Long ago, we used to scare our children into behaving, frighten them to keep them safe. Don’t go near the water or the Brook Horse will get you. Beware the witch that hunts the little ones lost in the woods. All over the world, people told tall tales to keep their kids in line.
Over time, the monsters faded away, relegated to the realm of folklore or some page of curiosities on Wikipedia. But there are still things our children do that could be put on ice with a little horrific whimsy.
Here then, is one such modern monstrosity:
The light fades as the sun begins to make its way to bed, stars beginning to shine. Your feet hit the pavement with great slaps, shoes sluicing through the fresh puddles from all of those clouds that came, opened up and then suddenly went away. Of course, you can’t tell how loud the squishing sounds are, as your headphones are on, pumping in a podcast, or some driving music that keeps your pace quick as you move from A to B.
You don’t hear the traffic. You don’t hear the rest of the people moving in and out of buildings, brushing past you, making their own splashes while they head to wherever it is they are heading. You don’t hear the birds trilling after the downpour, singing a lullaby to the setting sun. You don’t hear the beep of the crosswalk speaker or the whoosh of the bus doors opening to let the commuters on for the ride home. All you can hear are the sounds of your choosing, travelling from the phone in your pocket, through to the wires connected to your ears.
It is when you turn into the alley to take the shortcut home, that you fail to hear the singing. It’s soft at first, a gentle, friendly humming sound. As the singing nears you, it grows louder, words beginning to form, but word in a language you wouldn’t understand even if you had been paying attention.
The singing belongs to a creature called an Auralist. It is a monster obsessed with sound, believing that if only it had more ears, it could improve the quality of the noise it so craves. To that end, it collects the ears of those who fail to notice it, who take their hearing for granted. If a person were to hear the singing of the beast, it would cease its hunt immediately. As it hunts, the singing grows louder and louder still, and if the creature’s target fails to hear the eerie song at its loudest, the hunt shall be completed.
When the Auralist’s target fails to notice they are being stalked, the thing takes the two curved blades it carries and with one quick, bloody strike, the victim’s ears are removed simultaneously.
The harvested ears are added to the collection that cover the Auralist’s head, feeding the creature’s obsession with sound. It leaves the victim cowering in shock as it shrinks into the shadows to seek another who fails to pay attention to its song.
And so, young children, it’s important when you’re out and about to remove those earbuds and pay attention to your surroundings. You never know what’s lurking out there in the shadows…