When Exim was nearer to the hall, it seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon. There were massive open doorways beyond count through which flowed streams of Thots. Exim entered the hall and looked around at the rows of folding chairs stretching away on either side of the aisle. He saw one unoccupied chair in a row not too far from the aisle. He maneuvered sideways in the row between the knees and backs of chairs in the next row, excusing himself as pleasantly as he could until he reached the unoccupied chair. Exim sat down and looked forward expectantly toward the stage, but there was no stage, only rows upon rows as far as he could see. The roar of voices was monolithic and deafening, so much so that he could not think.
Suddenly there was silence. Exim could hear himself think once more. He thought about the absolute silence, as monolithic as the roar of voices had been, and the other Thots around him, who turned around to look at him.
Alright, you have my attention.
Exim looked around him to try to determine from where that voice had come. It felt like a singularity. All he saw were the other Thots looking at him, waiting expectantly.
Yes, you. You have my full attention for the moment. Have you lost your voice?
Exim looked around him again, snapping his head around his neck, first left, then right. The voice seemed to come from everywhere. Had he lost his voice? He tried it tentatively. “Hmmm…” he said, testing to hear whether he still had a voice. It had been so long since he had used his voice. He tried to remember when the last time was. “Yes,” he thought to himself, “when I tried to comfort Asil before the translation that had gone awry,” that is, if he didn’t count his screams when he had dreamed his body had been decrypted into some sort of arachnid creature, but then he hadn’t heard himself screaming because of the foam. The dreams of Thots were as real as their waking lives.
Are you done clearing your voice?
Excuse me, are you addressing me?
I have come from the end of time.
Why should I listen to your voice above the others?
Because you know, in that place that is silent of voices, that my voice is true.