Tobias had barely walked out of sight of his house when the Voices broke into their loud chatter.

Put it behind you. The Gifted are more important.

Tobias knew that this was important to both the Voices and Gifted, but also to himself, for his own sanity. If he didn’t do what the Voices wanted him to do, he would never be rid of them, and they would haunt his mind until he eventually gave in. Tobias sensed that they had very little to no concept of time, and given the fact that they weren’t human – they seemed to be some kind of paranormal entity, Tobias had decided – they were very unlikely to get bored of him.

This placed him squarely in the middle of a problem, for although Tobias didn’t want to ‘put it behind him’, he knew that he needed to help the Voices. He needed to save the Gifted. He needed to vanquish the Dark.

Tobias didn’t do much exercise, and so was a little overwhelmed by the twenty minute walk he had put himself up against, coupled with the excruciating heat, which seemed to be magnified by the weight of the Voices on his shoulders. Spotting a bench by the side of the road, he took a moment to sit down and rest his feet.

It was an odd position for a bench; it was placed right next to the road, where there was very little for an onlooker to enjoy by sitting on the bench. The city had tightened its grip around this area, and there was no greenery, only a housing estate which had been here for probably about fifty years, and smoke billowing up from the power-station that dwelled behind it.

It was the first time that it had occurred to Tobias how ugly the city was. He had always just thought of it as a concrete jungle – filled with magical wonder around every corner, with the wildlife of the city going about their business, whilst he simply passed it all by. No worries, no cares.

Now, of course, things were different for Tobias. He was being followed. Not by any physical being, but by his psychological dilemma. Which, if anything, was worse. There was no hiding from the Voices, like there would be from a normal follower. The Voices knew what he was doing, when he was doing it, and this caused them to prompt him frequently.


Tobias glanced around for anybody who might see the young boy talking to himself, then proceeded. ‘I’m tired. Let me rest a second.’

Put it behind you. The Gifted are more important.

Tobias was thinking about the Voices, rather than listening to them, and considered their limited vocabulary. They could probably say whatever they wanted to, but once they had a sentence in mind, they would use it again and again until any opportunities vanished.

‘No, I’m tired. I’ll keep going in a minute.’

Put it behind you. The Gifted are more important.

‘Not to me. I want to rest, and so I will. If you want me to save you all from the Dark, then I will need to rest every so often. I’m a human, unlike you, and I need to eat, sleep, drink and use the toilet. If you can’t deal with that, tough.’

Like us.


Tobias hadn’t quite heard what the Voices had just said. It had been very quiet, and had the environment been any louder, he probably wouldn’t have noticed that they had said anything at all.

Tobias waited several seconds for an answer, but he was not provided with one. Instead, he was frustrated to hear them repeat themselves.

Put it behind you. The Gifted are more important.

Tobias had been listening to the Voices, but it was only now that he truly listened to the words. Normally, a person wouldn’t say ‘put it behind you’ when talking about rest. Why were the Voices using this phrase? Tobias dared to ask.

Put it behind you.

‘Put what behind me? Rest? I need to rest, you know.’

Put it behind you.


Put it behind you.

The more they repeated themselves, the louder the Voices became, as if they thought Tobias couldn’t hear them. It wasn’t that he couldn’t hear them, it was that he needed an explanation of what they meant. It sounded like a million Voices, all screaming at once, pleading with Tobias, some of them, others just shouting angrily, ordering him to ‘put it behind him’.

Put it behind you.

‘Put what behind me?!’

He was growing more and more scared. Obviously this was a big deal to the Voices, and it was something they were reluctant to share with him, for fear of frightening him away. But Tobias wanted to know, because if he was going to base his actions on the words of unexplained Voices in his head, he needed to know what they were saying and why.

‘What do you want me to put behind me?’

The answer suddenly appeared in Tobias’ head, despite the Voices giving no direct answer. He shuddered at the thought of leaving them behind. Forgetting about them whilst he began his unexplained adventure. But it was not an adventure, it was the act of a slave. Tobias could not escape the Voices, but he would not give himself in to them, leaving everything behind.

‘My family.’

The Voices suddenly slammed into silence. Tobias knew from the sudden end to their babble that his answer was right on the money. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t abandon his family simply for the Gifted, when he didn’t even know what or who the Gifted was.

‘I can’t do that.’ Tobias felt his voice crack as a lump rose in his throat, closely followed by the first small tear dwelling in the corner of his eye. ‘I need my family.’

We need you.

‘But I don’t know why.’

We need you.

‘You need me to save the Gifted, but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know who they are, or what they do, or why you want me to save them. I don’t know anything… And I can’t believe that I’ve come this far without asking a single important question.’

We need you.

‘You won’t leave me alone, will you?’

We need you.

‘I know. But I don’t want you.’

Put it behind you.

‘I don’t want to.’

Much to the Voices outrage, Tobias began the solemn walk home. Despite the sun beating down on his back, he couldn’t feel hot as the cold wash of sadness smothered him. He was right, though. He wouldn’t leave his family behind. He couldn’t. He was nine… How could the Voices expect him to understand all this?

Ignoring the protests that guided him home, Tobias realised he’d need a good excuse for appearing on the doorstep of his own home.

The End

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