Interlude: Voices

I was reading a storybook when it happened. It was a Lunen evening, I remember, and I was reading "Iaalhee". It wasn't a very complicated book, but I was only four. I was pretending that the book was reading itself to me in Aaihhhi's voice. He used to read to me, before he got promoted.

I was glad he got promoted. Really I was. It made him so happy. He had been hoping for it for years and years. I was happy for him. He just didn't read to me anymore. It was okay. I knew how to read books by myself. I didn't need to bother my important aaihhhi about it.

I had a good imagination even then so I wasn't really surprised when I could almost actually hear the book. I closed my eyes. I'd read it many times before and it wasn't a long story, so I just imagined it reading itself the whole way through. Then it got to the end, and said, "I am a book and I was written thirty years and two months ago over four days and this copy was published by the Kithen Publishing Company in Paraasilan and I have a green cover made of cardstock and green ink that says "Iaalhee" and I'm on a floor and..."

I don't remember what else it said because as soon as it started talking about that I shut the book and backed up until it was too quiet to hear. I bumped into the wall and I heard a voice saying "I'm a tunic and I'm made of dark blue double-purled sunel and I was sewn one year and four months and sixteen days ago over two angles and I'm on you and I've been on you for eight angles..."

They were talking to me.

I turned into a bat and the tunic stopped talking since it was tucked into my other form, and I flew up to the nearest perch, but as soon as I landed on it it started talking too. So I sat on the floor being a bat, but all of the sofas and chairs in the room started talking too, all at once - so I went outside, to fly away from all the things that were talking to me, but uncle Eiiahhh caught me. I was only four, I wasn't allowed to go far by myself.

"Where are you going, little Leekath?" he asked me.

"I want to get away from the things," I said. I squirmed. His clothes were talking to me and I couldn't get away from him without turning humanoid and having to listen to my clothes.

"What things?" he asked.

"All the things. They're talking. It's scary," I said. "Let me go. I don't want to know about how your sun cloak was made - it's so loud - they're all talking at once, let me go!"

He didn't. He just looked worried and took me inside and found my fheeil. "Kheeeahh," he said, "Leekath says things are talking to her."

I still remember the look on Fheeil's face. It was like Eiiahhh told him that I'd died. He closed up his book - I couldn't see the title but it told me it was a math book, more advanced than anything Khi or Iilha or I were doing. He must have been reading it to keep ahead of cousin Hahhin. "Leekath, is this true?" he asked me.

"They won't be quiet," I said. "I want them to. They scare me. Fheeil, can you make them be quiet?"

He closed his eyes. "No, Aaeeihhyleekatheeei, I can't. There is no treatment for this."

"They're everywhere!" I yelled. "Let me go! It's only things, I can go somewhere without any things and be a bat and they won't talk to me..." But Fheeil just shook his head.

"No," he said.

Eiiahhh hung me up on a perch - it got very loud when I touched it, but at least he'd let me go, so I didn't fly off it - and told me to take a nap.

The voices were still there when I woke up.