Daniel Green was not like other young men. He was small-framed and lean and seemed perpetually distracted. He did not pay much attention to girls or sports and he was driven by a fearful purpose. Most different of all, he could kill things, things that should not exist. Things that only he could see. Things that only he could hear.
It had all started quite naturally. He did not know a time that he could not hear the bees singing softly to themselves as they flitted among his mothers creeping myrtle. He could hear the vibrant song of the rainbow and the low bass rumble of the rising sun. It took him a long time to learn that he alone could hear these things.
At two his comments about the sounds of the moonlight were “precious”. At four they had become disregarded. By six they’d become tiresome to his parents and at eight they were banned. He came to grips with that he could hear some things others could not. So he kept his complaints about the sun’s noise waking him to himself and for all intents and purposes became a normal boy. Well, a more normal boy anyway. But he continued to listen to that which he was not supposed to be able to hear.
Then around ten things changed for Daniel.
On his way to the park one day, he found himself listening to the musical skittering of the sun beams striking the black asphalt, the straining sounds of the lawns growing and the muttering of butterflies. Then rather suddenly Daniel caught a strange feeling that he could not quite describe. You know it, the tingle in the back of your mind when you walk into a room and know it is empty when it should not be, or when you feel someone staring at you from across a crowded room. The little girl from down the street who was typically a bundle of noise, both normal and paranormal, had gone silent.
Daniel turned towards her just as she fell to the ground, her blue eyes wide, her little pink lips forming a startled “o”. From the yard her mother screamed and came in a rush of feet, past the tall dark woman clad in a black feathers. The woman who made no sound. Daniel strained his special ears but he could not hear the rush of the her blood, the wheeze of her breath or the musical hum of a living human. He was utterly silent, and somehow he had silenced the little girl.
The feathered woman, unobserved by any but the horrified boy, strode casually away, his pale eyes leaking thin trails of smoke.
And Daniel suddenly knew what his purpose was, why he could hear (and apparently see) what others could not. He ran all the way home and started his own training regime.
At fifteen, he’d killed his first Silent One. At seventeen he’d taken half a dozen. By twenty, nearly a hundred. It wasn’t hard to hunt something that thought itself utterly undetectable. He did not know what they were, nothing of their history or origins. He simply knew that they were evil. And he knew he alone could see them and hear their silence. Under the choral hum of the moon and the base thrum of the noonday sun he stalked and killed with an efficiency and ferocity that would have horrified those with whom he shared the hallways of his university.
So it was not an unusual evening, as the dusk and a thin fog settled with a sigh over the ivy-clad campus and the moon came whispering over the horizon that Daniel walked casually down a seldom used path, the compound bow his father had purchased for him several years earlier on his shoulder. His father had hoped to draw him away from the strangely martial lifestyle the boy had chosen. Daniel obliged, letting his fencing and stick fighting fall away, and instead poured himself into the art of the bow. But the only hunting trips Daniel took were on his own, stalking his deadly foe as he did that night.
Perhaps fifty yards ahead a woman walked to work. She was only a little older than he, with dark hair that hung to her waist. He could hear the long tresses swishing and the quiet gurgle of her empty stomach. Her soul tinkled wearily, as if a dour harpist sat at her heart-strings plucking a tired dirge. Occasionally she glanced back at the boy with his weapon.
Daniel whistled a few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth and heard her heartbeat slow slightly. Murderous thugs didn’t whistle anything, much less Beethoven. She thought she was safe but she was anything but. Just a yard or two behind her, the Silent One crept, closing the distance. Daniel waited, acting as if he could not see and hear what he could.
It slid closer. Its gray-fleshed, black-feathered form was silent, so silent that it made his skin crawl. The smoke from its eyes trailed behind it, barely visible in the dusk. When it reached for the young woman and Daniel darted into the shadows beside the trail and whipped the bow up into a ready position. The fibers of the string squealed. The pulleys groaned. The string thundered forward. The arrow slashing through the air. It slammed between the creature’s shoulder blades. The razor-edged broad-head designed to kill a seven hundred pound elk burst from the creature’s chest.
In a roar of blazing embers, its smoldering insides seemed to erupt forth and consume the rest of its black feathered form.
The young woman turned at a faint fluttering sound behind her. The dark figure with the bow had disappeared and the trail behind her was empty. She continued uninterrupted to her wearisome job, unaware of the burst of silent violence and death that had saved her life. Above her, unheard, the moon hummed.