The overwhelming thoughts in my head

My life had always been boring, really. Just an average day, every single day. Then suddenly everything was busy and bright and I couldn't think any more. *contains swearing*

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2. When it all changed

It’s probably best to start from the beginning, so that’s where I’ll begin, I guess.

School had been a bore. Thrown paper aeroplanes around the classroom all of Maths, texted Sam during French and was walking home. My hoodie, underneath my blazer, was pulled up over my head against the light drizzle falling from the sky, grey and cold. A steady beat pulsed in my ears, from the earbuds stuffed inside.

The walk back to my flat wasn't exactly long, but it wasn't short either. There was a building site to my left, constructing some houses, where there had previously been a dingy old pub. I’d been there once or twice, the barman never checked ID, and it easy to hide under a hood.

Anyway, I was walking past it, when a cop stepped out in front of me. He was one of the bastards, you could tell. The neatly trimmed moustache, the comb-over, the stretched waistband. Immediately my eyes narrowed, staring defiantly into his piggy ones, which looked smugly back.

“I'm going to have to bring you back to the station, laddy,” he said, attempting to either make or joke or try to ridicule me. Neither worked.

I pulled my ear buds out. “What the fuck for?”

“Suspicious behaviour.”

“What the hell am I doing that’s suspicious? I'm just going home.” Reaching into my pockets, I fingered the smooth edge of my penknife. I wasn't in a gang or anything, it was just something everyone had. Even the girls. A knife was useful, for opening cans, or if some idiot tried to pull a move on the estate.

He folded his arms. “Loitering.”

“I can’t be bothered with this,” I snapped, pushing past him.

There was a smell of burning toast, a pale-blue flash in the air, and then blackness.

***

When I opened my eyes, there was a hard boot pressed against the side of my head. I could see a cigarette butt in front my face, along with small lumps of gum stuck onto the pavement, sticking up like tiny hills.

“Stay down or I’ll zap you again,” the cop said from above me. Painfully twisting my head, I saw him grinning down at me, twirling what I guessed was a taser in his hand. His smile widened as he pushed his heel harder into my cheek, pressing it painfully into the pavement.

Then came the onslaught of words and sentences.

What a prick I’d better call Jacky hope Helen doesn't find out must book dinner the taxes are due the pills are working I feel happier now but I should take some more hope mum’s dying need to get Jerry’s present for his party swinging on the swings buy some flour on the way back I'm hungry get off early they won’t notice I might divorce her look it’s a knife.

It was impossible to keep up with what it was saying, all the words were slurred into each other, a million sentences happening at one time but switching in the space of a millisecond to the next one. They were all being spoken simultaneously in my head, like an entire city had turned their radios up impossibly loud to every single different station. But somehow, each word, every sentence, was being spoken in the voice of the cop.

“Well, what have we here? A knife? That’s going to come under possession of offensive weapons. You’re gonna be in a shitload of trouble, kid.” His voice blended perfectly with the words and sentences I was hearing in my head, so it was difficult to tell the difference from when he was speaking, and when the strange voices spoke..

Was I hearing his thoughts?

Yeah I can’t wait to go out with Jacky I've booked the hotel haven’t I just tell Helen you’re going to the pub yes she’ll believe that I’ll go to the bakery afterwards I'm hungry I have to take this prick back to the station I hate them all stupid black pigs stealing our jobs.

If I was actually hearing his mind, which was completely crazy, then he was racist. No surprise there, most of them were. Sometimes it sucked being black.

“You’re cheating on your wife, huh? With Jacky?” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Of course, I had no idea who Jacky was, but it was a sure way of testing if I actually could hear his head, which was just mental. Though I probably could've said anything, the only thing I could concentrate on was the broken fragments of his mind winding through my head. I couldn't tune it out. It was like a swarm of hornets in my ears, constantly buzzing, with no way to stop or ignore it.

The look on his face was the only confirmation I needed. “How the hell do you know about Jacky?” His foot lightened a little as his face paled.

“If you don’t let me go, right now, then I’ll tell her everything.”

Would he call my bluff?

Oh shit how can he know about that I'm hungry better knock off after this I need a beer I need to pay your taxes does he know who Jacky is would he tell her need to buy to some groceries my foot hurts.

It was clear that I’d won. Double chin shaking slightly, he lifted his boot off my face and I scrambled up, though he tried to keep his tone superior. “If you so much as look at my wife then I will make your life a living hell, you understand? I can get you put away forever if I wanted. I’ll be watching you.”

