"I first heard the voices when I was two years old," I told the doctor, thinking back. "At least, that's the first time I remember hearing them. But I think they've always been there."
They talked to me, telling me of worlds I'd never seen and never would see. They spoke of fantastic beasts and people with powers, so great and terrible they could not be imagined. And they spoke of despair, of wars that could never be won and great famines that wiped out entire peoples.
But they did more than just tell me stories. They were my friends, when all others shrank from me in fear because of my strangeness. They would laugh with me and talk with me and our conversations would go on long into the night, after I was supposed to be asleep.
"But that was before. That was when I was young." I stared at the doctor frankly. "It all changed just a year or so ago."
They realised that, now that I was nine, I was determined to get rid of them. I truly wanted to be normal. I hated being the odd one out and I couldn't seen any benefit in putting up with the voices. Besides, they gave me a headache. And so they threatened me. And since then, they had got a lot worse.
"Mum and Dad didn't like me talking about them, so I didn't. But when they realised it was still going on, they sent me here. And it's been getting louder."
"Louder? In what way?"
"If I try and block them out, they won't shut up. If I sleep to escape from their words they follow me in my dreams. If I cover my ears they find a way in, and they're all the while trying to get out. It's too easy to let them out ... and too hard to silence them completely."
"What do you mean, to let them out?" The doctor seemed alarmed. I told him the story of how I had shared the tormenting experience with the nurse, Katrina. He looked excited and made all sorts of notes.
"I'm crazy, aren't I?" I asked.
He thought for a moment. "No. I don't think you are. I don't really believe it to be your fault that they can get into your mind. But I do think you need to be careful. For if they can get in, who knows what else might?"