Today's story is a departure from my usual style. It's not quite science fiction or fantasy. It's more of a metaphysical piece based on a mashup of several conversations I've had with other writers regarding character building and creation with a twist. It's also probably as close to any kind of thriller I'll ever write because I feel I just don't write horror very well at all.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it.
There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.
I say someone, but that’s not the truth of it. There are multitudes. I’m lost in a sea of familiar strangers, and some days I can’t hear myself think.
I take comfort in the knowledge I’m not alone, and I don’t mean within the confines of my skull. No, there are others like me out there who hear or sometimes even feel like people unlike themselves, and they manage to hold themselves together.
Without that knowledge to hold onto, I think I might go a bit insane.
Writing helps, except when it doesn’t. Giving the others a voice shuts them up for a while, but it also encourages them to multiply. I thank God I’m not privy to whatever process that involves. Brain bleach isn’t a thing, and even if it were, I doubt there’d be enough of it to deal. No, they pop out of the shadows at random.
Some emerge fully formed. Others claw their way from the depths half finished and missing bits, screaming for completion. An image of Ed and Al’s attempt to resurrect their mother at the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist comes to mind thinking about those unfortunates, but it doesn’t quite fit.
Then, there are the amalgams. The weakest ones appear to fade away or get pushed aside by the stronger. They tumble into the dark places, and they lose bits of themselves as they get forgotten. Yet the will to live persists, and they stitch new bodies for themselves from the remains scavenged within the mental graveyard. Remade, they crawl free, lurching like zombies into the light.
Most of the time, it’s not so bad. Despite the gruesome way so many come into being, most of the others, even the not so nice ones, sharing my skull are tolerable. I’ve come to think of a special few as family, and I love them. Allowing them room to speak is a pleasure. Seeing the world through alien eyes is freeing, and the glimpses I get into their worlds fill me with the thrill of exploration.
Such isn’t the case with the couple from hell.
I say couple, but the two aren’t connected by anything other than residence inside my head. Human and inhuman, emotionally volatile and numb, filled with the curiosity of a scientist and possessing the boredom that comes from sitting upon a pedestal, the two couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet, the core of their personalities is the same: cold contempt and elitist self-seclusion.
Those two, I fight to keep locked away. I’ve shoved them into the mental graveyard time and again, but they refuse to fade. Their resilience is frightening.
Giving them control feels like being doused in ice and filth, but it’s the only way to rein them in. Unlike the others, they aren’t content to whisper and nag. They want more than being confined to the page. They want life, full and unhindered, and I’m in their way.
If you enjoyed the story, I hope you'll go give the audio version a listen. My brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, a niece, and my husband all lent their voices to make up the background cacophony, and it really adds an extra something to the story.
Each story in this series is 500 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first line generator like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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