Peter always knew there was something wrong with him.
Ever since he could remember, he had always heard things others could not. Not intermittently, but constantly. There was always a screeching, a clarion horn.
When he was younger, he told his parents, time after time. No matter how hard he tried to convince them, they always laughed it off as a young child's imagination. But he knew better.
As he got older, no matter what he did, no matter what he Googled, or what doctors he saw, or what medication he took, it never went away.
So he learned to live with it. He graduated high school, went on to college, as people do. He majored in psychology, and went to medical school.
Hoping to help others, that might have the same affliction as his own.
Sometimes, when he was alone, when he couldn't sleep because of the noises, in his darkest hours, he admitted that he was doing it to help himself. Because lately, it had been getting louder.
It dominated his senses, made it hard to hear other people speaking. It filled him with impotent rage.
He continued to study, after medical school, when nobody would pay for his research.
Night after night, he trudged home from the medical library, slowly losing hope that he would ever find the cause. Knowing he was useless, and couldn't help anyone . . .
because he couldn't even help himself.
He eventually discovered the book at the back of the library, on a shelf he had never seen before, in a corner he had never bothered to notice.
Its brown leather binding was worn and faded, dusty, and cracked with age.
He grabbed it off of the shelf, brushed off the grime from the front, squinting in the fluorescent lighting to make out the title. Auditory Hallucinations, the title read.
Nothing remarkable about that, but the date that was stamped into the cover was. There was no way this book was that old. He was thankful he saw it on his way out, as the library was closing.
He hurriedly brought it to the front, ignoring the disapproving glare from the librarian that just wanted to close up and go home after a long day.
He stepped out into the night, realizing with a grimace that it had begun to rain.
Pulling up his hood, deep in thought, he crossed the street, hoping against hope, that the book in his bag could provide the answers he had sought his whole life.
As he was crossing, the noises in his mind grew to a fevered pitch, the screeching becoming unbearable, and the pain made him look up.
It was only then that Peter saw the car barreling toward him.
That's when he realized that the screeching was the cars tires on the wet, slick pavement, the horn, a cars horn blaring. He realized with dismay that he hadn't heard these noises his whole life.
He had only heard them as his life flashed before his eyes.