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The voiceEdit

Sara finally had a moment to relax. She tried to remember the last time this had happened. She decided it was probably the summer before she had gotten her first job. That was twelve years ago! She finished making her lunch, sat down, and checked her email. None! All her work email was being sent to Jack. She was really on vacation....her first vacation since college and starting her career. She became aware of a voice saying, "I'm not you!" It was a bitter, complaining kind of voice. Very irritating. Sara recognized the voice. It was the voice of her own inner thoughts. thumb|300px|right|Do you hear voices?When it happened then, she was completely scared. It was not like just listening to your mental voice... it was something that sounded too alien to be herself! Anyway, it was her voice, even if it had said something that Sara had never thought. She even questioned if she was going crazy that first time. It was such a mystery...her mind could not grasp it. Besides, it implied several scary things: first, her own voice sending her a message, clearly stating it was not herself! How could that voice be right or wrong? It was contradictory and Sara was puzzled. And the fact that she had not been aware of thinking those words... could it be that her mind was splitting now, developing several personalities that could not be aware of each other? Was it that way that mental illnesses actually started? Nevertheless, the message was clear. The voice of her inner thoughts was not her.

Then: silence. With her heart racing and fears of insanity in her thoughts, that mysterious internal voice could no longer be heard. Slowly Sara regained her composure and ate her lunch. Then she was out and about running errands that she had a hard time fitting into her busy days of working. She forgot about the strange voice, but then it returned. That night she was in bed reading a book and starting to drift into sleep. The voice said, "How can you read this crap? Fantasy...magic swords...bah. Put down the book and listen to me! And don't freak out! Your emotions disrupt my ability to communicate with you. So stay calm and listen!"

Sara didn't want to listen. Sara didn't want to pull out her home lobotomy kit. So she screamed. The voice screamed louder. So she stopped screaming. "I'm not you, I'm me". Sara remained silent, allowing herself to drift into sleep. "You're you. If I could be you, I'd be you. But I can't now. Time was of the essence, but it's too late for that now. So you'll have to be me, which if you knew you could be you would be. Do you know who I am?" Sara considered saying no, but instead shut off her reading light. "I am me. But we are we. If you're me, who'll be you? I'm hoping me. Since if you're me then associativity implies that I'm you. But I'm not sure of what's what anymore, ever since everything went freak. I haven't anymore time to consider what consequences further loss of time will bring."

It took hours, but Sara did finally fall asleep. The annoying and cajoling voice would not shut up, but eventually Sara's exhaustion and boredom conquered fear and curiosity. When Sara woke up she had only a moment of peace before the voice said, "It's about time, you lazy slug." Sara decided she would have to find a way to live with her mysterious inner visitor and try to understand what was going on. She looked around her bedroom and decided that she was not insane. Somehow another mind had found a way to communicate directly with Sara's brain. And there was no point in trying to go to a doctor or anyone else for help because there was no proof...everyone else would just assume that she was mentally ill. So, where was this voice coming from and why didn't it explain itself in a coherent manner? Maybe this mysterious voice belonged to someone who was mentally ill. If so, there would not be a way to engage it in rational conversation. The voice said, "You ignore me for years and now you want to talk? Well it's about time!"

Sara said, out loud, "What is it you want? Why are you talking to me?" The voice replied, "I want to help you." Help? Sara was puzzled and a shock of annoyed anger flashed through her body. How dare this voice or whatever it was have the nerve to say it wanted to help? The voice then said, "Your emotions are getting in the way again. I can't help you if you keep getting pissed at me like a spoiled little brat, the way you always used to get back in the old days. I always hated it when you acted like a spoiled little brat. That really sucked, Sara. It really, really sucked. When you get all pissed off, that just makes me want to get pissed right back at you. And you won't like me when I'm pissed!"

Sara remembered growing up as the youngest of four siblings. She admitted to herself: sure I was spoiled and I knew how to get my way. Her older brother still refused to talk to her! Well, he was jerk, even if he was her brother. Thinking back to those old days allowed a special memory to surface...something she had not thought about for many years. It was summer vacation, the year she was 11 or 12 years old. Her family had gone to Prince Edward Island for a vacation. They stayed in an old Victorian house and spent the long days on Brackley Beach. One night after dinner all the kids were up in the attic playing with a Ouija board. They had fun until everyone else started accusing her of cheating. Now she could not even remember exactly what had happened. The board had started spelling out strange words that made no sense. Sara asked the inner voice: was that you? thumb|300px|right|Truth is stranger than fiction?The voice, at long last, was silent. After waiting silently for about ten minutes, and hearing nothing but the rustle of her bedroom ceiling fan, Sara gave a hesitant sigh of guarded relief at the thought that this vacation might be the chance for her to relax her stressed-out nerves, and put an end to these weird thoughts, and let her own mind operate as it always had. By the end of two weeks, she thought, she might actually be ready to function in the real world again - or at the very least, figure out what to do about the voice, whether to just ignore it, or seek professional help.

