The whispered challenge echoed in the otherwise silent, empty space. The words didn’t seem to disperse and the lips that had uttered them were still curled aggressively around them. A skittering noise in the wall broke the spell of rage, announcing that the place wasn’t quite as empty as it seemed; there were mice in the walls, at the very least.
A statue loomed at one end of the hall. It was a tragic figure, mouth turned down, eyelids drooping sadly, shoulders drawn up in a helpless gesture. If it was expected to respond, it stayed disappointingly still.
No whisper this time; a harsh, ragged voice flew around the high ceiling and traveled up and down the walls. The mice stopped their scratching, fearful of the stranger invading their nocturnal freedom. Sharp whistles came from the speaker’s chest as air wheezed in and out of it. Illness was in the air. The statue’s frown almost seemed to deepen, perhaps in mourning.
The shout dispersed the quickest. Two thumps followed; the mice fled, thinking it was the cat jumping down from some high object. What followed was the most profound lack of sound, more of an absence of anything substantial rather than true silence.