"We have been waiting here for a very long time," they told me, their voices cold and emotion-less. Inhuman. Not normal, not in any sense of the word. "Almost sixteen years now, but we were sure you would turn up. Because we knew of your existence, and have done since you were born: your parents tried to hide you, tried to take away the power that we knew you had, but it would not be quashed.
"And so we waited, year after year. One day, nine years after our wait had begun, you turned up. Finally, our hopes were in sight! We opened the link wider, to try to break you. But you would not be broken."
"I will not give in that easily," I told them angrily, my chin stuck forward in a determined manner. "I've never been easy to break. You've probably worked that out by now, haven't you?" I was angry. They were controlling everything -- my life, my friends, and even my brain. Because 'opening the link': that had to mean that they had let the voices in.
"We are the only people who can stop the voices from coming into this world. They only ever find one host each generation, and more often than not he or she is driven mad. Often, they take their own lives. But you were special. You do not break easily. And so we pushed you to the limit, trying to discover your boundaries."
"And have you found them?"
"Not yet, Michelle. Not yet. But it is no longer necessary. Let me explain something." They paused and licked their lips. "It was only necessary to discover this while we still needed to report to the voices. But they can see for themselves, now, and they do not need us."
"What do you mean?" I exclaimed, looking around.
"Watch," said one of them. One. That was something new, because before they had spoken only in synchronisation.
Slowly, slowly they made our way over to the curtain on the far side of the room and pulled it across. A wide viewscreen was visible. And on it, a face that had haunted my nightmares since I was a baby.