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.


21. Malrick

Chapter 21




Malrick marches along besides his Visionary classmates, caught between dread and joy. The feeling is somewhat of being sent to death, countered by the sheer joy and nervous anticipation of being about to board a plane and being whisked away to a tropical paradise. 

The Visionaries don’t pay him so much as a glance, after all he’s the new guy in the lowest possible class. They obviously don’t expect much from him, he catches the occasional shrewd or contempt glance in his direction. The most notable, a short girl with bleached blonde hair, glaring at him with icy blue eyes. She was short and wide, not much to look at, yet regarded him with such cold degradation he felt himself redden. 

“Quit staring at my friend. She’s wayyy out of your league.” A classmate behind him hisses. Obviously a friend of the first girl’s, yet the complete opposite. A pretty girl. Tall and thin with bronzed skin, silken dark hair curling around her cheeks and chocolate brown eyes. 

“I-I wasn’t staring.” Malrick replies, wide-eyed. “In fa-fact, it w-was your friend-d who was st-staring at me.” 

“What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you talk properly?” She sneers, a contempt grin twisting her pretty face. “And why on earth would Kathryn ever be staring at you?”

“What’s wrong with you, Annika? Why can’t you just leave the new kid alone.” A third person speaks up. Another girl, though it takes Malrick shamefully long to figure that out. Her fiery copper hair is cropped short to just above her chin, left naturally wavy and disheveled and her subtly feminine shape concealed by a baggy hoody and jeans. “Anyone with eyes would be able to see Kathryn was the one looking at him, even if your too dumb to realize it.”

“I wasn’t—” the one called Kathryn starts. “I was glaring at him. I don’t fins anything remotely interesting about him, thank you very much.” 

“Shut up, no one asked your opinion. I’m sure he would rather not hair and I personally couldn’t care less.” The red-head fires. “News flash, Kathryn, not everyone is absolutely dying to hear what you have to say.” 

Annika and Kathryn twirl around, red in the face. A few students around Malrick and his intriguing rescuer snicker, whispers rippling through the amassed students. He senses the copper-haired tomboy’s eyes on him, and glances in her direction. She has unusual eyes, coppery like her hair with veins of blue and green streaking through. 

“The name’s Kyrielle Hilleye. Call me Kay.” She introduces, extending her hand to shake in mock formality. “Proudly sarcastic and known for putting people like Annika and Kathryn in their places.” 

“N-nice to meet you, K-Kay,” Malrick tentatively grasps her thin, bony hand and gives it a quick shake. “Malrick Nanear. I’m new here.”

“No kidding,” Kay laughs. “I’ll show you a few trick later on, if you want. Just relax in the meantime, you’ll be fine. You’ve nothing to worry about when it comes to the lesson, it’ll be a piece of cake for someone as powerful as you.”

“H-how did y-you know-w—?” 

“We’re here!” She announces, yanking open a large blue door. “The Average and Excelled classes are already started, as per usual. They think they’re sooo much better than us. I’m kind of new here too, I can’t wait for my first Test so I can get moved up.” 

The two of them walk in, and Malrick glances around. There isn’t as many students as he anticipated, with three classes combined. Maybe forty or fifty, if that. He notices most of them wear armbands, in either a dull shimmery white-gold colour or stark white, a hue reminiscent of freshly fallen snow. They all wear a second cobalt blue band, matching the door they walked in through.

There’s a clatter of voices, many people sitting on the floor with their eyes lightly closed. Some twitch and sway, while others are so still they could d be mistaken for wax replicas of real people. He notices there’s a handful of grey mats rolled out, mostly unoccupied.

There’s several teachers, four or five. One per every ten students, Malrick guesses. 

Kay grins, heading over to the corner and chatting to someone Malrick assumes is a teacher, he hesitantly follows her deeper into the large space, thankful when a teacher approaches him and asks if he needs anything. 

“Y-yes, Yes I do. Th-this is m-my very first class, and I’ve, uh, no idea-a what to d-d-do.” 

“Okay. Well, go find yourself a mat and I’ll be with you shortly to explain what you need to do. If you have trouble I suggest you put your name down for a one-on-one lesson, it’ll be of big help.” 

Malrick picks out a mat from the dozen or so available and plops down, allowing his eyes to flutter closed like he saw the other students doing. He waits for something to happen, trying to remember the sensation he gets when he’s about to be overcome by a Vision. 

The sound of footsteps causes his eyes to flutter open, revealing Kay. She taps him on the shoulder, drawing his full attention. 

“Hey. The grey mats are for people who need help. I’m guessing you were directed here by one of the instructors.” She sinks down in front of him, taking his hand and sealing her eyes shut. When Malrick stiffens she opens a single eye, looking at him with annoyance. “Come on, close your eyes. The instructors only have time to feed the already huge egos of the Excelled class, in the meantime I’ll show you the basics.”

