Rick tilted his head, nodding along with the voice that whispered in his ear. He couldn’t discern actual words, of course – the voice didn’t work that way. He knew, though. He knew exactly what the voice wanted. It couldn’t have been any clearer if it had been posted on a shining billboard with a running-light marquee. He nodded so that the voice knew he had heard, and stood up.
It was oddly empty on the bus for a Tuesday evening. Barely a dozen people sat in the vehicle trying very hard to pretend that they were the only person within shouting distance. But the voice knew better. The voice had told him exactly how to get their attention.
Rick spread his legs, bending his knees to absorb the shock of the bus’ rocking as it rounded a corner, dodging through the city streets like a limber rhinoceros. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the knife, running his thumb over the blade in anticipatory glee, feeling the sharp edge press against his calloused hand. Smiling broadly, he rolled up his sleeve and began running the blade down his arm.
Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. He giggled as the blade sliced his flesh, lines of red quickly appearing – neat, glowing, glistening parallel lines on his arm broken only by the curve of the underlying muscle. He laughed at the sensation – there was no pain. He hadn’t felt pain since the voice entered his life, only a sharp awareness – a chillful tingle of awareness that heightened his senses.