It was at first a single whisper, hot and quick, tickling my ear. It grew into many whispers from sources unseen, their fervent voices hissing through the shadows. I inclined my head to listen. I knew the whispers were for my ears alone, because it was only I who had need for them. The whisperers were joined by others innumerable, swelling into a cacophony of murmurs and shouts. The shouts softened while the whispers engorged into a crescendo, harmonizing into a single tone, which buzzed like the pluck of a stringed instrument, sweet, crisp, and metallic. The tone repeated, gaining volume with each passing interval, until I became aware of its purpose—to take formation inside my mind as two distinct thoughts. They awakened every perception of self within me. Survive. Swim.
Without a tether, I would have no safeguard against drowning. But the walls gave me little consternation, because though they were layered and substantial, they were also pliable, and would succumb with ease to the sickle-shaped claws curling out from my fingertips. Yet my survival would not be guaranteed. And I must live, for without me, there would be nothing. Mine is the only existence that has worth.