The Yōsei - Introduction

Sometimes I hear voices and that’s ok because they’re the voices of people around me and I see them moving their lips and I know that they’re real. I like those voices. You can trust that they are real because you can see who makes them, like when your Dad tells you to clean your room. It’s very comforting. I call them type one voices.

Sometimes I hear voices in my head that I know are in my head. They can be funny, and that is also ok because I know they’re not real. I shouldn’t trust them. I may laugh at their jokes, but I don’t follow their advice. Like when you are walking by a pool in jeans and a T-shirt and that little inner voice says, “Jump in!” Sure, I could do that just to see who would notice, but it’s best to just keep on walking. I call them type two voices.

But every once in a while I hear a voice that is not in my head and no one around me is speaking. That can be a little unnerving and sometimes a little scary. I call them type three voices. Most of the time I ignore them since they usually aren’t talking to me anyways. I figure that is mostly ok even though a part of me finds it creepy.

Every now and then I wonder if anyone else hears these voices. For example, one time I was sitting down next to a cute girl at the lunch table in the cafeteria, and I heard a type three voice. I thought it was her commenting on a football player strutting by. So I turned to her and added, “He does look like a rooster doesn’t he? He’s not all that and a bag of chips.” Turned out the girl was going steady with him, and she hadn’t actually said that. She told the hulking, letterman-jacket-wearing linebacker what I said.

Yeah, that didn’t go so well. He may have thrown my food to the ground, pushed me off my chair, and continued to administer a serious threat-fest that I believe involved promising to separate my tongue from my mouth.

Of course, this was after the girl gave me a shocked expression like I was reading her mind. So maybe she heard the voice too? I don’t know. I didn’t want to ask, for obvious reasons.

All this is fine and dandy, but then there are the times when I hear a voice that actually speaks directly to me, out loud, and there is no one around. I know it’s talking to me, because whoever or whatever it is uses my full name, like my mom used to when she discovered that I tracked mud in the house or ate the last chocolate chip cookie without asking. These are really hard to ignore. I call them type four voices, which has its own sense of irony since the Japanese character for the number four is also the same as the word for death.

Thankfully those times are very rare, but when they do happen, I’ve learned it usually means things are not ok. For example, there was that time in San Francisco…

Chapter 1