's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Flow of Music

Submitted by Mohammad Adil Khan (email)

All my life, I could hear strange songs in my head.

They call it synesthesia but there's nothing like what I feel. The music never stops.

Every place has its own music.
A haunting ballad echoed from deep in the forests.
The deserts air swirled in a strange misty tune
The city was drowned in the workings of an orchestra. Sometimes I believe I'm hearing the soul of the world.

I've heard silence only twice in my life.
The first time was in the mountain ranges

Deep drums thunder over the mountains. On my hike through a mountain range, I heard them coming from the peak.

The higher I rose, they became deafening. It became almost painful to continue.
But I had to reach the summit. The sting of curiosity hurts me more than most.

The music built to a climax as the peak grew closer. When I reached the top, it petered out.
As I stared over the clouds, it all went quiet.

I started crying. I don't know why. There is no translation for what I felt at that moment

There is a steady rhythm near graveyards.
Like a clock ticking down.

When I was 19, I attended a funeral. For one hour, when he was lowered into the ground, the clocks fell quiet. When the hour passed, the rhythm started again. But others rose from a ticking, joining together.A thousand beating together, like hearts. One by one they went out.Gradually almost all went out, falling to a single heartbeat.

When I walk home, I listen to the houses.
There are houses from where music flow out. All the old and all the new, abandoned or newly built.

A cacaophony of hammered keys.

A nursery melody

A heartbeat.


I don't know what they mean or if they even mean anything at all. Every time I think I find a pattern, I find another mystery piece that messes it all up.

There are places I can't go because of what I've heard there. Some places have a voice with their songs. I stay away from those places these days.

The first time I heard someone singing, I was a child.I heard them coming from in the woods.

Growing up, I was raised by my brother. My mother was sick many days and my father had to spend long days at his office to pay for her treatment. We lived in a rural area, where it was less expensive than the big cities.

The forests near our house were thick and overgrown. They gave off a simple mysterious tune. I spent my childhood in it's depths.

One day, I heard them. Like children

My first assumption was that somewhere in the forest, someone like me could hear the music and was singing along. I wanted to meet them

I sneaked away from my brother's eye and headed deeper into the forest.

The path was thick and dark. The rest of the world became quieter as the singing grew louder. The closer I came to the sound, the stranger the clouds above me twisted and deformed. Till I came upon a clearing, where I saw the source.

The song was coming from a tree. Leafless, it's branches twisted like hands. Whorls and gaping maws opened on it's surface.The clouds above spread out from it, like it would around a nuclear explosion.

The air was distorted around the trunks and branches, as if I was seeing a smudged picture.

I had to concentrate to truly see 'them'
To see their silhouettes dancing in the distortion.

They were winged humanoids, like fairies. They encircled the tree like a tribe around a fire. The dance slowed as I watched on. The whispering grew hurried. The surface of the tree started to move.

The bark gave way to two gaping holes, with yellow pinpricks in the middle. Like eyes, watching me.

"He hears us"

I felt an intense pain ringing from my ears.
I screamed.

I turned and stumbled down the path. My legs felt weak, as I tried to get away from that tree. I could feel warm liquid on the sides of my face. I held my hands up to see red.

My eyes closed.

I woke up to my brother's crying. I could hear my dad yelling at him for being careless.The blood flowing from my ears was gone.I was in Mom's hospital

There were deep scratches into my ear.
The doctors said a low hanging branch must have got caught in my ears while I was running.

Only later in life, my full understanding of the voices allowed me to come to terms with this experience.

I saw inhuman beings of sound dance around the wood. I theorized one of those fairies had tried to crawl inside my ear, to feed on my brains.

It scarred a deep fear of the voices onto my psyche. It took time for them to heal but eventually I reasoned myself out of it. The next time, I would hide better.

The second time I was a teenager. We had moved to a larger town nearby. My mom had slowly been recovering from her illness. It looked like she was going to pull through.

I spent my days exploring the edges of my hearing, following the music and experimenting.

I heard a whistling in the background of my town's music. I mapped it out over on my town map. It circled down to one source, near the center of the town. When I checked the map, an odd contradiction stuck out. The map showed it was between two buildings. But when I checked the photos to see, there was an alleyway.

An alley that didn't exist .

I promised myself I'd keep a safe distance and not follow to the center. I wasn't breaking it. I was just redefining 'safe'.

I borrowed my dad's motorcycle along with bag of necessities in case I got lost.

That week I entered the alley.

Between two buildings, it was like any other random alley. Dirty and run down, trash bins and garbage from the surrounding windows lay on the street in front of me.

The alley turned and twisted as I head deeper. I could still recognize the buildings of my town on my sides but not the path in between them I was on. It wasn't a mismarked map, it was an impossibility.This gap wasn't supposed to exist,

Another oddity started to make itself clear as I drove deeper.

I was still heading towards the sound. The direction of sound had changed. Or rather, it didn't. It always came from deeper in the alley. The alley turned and turned but the whistling came from in front of me.

The people I saw in the alley kept to themselves.

After an hour of travel, I saw a group of homeless men crouched in a corner.They were turned away from me. I slowed to observe.

As I passed, I could see they were tearing apart the body of something on the ground.I saw a eyes moving in the carcass. I didn't come closer.

There also seemed to be many cats. At the moment it seemed important, but they were probably just cats.

I came to the end of my town's boundaries, to the end of the buildings. Where the walls gave way to the trees that surrounded

The fall of the buildings let me see over the the tops of the trees to where the rest of my winding path led. It spiraled around a hill, leading to the tallest structure in our area. The radio tower.

The top of building, just above the radio dish seemed distorted.

I stopped here, just at the point where the trees ended. Like I said I wanted to be safe this time and observe from a distance. I brought out a pair of binoculars and focused on the tower.

