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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11. *Side Note*

So, that's the newly edited version of this story! I also really liked the original, shorter version so I will post that in this chapter so it's not just gone forever!

 

 

Original - Visions

Alastair:

“Look! There’s a dragon!”

     “Dragons don’t exist...” My voice shakes.

     “Have you ever seen one?” She continues to gaze upwards.

     “No...”

     “Then how to you know they don’t exist?” Her smirk soon disappears  as the reality of the situation creeps back in.

     Peering over their shoulders, her eyebrows furrow and her words are unnaturally quiet, “Where’re we going?

     The crowds enquiring eyes were left behind a while back and any recognisable landmark vanished from sight within our human confine.

     I glance up at a guard beside me, but his eyes don’t leave the front, his staff not at my neck to shut me up. “It’s called The College.”

     Eyes swivel as her mouth opens to question. “Lots of people go there.” They all face front again. My reassurance in the government must have sounded slightly convincing.

     “I hate school. I have to close my eyes to stop “staring into space”. And they torture you with number rubbish.” Through the mumbling and the lowered eyes, I still admire her strength. I wish I had some of it left.

     A guard’s staff jabs her side. I wince, flinching to try and protect her, but I can’t.

     What has the world come to when a father can’t protect his own daughter?

     I want to say more. Say everything’ll be OK. But I can’t with them breathing down my neck.

     She looks up at the sky again. The sparkle in her blue eyes returns. You can almost feel her thoughts dancing, lighting up the shadowy space around us. It’s dangerous, but I’d so risk it to be like her; to imagine were weren’t being marched to our deaths.

     OK, maybe that was a bit cynical. We’ll just be marched to The College, then to court, obviously found guilty and then our chance of death falls to about eighty, nighty percent. But, I know that that tiny chance of survival is still worth fighting for. Hope and the will to actually live was what got us here and maybe that might just get us out.

     There, I can be more optimistic!

     Squeezing her hand tighter, I’m so glad she doesn’t know this. Know the pain it is to be in my head.

     The guards gather in closer, almost blocking out the clouds.

     No dragon could save us now.

      No-one could.

 

Kathryn:

 

I’ll never understand why he has to baby me so much. I know nothing about this College place but it obviously can’t be good if guards took time out of their walking-around-being-useless programme to take us there.

     Rubbing the spot where the staff met my back, my thoughts flashed back to this morning. The banging on the door when no-one ever called. Seeing Dad’s body slammed into the ground. The scream... My scream. All whizzing in my mind and I couldn’t stop it.

     With blood dribbling down Dad’s nose, I followed him as he held my hand like a puppy into the circle of guards. They blocked us from the world but not the burning of people’s sneers. Their whispers. The sounds of spitting on the ground, but you know that they only do it ‘cause of fear. Fear that they might be accused of helping us just by looking. Fear that they’d be next.

     For the first time I try my teacher’s method to calm my thoughts by concentrating on the dull sound of boots but it stops suddenly

     I try to look over their shoulders again, but someone presses me down. Sommert big cast its shadow over us, but the hand on my head wouldn’t let me look up. Dirt turns to concrete and footsteps echo as we move forward into an unknown building.

 

Alastair:

 

     “Dr and Miss Anders,” The blood from my finger for identification made my head wobble. No, thinking was bad. Thinking brought fear. I concentrate on the voice above us instead. “Welcome to the College.”

     It was robotic, circling the inside of my skull, like the voice was right by me, whispering in my ear. Though my hand is on Kathryn’s to comfort her, it’s probably steadying me more.

     “You have been brought to the Commander’s attention for using Visions without permission. You must be helped to remove these from your mind.”

     Kathryn opened her mouth at the wrong time again and I quickly frown at her before she says something stupid. I’m met with the pout I usually laugh at.

     Oh gosh I’m thinking again.

     Fiddling with my sleeve, the guards leave us and we can finally see where we were taken.

     The dark is suffocating. This wasn’t the court room like I was expecting.The walls are cold. The air is cold. Everything screams ‘get out!’ but the voice seems so relaxed, so enticing.

     “Don’t fear. We are here to cleanse you.”

     The world suddenly stands still. A breath of fresh air washes over me.

     “Visions, previously known as ideas, have haunted our society since time began. They enter minds and make a nest, producing thoughts of a... nasty nature.”

     Beside me Kathryn rolled her eyes but I barely notice. Maybe this speaks the truth.

     Maybe she’ll listen.

     Better than listening to my bright ideas that got us here in the first place...

     “People believed they could improve their own reality, causing chaos. Many were lost to these insects, too distorted by Visions to be cleansed, but we saved many lives. Our Commander thankfully stepped in at the right moment, defeating those too overcome to see sense and restoring peace and perfection to our world.

     “The Visions were not all destroyed, but we continue to work to free our people from the Visions’ torment. Here, at The College, we are here to save you.”

     Kathryn jumps out her skin at the sound of her name.

     “Miss Anders. You have not been responding to our school scheme. You are frequently pulled aside for further attention from our specialist teachers but still you continue to be at a high risk of being plagued by Visions. With simple treatments, you can re-enter society free.

