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Symphony of Madness

Tympanic overload.

By Lamar WigginsPublished about a month ago • Updated 28 days ago • 10 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Dall E

Written for the Randy Barker, Unofficial, 'Prompted #4' Challenge. Details below.


The decibels were extraordinary, filling the space with the sound of twisting metal and falling concrete... it was everywhere.

There were others within my vicinity, yet no one else heard it. Unbelievably, it was just me.

My ears betrayed themselves dozens of times in a span of three weeks. Confusion was tantamount to that of a hapless person, trying to understand why they were the ones that things always happen to. They were not alone.

I felt I was quickly losing a sense of self...


Breakfast can be a daunting chore after a night out with close friends who decided it would be a great idea to indulge in shots of chilled Jägermeister. The thick, black liquid always reminded me of the cough syrup my grandma kept, more than likely past the expiry date. She was notorious for keeping everything, borderline hoarder. But we loved her like no other.

All I wanted was to return to slumber. My ten o'clock appointment with possible buyers could care less what I wanted. My Life, as well as theirs, demanded participation.

I poured the pancake batter into the sizzling, hot skillet, watching the bubbles form atop it. Mesmerized in a stupor, I began drifting into a daydream involving the bubbling side becoming a pale lava lake bursting with pockets of steam... It was time to flip. Butter is required after it hits the plate, melting through the porous texture, causing the involuntary action of saliva to well up. They're not complete until syrup is applied in a trail of widening circles. Not too much though, there was no need to purposely spike the blood sugar.

The fork flew to the floor with a freshly pronged bite still attached when a loud sound abruptly surrounded me, scaring the living shit out of me. It was followed by the associated visual of arms frantically flailing in water. It moved through me, alternating from ear to ear, like stereophonic headphones were implanted in my head. I quickly stood up, looked all around, searching for the origin. The television had not been turned on in weeks. Nothing was obvious, it made no sense. The sound was right in my face. It faded several seconds after it began.

Later that evening, I learned that a child remained in critical condition after almost drowning in the pool which was fifty yards away on the other side of my apartment complex. I immediately remembered the sound. At that point, hours of consecutive thoughts clouded my memory of the occurrence. I could barely tell if it had been a dream, or I really heard a struggle that was out of normal range.

That was the first time the invasive sounds entered my ears or exited my head. I didn't know which it was. Several more times and I began to worry. My mind filtered through a limited scope of reasons about why, all of a sudden, I was hearing things that were not there, at least not in my physical space...


The train ride downtown was uneventful. All to be seen were trees and the occasional concrete walls bordering neighborhoods with graffiti written all over them. I sauntered, zombified, to the only place I could begin to look for answers...

"Brent! Nice to see you again... or is it? Are you okay? You were just here a month ago for a check-up." My primary physician said after entering his office.

"I'm fine... I take that back... I'm not. I don't know what is going on. I may need my head checked, run some tests." I said with as much calm as I could fake. "I'm hearing things that aren't there. I think my brain has somehow flown the coop. I want it to stop before I freak out!"

My physician looked at me peculiarly, suspiciously. His face was filled with a bevy of emotions. Although he only specialized in internal medicine, he was the one person I could trust to help.

"What do you mean you're hearing things? What kind of things? Like tinnitus, you know, ringing in the ears?"

"No, it's more complicated than that. Earlier today, I heard what sounded like falling concrete and twisting metal. People around me saw the panicked look on my face followed by me cowering in the corner. I was in an elevator of all places! I thought the building was collapsing! None of them heard it."

"I'm still confused. Why would you be hearing this sound? Are you sure you weren't imagining it?"

"No, I wasn't imagining it! It was as loud as a jackhammer! I could feel it!"

"Okay, I see you are upset. I believe you. About what time of day was it?" The doc says as his expression changed to interest.

"I don't know, maybe 11am. No, maybe closer to noon. I was on my way to the parking garage getting ready to go to lunch."

