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.


7. Malrick

Chapter 7




Danita’s house is rather homely. Not a house, but a basement apartment. Strange. And her parents are nowhere to be seen. Malrick guesses that's because they're at work, but something about it seems off. 

Seated on the plush blue sofa, which compliments the lilac walls wall, he nibbles on a second disgusting bar. Not wanting Danita to guess that he is grossed out over her choice of food, he forces himself to eat the chalky stick that someone decided to proclaim edible. 

“So, you want to recruit me for this Woodpaige school?” He asks, unsure what else to say. They’d drifted off into an uneasy silence, each waiting for the other to step up and say something. He’d cracked first. 

“Yes. That’s what I’m here for, and I’d like to get back home as soon as I can. You don’t know how infuriating it is to have people call you ‘Danita,’ like seriously! I sound like and old lady!” She splutters, trying to keep her tone light and almost joking. “For some reason, those in charge at Woodpaige decided I needed and alias.” 

“So your name isn’t really Danita Rowchest?” Malrick asks, aghast. There was something about her lying to him, even if not by choice, that made him angry. 

“Nope.” She chirps, still trying to keep things light. “My real name is Rule Arrowheart. But don’t tell anyone and Pikearm, I’m supposed to keep my true identity a secret. No one is to know who and what I am except for you.” 

“And you’re an Illusionist?” She nods. “And I’m a Visionary?” She nods again. 

“So, what do you say? Are you going to return with me to Woodpaige?” Malrick ponders her question, uncertain. His parents certainly wouldn’t care, neither would his classmates, but he’d miss living in Riveville. He grew up here, and was a small town person to his core. This was his home. Not his house, but Riveville. The beach where he could spend hours, just walking the shore. The woods where he played by the stream when he was younger. He didn’t want to leave, wherever he may be leaving for. 

“Where exactly is this school?” He prompts, remaining carefully neutral.

“Sannail.” Rule answers, and Malrick’s head immediately starts spinning. Sannail is about as different from Riveville as possible, a bustling city located far from the coast, surrounded by farms and prairies instead of dense pine forest. “So are you gonna come or not? Don’t worry, Woodpaige has dorms for people who come from far away. Also, they’ll take care of explaining this to your current school and your parents.” 

Malrick doesn’t answer, his head is whirling too much to focus on forming a response. He can feel a Vision beginning to wash over him, but pays no attention as a grassland suddenly replaces his view of Rule’s living room. 

He keeps hearing a conglomerate of what Rule had said repeating itself over and over again. The words Visionary, Illusionist, Woodpaige and magic bring with them a jolting shock every time Malrick thinks of them. The Vision intensifies to the point it’s painful, and Malrick is suddenly jerked back to reality—the reality his mind constructed. A grassland stretches on as far as as he can see, the grass rippling in a phantom breeze and glimmering gold. The sun’s setting. Not yet far enough down to colour the sky, but enough that everything’s started to grow dimmer and the edges of the sky are tinted yellow. 

The scene is oddly beautiful, and Malrick might’ve enjoyed it if not for the pain crushing his head and throbbing behind his eyes. 

Nausea hits him like a sucker punch, and he stumbles. He’s on his knees, desperately trying to claw his way back to reality. There’s a faint sensation of someone touching him, but the more he tries to focus on it the more it fades away. 

The Vision is nearly stronger than anything he’s experienced before. Every sense is immersed in the fantasy, he can feel a cool breeze gently stroking his skin, the warmth from the sun. He can hear crickets chirping  and small mammals running through the dry grass. His nose is filled with mild and pleasant scents, the crisp fresh air, the aroma of the wildflowers dotting the field. 

The Vision lasts for a good ten, twenty minutes. Finally, Malrick feels it start to retreat and eagerly awaits his return to reality. His head throbs, but the pain is less intense. The nausea grows even more sharp, and as the last colourful whisper of the Vision leave him, he stumbles to his feet and searches blindly for a garbage can. 

He can’t find one. 

Rule does miraculously well at keeping her cool when Malrick suddenly vomits all over the couch, the only indication of her disgust is how she jumps up, her nose wrinkling slightly. 

He vomits up just about everything he ate in the past twenty four hours, tears prickling in his eyes and a flush of embarrassment staining his gold-bronze skin. The pain in his head is persistent, continuing to pulse even after he finishes throwing up and begins to mumble frantic apologies to Rule. 

She leaves and quickly grabs him a glass of water, before leading him to the bathroom. It’s a small space with garishly bright blue walls and sharply fragrant soap which doesn’t help his nausea and headache, but it’s a pretty space. There’s a rack with blush towels and a clearly homemade mirror with shells hot glued around the cheap frame. 

 He uses the water to rinse out his mouth, before sinking unceremoniously to the floor by the sink. Rule follows him down, running a hand through his hair and whispering to him quietly. 

“You’re alright,” she insists, but her tone is uncertain and Malrick wonders if she’s ever really had to comfort anyone before. “They’ll show you how to control your visions at Woodpaige. Please, come with me. They’ll help you there.” 

“C-cont-t-trol?” He stammers violently, his stutter suddenly back and stronger than ever before. “I-I c-coul-d c-cont-trol th-them-m?” 

“Yes. They’ll show you how to control them and show you how to stop them from hurting. And so, so much more.” She promises, her multi-hued eyes shining with a mixture of emotions, non of which Malrick can identify. “Come with me, Malrick. Come with me to Sannail. Come with me to join Woodpaige and you can be the most powerful Visionary since Mark Woodpaige himself.” 

A sudden hunger for power ignited inside Malrick, fierce and unlike anything else before. The only thing his ‘gift’ had ever offered him before was a brief respite from reality, at the cost of shame, embarrassment and constant mockery. He was different, an outcast, and here was a girl he knows little about offering him power and a place where he’d be accepted. How could he hope to resist the sudden desire welling up inside of him? A small price to pay, to leave his home. There was nothing here for him anyways. 

“I’ll join.”

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