Andrew’s life was over. They’d finally figured out his black secret. They’d caught him. Locked him up, and he would likely never be free, at least not as himself. He’d only made it this far, fourteen years in fact, because of the nagging of his older sister.
“Don’t talk to yourself,” she’d chastised him as a young boy. “Dad talked to himself. That’s why he killed himself.”
He, like his father, was a self-talker. The colloquial name for a dangerous and psychotic disorder known as shizopsychosis. But he was something worse. His father had done it out loud, so he was an external self-talker, which were generally regarded as less dangerous than internal self-talkers.
Everyone knew how dangerous internal self-talkers were. All the most heinous holo-film and virtual reality villains were self-talkers. They were brilliant, cunning, ruthless, and cared nothing for others. Andrew could name five real life serial murderers who were self-talkers, and there were too many mass shooters who self-talked to count.
He was terrified he’d become one of them. That’s why, when talking to his therapist about his depression, his feelings of being isolated, he cracked and told his dark secret. He’d never even dreamed of actually hurting someone, but he had this dread, this constant feeling that because he self-talked one day, the talking in his mind would make him do things. That is what they all said. Self-talking was a road to becoming a monster.
He was a monster. He’d known it as soon as he was old enough to know why his sister had forced him not to talk to himself out loud. He tried not to talk to himself in his head as well, but the command to shut up came from the voice in his head that he was trying to silence!
He stared at the walls, thinking about how it had come to this. He’d been an excellent student. He scored in the ninety-nine-point-ninth percentile in every category of every standardized test he’d ever taken.
Well, almost every category. He never got good marks in reading comprehension. Whenever he saw the correct answer guide, he always stood by his answer, and felt that the official answer was philosophically vapid or reductionistly sociopathic, for lack of a better word.
He thought about how he’d ended up before the rat traitor of a therapist in the first place. He’d done a presentation on the ethical implications of the LatinX Evacuation Program and made some controversial statements about the six million people currently residing in the evacuation camps, with more and more cattle trucks arriving daily. While defending himself against the onslaught of patriotic ridicule, he had raised his voice, which had labeled him as having potential anger issues. He’d been sent to the councilor, who sent him to a therapist, who sent him and their notes to a psychiatrist, who had him interned.
Just like that, like father like son, he was to be cured. His father hated the cure. That was all he knew. He was barely old enough to remember when his father had chugged a bottle of sleeping pills. He just knew the note said that he couldn’t suffer the emptiness of a clear mind any longer.
His father could not stand only speaking out loud to other people. He needed his own thoughts. His mother cursed him. Hired an editor to remove him from all family photos. Cursed his selfishness and his need to speak to himself like some kind of perverted freak.
Andrew knew that even if they let him go, he would never be the same. He would never exchange words within his own mind again. It had been a wonderful pastime. He had imagined other worlds and other times, spoken to historical figures and his idols, and even his dead father. He had imagined being interviewed by the personalities on television, imagined being ambassador to another world, he had climbed the steps of the lost forum of Rome while it still bustled with shoppers in leather sandals and togas.
He credited his success in school, up until now, to this ever-present voice in his head. It walked him through problems step by step, explaining things more clearly than the professor.
It had urged him to go for it the first time he kissed a young woman. Stacy, her name was, and apparently, she’d been trying to get him to do it for weeks.
He wondered what she’d think of him the next time she saw him. Legally, they couldn’t tell anyone why he’d been sent here, but everyone knew there were only a few reasons for being sent to the mental hospital, and all of them were terrible. None of them were as bad as self-talking, though.
Self-talkers were the screaming men you saw walking the sidewalks cursing at the top of their lungs, the maniacs who broke their hands trying to punch out autocar windows. Self-talkers were the dictators of bygone eras that sent millions to death camps. Self-talkers were the fragmented shreds of men who tried to kill entire cities that the superheroes of holoprojector films desperately combatted, and the superhero cops of the real world tried to hunt down and catch before they claimed another victim.
Well, they got their man, before it was too late this time. The fiendish voice in Andrew’s head said.
And it was right. Soon the nurse would come and provide him with his first injection. In a few weeks’ time, the injections would accumulate, and he would have a clear mind. Be free from all the voices, telling him to do things, telling him things might happen, telling him to care about this or that.
Soon, the only voices he would hear would be real. They’d be the voices of real people, people who loved and cared about him, and were worried for him. They would tell him what was or wasn’t happening. They knew what was real and what was best. He would be free from his curse.
The injection wasn’t that bad. In a few days, his mind was spotless. And Andrew never had another thought again.
I often wonder if mental illnesses that are common today are actually normal behaviors that powerful people are trying to drug out of us to increase productivity. But what do I know, I'm a schizophrenic. What are your thoughts? Comment below.
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