"That's pretty odd. Maybe a coincidence. There was a 7.4 earthquake hours ago in Indonesia, right around the same time. Devastating. Hundreds of people have died. Hundreds, maybe thousands yet to be found. Did you know of this?"

"No! I've been too distracted with problems to pay much attention to anything."

Dr. Milano and I paused, each staring at the other, poker-faced. I knew he was searching his head for an answer. I waited, hoping that answer would soon verbalize.

"Listen, Brent. I can see whatever is happening is obviously affecting you. Let's go ahead and chart your vitals. I can also scan your brain, but beyond that, there's not much I can do. You need to see a neurologist. Does your head hurt?"


"Do you have blurred vision?"


"Do you feel sick?"


"Do you feel like hurting yourself or others?"

"NO! What kind of question is that?"

"Look. Let's go ahead and take a few x-rays, then I'll get a former colleague of mine, Dr. Sikorski on the phone. You can talk to him about it, he'll set you up with an appointment."

I had no choice but to agree. As much as I hated going through the steps, professional help was the only way.


I began to drift off into a daydream while sitting in my doctor's office waiting for him to return. It involved a fly buzzing about. I wondered what it would be like to exist just to annoy people. No worries about paying bills or raising children. Just flying around all day, going room to room buzzing in people's ears and landing anywhere you want until your life is abruptly ended by a fly swatter. No actual goals or purpose, except the inherent ability to annoy. I was brought out of the bizarre scene when my doctor handed me the phone to speak with Mr. Sikorski.

"This is Brent."

"Hi, Brent. Nice to meet you. Wonderful weather we're having... I hear you are experiencing audible delusions. It's okay, we will find out what's causing it. First, I need to ask you a few questions before we meet. Would you like to do this now or do you need a minute?"

"I'm good, lay it on me."

"Thank you. Have you ever heard of the phenomenon called Clairaudience? It's similar to Clairvoyance but deals with the manifestations of sound instead of visuals."

"Sir, I can honestly say, I haven't. What would cause such a thing?"

"It's rare, indeed. The causes can't really be determined. Most psychiatrists and members of the occult believe that it's inherited, like being linked to genetics. Your situation doesn't seem likely to have that cause. Have you recently had a blow to your head, a head injury? Sometimes when the brain heals itself it can change the physiological structure of areas and your condition can arise as a result. Has it always been sounds or have you ever heard voices?"

As soon as I heard him say the word voices, I dropped the phone. It was happening. I had never heard any voices before. That was about to change.

It was a female voice. She was in distress. She was pleading with someone. My doctor saw my face and came over to me.

"It just started, doc! It's a voice this time. It eerily sounds like one of my neighbors. I think she is in trouble. It sounds like she's arguing with someone, but I can only hear her. Now she's screaming, it's being muffled. I wonder if this is going on right now. What should I do? I'm calling 911!"

I raced to my phone to dial the number, my physician followed me, trying to get information.

"Why are you calling 911? Don't you think they are going to want to know how you know this? What if they get there and find nothing?"

"It doesn't matter, doc. Somehow these episodes are trying to tell me something. For god's sake, I heard a child almost drown. And you just said there was an earthquake earlier. Is it connected? We don't know. What I heard earlier felt like being in an earthquake." I began to dial. "What if she's in trouble?"

911, State your emergency.

"Hi, can you please send help to 14551 Chesterfield drive, apartment 606. A woman named Lucinda Burke lives there. I think she's in trouble. It sounds like she's being attacked."

Sir, are you there right now?

"No. I'm downtown at my doctor's office."

Sir, were you just on the phone with her? How do you know she's in trouble.?

"You have to trust me, I'll explain later, just please send someone there to check on her now."

Sir, we don't dispatch based on hunches. Is this an emergency or not? If so, I need to know why you believe she's in trouble.