     “Dr Anders, you shall also be re-tested for Visions due to your genetic impurities.”

     I hang my head. All this time, it was my fault that my little baby was under the Commander’s radar. Why hadn’t I understood this before?

     Why did I involve her in a cause that we had no reason to fight for?

     “Please, follow the guards in front of you. You have been specially selected to meet our Commander who will prepare you for the process. We will save society from the Visions' grip. We will cleanse you.”

 

Kathryn:

 

     What a loada crap!

     Being led down another dingy corridor, I bite my lip to keep my anger in. Who the heck voted for this guy as Commander?

     The way that voice thing kept repeating "cleansed" like we were dirty compared to them. It’s a bloody robot! What gives it the right to dig little holes in our brain? They were the insects mucking up the place.

     And just to make everything worse, Dad was keeping more things from me. He was going to be re-tested. He’d been here before. Though I didn’t have much time to worry about that.

     Going through a door, I stop dead in his shadow.

     The Commander, his collar up to his sharp cheekbones, glared down upon us with black eyes. My head fell instantly, not that I wanted it to, a sudden weight pulling on my chest like when the guards came to our door.

     His voice is sweet but his eyes still glower down like we were meat on a plate.

     “There’s no need to worry, my dear.” A grimy hand lifts my chin up. I felt the sweat settle on my skin as the Commander pulled his arm back, “I’ve my own trusted doctor’s on this procedure.”

     A procedure? There is so a need to worry. I don’t understand. I’ve never used Visions in my life.

    Not successfully anyway...

     Standing upright, Dad is hanging onto the Commander’s every word. Desperate to make me feel better before we entered this place, I wonder what has gotten into him now? He don't actually believe this...?

     My mind flicks the words ‘re-tested’ over.

     "You continue to be at a high risk of being plagued by Visions."

     And it’s his entire fault I am.

 

“We understand you’ve been up to your old tricks again, Alastair-” The anger of my confusion boils out of me a few moments later.

     “Why go to all this trouble ‘cause I might be using visions. Which I ain't by the way.”

     I hear the scratching at his sleeves from Dad again. This is drowned out by a high-pitched wail, swallowed by the slamming of the door behind us. I freeze. There’s no way I’m going further. My heart pummels my chest.

     “There’s nothing to be worried about.” Again, the Commander’s apparently kind words catch on his gritted teeth and slowly he tries to force me forward again. My feet are nailed to the floor.

     "There ain’t anything you need to do!” The blood rushes so fast in my ears I can’t tell if I’m shouting.

     “Honey...” Hearing Dad’s voice makes me snap. Without realising, I’m no longer fixed but looming over him, my breathing breaking over his head.

     “This ain’t my fault!” Something clamps down on my arms. Adrenaline numbs its touch. “Listen! We’re normal-”

     “They speak the truth, Kathryn. You listen.”

     I feel as though the air has been punched out of me.

     All this time, he’s been against the Commander and any of his ideas. I don’t understand...

     Taming my roar, my voice is small. “You... you think I deserve this...”

     “We both do.” Head hanging, my shock was the one thing that could suppress the will to shake him up until he 'comes normal again.

     “So now I’m using Visions by my own choice?”

     A small nod makes a hysteric laugh surface, soon silenced by Dad’s cutting words, “Visions are bad. It’s my fault I gave them to you. I’m ashamed of all I’ve taught you but you should listen to our Commander. He is right. We need to be cleansed.”

     “But...” Everyone tells me to go against my own nature, but never has he.

     “No. You need to start listening to others, Kathryn. Or you’ll end up like your mother.”

 

Alastair:

 

The dangerous sparkle finally leaves her eyes. The urge to claw at the fabric of time and erase my last words arose as her heart irreversibly sank. I had to get her mouth shut though. For her own sake.

     Convincing myself never works. The stone won’t shift from my stomach. I feel like a child who can’t tell his right from wrong.

     Kathryn’s still staring, a statue stunned to silence. Brown hair falls into her face but she doesn’t blink. I toy with my sleeve again.

     “You’re in a more desperate need of help than I thought. We must start the procedure.” A doctor, who had joined the front of our group, nodded and pushed through a door whilst the Commander looked Kathryn up and down. I suppose he doesn’t get many other Kathryn’s in his guards. Not that he knew about anyway.

     “The treatment’s easy just like before.” I don’t remember much about my previous treatment., strangely. Just that a lot went in and I was lucky to come out again.

 

White lights line the walls. Entering deeper into the maze, a strange sensation emerges as if something was trying to crawl its way into my mind. My heartbeat elevates. My mind races.

     Stop.

     I must get out!

     Don’t let them back in now!

     I try and reach for Kathryn, but my hand meets air.

     “Begin.” The door slams and the Commander and guards leave. Flashing before my eyes, I’m lowered into a seat whilst the doctor taps at a computer. I see a body, thrashing against the leather bed in front of me. My mind isn’t registering what’s going on. The sensation is back again, but I can’t keep it away.

     The Visions are too strong.

