I Hear Voices
“They were always there, I thought. Somewhere floating around in the back of my mind. It made sense that all of a sudden they were louder, clearer, adamant. I wasn’t really expecting anything less, since that was the whole point of the experiment really. I trusted my doctors, they seemed kind enough in their pristinely white coats, how cliché, to their even whiter smiles. They assured me that nothing would go wrong, that they just wanted to isolate some part of the brain—or something like that—which controls them. I was fine with that, I felt like I was doing my duty, serving my community and country and I felt proud to be picked out of so many people to be a part of this experiment. I’m sure you all felt that way too.
“The procedure was simple enough, some X-rays or MRI’s to pinpoint the exact location, computers hooked up to me, beeping sounds, one long and extremely sharp needle with an electric green liquid in it, and then boom! It was done. I didn’t even really feel a thing other then a slight poke and then my head feeling heavy. I think I was more nervous than anything. Once again the doctors assured me that the procedure went swimmingly, ironic phrasing if you ask me because it felt like I had a week’s worth of pool water sloshing around in my head. They told me to go home and sleep for as long as I could and then we would begin tracking them.
“The minute my head hit the pillow at home I was out. And when I woke up, a mere seventeen hours later and into the next day, I was at a loss. I have never slept that long in my life! But I was excited to start hearing them. When would they start? Would they be friendly? Would they be like my dead relatives? I’m sure you all thought the same things.
“They were pretty quiet at first, starting to earn their confidence. I only had two to start out with, and I’ll name them Fred and Ginger. Fred seemed lazy, but sweet, he voiced his opinion on the flowers in my garden, complementing them, but then that would be all I would hear from him. Ginger, on the other hand, was louder and spoke to me often. She wanted to know about everything and why I was doing what I was doing. They kept me company though and I didn’t have any complaints for the first month or so.
“Every week I went in for my check-ups and I told my doctors about Fred an Ginger. They seemed pleased with these results, feverishly writing information down that I would never see. I once again felt proud to be helping.
“But then they began to get in the way. Ginger quickly started reminding me of my grandmother when she was younger, though I had never known that part of her, something told me she was exactly like Ginger, which scared me. Fred started getting more lazy instead of sweet and then Alex joined the bunch. I couldn’t tell if Alex was a girl or a boy, having both tendencies, but Alex was the most annoying.
“I went on my first date in a year, a girl I met online, and I had decided not to tell her about the experiment, at least not on the first date. They could pick up on my nerves though and thought it would be fun to mess with me, I suppose. Pretty soon, I was so nervous that they were telling me what to say and do and I was listening! The poor girl, Sarah was her name, well she never called me back after that as I’m sure you can imagine. She must have thought I was crazy! Looking back on that date, I realized that I made a terrible mistake, in listening to the people upstairs and for doing the experiment in general—and this was the start to my doubts.
“Alex, Fred, and Ginger began taking over my life. I was seeing things differently, seeing things through their eyes, switching from being like Alex, to Ginger, to Alex again, then to Fred. I wasn’t me anymore, only sometimes. Work was a mess and I got fired shortly after. I tried to go on another date, tried to get my normal life back, but it was hopeless and the girl, I don’t even remember her name now, left within the first 15 minutes, shouting something about lying about my condition on my profile.
“People thought I had a condition! If only I could tell them, but I didn’t want to scare them away! And during one of my check-ups, where I asked when they would be leaving, the doctors looked stern, handed me a piece of paper—a contract—that made me give an oath to never telling anyone about them or the experiment. I signed, eager to please as ever. But my question was never answered. And I’m sure your questions were never answered either.
“I started dreaming about that day I was picked. I was at the Farmer’s Market and there was a booth about the experiment. The doctors, same white teeth and all, were sitting there explaining that I could, potentially, actually hear my subconscious or a distant relative giving me advice. I had no idea what they were doing at the market, they seemed too bright, but I gave them my email, very intrigued by them, and within the next day I was being called o their office. They explained in detail—now I realize that they just used more adjectives and more animated faces than actual details—the procedure and what they were trying to observe and conduct. At the end they asked me if I wanted to do this, a simple yes-no question. I said yes. I go back to that thought all the time, and I think of how much I should have said no.
“And that’s what brought me here, when I couldn’t take it anymore and I was dreaming of terrible things, about ending them once and for all. I realized I needed to change. So I created this support group. For me, for you, for all of us who were tricked or tried by that experiment and those doctors with too white of teeth. We will find a cure and we’re going to do it here. So to start things off the proper way…
“Hello, my name is Michael, and I hear voices.”