“Hey… Did you hear that?” Nick asked

“I don’t hear anything,” Jennifer answered.

“Exactly,” he said. His face twisted into a severe grimace, even under his beard. “There is something missing… more than that. Something stopped.”

Jennifer sat up in bed. Her husband heard a lot of things she didn’t. At first, she was tempted to blame this disturbance on the PTSD along with the others. She couldn’t, though. Something didn’t seem quite right to her either. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but Nick was right… Something was missing.

In the distance, glass shattered, and a woman screamed. Sirens began to blare… slowly at first, and then building in intensity as more fires started.

Nick stood and went to the window. “What the hell is going on out there?” He asked the air around him, and suddenly, inexplicably, the sound of Nick’s voice infuriated Jennifer. The sirens did too. She longed for complete absolute silence, but she couldn’t find it. She groaned, and Nick turned to see what was wrong. Whatever he saw must have unnerved him, because his mouth fell open.

“Babe, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Be quieeet!” she shrieked. Nick recoiled from his screaming fiancé. He had never seen her do anything like this before, but it was not at all different from what the people in the street were doing when he looked out the window.

Luckily for Nick, Jen was no physical match for his girth. He wrapped her in as gentle a bear hug as he could manage, and tried to soothe her.

“It’s alright, Jen, it’s alright. I’m here. Shh,” he tried every trick he knew to bring calm to her just as she had calmed him so many nights before, but nothing he did seemed to help. He stuffed her squirming form into the closet and locked it. He needed to figure out what was going on.

Nick turned on the television and turned to the news, hoping that they would at least be able to report how widespread this sudden spat of violence was. It certainly seemed to have consumed all of Chicago. The sirens and screams were now incessant from the city around him. It drew back familiar memories of his days in Kuwait. Still, though, it felt like something was missing.

Nick turned the TV to CNN, and found that the anchor chairs were empty, a few droplets of blood were visible on the camera lens, and the banner bore one word: Silence.