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Hell Is That Noise: Literature
Examples of Hell Is That Noise from Literature, where the sound itself terrifies the characters. Good thing we can’t hear it!
  • Dean Koontz's Phantoms will often include the descriptions of mundane sounds to help ratchet the tension, especially after a character has discovered a body. This culminates later on when someone picks up the phone and starts hearing various mundane animal noises, which slowly turn into the sound of thousands of people screaming in hellish agony.
  • H.P. Lovecraft made extensive use of this one.
    • The "tekeli-li?" sound made by the shoggoths in At the Mountains of Madness. The narrator speculates that it may be a word in the language of the Elder Things, and the shoggoths are mindlessly parroting it.
      • Lovecraft is including the sound because ATMOM is a Shout-Out to Edgar Allan Poe's unfinished The Tale of Arthur Gordon Pym. It's the sound the birds make. Poor Arthur.
    • In one of the stories, the characters start insisting… The rats... can't you hear them!? It was the rats!
  • The trope is inverted in The Screwtape Letters. The letters that the demon Screwtape writes to his nephew are sent from Hell, where there is continuous noise. He tells Wormwood that in Heaven there is just silence and music. This is meant to be a terror to his nephew, as the demons ‘’want’’ (although not necessarily like) the cacophony.
  • In Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, the T-Rex's roar, when first heard by the characters, is described as a horrifying, unbearable scream from another world. A character wets his pants while hearing it.
  • Harry Potter
    • In the spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Augurey's cry is scary enough for wizards to think it foretold death (it actually foretells rain).
    • The sound the Dementors make is described as cold enough to freeze your soul. (The kiss will devour it)
  • In the Discworld book Moving Pictures there is an instrument called a resograph ("thingness-writer"), which measures disturbances in the fabric of reality. It drops a small lead ball in the direction of the disturbance, which "... in severe cases may exceed —plib— two pellets —plib— during the course —plib— of —plib— one —plib— month". Or to put it in other words...
  • The heartbeat from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart” drives the narrator insane.
  • The Haunting of Hill House — the noises outside disturb Eleanor.
  • The moan of an approaching zombie in World War Z. Or the nonstop moaning of an entire swarm... Of course, the characters turn to see where it’s coming from before they start running.
  • In the Ravirn novels by Kelly McCullough, Eris' laugh is frequently described by Ravirn also known as Raven as sounding like glass breaking.
  • In John Dies at the End, the sound of Korrok's otherworldly worm minions is described as "... fifty thousand men trapped on a desert island, deprived of food and water and sex but somehow kept alive for fifty thousand years. Then, after they've been tormented a hundred steps beyond insanity, tortured past self-mutilation and cannibalism, somebody drops off a sculpture of a naked woman made of T-bone steaks. If you could then capture the sound of them simultaneously fucking and eating and tearing her to shreds and broadcast it to the center of your skull at ten thousand watts, it would still sound absolutely nothing like what I heard."
  • In the Dresden Files novel Changes, Harry fights a vampire-summoned Mayan primeval monster, a complete Implacable Man called the Ik'k'kuo. Harry notes that its heartbeat is incredibly loud... and when you are in a completely dark building, an increasingly loud thump-thump is not what you want to hear.
    • Somewhat undercut when it makes a different sound that Dresden refers to as "that teakettle thing."
  • scritch, scritch, scritch to Grinder in Wraith Squadron, due to an elaborate revenge prank.
  • In Deltora Quest, the Wenn make a hideous racket to incapacitate anyone who enters their territory, so they can be paralyzed and eaten by the Wennbar, a monster that controls the Wenn. The Forests of Silence (ironically) are not pleasant places. Also the Four Sisters: the main characters begin to hear the first Sister to be destroyed, only to realize that they've been hearing the same sound their entire lives, and didn't even think of it as sound.


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