Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Voice

This guy frequently heard a voice, not voices, just a single voice. Nobody around, no television or music playing, no ambient noise, just a clear crisp voice speaking with a high quality surround sound effect. It was not necessarily speaking to him, but there was typically nobody else physically present when it was heard. The voice never spoke in a complete sentence, but several times throughout the day he might hear ‘red apple’, ‘nice shoes’, ‘larynx’. Occasionally up to four words were spoken, ‘and wonderful incandescent lightbulb’ or ‘bug in dog bowl,’ but the absence of verbs was a constant.

The voice was always the same, a male in his 30s, or thereabouts, speaking in a pleasant tone and occasionally with an emphasis placed on an incorrect syllable; ‘belt-BUCK-le’ or ‘ham-BURG-lar’. This sometimes caused him to smile self-consciously and hope that nobody might ask, ‘What’s so funny?’ ‘Oh, the voice in my head mispronounced a word,’ he might be obligated to respond. He might hear the voice from another room not knowing if another person were present, unless, of course, a verb had been employed. He would instinctively respond without consciously being triggered by the employment of the verb.

The voice was bothersome, sometimes entertaining, but not scary because it spoke mostly curiosities, never instructions or statements. The voice did add a degree of difficulty when on a conference call for work. The difficulty came when he would hear someone and not know if it was on the call or if it was the voice. ‘Did you hear me?’ or ‘Are you there?’ were questions not irregularly posed to him.

For decades he’d heard it and made mentions throughout his youthful years to his parents. Doctor visits confirmed his hearing was perfect and no conditions, otherwise, to question his sanity or impeccable health, physical or mental. He did, for a brief period in his late adolescence, write down all the spoken words over the course of two months. This filled four and a half pages and was discarded when he thought it might be discovered and thought to be a kind of poorly written manifesto.

When he lived by himself the voice kept him company, to an extent, as if he had a roommate. You know, a roommate who was the antithesis of verbose. Unfortunately, the voice was not restricted to his domicile. He endured it over the years until it suddenly ruined him.

He was traveling for work late one night in an unfamiliar town. He had taken a late flight, had been unable to sleep on the plane, and arrived in poor condition. He retrieved his rental car and was en route to his destination. Being unfamiliar with the required route he had his phone’s mapping application calling out directions. The voice, not the directional app, very inopportunely chimed in ‘left now’ causing him to respond due to his shabby mental state. He turned immediately directly into traffic and was harshly brought to an end by a large truck. The voice was finally put to rest.