When the distortion lifted, I saw 'it'. For a moment, I thought the tower was infested with several giant snakes. Their bodies wrapped around the tower.

It took me a moment to process their flesh toned skin. The confusion and discomfort was manageable. Till I saw they ended in human faces.

They were whistling

I forced myself to keep looking, trying to locate their ends. It took a few seconds to see they stemmed fron the tower itself

The radio telescope on the tower was the source. From it's dish, I could see five flesh vines emerging that grew thicker as it went along, till they became the massive snake necks. Like a flower's filaments rose from inside a petal.

The whole tower was one being. One hydra

As I observed, the radio dish started to move. It tilted downwards, till the antenna was pointing at me. It was then my phone rang.

As I took it out of my pocket, I noticed the space around it was blurred. A small line of the blurred space stretched through the air in front of me. A line of distortion, from my phone to the tower. I didn't recognize the number but a name appeared all the same.


I picked it up


The song stopped. The faces in the sky went silent. A warped voice came through on the phone.

"We see you now."

They turned to face me. In one rush, their necks stretched as they left their tower, their hungry mouths open. They were moving across the sky towards me.

With a swift kick on the pedals, my bike roared to life. I turned it around and flew down the alley. Mere momentslater, I felt something hit my jacket, like a hot blast of air.

Like a breath.

The scene I saw when turned around has been burned into my skull.A scene out of a painting of hell.

Five warped faces were behind me. Tbeir snake necks entwined with each other, extending from the tower, reaching for my bike. Like an arm, with their faces forming the fingertips of the devil hand.

They had already reached me.

As my mind scrambled, the s

They were all in one straight line.
They were flying along the line of distortion stemming from my phone.

In one motion, I flung it at the alley walls. For a moment, I saw it crack and break before it fell behind.

There was a great roar behind me. Another peek behind me showed the five heads disentangled and screaming.
They thrashed their surroundings as they were dragged back. I saw one's teeth closing on a homeless man.

That was the last look I got before I turned my final corner. For many years, that would be my final sight of that world.

Before the third time I followed the voices again.

Did I have a death wish?

Well, maybe.

My mother died when I was 19. I went to her funeral. It was the last time I attended any funerals. The voices grew too insistent in my town. So I left.

I toured the world. Mountains, deserts, caves.I heard them all the while, but I tried to ignore them. Never lingering, always moving on before they got to me.

I was always an explorer, so it was a torture to keep away. The voices lead me to entrances to another world. I won't name it a siren's call. My own nature was at fault.

The sting of curiosity hurts me more than most. You try to live your life with an itch and scratch it just once. When I was 23, I decided I would try something.

It would be the last time. I wanted to know everything through this chance. I wasn't going to waste it.
It was special, so the place had to be special. I traveled for some time until I found it.
A voice calling from inside an abandoned church in the woods.

On that fateful night, 35 years ago, I lit a lantern and hanged it on the church door. I followed the faint whisperings inside.

The distant light of the moon and stars leaked in through the cracks in the ceiling above. They leaked in to show me the paintings of angels on the Church walls

I found the entrance to the other world in the center of the church, where a priest might have stood. A cellar door leading under the ground

I wasn't going to walk down

I sat down on the ground. It was strangely like a graveyard. A soft beating coming from below.

Reminded me of my mother's funeral. Of the ticking that came from her grave. I brought out my drums.

I began to drum along the beat of the clocks.
I was not following the music down. I was leading it. Calling it up. Leading the voice to me. Bringing that world to mine.

The phantom music grew clear as time passed. Not like a clock at all. It was the beat of wings, drawing near. The new world was coming.

I closed my eyes as I started to sing along, trying to follow the sound. For the first time, I heard something in the whispers I could understand

"Oh human, Oh human, Call us near."

It was crawling up from the undergrou
Finally, it reached a crescendo. The final note came in front of me.

"We are here"

When I opened my eyes, the church had taken a new form
The world around me was distorted beyond imagination.Vast spaces of black separated the reality I knew, like gaps I was noticing for the first time.The lanterns on the gates were so far away, like red stars
There were wrinkles in the distortion, lines leading the center of the corruption. The things in front of me.

The Angels of Outer Sound.

A crowd of faceless eyeless head with too many faces, too many eyes. Behind them, a sky full of stars of black light. Visitors from a world that shouldn't exist.

"Now we take."

They found my body inside two days later.
They said I was in an unresponsive state, akin to a coma. Local news declared my born illness had finally broken my mind.

Truth is, my mind was completely safe. It just wasn't in our world. It was in theirs, the world of sound.

All those years ago, I had misunderstood. Those scratches on my ear. They weren't trying to get in. They were trying to pull me out.

I remained in 'their' world for five years.

My body was registered into a hospital. There I stayed, the false heart tricking my family into a belief of a soul that wasn't there. For four years.

Until one day, , my finger twitched.

I returned slowly over the next year.Little by little, I crawled back. Over this year, I was reconstructed, like a puzzle coming together. All the while, I knew pieces of me were still out there in the world of sound.

The first day I truly came back, my brother tried to talk to me. It was hard for him to talk to me. I think he knew how much I changed before even I did.

It's been thirty years since that day. I've lived a silent life here since. In the depths of my heart, I know this is no longer my home. I have seen strange stars of ice and silence, and lived there.

I stay quiet these days. Even my voice is enough for someone to know. To know I'm not a human anymore

Those three times I scratched my itch were enough for a lifetime of itching. But I know their judgement. There will be a fourth time soon.

Until then, I listen to the houses.

Many of them are old and forgotten but not all. The houses I hear whispers from, that is.
Sometimes they have a family in them

When I come across these houses, I stop to pray for the family before I leave.