“I hear voices.” Dottie shifted in her seat. “Not real voices that I can block out with ear plugs or white noise. But real voices – all the time from people around me.”
“Do you hear them now?” Doctor Clark asked. He was only half-listening to what was obviously a psychotic patient. He had already decided what to do about her. His vacation plans were on his mind.
“You’re not listening to me.” Dottie leaned forward. “I knew this was a mistake. You’re just like the others. You think I don’t have a problem that can’t be solved by locking me up and drugging me.” Dottie stood up and walked to the door. “I hope you get caught in a hurricane down in Antigua, but you’ll have to go on someone else’s dime.” She slammed the door behind her as she walked out.
Dottie had always heard voices, even in the womb. In fact, until recently she thought that everyone heard voices. She spoke out loud because everyone else did, not because she realized that she had to. She was an apt student and always had the correct answer, but she was also shy and tended to not volunteer to speak in class. Whatever work she took, she picked up the skills necessary to be good at it quickly while others seemed to stumble and make mistakes. She tried to be helpful when she could, being careful not to embarrass anyone.
But the voices had become louder and harder to ignore. Dottie sought help, but everyone told her that the voices weren’t real. Or they could explain them away. She couldn’t find anyone who would accept that maybe the voices were really there and she was just different. And then there were the dreams of people far away just like her. People just as frightened and confused and in need of help as she was.
His name was Ray Holland – not Raymond, just Ray. He had made plans to attend a convention being held at the Patio Hotel where Sandra Kay worked. She recognized him the moment that he checked in. When her shift at the front desk ended, she went up to his room and knocked on the door. He opened it before her knuckle hit the door a second time. “I was wondering when you were coming.” Ray smiled and ushered her in. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for quite some time…”
“…Ever since you started showing up in my dreams.” Sandra finished his sentence. “Me, too. At least now I know that I’m not going crazy.” She took a seat on the divan. “Have the voices been getting stronger for you too?”
“Since the dreams started. It’s like a feedback loop inside our heads. I’m hearing voices of people who aren’t anywhere near me.” Ray walked over to the kitchen counter and took out two wine glasses. He retrieved a bottle of wine from the small refrigerator.
“I know what you mean, but wouldn’t it be nice to turn it off?”
“What I wouldn’t give for a little peace and quiet.” Ray walked back to the small living room with the bottle and glasses. He poured out some white wine into both glasses. “I hope you don’t mind.” He handed a glass to Sandra.
“Not in the least. We aren’t supposed to fraternize with guests, but…”
“Exactly! What’s the point of living if you can’t have any fun?” Ray refilled his glass and took a sip of wine. “So, what does one do around here for fun?”
“Aren’t you here for a convention?” Sandra set down her empty glass and reached for a pamphlet. “Here it is. The NerdCon Space and Fantasy Fair. It says here that there is a welcome banquet starting in an hour.”
“Yes, there is. But we have some time before we have to be there.”
“Yes, we, as in the two of us. Surely you didn’t think I’d go to this thing all by myself. And I happen to know that you have time off this weekend, so…”
“Yes, I do have plans to attend. Do you mind if I go change?”
“Change?” Ray smiled. “May I watch? I wouldn’t have to be there if you do it in front of a mirror.”
“Mister Holland, you have a dirty mind.”
“I hear that a lot.”
Sandra had arranged to share a two-bedroom suite with Ray during NerdCon. She had moved in the night before the convention with all her outfits.
“Welcome to NerdCon”
The NerdCon Fair started with the usual welcoming speeches and rubber chicken with paste and brown gravy. Ray and Sandra had a nice quiet table in the back of the hall for the duration of the meal. Dessert however was served with a side of rivalry between the Space Wars Jupiter Knights and the Steller Trek Space Fleet Officers. The two fandoms had been at war for a long time and this Fair would be another battleground with shouts of “I am your Father!” and “Tonight is a good night to die!” as the two sides clashed in fake battles.
Ray and Sandra left the convention hall in search of real food at a quiet restaurant a few blocks away from the Patio Hotel. She was a regular there, often stopping in after a late night at work. Paolo led her to her usual table. Before leaving the couple to peruse the menu, he bent down and left Ray a warning. “You break her heart, I will come break you. Capiche?” Ray nodded.
“Charming fellow. Does he threaten all your dates?”
“Only the ones he likes.” Sandra laughed. “Surprise me. Order for both of us.”
By the time they returned to the hotel, the NerdCon Fair had settled down and the opening film presentation was about to start. “Looks like we timed that perfectly.”
“They weren’t going to start without me. Come on up front with me. You’ll see why.”
Sandra followed Ray up to the front of the hall and sat down where he directed her to. He took a microphone and turned to face the audience. “Hello, fellow nerds!”
“Hello, Ray!” The response was enthusiastic and deafening to Sandra.
“The short film that you are about to watch is about a subject that is near and dear to me. Sit back and enjoy this sneak peak at what I hope will be my next blockbuster hit, Voices, about a disturbed telepath named Dottie who goes on a murder spree.”