The Air Rumbled (short story)

The Air Rumbled or Curiosity Killed the Cat



The air rumbled. Not the Earth below their feet, but the atmosphere around them, as if something were attempting to break through. The tear was something else. It began as a high-pitched scream, but soon escalated to something nearly unbearable. People covered their ears. Some screamed, fear and confusion apparent in their expressions.

It had only happened a couple of times, but everyone was vigilant. Hoping it would not happen again. Hoping for some explanation.

The rumbling, though not painful like the tear, was worse. It signified something moving behind something else. It could be felt in the bones. Not a gradual rumbling of the heavens as during summer storms, but as one wave of sound upon another, butting up against each other, overlapping; a vibration so intense it caused them to freeze where they stood. To move was to invite catastrophe. Bones would be ground to dust.

Speculation went wild. Perhaps another dimension? Could it be an alternate universe. Or another species making contact. No one knew, and that was the worst. The news at six failed to report the phenomenon. Newspapers were eerily quiet.

Alan’s dreams reflected his fear. A giant thing standing in a far-off reality had found a small nick in the fabric of the universe and began picking at it. Slowly, it would pluck away at the material until a hole became large enough to allow it through.

And then. Then, they would see it. Most would not believe it. They would think it was something from a movie. Looking around for cameras and crew. But soon enough they would know it was not a film in production.

Sometimes he dreamed a large hand came through a rip in the sky. A being like them, only much larger making its way through head first, exiting that womb of darkness. It’s hand would move about, as if cuffed, attempting to make more room. Then the wrist would appear.

Soon after, the forearm. Only that part of the dream got strange. That horrible limb writhed with other things. They looked mechanical, but were not. Bio-mechanical things is what they were. Itinerant insects scuttling the fabric above and eating away at it.

He woke sweating, bedsheets askew. Legs kicking, hoping for escape and knowing there was none.

He did not think the rumbling or the tear happened at night. If it had, they would be pulled from their beds by the sheer power of it. Nor did it happen when they expected it to. No one could set a watch to it.

Sometimes the rumbling would begin in the middle of the day when everyone had just finished lunch. Strolling back to offices, chatting with other employees on the street, or lost in their own thoughts, suddenly everything would stop. Even traffic halted. Silence settled over the city as the rumble swept over them. To move was instant death. No one said it, but they all knew. It was something they knew from the feel of it, as one knows the sun will rise and set.

Other times the rumbling would begin with the first glimmers of light. Individuals reported birds falling from the sky, roosters fell silent. Those who just began rubbing sleep from their eyes grew still, wishing it over.

The rumbling lasted several weeks before something changed. He was downtown, panhandling in a big box parking lot when it happened. They had almost become accustomed to the daily occurrence, but then the tear with its ominous scream lasted nearly a minute. Long enough to cause a few fatal heart attacks, nose bleeds and hysteria.

He looked up and saw the sky above ripping open, reminding him of a tear he had once seen in a clear plastic bag. When he began to feel his feet lifting from the ground, he knew this was not some long-armed traveler from another universe tearing through the fabric of reality. This felt like man. The human animal had caused this and with this knowledge he whooped. A woman grabbing for something to hold on to floated by, looking irritated at the sound of his obvious enthusiasm.

Somehow, the scientists had finally managed to create the black hole they had talked about for years. Technology had finally come to this. Curiosity killed the cat, he thought and laughed aloud as he thought it, floating higher still, tilting sideways, the world askew.











2 thoughts on “The Air Rumbled (short story)

  1. Love this, love this, love this!

    It has all the elements of a good sci-fi story, too. I love the ending. The inherent lesson of Man (what I love most about good sci-fi stories are the social commentary about Humankind and the lessons we all still need to learn) coupled with a familiar proverb, Curiosity Killed The Cat. You’ve written a short story with a novel’s flow. I love how you use words, too. Especially when describing the sound of the air rumbling, “as one wave of sound upon another, butting up against each other; overlapping.” Just delicious sense imagery.

    You are a gifted writer.

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