Sara then nearly got through the entire day without hearing the voice. At times, she even managed to forget about the voice. However, as the day was ending and she had completed all of her tasks, including routine visits to doctor and dentist, her thoughts kept returning to the voice. A phrase started repeating in her thoughts: curiosity killed the cat. As she got into bed she said it, "Curiosity killed the cat." She realized that she was hooked. She needed to know where the voice came from. For a minute she imagined going to a store and buying a Ouija board, then she abandoned that fantasy. She always kept a notebook and pen by her bed for writing down ideas that came in the night. She grabbed the pen and wrote: Your turn. She waited. Was it possible for the other mind that had invader her brain to take control of her body?

Sara sat on the edge of the bed, and as she was waiting for whatever the voice, this other mind, might have in store, her heart began to beat a little faster. The Sunbeam clock radio on the nightstand said 10:35. Sara stared in silence for a couple of moments at the glowing green numerals. As she stared, the radio came on, which startled her for a moment; did she set it for the wrong time? The voice from the radio was that of Linda Lindstrom, the famous nationally syndicated overnight talk show host who always had those weird guests on who talked about UFO's and ghosts and stuff like that. A thought slammed into Sara's head, which gave her a chilling shudder. The thought was: listen to this program tonight.

Sara had no memory of setting the radio to come on at this time. The evening that her vacation had begun she had turned off the alarm and she had intended not to use it again until the day she returned to work. After just a few words from Linda, a radio commercial came on, an inane attempt to market subscriptions to the webzine...the marketing pitch seemed to drag on endlessly. Sara wrote in her notebook, Did you set the radio to come on now? Finally the voice of Linda returned, "Welcome back to The Other Side, the radio program that goes to the other side of reality, where we openly explore mysterious paranormal events. As promised, most of this show will be time for listeners to call in and speak with Dr. McPherson, but first, please tell you seriously believe what you wrote in your new book? I mean, is your book fiction or nonfiction? Do you really believe that Earth has been invaded by space aliens and we are all just too stupid to realize it?"

Sandra McPherson, Ph.D. from Berkeley, gave a hearty yet snarky laugh over the crackle of the phone line at Linda's inquiry. "Well, Linda, and first of all, thanks for having me on the program again...Look, the answer to that question is, number one, yes, we have been invaded by aliens, and not just recently, not just one or two times, but constantly, throughout the entire history of humanity itself. That's been proven and so many researchers, Erich von Daniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Dr. John Mack, all of those pioneers and more, some of these guys have been on your show, have proven that. It can be argued - it IS argued, Linda, in some circles, that the aliens actually CREATED us. Second of all, yeah, frankly, we are too stupid to realize it, because those who are in control of this society, the people really running the show, the people in Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood...they WANT us to be too stupid to realize it. It's part of their plan. That's a big part of what I talk about in the book." thumb|300px|right|Nanorobotic mind control. Linda said, "Okay, listeners, it's your turn. Call 1-800-666-SIDE and speak to Dr. McPherson. Sandra, let me read an email that just arrived. "Your book suggests that 'little green men' are less likely alien visitors than are 'nanorobotic artificial lifeforms', but is there evidence of such alien technology on Earth?" Dr. McPherson replied, "I think that we need to gather such evidence. We've seen the importance of drug testing for athletes who deny drug use. They deny, deny, deny until a test proves that they lied. We need to randomly test the rich and powerful for the presence of alien mind control devices, but we could start with voluntary testing. We should act now and use our most advanced technology to seriously search for nanoscopic alien invaders." Sara noticed that she was holding her phone and had entered into it the call-in number for the radio show. She had no memory of picking up the phone. She glanced at her notebook where she had written "Your turn" and pressed the "send" button of her phone.

She connected; she was on hold. What would she ask? She couldn't think, she looked back at the paper as if for guidance Your turn. For two days she'd been wanting an answer, wanting to know what this voice meant, what it was, but she couldn't tell the radio audience that she was hearing voices ...

It took the better part of an hour for Sara to make her way to the front of the caller queue. By the time it was finally her turn to be on the air she was calm and confident that anything she could say would fail to make a stir among what the other callers had already said, callers who seemed to all be cranks or psychotic attention seekers. She was slightly uneasy about being forced to use her real name, but the call screener for The Other Side had promised that Sara's last name would not be revealed. Linda said, "Welcome to the show, Sara. So, you would like to be a volunteer for Dr. McPherson and participate in her search for nanoscopic aliens? Tell us, why you?"

Sara began shivering. What would she tell? Now she needed the voice to take control and say whatever it wanted to say. But how could it be? It was like demon possession! At the moment she thought of hanging the phone, something striking happened...

She was taken out of her reality. She woke up and knew the truth: she was inside a computer program before and this was the reality. The voice was just the computer trying to wake her up.

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