It was like the movie Constantine, only more horrid. The creatures of darkness always round the corner. The pain of the damned always a companion. The thoughts of eternity, a weight on my shoulders. But it was not always like this. It all began twenty years ago, on my fifteenth birthday. . .

I woke up. Actually it was the laughter that woke me up: it was like the clanging of many irons, and I knew immediately that my cousin Charlie was around, because it was only him that laughed like that. Like a demented maniac. I sighed, angry that my dream had been cut short. It was a good one. A relief from the constant faces of creatures I could only describe as demons. This was of serene tranquil. Of flowers and incents, of winged beings floating in the clouds, bearing wreaths. I was actually happy, a change from my grumpy mood of the previous week.

I went down the hall towards the source of the laughter. There was Charlie, with my parents and younger sister, Jane, watching a sitcom in Jane's room. She was sick so they had to keep her company which included watching tv in her room. I entered to be greeted by a chorus of happy birthday's, rendered with different inflections. The room was decorated, which only meant we'll be having the party in there. I was surprised that Jane allowed them (my parents) to hold the party there, because on normal occasions, she did not allow more than two people in her room at a time, and she hated noise.

I turned my gaze to Charlie. At eighteen, he was quite small. He had that sturdy build, all muscle. Clean-shaven head, no trace of a beard, nerdy glasses, and a general aura of one not to be messes with.

'Hey Ben,' he greeted, with that French accent he uses whenever he wants to annoy me. He's really a yank. We all are, but he goes to school in France.

'Hey Charlie boy,' I replied, silently laughing because I had just used the nickname he detested, and knew what his reaction will be. But surprisingly, he didn't blush, instead he gave me that goofy grin of his that sent shivers down my spine. I shivered a bit. I thought I caught a flicker of something in my dad's face, but when I turned to look, his face was as impassive as ever.

'When did you arrive?' I asked Charlie.

'Around ten last night' he said, 'you were already asleep.'

'How's France?' I asked.

'Cool,' he replied.

'And Lady Bonaparte?' I asked. (It was our private joke).

'Not so cool,' he answered.

A look of confusion came over the faces of the other occupants of the room, but I didn't think it wise to explain. They wouldn't understand anyway.

'So li'l J., how are you?' I asked Jane.


'You are only thirteen,' I pointed out.

'And you are only fifteen,' she retorted.

'Now children stop,' mother began. 'Ben,' she addressed me, 'you know better to get your sister worked up, she's ill.'

Ill my foot, I thought.

Charlie looked at me in a funny way, as if he heard what I just said. Oh that's stupid, I thought, Charlie can't hear me, it's not as if he reads minds or something.

He looked at me again, this time with a look of utter shock on his face.

'Charlie you okay?' my dad asked.

'Charlie? Hello?' my mum said, waving her palm in his face.

Then I had a voice in my head, not like mine, I heard Charlie's voice saying:

'Oh my God, I just didn't hear what he was saying.' the voice sounded sacred. I was utterly shell shocked. My mouth gaped open.

Oh no, I thought, oh no, this is not true. This is so not true.

I heard Charlie's voice again, in my head, saying:

'He just didn't hear my voice in his head now did he?' we both looked at each other, and immediately it became clear. We were both hearing each other's thoughts. The realisation sent my brain into overdrive, the next thing I knew, I was hitting my head on the ground, in a faint.



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