He heard it that morning, louder than ever before. The voice. It loved to wake him in the middle of the night as he lay next to his wife, sleeping yet not quite sleeping. Sometimes he heard it when she spoke to him. Not saying anything in particular, and yet the mere sound of her voice made it begin to stir. Echoes of messages, comforting and explicit at once.
It spoke to him in whispers at first. Whispers are easy to ignore. And yet, the more he ignored them, the louder they became.
That morning, as he kissed his wife goodbye and got into the car for the daily commute, the whisper changed. It was no longer an echo, no longer something that could be quietened. The whisper became the voice. Driving towards his work in the early morning traffic, he couldn’t remember where exactly he was at the moment he first heard it, only that the traffic lights had turned to red, and that the radio was no longer playing music.
The radio was the voice.
Did you think I would leave? Did you think you could just patronise me into submission? I will never leave. I am the voice, and you will hear me. You will hear me.
The lights had not yet changed to amber. At the side of the road, a man who looked to be in his thirties was about to head over the crossing. He was wearing a tracksuit and carrying a water bottle, panting heavily as he walked. An early morning run that appeared to have got the best of him by 8.15.
The voice had commanded, yet he did not obey. Could not obey. Could he?
He saw the young man begin to step towards the carriageway and felt the urge to press hard on the accelerator. His foot began to tremble as the engine groaned with the pressure of its engine’s revolutions. The jogging man stepped into the road, and the radio’s volume rocketed with the sound of the voice’s cutting screams.
DRIVE! DRIVE NOW! DRIVE OR SUFFER!
Sweat erupted from the back of his neck and his eyes began to roll as he complied, jamming his foot onto the accelerator. The engine heaved in a sickening roar as the car lurched forward and the young jogger turned to acknowledge the sudden sound to his left.
The voice began to laugh. The radio boomed and the world began to turn.
And then, silence.
He looked up, breathing rapidly, at the scene above his steering wheel. The jogging man was shouting towards the car, shock and fury permeated his previously exhausted face. The car was still, and the sound of horns blaring angrily behind him alerted him to the changing amber light ahead.
Looking down, he realised he’d put the handbrake on when he’d pulled up at the lights. The car’s engine was now silent, and the radio was playing Guns ‘n’ Roses.
The jogger departed and the lights turned to green. Turning the key in the stalled vehicle, he commenced his journey anew.
The voice was silent. For now.