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TRIAL AND TERROR
by DF Lewis

Everything suddenly went awfully quiet or – as some may have had it, given back their hearing – awfully loud. I was the only one in the room with a working ear, on the left side of the head. The clumsy rosette on the right was already without sound as well as numb to the touch. But now even my good one had finished gristling over, hence the abrupt – yet paradoxically gradual – arrival of quiet. The onset of deafness, if accompanied by a crescendo of noise, can seem gradual whilst, in actual fact, it is due to a fibrous pad completing its growth over the lug’s orifice: a split second for the tiny homunculus to come to its eventual fruition as a sentient ear-plug. But can this gradualness happen within such a short space of time? If so, there is no such phenomenon as true suddenness, but merely slow-motion shock. The stuck piston of the hardened tongue, the welding of the bowels, even these, will not prevent the final trial of strength to warn others about terror’s increasingly strident stare, the final clamming of the last eye-lid, the pen silently clattering to the desk from the abruptly webbed fingers.

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