[Another passage from my short story Belly. Click here to start at the beginning.]
"What do you hear?
"More than one?"
"Yes, there are two. Definitely two. They're similar, but they’re clearly different voices."
"Are they male or female?"
"Two men, I think. But it's hard to tell. They don’t seem quite human. "
"Are they speaking to you?"
"They mostly speak to each other, but sometimes they address me by name."
"Is it a running dialogue?"
"I think so. I don’t know. It feels like it’s a part of something much larger. An ongoing conversation. I only hear them for a minute, and then they’re gone again."
"Can you make out what they're saying?"
"I can usually make out the words, but when they’re talking to each other, they sound muffled. It's like I’m in one of those stupid sitcoms, hiding behind a wall, with a glass to my ear, eavesdropping on the neighbors. When they ask me something directly, the words are clearer, but what they say doesn't always make sense to me. "
"Are the voices friendly?"
"They're not hostile, but I wouldn’t say friendly either, no. Not even necessarily to each other. They're more dispassionate than anything. It's as if they're dissecting a corpse on an examining table."
"Are you the corpse? Are they talking about you?"
"Yes … maybe … I don't know. Would that be good or bad?"
"It's not good or bad. I'm just trying to understand."
"So am I."