Then he quickly turned and stumbled away. As he did, the buzzing of thoughts slowly got quieter, my world got slowly easier to bear, and when he had turned the corner at the end of the street, my mind was silent. Like it used to be.

Oh just shut up would you please I'm tired Dave should be back by now I need some more carrots I'm so tired. I'm hungry I'm hungry I'm hungry I'm hungry I want some more of the orange stuff I'm hungry I'm hungry my tummy hurts I'm hungry.

Just when I thought it was over, there was another wave of fractured sentences, this time there seemed to be two different voices at once. One soft and high, though strained, and the other extremely high with a childish quality to it, speaking in only simple sentences. I turned to see a mother walk across the other side of the street, pushing a pram with a screaming child inside.

It was too much, too much to think about anything, too much to do anything.

Clutching the sides of my head, I sprinted away down the street, the sheer pain of all those thoughts giving me a migraine like a hammer crashing into my skull. There was a small thunk as I ran straight into a lamppost, too distracted to concentrate on looking where I was going. After a rubbing it a little continued running, breathing a deep sigh as the mother and child’s voices faded. But then I skidded around the corner into a children’s play park, it became a thousand times worse.

My head hurts I love sandwiches this isn't fun any more go away I don’t like you I'm hungry I hope the kids finish soon I'm tired there are elephants in the sky that boy looks crazy I need the loo I’ll go in this bush so mummy won’t be angry this is too high I don’t like it oh God he’s hurt himself I'm so bored I'm hungry I love the park this is fun let’s go climb that tree I'm tired.

I let out a tortured howl, every single thought crashing around my skull, pummelling into the sides and bouncing back to the next side. It hurt too much, too much to bear.

Everyone turned to look at me.

Children stared at me as I ran through the centre of the park, though it was almost unbearable, like standing right next to the speakers in a rock concert. Moaning softly to try and drown out the words I kept on running, running and running, until I was far away from them and near the edges of the park, which was lined with trees. I was too far away from anyone to hear them, except a few stoned teenagers sitting on a bench about fifty metres away. They were only quiet though, and somehow their thoughts were quieter and simpler, softer than the other jabbing sentences.

Having climbed plenty of trees when I was younger, it was no challenge to pull myself up into the branches of a nearby tree, though I had no idea what species it was. Didn't care either. It just had to get me further away from anyone who could make my world hell again. Soon I was perched high in the branches, a long way from the ground, and a long way from anyone that could hurt me.

Now what I had some peace, I should probably think about what had changed my life less than ten minutes ago. The fact was that I could hear other people’s thoughts. And that was supposed to be impossible.

When had it started?

After the cop tasered me. At least that was one answer to the thousands of questions running through my brain. It was probably best not to think about how that made this happen, as I‘d never been any good at science or anything. But it wasn't cool, like they made it out to be in the movies and books. I couldn't mind-talk to people. I couldn't hear the evil criminal’s plans clear in his head. No, I could hear every single fucking thought that went through every single fucking person’s head at once. Which sucked.

My fingers traced small carvings made on the trunk of the tree, stuff like Lizzy+Jake forever and Oliver smells. Mature. Leaning back against the rough material, I let one of my legs dangle down, swinging in the fading twilight. I had to savour the silence while I could.

Would Mum worry? How late was it? I checked my phone, and saw that it was half eight. There was no chance of me going home, or anywhere in public. No way. But the question was, would I be able to hear it on the phone?

Sighing, I selected her number and dialled it.

“George? What is it?” There were faint crashing sounds in the background, and she sounded stressed.

“Hi, yeah. I forgot to tell you, I'm staying at Rafe's house tonight.”

“That’s fine, sweetheart, if his mum’s okay with it.” Her voice became quieter as she moved the phone away from her mouth. “Put that down or I swear to God I’ll disown you!”

“Will you be okay?” I asked, disconcerted by the noises in the background.

“Sure I will, don’t worry about me. They’re just a bit unwilling to go to bed, is all.”

“Bye, then.” There was a small beep as I hung up.

It was a relief that everything remained quiet in my head on the phone, but it wasn’t as if I could only talk to people on the phone. Pretty soon people would be coming near me again, walking their dogs, playing in the park, bunking school.

But I tried to forget about that, leaning my head back and closing my eyes, just hoping that my sleep would be dreamless.

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