December the Twenty-first

Roaring, blazing light. Colossal, terrifying darkness.
And most of all, voices. Hundreds and hundreds of voices. Calamities of sound, exploding into screams and echoes and tears and blistering cold cries, halting, waiting, drowning.
Song hadn’t fallen far. They plumped into the white cushion like an arrow through water and fell so deep they lost sense of what was up again. The white mass enclosed around them, clenching their clothes in damp, cold matter, and they lost all sense of touch—the only thing was the screaming whiteness, the terrifying, halting screams.
And it made sense.
It all made so much sense she began to cry.

Glass and the others stared down into the white noise and shouted their name, hoping to catch a glimpse—hoping Song hadn’t gone so far they couldn’t get them back. What else were they all to do? Jump after? That seemed dangerous. What if there really was no coming back?
But Cometh was not so easily frozen, and undertook an immediate rescue-plan, and quickly there was movement in the entire tunnel, some tossing wires and cables around it, some binding strings and ropes, until a huge net was cast in front of the hole and they all began tossing it down into the nothingness and shouted at Song to catch it and just hoped someone heard it. Anyone, really.

A terrible want overcame Song, a sorrow and an anger, a fear and a hopeless ordeal. They at once wanted to give up and never again breathe another breath when they heard the anguish of all of those around them—the thousands and thousands of screams they realized came from all over the world. They had to. There was only one way this made any sense and it was that the noise was nothing less than the world itself, calling out to them with want and desire. With hope and longing for what it didn’t have.
And what else could they do but drown in snow when they heard that? There was little else to live for when the world was such a miserable, wanting place, with so few desires seen fulfilled, with so little hope met with truth.
And then they touched a rough skin, something hard in that ever-swimming sea, and they latched onto it with all the tiny might of their frozen fingers, using their entire body, never letting go, and they realized it was a net.

“We got something!” Wayside shouted, and From and Glass and Cometh and all the others all helped pull it up and they soon saw Song’s arms and head titter up from the white and they kept pulling and eventually they all plopped, exhausted down on the bed of the tunnel and stared at each other in disbelief.
Song, as cold as they had ever been looked around at their saviours. They all stared back.
“What was out there?” Cometh asked.
Song took a while to reply, the mouth still unable to move, still frozen shut. But slowly, limbs began to free up and they stared at the rest.
“I know what it wants,” they said. “The Noise.”
“What?” Glass said.