She entered the room, looking slightly like a fly that has been caught in a large spider's web. "Hello?" she whispered. We stepped out of the shadows.
Let credit be given where credit is due -- she did not scream. Instead, Michelle took a step backwards, her face going white but her mouth remaining firmly shut. An unsual reaction in somebody like her: maybe there was more to Michelle than met the eye.
"Who are you?" she said. "What are you?"
Reflecting on ourselves, we understood her hesitation. She had never seen anything like us before, with our identical, grey-robed clocks and white faces. Our shining, electric-green eyes must also have been a shock, and the sight of our bloodless, shrivelled lips would have frightened any child. But that was not what was bothering her.
"You sound like the voices," she marvelled.
"You are intelligent," we praised her. Our voices, speaking in unsion as they always did, hardly seemed to concern her. She had heard it all before, inside her own head. "You want to know why we have called you here?"
"Yes," Michelle replied. "And why I have never seen you before, or heard of you. Why are you such a secret from the other inmates?"
"Would they react well to our appearance?" we questioned. "No, Michelle, we set up this hospital for one reason in particular. We have been waiting for you." Not giving her time to interrupt or ask foolish questions, we continued, "A girl who hears voices that nobody else hears, and yet is not mad. We have waited so long for this."
"I thought this place was supposed to make me get better," she said, looking slightly annoyed. "But it's only got worse since I came here. It used to be every week or every month that they spoke to me ... now, it's almost every day."
We gestured to a chair in front of us. It was red, with a padded seat and back. Though possibly alarmed by our movement, so perfectly in time, Michelle took a step towards it, and did not show her fear. "There are reasons for this. Here, sit down. And let us tell you a story."