Painting Pictures

Malrick has an overactive imagination. His mind involuntarily turns ordinary walks into treks through a mystical forest and boring classrooms into ancient chambers and caverns. He spends his time hiding from others. But then Malrick meets a girl named Rule who teaches him that what he sees isn't delusions, but a gift that he can learn to harness. But Rule isn't all she claims to be, and with his parents convinced Malrick is nuts, Malrick will need to unravel the truth of wether he has a wild imagination, a rare mental disorder or a magic gift. And doing so just might mean he will need to stop hiding and trust a girl he barely knows.

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9. Malrick

Chapter 9

 

 

-Malrick-

Wandering listlessly through town, Malrick ponders the many questions he has left unanswered. The most persistent question surprisingly isn’t  about this world of magic, but about why Rule had grown so dismissive. 

Had he done something wrong? 

He didn’t think so, but he couldn’t be sure. Rule was certainly a complex person; as soon as he thought he had her figured out, she revealed another new aspect of herself and left him to puzzle over it. Did she even enjoy being around him, or was he just an assignment? What had she said, ‘I was sent here to recruit you? ’ Does this mean all her kindness was a carefully thought out ruse? 

His feet carry him back to the empty school, and he quickly locates his bike. He hops on, unsure of wether is parents will get mad at him for being out late or not. He has no idea what time it is, he’d forgotten to take his phone to school that morning and didn’t have a watch on. 

The sun had started to set, the sky was dusky and the sliver of moon hovers brightly, unable to wait for the sun to set. 

He pedals faster. Fear creeps around in his gut at the thought of having to finish biking home in the dark, so he pushes himself to an all-out sprint and doesn’t slow down until he sees his house. He hopes of his bike, the driveway too steep to ride up, an wheels it up and into the garage, delaying for as long as he can. He doesn’t want to go inside, fearing his parents wrath at returning past curfew. 

Eventually he has nothing left to do but enter the lions den, and walks back around to the front of the house. The yellow siding no longer connotes feelings of happiness, but more of warning like the garishly bright yellow of police tape. A warning to not go any farther. 

Taking a deep breath and gathering his nerves, Malrick’s fingers find the doorknob and before he can decide on a valid excuse for being late, he’s inside,

There’s no fire. No chaos. Nothing explodes, there’s no eruptions of anger from his parents. In fact, everything is silent. Dead silent. Too quiet, and Malrick immediately can tell something’s not right. 

He heads for the kitchen first, seeing the note almost immediately. It’s scribbled on a piece of scrap paper, tossed carelessly on the kitchen table. 

 

      Gone out of town for the night. You wouldn’t answer your phone. 

-dad. 

 

Short. Minimal. Yet not explaining the absence of his mother. Thinking of the cold woman who helps raise him, a myriad of dreadful possibilities arise. More than likely, she decided to seize the rare freedom she’s given when his father leaves town for work, and is out at a bar somewhere chatting up a much younger guy. By now she’s probably drunk out of her mind, transformed into a wild and vivid party animal instead of the emotionless, stony woman he knows. 

He shoves the thoughts away, doing the same with the note. His stomach grumbles, the two bards he’d choked down at Rule’s had been his supper, and he’d thrown them up, but he doesn’t have the energy to get anything to eat. 

It’s not incredibly late, but he suddenly is exhausted, barely able to stand as he drags himself to bed, without bothering to change out of his clothes. Weariness causes his eyelids to drool, while a throbbing pain resonates through his body. In the span of moments all his energy vanished, drained away. He’s asleep before his head hits the pillow. 

A dream takes shape around him, not unlike a Vision. Only this time, there’s no pain. No panic. He can relax and live in the world his imagination has dreamt up. 

A castle. Only able to be described by words such as lavish and luxurious, every surface shimmers or shines, the room he’s in swathed in shades of blue, green and silver. The colours remind him of the ocean, which helps him relax even farther. He loves the ocean, the roaring anger of the seas so easily guised by a vast surface, glittering g like a perfectly polished sapphire. 

Memories flood his sleep-shrouded mind, memories of thee beach and the ocean. His heart pangs, but he knows he can’t change his mind now there’s a yearning inside of him to stay true to his roots, conflicting with the desire to finally know a place to call home. 

There was so many tiny deataile that needed to be though over. What to tell his school, his parents. What should he bring? Where would he stay in Sannail? He gets the feeling Rule might’ve already answered a few of his questions, but his unconscious mind couldn’t recall what she’d said. So he ponders, eyeing the throne room, bereft of life other than a snake slithering up the side of his chair and coiling aroun his arm. 

The most unsettling question isn’t however about Woodpaige and the details Rule provided, but about magic in general. If there was Illusionists like a Rule and Visionaries like him, what other kinds of magic exists? 

Was there such thing as fairies, vampires, werewolves and other fantasy creatures? Other previously mythological beings. Bigfoot. The Yeti. Trolls and leprechauns?  

The dream suddenly grows sharper, his mind yanking itself back into the dream. The castle setting is enthralling, but would soon be painful when he wakes up and nothing was ever real. He can feel the weight of a massive crown on his head, only able of guessing  the size based on how heavy it is. He fingers it idly, running his hand over the hard surfaces of gemstones. 

He gazes around the throne room, but there’s no one there. It’s empty, not another living soul in sight. 

The dream makes Malrick feel strangely alone. 

He tries to leave the throne, but there’s something keeping him seated. His velvet robes billow on a phantom breeze, and suddenly it’s inexplicably cold. 

No matter how much he strains against whatever is holding him, there’s no give. Panic starts to set in, and Malrick screams. The sound slowly morphs from a human noise to an animalistic roar, and Malrick looks down at his hands to see his fingers morphing into claws. 

A bubble of hysteria floats up through him, and he breaks out in a guffaw. But his voice isn’t his, its gravelly and sharp, inhuman and without humour. 

Tears start to stream down his face, and the beast inside of him dissolves. He’s left vulnerable, weak. The dreamscape is still empty, giving Malrick the privacy to weep. So weep he does. Tears for the family that doesn’t love him. Tears because he is leaving Riveville. Tears he’d tried so hard not to let out after Rule had dismissed him. In his dream, he doesn’t need to worry about what others would say if they saw him crying. He doesn’t need to pretend to be tough. He doesn’t need to worry about his mother, telling him in a cool voice, it’s unmanly to cry. Like she did when he was five and fell off his bike, skinning out his knees and driving sharp gravel into the soft palms of his hands. 

He takes a deep, shaking breath, and blows it out again. He feels better now, finally letting down a floodgate he’d had up for as long as he can remember. 

A wave of strength ripples through him, causing all the pain inside hardening into something cold and fierce. His tears are dry, as if they were never there to start with. Something inside of him has shifted, and he’s not afraid anymore. Not afraid of rejection, of his parents, of leaving his home. 

Having served its purpose, the dream retreats. He opens his eyes, ready too take on the world. 

 
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