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.


15. Malrick

Chapter 15 




The floor in his dorm room proves to be good for pacing. At home, when he used to pace back and forth in the kitchen, the floor had been slippery and he’d slid about in his socked feet. Here though, the floor is easier to walk on. Less hard and polished, bearing the battle scars of constant trampling. 

“Woah dude, what’s with the running laps?” Deer asks sarcastically, watching Malrick’s frantic pacing from where he sits on the couch, chowing down on a sandwich. 

“I’m not running laps.” He mutters, not paying much attention. 

“Was it the encounter with the principle? He certainly scared me.” Deer huffs, speaking around a mouthful of sandwich. 

“No,” he scoffs, his mind flashing back to when the principle had payed them a visit. His objective had not been to scare, simply to welcome Malrick to the school and explain to him how things work. “Definitely not that.”

“It’s not a crime to admit your scared,” Deer taunts, and Malrick can’t resist rolling his eyes at his new roommate. 

A headache starts to form, which starts to shift into a Vision. Colours swim, vibrant hues shifting and swirling as they slowly coalesce into a distinct image. Not one of the stunningly beautiful scenes his brain came up with in the past. This Vision is gruesome and nightmarish. The sky overhead is like a bruise, purple and brown and black. Dark storm clouds gather over the sun, blocking out all light. It starts to rain, the water pouring down. Only it’s not water that’s falling, it’s glowing hot acid, burning anddestroying anything caught in its path. 

Malrick starts to breathe faster, his chest constricting from fear. He wants to run as the storm clouds slowly start to creep towards him, pushed by a violent gale. The wind is so powerful it nearly knocks him to the ground, which is carpeted by black, rotting vegetation. The air smells like death, vultures circling overhead. The massive birds are unaffected by the acid rains, the toxic liquid sliding off their ratty ebony feathers. 

There’s a sudden knock at the door, and Malrick jumps. It jerks him from the Vision, but his headache persists. He races to open it, breathing a sigh of relief when he reveals a guilt-stricken Rule. She begins to frantically apologize, proffering many excuses and reasons why she is late. 

“I’m sorry, I was walking in the gardens and I lost track of time, and then I got lost, and... ughhh!” 

“It’s okay!” Malrick insists. “Come on, let’s kick this tour off by visiting the cafeteria. I’m starving.” 

“Me too,” Rule huffs, then breaks out in a grin. “Let’s get going, shall we?” 

She leads him out of the East Tower, into the corridors of the school. Everything is dead silent, most students having already returned to class. Malrick can only hope the cafeteria is still open and not out of everything good, like it would be back at Pikearm. 

It takes far too long to reach the cafeteria, Malrick’s hunger intensifying with each step. He’d been too preoccupied before to realize exactly how hungry he is, and his stomach grumbles, the noise reminding him of lion’s roar. 

When the cafeteria finally grows visible, pleasant aromas drifting on the stale air, another Vision consumes Malrick. 

He tries to tell Rule, but can only manage choking gasps and unintelligible stuttered syllables of words. He starts to panic, before the Vision has totally consumed him and the real world fades away. No matter how much he flounders for reality, it still slips away and he’s locked inside his own mind. 

At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about his new surroundings. Nothing extraordinary, nothing breathe-taking, nothing gut-wrenching or terrifying. 

He stands in the middle of a deserted country road, staring at a small cottage. There’s no cars in the driveway, which is more of a dusty dirt walkway leading up to the cottage. In fact, there’s no cars at all, nor is there any houses for hours. It reminds him of the small communities on the fringes of Riverville. The teeth of fear suddenly clamp down on his gut, when he realizes there’s no one to save him. Part of him knows this is a fantasy, but the main part believes it’s real.

Something moves in the window of the house, and suddenly the glass shatters. Smells fill the air. Freshly baked bread, apple pie and other sugary scents are the first to reach his nose. Then comes something different, metallic and strangely sweet. He’s read enough books to recognize the smell as the one of blood. 

Panic courses through him, his chest tightening once again. He stares aghast at the broken window, crimson smeared along the jagged edges of the glass frame. But who’s blood is it? No body is visible. 

Malrick screams, desperately trying to claw his way out and back into the real world. The Vision clutches to him tightly, forcing him to watch as a person removes themselves from the bushes beneath the window. They’re battered and bloodied, with a matted bird’s nest of hair and deep gashes oozing brownish blood across their face. 

The Vision holds him captive, the person stumbling forward, limping. They try to speak, but only a strangled gurgle comes out. Blood bubbles from their dry, cracked lips and leeks down their chin. 

“Hayyyyy heckkkkkk heeeelllppp!” They gasp, waving frantically towards Malrick and waving arms soaked in blood. Tears prickle in his eyes.  

“Let me go!” He shouts towards the sky, which is infuriatingly blue and clear. His voice is husky, pained. “Let me go! Letmegoletmego!” 

“Hey! Hey! Malrick! Snap out of it!” Someone shouts, strong hands clutching his shoulders. The Vision starts to fade, leaving a migraine in its wake. His head throbs, pain exploding anew. He doesn’t even have a chance to feel nauseous before vomit and pile rise up, and he throws up in the middle of the hallway. He person who’d been holding him jumps back quickly enough not to get caught, as he vomits up the contents of his stomach. 

He vomits until there’s nothing left, splatters of blood dotting the chunky slew.  Then he dry heaves some more, without being able to stop. 

Lightheaded, he stumbles over to Rule and mumbles about needing to sit down. He doesn’t get the chance to attempt to walk towards the cafeteria and find a chair, he toppled over and hits the floor. His head hits against the hard stone tiles, spots of blackness erupting over his vision like fireworks. 

Darkness engulfs him, and he’s tossed gracelessly into unconsciousness.

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