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.


25. Malrick

Chapter 25




He’s in a forest. Tall trees sore up around him, scraping at the low-hanging misty clouds. The forest floor beneath his feet is an endless carpet of moss, glittering like emeralds from the speckling of dew. Somewhere in the distance, and bird sing merrily. 

Malrick strolls along easily, his movements languid as the gentle breeze. He closes his eyes, feeling the sun warm his cheeks. There’s enough space between the trees to keep them from closing in. 

If he listens acutely, he can hear a stream gurgling somewhere close by. The gentle hum of the forest is a playful symphony to his ears. He sucks in a deep breath, his nose pleasantly greeted by the earthen smells. Wildflowers, the sharpness of pine, the aroma of dew-speckled moss. 

The Vision is blissfully quiet, and Malrick waits it out by wandering absentmindedly through the trees. 

He can enjoy himself, there’s no reason to panic as the Vision is tranquil. The pills the nurse insists he takes are discarded somewhere in his room, useless as the Vision sucks him in. 

The deeper he sinks into his mind, the more intense the Vision becomes. He can feel thee wind on his skin, surprisingly cold. The sun has vanished behind a cloud. The moss no longer shimmers, instead appears sodden and murky. The misty clouds have grown dark. Subtle changes, foreshadowing something much more scary. If only Malrick could sense the shift of the course of his Vision. 

Thunder rumbles, lighting exploding with a burst of white-hot sparks, striking the old black spruce tree directly in front of Malrick.  The dry wood immediately bursts into flame, the burning sap popping and crackling, giving off an acrid aroma. 

Smoke rises up and mingles with the storm clouds, turning the sky dreadfully black as lightning strike again. 

Malrick feels his heartbeat sprinting, throwing itself against his ribs as if trying to break free and run away from this nightmare. The only illumination comes from the occasional flash of lightning, revealing a nightmarish version of the peaceful forest he was strolling through minutes before. 

The branches have become stark and and skeletal, barren of softly fluttering leaves or emerald bristles. The mossy ground has become muddy, each step sinking down into sludge. When lightning flashes, scars of blinding white marring the sky, it reveals blood dripping from the trees like sparkling liquid garnet. The odour of the blood burning replaces the previous sweet aromas, overpowering in its acridity. 

“Help!” He shouts, frantic. The Vision won’t let him go, growing worse and worse. His food strikes something with a squelch, tripping him and sending him sprawling into the mud. The next outburst of lightning reveals bodies littering the ground, mangled, burnt and bloodied beyond recognition. 

YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR TO BE SAVED!” A demonic voice snarls, echoing through the skeleton trees and wrapping around Malrick like mist. There’s no distinct source, it comes at him from every direction at once. 

“H-h-help me!” Malrick cries. “S-s-s-somebody! Pluh-please!” 

NOBODY CAN SAVE YOU!” The voice declares. It is neither male nor female, but growling and rasping. Malrick is aware of someone shaking his body, but the jarring action doesn’t help him remount to thee real world. “GIVE UP!”

“N-no!” He whimpers. “P-p-please, no-o-oh!” 

Someone is shouting now, back in the real world, but he can’t hear. He knows that they are from the pressure in his ears. 

Tears blur the nightmare surrounding him. He refuses to let them fall, clinging stubbornly to a shaving of his pride. He can feel something wet splattering against his skin, hot and sticky goblets pouring from the sky. He doesn’t need to wait for some to accidentally trickle into his mouth to realize it’s blood, and revulsion hit his like a punch to the gut. 

He vomits up bile, until he can vomit no more and collapses. There’s blood in his hair, in his eyes, drenching his skin. So he screams. He screams until his voice is raw and begins to vomit anew, but this time nothing comes up. 

Still he screams. His throat burns in agony, and he can hear the demonic voice laughing. Massive, booming guffaws which echo in tune with the claps of thunder. 

Bright, blinding agony blares through his broken body. Everything aches, resonating with fire and ice. The voice taunts him, mocking every single one of his insecurities. Verbally attacking him with secrets he’s never shared with anyone before. The shame it brings is worse than any and all of the physical pain he’s felt. He cries. Not harsh, choking sobs but silent tears of rage streaking down his face. The voice laughs. As if it alone is privy to the most amusing joke in the world, while Malrick finds nothing in the least amusing. 

“Stop!” He commands, trying to sound brave and powerful. “Stop it!” 

NO!” The voice responds, dancing with humour and ridicule. “YOU CANNOT CONTROL ME. I AM NOT YOURS.” 

“YES YOU ARE!” Malrick shouts back. “You’re nothing! A figment of my imagination!” 

NO, I AM NOT.” The voice declares, then everything falls silent. The Vision remains, but the pain has receded, the voice has abruptly vanished and the frosty wind has reduced to a mere cool puff. 

Defeated, Malrick lies on the ground and tries his best to ignore his grim surroundings. To pay no heed to the blood, the bodies and the bones. 

He takes in shaky breaths, his chest tight and heart continuing to race. He raises a shaking hand, wiping away the water from his eyes. No longer blurred, his surroundings become even more grotesque. Some of the clouds have cleared, the storm has ended. The trees have stopped burning, their blackened charcoal corpses sodden with vile crimson blood.  

The most horrid sight of all is the human corpses. Some charred and burnt beyond redemption, others left almost recognizable if they weren’t maimed. There’s a woman with a gouged open neck and burns bubbling, blood snogging her straw-blonde hair. There’s a man with a burnt face, his fingers bloodied stumps. The one relief is that there’s none who appear elderly or young, as well as no animals sprinkled into the fray. 

Exhausted, the Vision slowly blurs again and fades away. Malrick feels himself slipping away with it, the nightmarish monster not wanting to let go of him quite yet. 

His eyes are sealed closed when he comes to, and he realizes he doesn’t have the strength to open them. There’s something wet on his back, an all too real pain engulfing the base of his spine. Despite the sharp sting, he continues to teeter on the brink of consciousness, before losing the battle and falling into the murky sea that beckons with a silvern voice. 

Someone shouts, begging for him to return. He wants to fight his way up and to the light on the horizon, but the black tentacles have grasped him. 

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