He had fallen asleep, and as a result, Tobias had not spotted the creature that must have entered his room as he lay helplessly snoring. Dashing to the other side of the room, he turned his light on, but was blinded by the sudden flash that illuminated the room. This made him nervous, for in the few seconds that it would take his eyes to adjust to the dark, anything could pop out from under the bed, or in the wardrobe, or in through the window and out of the curtains.
As the yellow spots faded away from Tobias’ vision, he desperately scanned the room in an attempt to see whatever was talking to him, whatever had woken him up.
You didn’t save her.
His eyes darted from one end of the room to the other, checking under his bed, every corner of the room, any point that was blocked visually by another object. There was no visible sign of any danger, and yet there was the Voice, talking again.
You didn’t save her.
The Voice was repeating itself, as it had done last night. But something wasn’t right about it… The Voice last night. Tobias tried desperately to remain calm as he racked his brains for the answer to why the Voice sounded so different.
The Voice the night before had been asking to be saved. The new Voice was talking about the first Voice. There were two different Voices?! The surge of fear returned to Tobias’ entire body, bubbling through him with malevolent intent. He feared the Voices, but he feared the idea that he was going insane.
You couldn’t save her.
The Voice spoke again. Tobias listened this time. It was certainly not the same Voice of the previous night. For one, it was referring to somebody or something else, whereas last night it had been talking about itself. But the second, only just noticeable difference was that this Voice was that of a man. Well, not a man. Tobias had been so overwhelmed by nerves that he had not really been listening to the Voices, neither last night nor tonight.
The Voice was obviously intent on getting Tobias’ attention – why else the constant stream of repetitive questions – and so, swallowing his fear, Tobias spoke quietly.
‘Where are you?’
The Voice answered instantly, obviously pleased to have gained Tobias’ attention, if it were capable of emotions.
I am everywhere, and nowhere. I am yours. And I am many.
Tobias could not understand what any of that meant. Was the Voice being produced by a person, or was it just his mind playing tricks. And the Voice was many? What could that mean?
I am many. And we all need you.
‘What do you want?’ Tobias was feeling a little silly, and would have laughed at himself for talking to what could easily have been his imagination, if he had not been so scared of whatever was talking back to him.
The Dark is coming.
Another Voice. Certainly a different one. The new Voice was still a man, but spoke in a much deeper pitch, making a rather intimidating sound. Tobias felt the fear of the previous night resurface, and he did all he could to repress the screams that he had been too weak to resist last night. He was still looking around everywhere, but he was sat on his bed, unmoving, so as not to become exposed. With his back pressed firmly to the wall against the head of his bed, he knew that nothing could sneak up from behind and surprise him. But that still was not enough to protect him from whatever might be hiding in front of him, let alone what was happening inside his head. Unable to move, and yet desperate to check what could be hiding anywhere around him, he let out a sudden choke, and let one or two tears of fear follow it. Tobias was not surprised that the Voices did not attempt to comfort him. They only wanted to terrify him.
‘Leave me alone.’ Tobias was barely able to get the words out.
We need you.
Another Voice, but Tobias ignored it. The way it sounded, whether it was male or female. Everything about the new Voice, he ignored, and everything about the original three, the first of which was yet to return, he tried to forget.
‘Leave me alone.’ Tobias repeated himself, suddenly aware how much he was like the Voices. He would not stop until he got what he wanted from them, as they would not stop until they got what they wanted from him. But they wanted something he was unsure of, and could not possibly provide, whatever it was. All he wanted was to be left alone.
Protect us from the Dark.
‘Leave me alone!’ Tobias screamed at the top of his lungs, more as a cry for help to his parents than an order to the Voices.
We need you.
They weren’t listening, and neither was Tobias.
‘Leave me alone! Leave me alone!’ He screamed out again and again, desperately flailing his arms in an attempt to strike the invisible monsters that plagued his mind, feeding off his fear. He jumped from his bed, suddenly terrified that something might happen if he stayed on it, and he threw himself against the corner of the room nearest his door, trying to protect himself from as many sides as he could at once. But the monsters were relentless.
The Dark. Protect us. We need you!
They all wailed at the same time, until Tobias could stand it no longer, and he covered his ears, crying out again and again, letting snot dribble down his nose, mixing with the tears that felt as if they would never halt.
He was relieved when his parents burst through the bedroom door, his father first, and took a hurried step towards his terrified and disturbed son, lifting him into his arms and holding him tight. But even within the safety of his father’s arms, Tobias was not safe from the Voices. They shouted at him continuously, evoking more and more tears from their victim, their host, and for several minutes, all Tobias could hear were the angry repetitive cries of his warped mind.
The Dark! Protect us! We need you!
He could not hear his mother’s singing or his father’s reassuring words. His ears were buffeted by the terrible words that would not yield. Until suddenly, all fell silent. The Voices had left him. For now.
The family did not return to sleep.