Either I need to be committed to this, or I should be. Maybe I will be one way or the other. I know I’m not mad, but it must certainly sound it. What rational person would think other than that I need to see either a neurologist or a psychologist? My head needs examining.
But I’m compelled to do this, so commitment of either kind aside, here we are. I don’t what else to call what I’ve been having but visions. I can’t make them stop. Nothing shuts them out. I wake tired from dreams that are so much more than that. Entire conversations, overlapping in time and registering on my consciousness at different speeds, as though someone were playing them for me like 45, 33, and 78 records all at once.
There’s a problem with that. Well, a couple of problems, really.
For one thing, I don’t like feeling like I’ve lost my mind. It’s a bit disconcerting, if I’m being politely honest. It’s all I can do from one episode to the next to keep from freaking right the fuck out. Pardon my French.
Another problem goes beyond the fact that I’m the only one who can hear these conversations. At least on that front, I’ve gotten better about not turning to pay attention to them in front of someone else. Good thing I’ve got some savings to fall back on. I didn’t really like that job anyway. No, the problem is that the sounds are inaudible even to me. I hear everything else around me perfectly clearly. Hell, more clearly than I remember hearing them before, almost, no, not almost, preternaturally clearly. That sound, right now? I’m pretty sure that’s the heating element in the stove. I know I couldn’t hear that before. And my tinnitus, product of years of shooting ranges and loud concerts? Gone.
And under all that crystal clarity, silently, runs that multi-layered conversation, looped, reverbed, inaudible. Yet I hear it as loudly as any vivid memory.
If that were the worst of it, maybe I’d just take that trip to the doctor after all.
But I hear those conversations. I know what’s said in them, though I can’t recall any details. It’s as though they go in one side of my short term memory and right out the other, except that I remember hearing what I’m hearing when I hear it, even though I can’t. And what do I hear when I hear them?
I hear the person, the ghost, the force, the devil, the whatever the heck he or it is, The Only talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. Apparently he has a great deal to say. And then I hear another voice in reply.
I hear my voice in reply.
I’m hearing my own voice uttering a response to something I’ve never before heard, and I’m saying words that I’ve never uttered.
But I can’t remember what is said, except once, but it was later, after the conversation. I remembered it while another series of tracks played out simultaneously, inaudible to everyone but me, even though I could hear it. At least that time I didn’t show any outward signs. I think.
I was at the store getting some things for the weekend. For the first time in a long while I felt like making this really great Peruvian chicken dish, and I needed fresh cilantro, among other things. They only had one bunch left in the produce section, and it wasn’t the nicest looking, a little dark along most of the edges, some fully black and turned. I figured I’d just have to pick those off carefully and take only the good bits for the jalapeno dip it goes in.
So I get to the checkout and Lonnie notices how bad the cilantro looks and questions whether I really want to get it. I grimaced and shrugged, but I needed it. Right then, the produce guy comes out of the back with a fresh bundle from the delivery they’d just received. As he turned to head back to the nether regions of the store, he tripped over something and took a nasty fall. On the way down, his face must have grazed one of the display racks, because he hit the ground yelling and holding his face. Blood ran through his fingers and pounded on the floor, the drops booming and thundering.
And I yelled out, “for God’s sake, someone call 911!”
As it happens, the paramedic team from our little small town hospital was in the store and heard me yell. It was like Gary just appeared out of nowhere. He was kneeling next to the produce guy and saying something I couldn’t hear over the roar of all the mixed conversations. Buck, the other paramedic, must have made a beeline straight for the ambulance while Gary had come to us, because he also appeared suddenly, and had the stretcher with him, just in case, I guess?
And I remembered, just then, The Only telling me, or emoting at me really hard, or something, that I’d want proof. And I remembered, just then, hearing someone yell, “Get the hell out of the way, you idiot!” And I remembered standing there, back against the cigarette case, screaming my fool head off.
That’s when Buck shoved me and yelled, “Get the hell out of the way, you idiot!” and I started screaming my fool head off.
When I came out from under the sedative, I found myself in one of the hospital beds, with leather cuffs securing me to the side rails. The room was dark. And there, at the ceiling, looking down at me from what looked like a smoky red haze were a pair of luminous fiery green eyes.
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Original artwork derived from graphics rendered in FaceGen and from photograph uploaded by user hayley green at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1414323 under the same Creative Commons Share-Alike license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.