The voices won’t stop.
They shout. They whisper. They plead. They moan.
It’s all her own voice. Heard inside her head.
But they won’t stop.
They tell her to do things.
They beg her to do things.
They tell her lies.
They scream in the middle of the night, waking her up, and laugh when she can’t get back to sleep.
The voices started two weeks ago when she opened that old bottle she found under her grandparent’s bed.
Something happened to her.
It felt like frozen bugs crawled over her skin, filling her mouth, her eyes, her nostrils.
She dropped the bottle, it shattered, but she couldn’t find any of the glass pieces.
She felt sick.
Her fever ran high.
Food became repulsive.
When she threw up, it was heavy and black. Chunks of what she hoped weren’t her organs.
That’s when the voices started. Echoing around the toilet bowl as she cried and vomited.
She tried to wash her hands, but they were stained.
Her voice chastised her, applauded her, made up songs in her honor.
She couldn’t get the stains off of her face, out of her hair.
She played music. Loud music.
But the voices only got louder.
She could feel the frozen bugs crawling under her skin.
She scrubbed her hands and face, the skin becoming raw and red under the stains.
She looks at the bodies of her grandparents, crying, wondering why killing them didn’t stop the voices like they promised.
She scrubs harder until she bleeds.
The voices want her to leave the house.
She wants to stay.
She cuts her hair.
She takes a cheese grater to her skin, peeling off her flesh, but the stains are still there. Deep. She can feel them spreading on her bones.
If only she can get to her bones.
She pushes the knife into her palm as hard as she can.
The voices laugh and whoop and cry.
She throws up.
She digs the knife around, screaming when she scrapes bone.
But she doesn’t stop.
She scrapes and scrapes.
Losing feeling in her hand, she tries to scrape faster.
She can’t move her fingers anymore.
Tendons and muscle shredded.
She drops the knife and looks at her hand.
How is she going to get to the bones in this hand?
She can feel the stain, spreading from her wrist to her fingertips.
She looks in the mirror.
She puts her thumb between her lips, between her teeth.
And she bites down.
Bites harder until her thumb is severed.
Four more to go, she thinks.
The voices agree, they promise. Four more.