Visions

Ideas, commonly known as 'Visions', are no gift.
Visions are dangerous.
Visions are only to be used under careful government supervision as decreed by our Commander and saviour.
*Newly Edited Version!*

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6. Kathryn's Realisation

The room is dim. The only light is coming from two origins; the frosted glass window in the door they entered through and the same but at the end of the small corridor opposite. Red filtered lamps stand at the top of the door frame. This light is turned off.

The only place to sit is a hospital stretcher bed lying to one side. Squeezing around Kathryn, the Commander reaches the bed first. He sits and then pats the bed beside him. Reluctantly, Kathryn takes a seat. Her back is rigid and her hands lie in fists on her lap. Her mouth is dry.

Alastair continues to stand, keeping a distance from the Commander, staying right by the door.

 “At first, I thought you might be using your Visions to lie to me. We assumed that that one little… doodle shall we say, that one we found in the back of your Geography textbook, was something your Father had taught you and you were testing us and our facilities under the will of you Father.  But that kind of outburst you just gave us makes me think not.” The Commander begins his speech.

“You think?” Kathryn interrupts, but her voice catches on the lump in her throat.

Being in this… claustrophobic environment makes me feel paralysed; paralysed at his mercy. 

“Yes, I do.” His voice is patronising, brushing over Kathryn’s comment, “But some time ago, this city was part of a war. A war you won’t have heard about in your history classes as we like to keep it to us grown-ups. You see, we are ashamed of it, and I had hoped your Father was also ashamed of the role he played in it.”

Alastair stays mute. His eyes quiver, hands clenching and unclenching every few minutes or so. Kathryn thinks he looks almost ready to run, but she’s stuck to the bed.

There’s nowhere to run…

Kathryn keeps one eye on her Father while the Commander continues on,

“This war was between us humans and the Visions. Visions give people horrible thoughts, thoughts of disobeying the law, thoughts of doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Bad thoughts that got people hurt.

“This war was fought individually since time began. You see, these Visions are in our heads, wiggling their way into every nook and cranny in our minds. Our memories, our actions, our will was controlled by them.

“Suddenly, some of us realised how far these Visions had taken over our lives. We had to stop it. We had to take back our own lives and help others to do the same. The race in science was on. The race to prevent these parasites from forcing more people to lie and steal and kill.”

All of Kathryn’s concentration is suddenly on the Commander.

Kill? Wait… he doesn’t think I’m capable of killing… does he?

Kathryn’s heart is racing too fast for her head to keep up. She thinks she saw the Commander almost smile, but it’s too passing and short for her to register.

“Some of us were more badly affected than others. Some of us decided to rise up against the order in place to keep the peace and save our people. Eventually though the vast majority of them were revealed and we could help them remove their Visions; stop them from being blinded and committing their violent crimes and start actually contributing to society instead.

“That’s how your Father became a physics teacher at your school. Rather than wasting his talents with those rebels, we found him before he was lost forever to these Visions and he turned his life around. Or so we thought. Sometimes people need a little extra help. We hope you will set a better example, won’t you Kathryn?”

Kathryn just stares at Alastair.

All these years, I just thought he was boring Doctor Anders that seemed totally oblivious to the embarrassment he caused by greeting me in the school corridors.

He’d always loved hearing my stories, listening to my songs, seeing every drawing. It was just our little secret. That it was something special between the two of us I couldn’t show anyone else in the world.

But actually he had shared it with others long before me.

Part of her wanted to admire him, but another feels like she doesn’t know him at all.

The Commander was right.

Dad really shouldn’t have encouraged these Visions.

He should’ve told me how much trouble it got him in and told me I should keep ‘em quieter.

Most of all, he shouldn’t be acting all defensive and liking the Commander now.

It’s too late for that.

 “Is that the same thing that happened to Mum?” Kathryn speaks as if it is only her and her Father in the room.

Alastair has been staring at his hands clenched together in his lap through the Commander’s entire speech, his thumbs rubbing against one another so hard he could’ve scoured some skin off.

As soon as Kathryn mentioned “Mum”, his head jerks up. His focus is on Kathryn, a small, almost unnoticeable, stream of water lining the bottom of each eyelid. His attention flicks to the Commander for a second, and then back at Kathryn.

“Did you both go through this?” Kathryn tries repeating the question at Alastair’s battering eyelids.

“Yes… She, erm… she wasn’t… so lucky…”

“Mum… mum actually died, like, here?” Adrenaline rushes to Kathryn’s fingertips. Heat rushes to her face. Heart rushes to catch the next beat.

Alastair’s eyes redden and grow wider still. A single teardrop falls from each and they disappear off his chin.

His silent cries speak for themselves.

Kathryn remembers the Commander is still just sat there with a smirk; the most important man in the room right now. The one she really needed to care about.

 “Hang on. If I didn’t know about this encouragement, then I’m innocent. I swear I didn’t know he had done any of this... I need to go.” Her words are raspy, tumbling out of her mouth too fast for her thoughts.

The Commander just grins.

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