December the Twenty-fifth

The Noise stopped.
The Silence, however, stayed gone. The Noise wasn’t replaced. Its hole wasn’t filled.
They awoke that final day, exhausted, tired, without any idea where they were for a good chunk of it, until they slowly started to remember.
They remembered the halls they slept in. They remembered the rooms and each other. They remembered the Up Above, and the Hidden Behind, they remembered the cameras and the observation room, they remembered the board with names that was no longer filled.
It was empty. Expired. All black.
The quiet loomed over them until they started to wake up and talk to each other, and realize that they could indeed talk to each other.
They weren’t asleep again. The Silence hadn’t taken them as it had—they remembered now—for so, so many years.
Now, they were alone.

And they had done as much as they could. The Noise had stopped. The wanting was over. Now, there was time. Time for looking, and talking, and staying and walking. Time for that which gives you hope.
Because it might be ending, but to them, who just woke up, who were trapped, the world is open and new. They didn’t know what they wanted to do now. Most of them had no idea. But they spent the day talking and listening and thinking and cleaning and doing whatever their idle mind told them to.
For now, it was enough for them to know that their work was done. They’d done—not everything, never everything—but enough. Enough to quiet the Noise. Enough to end the cries. Enough to see that the world could, at least just for one day, be at peace.

It might be back. They might come back.
Next year, on the first of December, if the Noise was to start again, they would be back. That promise was made. And next time, hopefully, they could do just as well as they had this year. And even if they couldn’t, it would be alright.
Because the Silence was gone and the Noise was as well, and now it was their own time to live.