For ten days the constant diesel hum had drone on, never a break as the generator did its job. It didn't take long, though, before it was as invisible as the sound of central air in your home. We shut it down on the tenth night when we got the “end ex” call. I was on roving guard as I heard Mac call out from the system door that it was finished. A few minutes later I heard the fast fall of the rumble of the generator ending with a gasping sound.

The quiet fell over me like a shockwave. I never knew silence could be so loud. I was disoriented, it was like the effect one might get from a flash-bang grenade, only in reverse. I took a knee as my equilibrium slipped out of whack. I looked out across the field of crystals, frozen grass glinting in the moonlight, from the darkness of the grove in which we had set up.

I was instantly aware of every sound, no matter how insignificant it would be any other time. The rustle of my clothes as I knelt, the crunch of the grass under my knee. I closed my eyes and listened to the world around me. I wondered, is this how the blind see the world. I waited there in the shadows, forgetting time and feeling woozy.

I don't know how much time passed before the sensation abated enough for me to stand and move along, but I thought deeply on it through the next day and, with every following field problem, I learned to love the killing of the sound, and the violent release of silence.

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