The cool refreshing breeze blew across from some unknown region of the world to reach me here, as I sat outside a Paris restaurant drinking a cup of coffee. It had been a long time coming, but I’d finally got there. The sights and smells of the French capital were intoxicating and at the same time intimidating.
The sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud around. A perfect summers day. A waiter walked by and placed some finely crafted cut glass tumblers on a nearby table. The sun caught one of the glasses and the blinding glint caught my eye. It was momentarily blinding a moment. My eyes had to adjust to the sudden burst of UV light, but they adjusted soon enough. I was sat on my own. Just how I preferred it, but there were plenty of other people around. Tourists perhaps, just like me, or native Parisians taking some time to relax and forget about work for the briefest of moments. I didn’t care. This was my moment to do as I pleased. Work was something that wasn’t a burden to me anymore. Having the time to see new places and experience different cultures was what I wanted to do. Too bad it had taken me years to finally see it through.
I reached out and picked up the white coffee cup. The drink was hot. The steam rose from the ceramic cup and the aroma lifted into the air with it. Only it didn’t. I couldn’t smell the coffee. Strange! I’d drank the stuff for years. I should be able to smell the unmistakable aroma of coffee. I took a sip. Let the warm satisfying beverage linger in my mouth before swallowing it. But there was nothing satisfying in it. I couldn’t taste the coffee. The bells of peculiarity started to sound in my head. Had I somehow lost my sense of smell and taste? A cold feeling filled my being! Something felt wrong, but I couldn’t quite pin what it was. Growing uncomfortable, I looked around at my surroundings. Suddenly it felt like the sun had gone and the sky had gone grey. The people around me didn’t seem fazed by what had just happened. But that’s when I noticed something else. It couldn’t have been real. I must be dreaming, I thought to myself. People were talking to each other, but no sounds were coming from their mouths. At that moment, it was like a door had been opened to me and everything I should have noticed, was as plain as the now cold and dreary day that had just surrounded me. I could hear nothing. What should have been the sounds of the city and the people weren’t there. It was like the city was dead and I was the only one to see it. I start to feel the flood of fear and panic. I don’t know what’s happening, but I know I just need to get out of there. I push the chair back as I go to stand up. It was a white metal chair, but like the whole place the scrape of the legs on the solid concrete is soundless. But I can feel the legs scraping against the ground, and a cold and unearthly shudder fills my body at being unable to hear the cringeworthy scape of metal on granite.
A waiter bumps into me as I get up. I see his face and his lips move to say something, but like everything else around me, he doesn’t make a sound. What’s happening? Why is everything silent. He walks away and starts setting down glasses at a table. The man at the table looks familiar, but I can’t see his face properly. It’s like my eye’s are starting to blur. I see people but not there faces.
A cold breeze hits the side of my face, and my instincts tell me to move. I head towards the exit, between two plants. I see the waiter place some glasses down on a table. For a second, I’m transfixed on the table as the waiter is setting down the glasses. He drops one on the table. It’s a whisky glass I think rolling on the white linen table sheet. No one seems to notice it but me. It looks like it’s rolling in slow motion. Its final journey being the cold hard ground, where it would be smashed into oblivion. I snap back and walk out of the dining area and on the street. A shattering smash breaks the deadly silence. The high-pitched noise of glass meeting the ground, powerless against the pull of gravity. Why did I hear that and nothing else? My hearing is fine, but everyone still isn’t making a sound. The people on the streets walk past, and cars drive up and down the street, but they don’t make a noise. I look back. I don’t know why I did, but my senses tell me that something is behind me. It’s darkness. A cold, menacing, endless darkness. It seems to be consuming everything, but no one else sees what I’m seeing. Don’t they care? Some disturbing, supernatural thing is consuming everything, and they don’t care. Why? I turn a corner, hoping to outrun this all-consuming darkness, that seems to be hunting me down like some sort of hungry predator. But then I see the realization. The hopelessness of the situation. The darkness is not just behind me. It’s everywhere. I inhale heavily. I feel like my fear is starting to choke me. Rob me of my ability to breath. I look in the window to my left, as the darkness surrounds me. I see my reflection. It feels like mine, but at the same time, it isn’t. But I feel like me. I know I’m me. But it doesn’t matter now. The darkness engulfs me, and I feel cold.
Suddenly, I jolt awake. The quick panic of opening my eyes hurt as the bright French sun dazzles my eyes. I’m sat back in the same French café. Not exactly the same place, but the same area. Instinctively I worry about my hearing, but I can hear everything around me. The chatter of multiple languages along with the sound of cars and music fills the air, along with the clinking of cups and cutlery from the other patrons around me. It was a dream. Thank God it was a dream. It felt so real, and so terrifying. But it was just my own untamed subconscious, conjuring up a nightmare. Nothing more.
I need a drink I think to myself. A waiter approaches. He bumps into a young girl on the way over. She seems a little flustered. Maybe she’s forgot that she’s meeting someone. For a moment we share a glance. The way she looks at me, makes me feel unsettled. It’s like she’s looking at me, but scared. I’ve never seen her before. Or at least I don’t think I have. She heads to the exit and rushes of in the distance. I look up to the young waiter who’s now places some glasses on my table, but his hand fumbles one of the glasses. A whisky glass. Just like the one in my dream. Just like what had happened in my dream. It’s rolling to the end of the table. I hold my breath. Am I still dreaming, or is this real? It just rolls closer to the edge. It’s getting slower but the edge is getting closer. Slowly rolling and rolling. And rolling.