CHAPTER 5 : Thoughts And Words
“How are you feeling?” asked the voice.
Rother tried to ignore it. He desperately wanted to think logically about what was happening to him, but anything resembling a coherent thought was eluding him.
He stared at his face in the mirror and, overcoming his feelings of revulsion, he raised his hand up and gently touched his skin at the base of one of the squirming entities. His stomach was churning and he could feel an urge to vomit rising up in his throat, but he strained to hold it down.
“Are you all right?” asked the voice.
“Fuck off,” said Rother, talking at his reflection as if it was a separate entity. “Fuck right off.” He could see his lips move as he spoke the words. “Shit! It’s not you,” he reasoned, feeling a slight sense of relief that he had made a rational deduction.
“No,” said the voice. “It’s us.”
Despite having figured out that the face in the mirror was not the source of the words, Rother continued to speak to his reflection. “Get the fuck out of my head,” he told it. “I’m not mad. Who are you? Where are you?”
As he asked the questions, Rother turned away from the mirror to look behind himself. He scanned the walls, floor and ceiling of the bathroom, even though he really did not expect to find anything. He briefly entertained the notion that what he could see in the mirror had somehow become an alternate version of the real bathroom but that seemed even more unlikely than the possibility that he was hearing voices because he was going mad. Once again, he felt a tiny surge of relief that he was still able to make logical deductions but it lasted only until he asked himself if a madman could ever really know whether his deductions were logical.
“I’m sorry to be causing you such distress,” said the voice.
“Where the hell are you?” asked Rother again. “None of this makes any sense. What have you done to my face?”
“Which of those questions would you like me to answer first?”
For the first time, Rother noticed that, as well as the words he could hear in his head, he was also detecting something else accompanying those words. It was like a sensation, or maybe even an emotion, and he could only imagine that it was coming from whatever was communicating with him. As the voice spoke, it was accompanied by what Rother perceived as the feeling of running the palm of a hand over dew-soaked moss.
“Why, yes,” said the voice. “I believe that does resemble how I’m feeling at this moment.”
“Stop it,” said Rother, holding his hand out and pressing his palm against the surface of the mirror. “Stop doing that,” he said, clenching his hand into a fist.
“You appear not to like my voice being in your mind.”
“Oh, really?” Rother took a step back from the mirror and, once again, looked around the bathroom. He lifted the top of the linen basket, then opened the door of the airing cupboard. “Where are you?”
“Not out there,” said the voice.
“This has to be some kind of insanity,” said Rother.
“You are not insane,” said the voice. “At least, not insane by any of the definitions of that word I have found in your memory.”
“Well, gee, that’s a comfort. I’m not insane. I’m just hearing voices that aren’t there.”
“We are here,” countered the voice.
“We?” queried Rother. “How many of you are there?”
“One,” said the voice. “But I am many.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” pointed out Rother. “But then none of this makes sense.”
“It will,” said the voice.
CHAPTER 5 : Thoughts And Words