Small StepsMature

Tobias had been thrust head first into all of this. The Voices had found him, but were the reason he was going to die. They wanted to save him, but if they truly cared, they would not have found him in the first place. They were selfish. It seemed to be the only emotion they were capable of, which although it was nice to have a break from the dreary monotone of their repetitive chants, the emotion they seemed to favour was not one that Tobias shared their liking for.

We want to save you. But you must help us.

Tobias was in the waiting room, counting down the minutes until he would see his father’s car coming round the corner. Thirty remained. Ample time to talk to the Voices and remain relatively undisturbed.

Heading left to the toilets, Tobias found the same cubicle from the previous day, and locked himself in.

We want to save you. But you must help us.

‘You only want to save yourselves. You don’t care about me. You don’t care about Danielle, otherwise you would have stopped her being stabbed. If you were a real conscience, you would have found a way to stop her from being stabbed, and if you really cared, you would have told Roger how to get away. You should have told him not to go to work.’

It would be futile.

‘Why? Why couldn’t you at least try to save them?’

It would be futile.

‘How do you know? How do you know of you never even tried?!’

The Dark would find them any way he could.

‘He’s just a human being. I used to think he was some kind of supernatural creature that was a curse or something, but now he’s just a real person. A real person who can die like everybody else!’

The Voices did not interrupt, like Tobias had been expecting.

‘Can’t he? He can be hurt, right?'

He has a significant advantage.

Tobias’ stomach sunk. Whatever the Voices were going to reveal, whatever kind of revelation they came out with would not help Tobias get over this situation. It would certainly not make anything any easier, especially not the defeating of the Dark, which was becoming, granted, a less and less threatening figure, but remained somewhat dangerous.

He is Gifted.

Tobias let his neck go loose, letting his head fall back and rest against the toilet tank. The ceiling looked so bland. Grey and dreary, against the blue of the cubicle door, the top of which was just visible, and the strong white light shining from the many square lights dotted around the room.

‘The Dark man can hear Voices, too?’

Voices are attracted to one another. The Gifted have a subconscious link.

Tobias hated this. He realised that at any moment, the Dark man could burst through the door wielding a weapon of some sort, and know everything about the victim that sat before him. His name, address, favourite colour. The Voices had access to this information, and therefore could interact with the Voices of the other Gifted, sharing the information like they would on the Internet.

What Tobias realised was worse was that if the Gifted all had subconscious links, the Dark man could probably track absolutely every Gifted person in the world, and would know exactly how to hide.

But if the Voices wanted to survive, surely they would not share the information with the Dark man’s Voices…

‘Why do the Dark man’s Voices help him kill us?’

Danielle described us as a conscience. She was correct.

‘So?’

If a person chooses to ignore their conscience, their conscience will eventually develop to accommodate their wished and ethical opinions.

‘So the Dark man’s Voices started of good at first, but now want to help him? Can’t you stop them?’

The Voices can never leave a host, and we adapt to the host. We cannot stop his Voices, only him.

Tobias stayed silent, trying to take all this new information in. Maybe the adaptation had already started in his mind. The Voices had realised that Tobias hated being left in the dark, and had realised that any relevant information – not just the knowledge the Voices wished to share with him – was to be shared.

‘Have you picked up on anything about me? Have you begun adapting?’

Very little. We are less withdrawn with information, as you suggested, but it takes time.

The level of colloquial language within their speech seemed to be increasing. Maybe that was being done without realising it, but it was certainly happening, and it was probably because they had realised that Tobias didn’t like their use of language that he found somewhat pretentious.

For a moment, Tobias tried to forget about the Dark man, and the fact that he could be following Tobias right now, waiting for the perfect moment to attack his next target.

He let his mind drift to Danielle and her versions of the Voices in her head. Had they adapted to the way she thought, and had they changed to fit in with the way she spoke?

He wanted to find out. Tobias wanted to make himself feel more comfortable with the Voices’ presence, like he had when he first found out he was Gifted, or when he had originally thought of the Voices as a conscience.

Unlocking the cubicle, Tobias headed left for the elevator, and room 509, where he hoped that Danielle was still waiting patiently for him.

The End

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