"BECAUSE I CAN HEAR HER SCREAMS DAMMIT...Sorry, I don't know how to explain it. Just hurry before it's too late."

I convinced my doctor to drive me home. We were met with a full-blown crime scene. Police and paramedics were everywhere, going in and out her apartment. They were too late. Lucinda had been strangled by an unknown intruder and left for dead. She clung to life for several days after, then sadly passed away. My depression was instant...

With the help of my doctor, I was eliminated from any suspicions of foul play.


I became lost in my head for several days until I got a call from Dr. Sikorski. The MRI he performed revealed possible answers. He invited me to his office to brief me on the details.

"Thanks for stopping by Brent. Please, have a seat. I need you to put this surgical mask on for preventative measures."

He hands me the mask. My heartrate increased. I fell back into the soft leather chair, preparing for the worst.

"You have all the signs of viral meningitis. Your blood culture is still being worked on. The only way to confirm this with 100% accuracy is to do a spinal tap. But that's not all. Come take a look at this."

Dr. Sikorski leads me to his private office. He pulls up my MRI results on his PC. The sweat had already begun chill the back of my neck.

"We've spent several hours debating what this is or isn't. You see this area right here? There's nothing there. The imaging system should show the brain in its entirety. This area right here, is where the pituitary gland should be. There's nothing there, or it's being blocked from detection by some unknow material. We can't determine the dangers of surgery if we don't know what we are looking at. It surely could be the cause of your episodes."

Numbness began to take over my entire frame. What happened to me? I lived a healthy life, took vitamins, exercised. I didn't smoke or do drugs. I attended church in the past. Yet, I was sitting there on a possible road to death. Truly an eye-opening situation. Scary.

I think it's too soon to tell him what I really believe is happening.

"What do you think is really happening?" I said with obvious concern.

"Excuse me?" he responded.

"You just said you think it's too early to tell me what you believe."

"I'm sorry, I didn't say anything."

After a brief pause, we realized at the same time that I must've heard his thought. This was something new. He apologized but did not offer to explain his thought. He wrote a prescription and instructed that I take a couple weeks off work as the meningitis can be contagious. I gathered myself and left.


It's been three years since the start of this absolutely insane change in my life. The viruses went away, the echoes remain.

They multiplied by the thousands!

My mind has become an unbearable circus!

No one trusts me anymore!

I'm on the brink of self-destruction!

My days are eventful. My head is full of activity. It's like an endless soundtrack, only there is no music. Rather, soundbites of things, some are as pleasant as a trickling stream or gentle laughter. Most are loud and obnoxious, like traffic or babies crying or couples arguing or foreign languages... Right now, I hear a locomotive. It just passed me. Wonder where it's going...

With billions of people on this earth I am subject to hearing any of their thoughts at any given time. But mostly, I'm hearing things that they are hearing. We are a strange breed indeed. Some of our wants and desires are selfish and twisted, tainted with false narratives within our train of thought. They think I need help; I beg to differ.

It's 6pm. The nurse will be making her rounds soon to give me the meds that only help me sleep. She hates her husband. She doesn't know that I know. I'm going to tell her one day that it's okay to let him go. Maybe I won't have to hear her thoughts of complaining about him anymore. She deserves to be happy.

I think it's time I try to convince them that I'm better and won't try hurting myself again. Maybe then, they will remove this strait jacket. How did life ever get to this point?


The story above was inspired by the following poem. I wrote it for a previous vocal challenge.


About the Creator

Lamar Wiggins

Creative writer in the Northeast US who loves the paranormal, mystery, true crime, horror, humor, fantasy and poetry. Take a chance, you'll be thoroughly entertained.

"Life is Love Experienced" -LW


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Comments (28)

  • Shirley Belk23 days ago

    Lamar, exceptionally well-done!!!! I could see this being made into A MOVIE. (Oh, something happening to me, too? Is there a strait jacket in my future?) But truly that good...

