The Piano

Juni Miles - November 17, 2022

Image by - Juni Miles



Click, click, click. He sat at the piano all day, his fingers mindlessly gamboling about the ivory keys, a haunting melody in its emergence. Sometimes he got up for a short spell, and poked and prodded around the otherwise vacant, silent house. Every time, the antique, dilapidated floorboard creaked, and I shuddered; for I was not meant to be heard.


I had been hiding for three days. I believed the house to be empty myself but had been looking for a place to set up shelter, instead of forcing myself against the blistering cold autumn winds. I had already been in the house for two days, and had already set up what little belongings I had, hoping this would be an easy place to live rent-free. To my—might I say, rather unfortunate—surprise, this strange man had wandered into the house late on the second night. I briefly noted him reaching to hang up a huge wool coat. In a state of panic, I scanned the area until I found the nearest vessel: a derelict, rickety armoire, with enough of an opening to see out, but not nearly enough to see in.


Upon my momentary inspection, the man appeared quite large, not somebody I wanted to contest at the moment. I quickly and nimbly hopped into the armoire, pleading that the impact wouldn’t emit a single sound. I had lucked out; I immediately shut the door, and wished for him to depart again so I could make a brisk escape.


click.


A wave of panic washed over me, as I recognized the sound I heard was quite obviously the towering, creaky door that I had so hastily just shut. I was on full alert, watching the man’s head snap around as he narrowed his eyes to investigate the disturbance I had just created.


Thud, thud, thud…


The sound of the man’s titanic boots grew progressively louder as he approached the armoire, with each step, a heavier imprint on my ears. He scoped the entire area, his head moving animatronically around the room. What was more accurately a single minute felt like an eternity, with my heart slowly returning to normal as I laser-focused on the man’s every move.


He suddenly snapped back into reality, as if he had forgotten the reason he was so disturbed in the first place. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief and waited for him to leave the room, so I could plan my silent escape. With my focus fading, my eyes sporadically danced around the room to determine if there were any other methods of escape-- maybe one that wouldn’t be painfully obvious.


My eyes fixated on a heart-stopping sight. As if it had just materialized before me, a massive rack of weaponry, with every sort of dart and dagger, every flayer and firearm my could visualize. Confrontation would not be an option. I would either have to make a break for it, or fall behind and be forced to go neck-and-neck with a weaponsmith of unfathomable proportion.


I jolted when I heard a brief thud, and witnessed the man thrust himself onto the piano bench, as he cracked his knuckles, rolled up his sleeves, and breathed in heavily. That was the first time I heard his harrowing tune, a sound that would become the anthem of the next few days of my suffering.


At first, it was strangely beautiful. He painted a glorious picture of a sprawling autumnal landscape, with sky-scraping trees and a deep cerulean sky, and two small shadows happily dancing across the moon, unaffected by the crisp, cold air.


But soon, it violently morphed itself into a repetitive mess, slowly devolving further and further from the original melody, slowly losing its tune and becoming one with the ambient noise as it reverberated throughout the vast house.


And every hour, he would take a break. Every hour, a small glimmer of hope appeared, only to be crushed by the cruel hands of reality, as he sat down, and continued the melody once again.


I swore it would drive me mad. Three days, constantly on edge, without any source of food or light, constantly wasting away hoping for a change. Three days, yearning for a chance I subconsciously knew would never come. Three days, with a spark in my eyes that slowly died, as I realized my fate was either die here, in fire and in flame, or die out beyond, in the glacial hell of the early snow.


I had to kill him. What other choice did I have? No matter what way this situation goes, at the end of it, I am dead. I spent the next few hours reconciling with the border of claiming this man’s house to be my own, or becoming sustenence for the wolves.


The next time he stood up, after the torturous melody ceased, I knew there would be no turning back. I would have to face him head on, a destiny I had been battling with for quite a spell. I looked toward the weapon rack, eyeing each and every artifact, before one finally caught my eye. It was an axe, a sizable one at that. One that, with enough strength, could bring a swift end to anyone unfortunate enough to cross the path of the one who possessed it.


I knew that if I were noticed, he would certainly go for it first. It was easily the deadliest of his killing machines. I would have to get it before he was even aware of my presence.


The next few minutes went by agonizingly slow, as I waited for the man to reabsorb himself in his music. He finally sat down, and after a few minutes of the tune’s continuation, I mustered the strength to exit the armoire, the breeding ground of my hostility.


Creak. The door made a small noise yet again, but the sound of the piano was far too loud to disrupt the man’s focus on his beautifully devilish song. I crept over to the wall where my monster lay, and slowly and silently removed it from its place, making sure that even the slightest movements were completely silenced.


My strength over the last three days had significantly diminished, and even with two hands, the weapon was a struggle to hold. The stretch from here to the piano felt like miles away, but regardless, I began my stalk.


With each step, I felt the floor begin to creak louder and louder, and I was praying that none of the floorboards nor my steps would be audible to the man, as a matter of life or death was currently at hand. I grew closer, closer, closer still. I heard the melody grow faster, faster, faster, as if the man were fully aware of my presence, his panic growing as I assumed the realization plagued him that he was playing his own funeral march. But, he refused to turn around, and soon enough I was but feet away from him, my heart attempting to free itself.


I readied the weapon, realizing there was absolutely no backtracking now. I raised it above my head, and with a swift slam into his skull, the song was over.


The final chord resonated throughout the house, so loud that it had seemed like an apt farewell. And, as the song faded into oblivion, the only sound that painted my mind was the empty autumn wind colliding with the house, as the fear and the fortune of the future blended into one.


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