetheless. "There's nothing funny about ... about...."

"About being able to read people's minds," Dr Andrews said helpfully. "You'd much rather have me offer some other explanation for the occurrences that bother you so—is that it?"

"I guess so. Yes, it is. A brain tumor. Or schizophrenia. Or anything at all that could maybe be cured, so I could marry Paul and have children and be like everybody else. Like you." She looked past him to the picture on his desk. "It's easy for you to talk."

He ignored the last statement. "Why can't you get married, anyway?"

"You've already said why. Because Paul would hate me—everybody would hate me—if they knew I was different."

"How would they know? It doesn't show. Now if you had three legs, or a long bushy tail, or outsized teeth...."

Lucilla smiled involuntarily, and then was furious at herself for doing so and at Dr Andrews for provoking her into it. "This whole thing is utterly asinine, anyhow. Here we are, talking as if I might really be a mutant, and you know perfectly well that I'm not."

"Do I? You made the diagnosis, Lucilla, and you've given me some mighty potent reasons for believing it ... can you give me equally good reasons for doubting that you're a telepath?"


T

he peremptory demand left Lucilla speechless for a moment. She groped blindly for an answer, then almost laughed aloud as she found it.

"But of course. I almost missed it, even after you practically drew me a diagram. If I could read minds, just as soon as anybody found it out, he'd be afraid of me, or hate me, like the book said, and you said, too. If you believed it, you'd do something like having me locked up in a hospital, maybe, instead of...."

"Instead of what, Lucilla?"

"Instead of being patient, and nice, and helping me see how silly I've been." She reached out impulsively to touch his hand, then withdrew her own, feeling somewhat foolish when he made no move to respond. Her relief was too great, however, to be contained in silence. "Way back the first time I came in, almost, you said that before we finished therapy, you'd know me better than I knew myself. I didn't believe you—maybe I didn't want to—but I begin to think you were right. Lot of times, lately, you've answered a question before I even asked it. Sometimes you haven't even bothered to answer—you've just sat there in your big brown chair and I've lain here on the couch, and we've gone through something together without using words at all...." She had started out almost gaily, the words spilling over each other in their rush to be said, but bit by bit she slowed down, then faltered to a stop. After she had stopped talking altogether, she could still hear her last few phrases, repeated over and over, like an echo that refused to die. (Answered ... before I even asked ... without using words at all ... without using words....)

She could almost taste the terror that clogged her throat and dried her lips. "You do believe it. And you could have me locked up. Only ... only...." Fragments of thought, splinters of words, and droplets of silence spun into a kaleidoscopic jumble, shifted infinitesimally, and fell into an incredible new pattern. Understanding displaced terror and was, in turn, displaced by indignation. She stared accusingly at her interrogator. "But you look just like ... just like anybody."

"You expected perhaps three legs or a long bushy tail or teeth like that textbook tiger?"

"And you're a psychiatrist!"

"What else? Would you have talked to me like this across a grocery counter, Lucilla? Or listened to me, if I'd been driving a bus or filling a prescription? Would I have found the others in a bowling alley or a business office?"

"Then there are ... others?" She let out her breath on a long sigh involuntarily glancing again at the framed picture. "Only I love Paul, and he isn't ... he can't...."

"Nor can Carol." His eyes were steady on hers, yet she felt as if he were looking through and beyond her. For no reason at all, she strained her ears for the sound of footsteps or the summons of a voice. "Where do you suppose the second little blob of protoplasm with legs came from?" Dr. Andrews asked. "And the third? If that ape who found he could stand erect had walked lonesomely off into the sunset like a second-rate actor on a late, late show, where do you suppose you'd be today?"

He broke off abruptly and watched with Lucilla as the office door edged open. The small girl who inched her way around it wore blue jeans and a pony tail rather than an organdy frock and curls, but her pixie smile matched that of the girl in the photograph Lucilla had glanced at again and again.

"You wanted me, Daddy?" she asked, but she looked toward Lucilla.

"I thought you'd like to meet someone with the same nickname as yours," Dr. Andrews said, rising to greet her. "Lucky, meet Lucky."

"Hello," the child said, then her smile widened. "Hello!" (But I don't have to say it, do I? I can talk to you just the way I talk to Daddy and Uncle Whitney and Big Bill).

"Hello yourself," said Lucilla. This time when the corners of her mouth began to tick upward, she made no attempt to stop them. (Of course you can, darling. And I can answer you the same way, and you'll hear me.)

Dr. Andrews reached for the open pack of cigarettes on his deck. (Is this strictly a private conversation, girls, or can I get in on it, too?)

(It's unpolite to interrupt, Daddy.)

(He's not exactly interrupting—it was his conversation to begin with!)

Dr. Andrews' receptionist paused briefly beside the still-open office door. None of them heard either her gentle rap or the soft click of the latch slipping into place when she pushed the door shut.

Nor did she hear them.






End of Project Gutenberg's The Sound of Silence, by Barbara Constant

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SOUND OF SILENCE ***

***** This file should be named 30283-h.htm or 30283-h.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.org/3/0/2/8/30283/

Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.org/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.org),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
[email protected]  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     [email protected]


Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.
To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.


Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.


Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.org

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.