  • angela hepworth24 days ago

    Amazing work Lamar! You really bring us into the depths of madness so well with your adept storytelling and use of detail, my heart was pounding just reading this! Awesome piece.

  • Babs Iverson25 days ago

    Magnificent storytelling!!! Loved it!!!💕❤️❤️ Congratulations on Top Story too!!!

  • Roy26 days ago

    Congrats on your top story 👍

  • Gloria Penelope27 days ago

    Great work here Lamar, congratulations on top story!

  • Amy Black27 days ago

    oddly relatable. I had a strange experience in high school where I was sitting in a front-row chair next to a friend. I was super tired, turns out I was anemic and had endometriosis and chronic fatigue, besides going through puberty, anyhow, I had my head on my friend's shoulder and was dozing off. I heard the girl behind me ask me for a pencil and paper. I sat up and turned to look at her and said that I was sorry but I didn't have a pencil or paper either. She just stared at me with a freaked-out look on her face and I was like, what? She said that she was just about to ask me that but hadn't said anything yet. She just sat there frozen. Her friend looked a little freaked out too. I looked at my friend and asked him if she had just asked me that. He smiled a little, shaking his head, and said nope. I was like, okay, weird, and just laid back on his shoulder, feeling embarrassed and a little freaked myself. I had other experiences similar to it, later in life with my kids. I think it's just a heightened sense of intuition. Anyhow, Great read!

  • Congrats on your to pstory.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • L.C. Schäfer28 days ago

    Chilled? Not set on fire?!!!

  • Caroline Craven28 days ago

    Wow. Lamar! This was excellent and I loved the poem this was based on too. I think hearing all those voices and noises in your head would drive you mad. You wrote this so well.

  • Randy Baker28 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Christy Munson28 days ago

    The stuff of nightmares! Great story. Congratulations on TS!!!

  • Cathy holmes28 days ago

    That was fantastic. Poor Brent. I believe, in his situation, I would also need a straight jacket. Congrats on the TS.

  • Anna 28 days ago

    Congrats on TS!🥳🥳

  • Christy Munson29 days ago

    Congratulations! See you at Prompted #5!!!

  • Novel Allen30 days ago

    This is so wonderfully well written. What a journey into that realm which we call madness, but is anything but. This prompt has some great contenders. Best of luck.

  • Katarzyna Popiel30 days ago

    Wow, this piece got me hooked from the beginning to the end. Any chance of expanding the idea? I can think of a few ways to make it into a novel or even a series of novels!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Omgggg, words are enough for me to express how much I love this story! That boy drowning, the earthquake, Lucinda, people's thoughts. I can only imagine how noisy it feels inside his head! Poor Brent. I'd be very disappointed if you don't win this challenge!

  • Matthew Frommabout a month ago

    This was a great piece well deserving of placement. Your use of dialogue to balance exposition with conflict was fantastic. Congrats and see you at prompt #5!

  • D. J. Reddallabout a month ago

    A wonderful, disturbing premise is worked out with dexterity and style herein. The limitation of our bandwidth is as much a blessing as it is a curse!

  • Mark Gagnonabout a month ago

    People often wonder what it would be like to be a fly on a wall. After reading this, I never want to know. Well done, Lamar.

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    That would be UTTERLY overwhelming

  • Jay Kantorabout a month ago

    L-bro - May I take a moment to be 'Soppy.' As simply a Goofy Short & Sketch Artist I don't know if I qualify to say. But, you are truly a Gifted-Story-Teller 'Artist.' Weaving through the eclectic selections of your 'sock-um-to-it' stories to so many unusual 'on demand' challenges...just remarkable! - Your longtime fan with my respect - J-bro Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • D.K. Shepardabout a month ago

    This is outstanding, Lamar! Never encountered the concept of clairaudience before! Excellent storytelling!

Lamar WigginsWritten by Lamar Wiggins

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