Something about her draws Malrick’s trust, and he closes his eyes. He feels a strange tingling creeping from where Kay’s fingers interlace with his, and resists the urge to pull away. 

The colours come first. Blues and greens intermingling with coppers and flourishes of bronze. The leap and twist, dancing together in a twirling ballet before shaping an indistinct, blurry image. 

“Come on, help me!” Kay’s strained voice interrupts the flow of his thoughts, and he draws in a gasp of surprise. “I’m trying to show you what to do, which means you actually have to do something more than sit there like the huge lump you are!” 

“I’m not a lump,” he murmurs mentally, trying to help shape the colours as Kay demanded. 

“Then prove it!” She challenges. Anger acting as potent fuel, he thrusts himself into Kay’s half-formed Vision and pools in his own power. The image instantly sharpens, revealing a beautiful ballroom brimming with whirling dancers in dresses of aquamarine and emerald. The walls are high, carved from glossy marble with an ornate, vaulted room draped with silk ribbons in glimmering bronze and gold tones. 

“Who’s a lump now?” Malrick asks boastfully, eyeing the glittering ballroom. A dancing couple almost bangs into him and Kay, the man dipping the woman and sending a waterfall of ebony hair spilling in his direction. 

“I knew you could do it!” She grins her lopsided grin, which is slowly becoming more and more familiar to Malrick. “But let’s go somewhere more fun.” 

“Like where?” 

“Ugh. Anywhere is better than here. What about the rainforest?”

Malrick suddenly feels the ground beneath his feet jerked away as Kay reshapes the Vision, massive trees with wide trunks and bowering branches rocket up from the leaf-littered ground. They rocket to the sky and puncture the clouds, which allow only whispers of sunlight down too illuminate the world for Kay and Malrick. 

Kay takes off running through the trees, shouting over her shoulder for Malrick to follow. He happily obliged, breaking into a hog and quickly realizing he has no hope of catching up to her. 

Laughing, she glances back at him and slows her pace to a brisk walk he can catch up. He would do anything to know what’s she’s thinking as she gazes at him with quizzical eyes, tugging him closer to her warm body. For a second, their faces hover inches apart before she lets him go with a scoff. 

“Come on,” she speeds up again. “I gotta show you something.” 

He follows her for several minutes through the forest, before suddenly the thick foliage of the jungle parts like curtains being pulled away to reveal a show. What they do reveal is much more stunning than anything Malrick has ever seen on a screen. 

A river soundlessly bubbles over a rocky bed, before coming to a sheer drop. Mist is sent spraying everywhere in a shimmering cloud, struck through by glittery rainbows and droplets lit up like diamonds by the sunlight. There’s a pool where the remaining trickle not turned to mist plummets, the water continuing its journey somewhere underground. 

Speechless, Malrick attempts to soak it all in as his shirt and jeans soak in the moisture of the mist. 

Before he can protest, Kay has tugged off her clothes to reveal a skin tight swimsuit which leaves nothing to the imagination, dragging him by the hand towards the deep pool. 

He does the same, finding he has on a pair of goofy Hawaiian print swim shorts on beneath his sodden jeans. 

As they reach the edge of the water, about to dive in, a stern voice drives its way into their tropical paradise. The Vision dissipates, Kay pulling it away. Malrick’s eyes snap open, staring into the livid face of the instructor he’d spoken to earlier. 

“Kyrielle, go practice somewhere else. Malrick, I need to speak with you.” He declares, glowering with sheer rage. “And make it snappy.” 

“But sir...” Malrick protests weakly. Kay leaps up and scampers away, leaving him unprotected against the wrath of the instructor.  He can only close his eyes and hope for the best, waiting for the onslaught of angry words.

“How come you never said the nurse had you on pills for your Visions? Had I known, I wouldn’t have left you alone to practice. Let alone with her.

“What do you mean ‘her’?” Malrick interrogates, mimicking the instructors coolly disgusted tone. “Kay? What about her?”

“You’re not supposed to even be practicing, I was sent a reminder from the nurse. You’re in big trouble young man.” He says instead of an answer, still glaring but starting to cool off. “In the meantime, I ought to show you how to defend against someone else pulling you into a Vision. Close your eyes.” 

“Yes, sir.” Malrick immediately obeys, snapping his eyes shut. The instructor lays a hot, calloused hand against his arm and the tingling he felt with Kay immediately flares. 

“Try to resist me!” He snaps annoyedly. “Imagine isolating your mind so I can’t pull you into mine or project my Visions onto you.” 

Malrick takes a deep breath and attempts to doo as he was told, retreating into himself and willing away the tingling in his arm. It takes a while but he eventually gets the hang of it, able to maintain a shaky hold on reality while the instructor attempts to both pull and push him into a Vision. 

When the bell blares he jumps, more than thankful to get away from the intensity of the instructor. 

“Well done,” the older man bids, and Malrick murmurs his thanks before shuffling away towards where he last saw Kay. He falls into step by her side, following the flow of students to the next class. 

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