     I imagine the scene from before. Years before. The body blurs between that of a young girl’s and a woman’s.

     A woman so beautiful.

     A woman I know.

     Each blink brings back more.

     I see the doctor’s mouth moving but hear nothing. He straps her down, sticking electrodes wherever he can in between kicking legs. Then, the smell of disinfectant stings my nostrils. A needle, delicate and thin, is pulled up to his face.

     The white liquid shines on his smile, appearing menacingly huge through the glass vile. It soon vanishes as a punch meets his stomach.

     My mind cannot settle still. Her blue eyes are hidden behind squeezed eyelids.

     Eyebrows furrow above her brown eyes, the determination to fight still lingering.

     Brown locks fall over the side, twisting with her head as it snaps to and fro, desperate for escape.

     Blood is drawn as she claws at the doctor’s arm, but he's got the upper hand, towering over her quivering body as his pulses electricity through it.

     A screech is muffled as the doctor's hand finally clasps over her head. Holding her steady, she faces me, tears dripping down her cheeks.

     Sweat falls from her face to the floor.

     My eyes hold her's.

     I see the wonder and hope and happiness sucked from the sparkles in her eyes one by one.

     And I can’t help it.

     The needle pierces her neck.

     Her mouth opens.

     “Help me.”

     Reality comes crashing down.

     Those were my wife’s final words. Her final actions were what my thoughts had shown me. They weren’t quite powerful enough for Visions yet, but I could feel their strength, pounding on my mind’s door for me to let them in.

     Those words would not be my daughter’s last.

     Marching forward, I knock the syringe out of his hand after he lifted it away from her. It shattered on the floor, already empty. Arm clamped on his neck, he struggled but I was too strong. I grab a vase from the table. Bringing it down on his head, the noise almost burst my eardrums as blood raced by them.

     The wind from the door opening behind me breaths down my neck.

     My panting cuts off as the doctor finally stops wheezing.

 

What had these thoughts done to me?

 

Kathryn:

“Imagination has the power to bring everything down.” Noises scrape along my skull and it's like something’s stroking my veins.

     “Don’t call them that!” Dad.I don’t have a clue where I am. I barely have a clue who I am but I’d always recognise his voice.

     “Visions, ideas, imagination, same thing!” The touch on my body isn’t Dad’s; it’s too delicate like the other voice I hear.

     Trying to lift my head, I’m desperate to know what's up with me but the aches in my body make me stay down. A damp hand comes down on my forehead, trailing down to my neck.

     "She’ll be fine. The serum didn’t reach her visual cortex where the reaction starts. Her imagination will remain intact.”

     Being useless forced me to muster up some strength to move my mouth. A mixture of grunts and garble comes out.

     “Open your eyes honey.” Dad speaks softly thankfully.

     His words give me power and I follow his instructions.

     The scene becomes less blurred as I blink. Awkwardly, a man is slumped up against a wall, but I pay no attention to him as my head’s pounding slows and my eyes turn to whoever’s above me.

     “Ryder?” Smiling, I was so happy to see her crooked teeth. She was Dad’s closest friend and colleague.

     "You need to get up now.” Dad clasps his hands around mine and pulls me from the bed. I swear my legs have disappeared!

     “Give me a sec...”

     “There’s no time, K. Your Father’s caused quite a commotion down in the office. I’ve managed to hold it back a bit. We gotta go now-”

     A red, sweaty figure bursts through the door. The Commander, gun in hand, rushes in followed by guards.

     “You!” He spits. Dad blocks me from his sight, throwing his body over mine, “Your little experiments have ruined everything I’ve worked for.”

     “You work for everything wrong in the world.” Ryder snaps back. She begins to fiddle with the window.

     “I should’ve known you were with him when you were so desperate to oversee this procedure. I wanted peace! I wanted purity!” His eyes lay on me. “You risk your lives for a little imagination and spoil hers for good.”

     I want to be brave. I need words but my heart’s beating too hard to think.

     “I’ve an escape idea.” Smirking, a cool breeze brushes the back of my head as Ryder opens the window.

     “You go.” Dad whispers, “I’ll hold them.”

     The Commander flexes his arm holding the gun.

     “Don’t be stupid...” Tugging at my sleeve, Ryder prepares for our escape. How could she just accept Dad’s suicide?

     “I’ve prepared for this.” He murmurs.

     “Well I haven’t!” My heart’s about to burst, “Don’t leave me like Mum did!”

     “Oh Kathryn. You’re so like her. I can't change but you can. I won’t let you die the same way she did, at the hands of evil.” He smiles one last time.

     Squeezing my hand, I open my mouth to protest further, but the air’s blown out of me as he lets go. I'm dragged through the window we're running.

     Over my shoulder, I see Dad’s outline keeping the guards from the window.

     It was all his fault this happened.

     I turn by eyes, blurred by tears, forward, waiting to hear his feet behind us, hoping.

     He doesn’t follow.

     But a shot does.

     Why is this all happening to us?

     It’s his fault Visions chose me.

     And I’ll fight for our fault.

 

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