by Sumiko Saulson
I don’t know when I first became aware of my passenger. The earliest hints of the other consciousness were so subtle I thought they were daydreams, figments of my overactive imagination. When darkness fell, I was most afraid. My pulse quickened when I felt my cat leap from her perch on the uppermost bunk down on to my futon mattress, or heard the distant sound of raccoons outside rattling through the neighbor’s garbage cans.
The other voices were persistent, but quiet. One voice began to overpower all of the others. Eventually, it grew so loud and demanding that it drowned out the sound of my own internal dialogue, replacing it with a string of bizarre fantasies and demands.
Late at night, the visitor kept me awake with a string of nonsense syllables it babbled like a toddler learning his first words.
The phrases eventually made their way from the inside of my mind to the outside of my body by way of sometimes irresistible force. My body and my mouth moved against my will, forming a series of strange sounds that eventually became first words, then sentences.
I was alarmed to find there was a full-fledged other being living beneath my skin.
I was terrified at first, but soon I became emotionally exhausted to the point of numbness. It may sound strange to you, dear reader, but in time, I entered into an uneasy truce with these foreign invaders living inside my form. I asked the passengers to refrain from speaking to me in public, so I might enjoy some semblance of a normal existence.
It didn’t always work. There were days when the voices forced their way out of my mouth and into the air around me. I was alarmed when they made me speak at inopportune times. It was as if a deep, dark secret had been revealed to the word against my will.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers and poets might describe these outside voices as aspects of my own splintered persona. They would characterize the interlopers as a part of my fractured native interior life, the fragments of a shattered mind. By contrast, the religious practitioners, the mystics and the spiritualists would ascribe these voices to some generally malevolent external source. They viewed these hangers on as nefarious and parasitic occupying ghosts or demons. I found these notions most terrifying of all.
I chose to believe that they were separate from me but that I was their source, that they were personal imaginings; my characters.
(I’m insane, Sumiko. I’m sorry to hear that, Flynn.
I’m sorry about that, Sumiko. I’m sorry too, Flynn.
My name is not Flynn. My name is Sumiko.)
Some of the voices were terrifying, even threatening. The most consistent of them was generally benign. It tried to encourage and befriend me. In a way, we are friends, but it’s hard not to resent a thing that runs your body like a sock puppet from time to time.
My man is my monster. I grew tired of bickering with him one day, so I gave him a name. I wrote him into my works of fiction, and created a world for him. I thought he would be happy as a character in my books, but at times he seems angry.\
by Flynn Keahi
My name is Flynn Keahi, and I’m one of Sumiko’s characters. Please disregard what she just said about me. She’s very biased. The truth of the matter is, I dislike unnecessary drama. I didn’t want to fight with my author, but she kept putting me through changes.
Being a character really sucks. It’s like being on a reality show written by a psychopath who will do anything for ratings. I’m tired of going through turmoil just to keep the plot interesting and the readers engaged. These horror writers are especially brutal. I guess I should be happy I’m in a dark fantasy. At least for the moment, my suffering is only moral dilemma and existential crisis.
Forgive me if I sound bitter, but she’s working on a fourth book, after she promised me this would only be a trilogy.