Why do I always tell myself I’ll be in bed by midnight, and then before I know it 3 AM has come and gone? You never notice how tired you are until you look away from the computer screen and look at the clock.
Tonight was no different. It was 3:14 when I checked the time on my phone. I had been watching TV shows for the last four hours. My walls are thin, so I use headphones after 10 PM. Well if you’ve ever worn headphones for a while you know how uncomfortable your ears become. When you take them off, it’s a very special feeling, a very enjoyable one.
Again, tonight was no different. I decided it was time to finally sleep and stopped the video player on my computer.
I heard voices. It was these god damn thin walls. Seriously, every night I would hear my neighbors talking. Sometimes I would even hear them having sex. They start work at 4 AM so they’re up by 2 AM, going about their business. I hate the muffled voices, I’m a pretty light sleeper. The really annoying part is never being able to distinguish what is being said. There are actually studies that show that quiet but indistinguishable speech is more distracting than louder but clear speech. Every night I’d hear them talk and talk and talk, and it was all muffled.
Tonight was no different. I heard their damn muffled voices through the headphones even! I was definitely going to have a talk with them tomorrow. If they don’t want me blasting music during the day when they sleep, they’re going to have to shut up at night when I sleep.
I seriously considered sleeping with the headphones on to drown out some of that noise, but like I said, your ears become uncomfortable. With this particular set, my ears become sweaty, red and sore. Yeah they’re not the best pair.
I dreaded taking them off and trying to fall asleep. I figured I’d take some Diphenhydramine to sleep through this tonight. Oh well, may as well get on with it. I took off the headphones and started to get up to get the meds and some water.
That’s when I noticed my neighbors stopped talking. It was actually completely silent. I figured maybe they left for work. After all, it was 3:20 now. I was ecstatic. I hated taking meds to sleep. I grabbed some water and lay back down in bed. I was about to shut off my computer when I heard them talking again. Much quieter this time, but there was no doubt about it, I heard what was definitely people talking.
This was really aggravating. I got up again to grab the meds and as I walked over to my medicine cabinet, they stopped talking once more. Whatever, I figured I’d take some anyway – the whole situation made me far too riled up to sleep peacefully anyway.
As I walked back towards my bed I listened carefully to see if those assholes would start chit chatting again. Like clockwork, they did. The closer I got to my bed, the louder they got. Made sense, since the wall my bed was near was the wall I shared with them.
I grabbed my laptop to finally turn it off and unplugged the headphones.
The talking ceased.
It was a really painful and horrible realization at that moment.
Tonight was not like every other night. It was Sunday, and they don’t work on Sundays. I know because I always have a good night’s rest on these days.
My neighbors were sound asleep next door.
I looked through my computer for an open browser window or something, I figured I left a video up. There was nothing. Every program was closed.
I was freaking out a bit, but decided it was just a weird coincidence. To be sure, I plugged my headphones back in. I immediately dropped my laptop. I heard people talking, ever so faintly, and the sounds were clearly coming from my headphones.
Wide eyed, I picked up my computer and frantically searched for the cause. I figured it was a virus. I opened my task manager to find the responsible program. Yet nothing was amiss. My heart was racing, but curiousity got the better of me. I picked up my headphones and put them on. I wanted to scream because the entire night… the entire night those muffled voices were coming from my headphones, and not from my neighbors.
I tried to make out what was being said but I couldn’t. That’s when my screen flickered. My browser opened, and redirected itself to a website… at least I think it was a website. The address bar was blank and when I tried clicking on it nothing happened.
As the website loaded the voices became more clear. I heard multiple people talking, there were definitely more than two voices.
“He doesn’t know yet,” one said.
“He will in a little bit, give it time,” said another.
“I think he is catching on.”
“He’ll have no choice but to join us. Curiousity always gets the better of humans.”
The palms of my hands were dripping in sweat, shaking and uncontrollable. The rest of me was frozen in fear.
“Now. Start it now.” That’s when the screen flickered. A video began, and I almost screamed. Staring back at me was a face. A face at first I thought was my own.
But no, it wasn’t mine. It was somebody else’s. “We see you,” said one of the voices. I didn’t know what to do at this point.
“We see you, you can respond.”
“A-are you talking to me right now?” I responded as I was trembling, barely able to put together a coherent sentence.
“Yes. We see you and you see him. And when he realizes he hears us all, we will all see him, and he will see someone else. Do you understand now?”
I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to scream. To run. To cry. I muttered quietly. “I…I…”
“Look at him. What do you see?” One of the voices asked.
“I see his face,” I responded. “He’s… he’s staring at something, it looks like he’s staring right at me. Can he see me?”
“No,” said a voice. “He can only hear you.”
The person on my screen kept staring at me, intently. I looked closely at his eyes, they were moving side to side. It looked like he was reading something.
“He can hear me?” I asked.
“Yes,” said a voice, “But he does not know he can hear you yet.”
The person was wearing headphones like I was. I could only assume they too thought nothing of random muffled voices. Maybe they also had thin walls. Maybe they were listening to something else and didn’t notice that strange ambient sound. Maybe he didn't have his volume all the way up like I had. Maybe he was far too engrossed in whatever it was he was reading. I don't know.
“We can’t see him yet,” said one of the voices. “We can only see you. Can you tell us when he finally realizes where the voices are coming from?”
“He doesn’t know yet,” I said.
“He will in a little bit, give it time,” said one of the voices.
“I think he is catching on,” said another.