I wasn’t lonely as a child, I might not have had as many friends as my parents would have liked but I always had someone to talk to, the voice of ‘it’ inside my head. It only proves that this madness might be contagious. The King has it, those locked up by the Aeon Priests ‘have’ it, for all I care everyone could insane. It started out innocent at first. I was young, full of curiosity and … well I always had my eyes open. I saw the world differently to the other kids. They were content, from what I could see with their families. They were happy, boisterous at times, but happy. They were on one track and I was on another, I never felt like we were truly friends.
This happened a lot of the years. I’d flit from one to another, fitting my misshapen jigsaw piece of a personality to niche groups. They never shared all my interests and well, bored me at times. I needed stimulation, conversation, discussion. I was among only a few in the area that were taught to read and write, putting me at odds with nearly every other child on my level. I eventually accepted the fact that I didn’t fit. Nobody could hold my interest for long. Those ‘friends’ that I had convinced my parents, perhaps even myself, that they were as such never stuck around. There were bullies.Once or twice I was dangled over the edge of the boardwalk and threatened with the rot of the Foundations swallowing me up, if I didn’t break my neck falling the five stories to the bottom. I had to learn to support myself, my ‘friends’ were that to each other and I to them, but to me, no.
My self reliance comforted me with words and conversations I couldn’t get in the real world. The voice which I had mistaken for my own inside my head answered back. I couldn’t tell at the time whether this was me just mentally exploring other avenues of thought or if it was something more. My mother was distant when she was young, she’d go out to the Lower Merchant markets and sing and dance. she was as good as any of those in the upper spires of the city but she never pushed herself. Regret and something deeper marred her, she never believed in herself and perhaps wasn’t believed in. She would take the brunt of my father’s attitude when he came home from his shop.
He could tinker with the Numenera but to no great degree. He was amazing at logical puzzles and theories. He might not have had the gift for repair, but his comprehension was beyond what he was being paid. In that sense he was a workaholic, he would always go the extra distance, one more calculation, one last solder. My parents had me later than most, so he wasn’t a young man when I could understand why he was away most of the time. He’d come home drained and exhausted which put even more pressure of my mother as she not only looked after me but the house on top of her job. They inevitably argued a lot, although my younger self must have blocked out some of those memories. My mother gave herself to everyone bar herself and partially me. I grew tired of her not taking my advice and looking after herself. My father and I just argued, I could see what was going on, the flaws in his logic sometimes, the way their marriage worked, how they ticked on the inside.
This understanding and shell I had put around myself to make me feel liked always brought me back to the voice. I think the first time I heard it, I had fallen badly quite young. I’d cracked my skull open falling from the floor above, probably trying to get to somewhere just out of reach. I was brought to my father’s shop where he rushed me to the local Narrkonis Atrium. He had done some freelance work with the Narkkonis family and the researchers there and turned in a few favours to have me healed any way possible. I was told it was some artefact, not fully understood but had been repeatedly tested for its healing powers. It worked, of course but I started to develop an imaginary friend. I could hear her but not always see her. She was young like me, but I couldn’t tell if that was just my reflection as she only appeared to me in mirrors. When I was older and started making friends she went away like most imaginary friends. But when I needed her she was there, sometimes as the voice inside my head, sometimes like the constant ring of a high pitched bell in the silence. I sometimes thought I could feel her presence, like an extra sense. My left ear would feel as if I had dunked it underwater, the bell would ring and I could feel static on my skin like hovering your hand on the other.
I had put that down to the increase of my father’s workload and therefore the added Numenera to the spare room slash storage cupboard hoarded the junk that seemed to have no monetary use. And the voice and the bell, a way I coped with the lack of stimulating conversation and to sitting too closely to the bands that played every evening. How naive was I? These conversations became less about what I understood. I had always understood that the voice only knew what I knew, that I was somehow allowing myself to argue internally but the voice knew things I didn’t. It comprehended things I couldn’t even wrap my head around. I tried to tell myself that I had somehow seen it or read about it. It was information stored just leaking out from the crevices of my memory but then I saw her again…