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A Distant Voice

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Jeremy had woken up tired. He’d had a wonderful dream. He’d relived his wedding day, and had woken up just before he cut the cake. Much better than the night before. He’d had an awful nightmare. He’d killed his wife with his bare hands, leaving her on the bedroom floor and leaving for work. He hardly slept at all after that.

It was by now the late afternoon, and having just walked in the door it began again.

"What's the matter?"

"You."

"Me? Oh, Jeremy. You treat me as though I'm a stranger. As though I'm... untrustworthy."

"That's because you are."

"It's a sorry existence when you begin to distrust your own voice, Jeremy."

"I don't even know who you are! Get out of my head!"

The voice began it's putrid cackle, a cacophony of callous cries which Jeremy had begun to become accustomed to. He wasn't going to let it bother him anymore; he'd decided upon that the same morning. He had his own life, one that was too good to be tainted by a voice inside his head.

"Your own voice."

"No! You're wrong!"

Jeremy stopped himself. He breathed deeply, shutting his eyes so as not to allow himself to be distracted.

"Just you and I now, Jeremy."

"What do you want with me?!"

The voice chuckled softly.

"I want nothing from you, why would I? How could I? I'm but a voice. One that only you can hear. How can you be sure I even exist?"

Jeremy willed himself to think of a response, but could think of nothing. The voice was right; he wasn't sure what was real anymore.

"Now, I never said that."

"It was as good as that."

"You misunderstand me, Jeremy. I'm on your side. The real question is, which side are you on?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Forgive me, Jeremy. I often forget myself. I'm trying to involve you in matters you don't understand, and never will."

"How do you know that?"

"Jeremy, I am more than a voice in your head. Far from it. I am the advocate of your past, present and future. In fact, I'm surprised you haven't realized that by yourself."

Jeremy felt his anger growing.

"Don't even dare to patronize me! I've not had a moment to myself until you came into my head!"

"You make it sound as though I arrived. I was here all along, Jeremy. I'm the product of your aggression. Your own awful thoughts. While you dreamed of killing, I was trying to help you find peace. But there was a point, Jeremy, that I could help you no longer."

Jeremy laughed at how ridiculous the situation was. This voice, whatever it was... was trying to blame him for its own existence!

“You’re the only one I can blame, Jeremy-“

“Can I not have a moment to myself?!”

“You already are alone.”

“You’re here…”

“I thought we had already established this? I am you. Or rather, I am your thoughts. Your aggressive ones, at least."

“You don’t sound very aggressive.”

“Why be aggressive towards yourself? You’ve already alienated your family. Your friends. Your co-workers. If you alienate yourself, you cease to exist.”

“That wasn’t me, it was you.”

“And who am I?”

Jeremy paused. He thought for a moment. He only had the theory that the voice was his own, which was, of course, suggested by the voice itself. But what other plausible explanation was there?

“Ah, now you are beginning to see the truth.”

“What truth?”

“That the existence of an ambient voice inside your head- my existence- means that you are either simply thinking to yourself, something which everyone does; or you’re insane. Now, which do you prefer?”

“Is that really an honest question?”

The voice chuckled.

“Of course not. Nobody wants to be called insane, much less by their own voice. Are you starting to see what I’m getting at?”

“Not really.”

“You always complain of tiredness after sleeping. You toss and turn at night while you have vivid and incredible dreams, yet you sleep soundly while you murder the innocent in your slumber. And you wake up feeling refreshed. Do you not see it now, Jeremy? You’re not insane. You know why you can never enjoy a pleasant dream.”

“Why?”

“Because you know that you’re dreaming.”

It was only then that Jeremy realized what he was doing. Sitting on the freshly murdered body of his wife on the bedroom floor, picking her skull clean.

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