What was time? Daniel was confused. There was drool dripping down his chin and a pounding, pulsating, sickening, deafening pain in his head. Suffering was not just something he was going through anymore. It was his entire existence. It was the very nature of his reality.
The voice kept talking. Speaking of things to come, of where they were before. The mask was on the chair, as if Daniel himself had put it there. What was there to do now besides die? But no, the voice, the entity, the mask would not let him do so.
It loved him too dearly.
It was the middle of the night. Daniel and the voice had been talking for hours by this point. He had been trying to describe to it the notion of time. Of before, after and now.
“I do not understand,” said the voice. “Why do fleshlings define their existence through this… sequential narrative? Why is there a before and an after?”
“Well, I guess that’s just how we perceive the world,” said Daniel. “It’s how it has always been. What is it like for you?”
By this point Daniel was no longer afraid of the voice in any way. Instead, he was fascinated by it. The being that the voice belonged to sounded terrible and ancient, but he realized that it did not really have much malicious intent.
He had asked it why it had done those terrible things to his friend and all those other people. The being had replied that it had not wanted to hurt them per se, it had just been afraid. Wearing the mask sent them into his realm, where they were not welcome. They were simply unable to comprehend that reality, and it has driven them mad.
“For me?” asked the entity. “For me it is… being.”
“That sounds simple,” said Daniel. “You communicate quite effectively though. Where did you learn English?”
“What is… English?” said the entity.
“It’s the language we are speaking,” said Daniel. “I should have known that you wouldn’t know that you were speaking English.”
“I am speaking to you in the language you know,” said the entity. “I do not know how I know this, I just reached out to you and… touched you. And now we are speaking.”
“That’s pretty cool,” said Daniel, yawning and stretching. “Alright, I should get some sleep I am completely exhausted. Sleep is when us humans close our eyes and let ourselves lose consciousness for a few hours.”
“What will I do while you are unconscious?” said the entity. “How long will you be gone for?”
“I don’t know,” said Daniel, shrugging. “Seven or eight hours. I’m sure you’ll find something.”
“No,” said the entity. “You will not sleep. You can sleep later.”
“But I’m so tired!” he said. “I can barely stay awake. We can just talk later.”
“NO!” screamed the entity. It was a sound louder than Daniel had ever heard before. It seemed to blow through him. He looked around, suddenly afraid again.
What was he going to do?