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.


16. Rule

Chapter 16




Dragging Malrick’s unconscious body, Rule stumbles into the cafeteria. Frantically she searches for anyone who can help her, but the large space is deserted. Not even the lunch lady is there, most likely disappeared somewhere at the sound of vomiting so she wouldn’t have to clean it up.

“Help!” She shouts, barely managing to haul Malrick over onto a chair. “Someone help!” 

Panic courses through her as she stares wide-eyed at her unconscious friend. She knows he’d had a Vision, but can puzzle out the reasons for his sickness and his fainting. 

Whispering an apology she races away to find out. The hallways are bleak and deserted, even without having to fight against a current of students it takes her painfully long to fine the office. When she finally sees the dull grey door, she quickens her pace until she bursts through the door, glancing around frantically and puffing for breath. 

“I need help!” She exclaims. “A friend of mine—he fainted!” 

“Where is he now?” The secretary asks, glancing up at Rule from behind her computer. She stays remarkably calm as she listens to Rule ramble frantically, before calling for a nurse and sending Rule back to Wait with Malrick. 

She has to restrain herself to keep from sprinting back to the cafeteria, terrified for Malrick. She’s never heard talk of Visionaries being rendered unconscious by their Visions before, though most Visionaries she’s met before have only had a fraction of the power Malrick possesses. She wonders not for the first time if he’s a descendant of Mark Woodpaige, according to popular lore he had a kid with an unknown woman before his death. Though the Visionary trait is unpredictable and not passed down through generations like the Illusionist one, it’s possible if there’s a strong enough ancestor that their power will be transferred through the generations, even if it’s not active. 

The pondering train of thought helps distract her from her distress, until she nears the cafeteria and sees Malrick slumped in the same chair as where she’d left him. His dark gold skin is ashen, sweat gleaming on his forward. A dribble of blood leaks from his nose, dried vomit smeared across his chin.

She rushes to his side, only able to pace frantically as she waits for the nurse. An plump young woman arrives minutes later. She has black hair which hangs in dreadlocks, and flawless dark skin. Her eyes are golden-brown and kind, her face growing sympathetic when they fall on Rule. She waddles forward at an infuriatingly slow pace, wearing a large grin as if it’s supposed to comfort Rule. 

“Can you tell me what happened to him?” She asks, a wave of relief washing over Rule as she gets straight to work. She checks his heartbeat and takes his temperature, using a dampened cloth to clean up his face. 

“H-he’s a Visionary. He was having a Vision, and then threw up and fainted.” Rule summarizes, her voice sounding childish and hollow. 

“Can he not control his Visions?” The nurse demands. 

“Today’s his first day and he hasn’t even had any classes yet. What do you think?” Rule snaps. “Of course not! If he could control them he wouldn’t have passed out!”

The nurse doesn’t respond as she continues to examine him, before standing up straight and rummaging around in her bag. She pulls out a bottle filled with round, white pills and hands it to Rule. “Give these to him. Make sure he takes one every day and two whenever he starts to feel like he’s going to have a Vision.”

“Blockers?” Rule asks, tingly from dread. ‘Blockers’ is the common name put on medication used to block ones powers, and are highly illegal. There’d be trouble with both the regular police and the magical version. They’re used only by people who can’t control their power and are considered dangerous.

“More or less, yes. They shouldn’t hurt him or even fully block his Visions, simply reduce the severity.” The nurse smile a toothy smile, which Rule assumes is meant to be comforting but instead appears wolffish and menacing. 

“Are you sure he should be taking them?”

“Look, kid. I know what I am doing wether you think I do or not. He should be taking them, or his Visions could very well kill him. Especially the more stressful ones. Do you know what he was seeing?”

“No. Just that he started screaming.” Rule shakes her head, worry for Malrick starting to give her a headache. 

“Then he was definitely having a stressful Vision. If it starts to happen frequently, it could cause his heart to stop. Do you know if he’d been having nightmare-type Visions lately?” 

“Look, I know nothing about his Visions other than that they’re hurting him.” Rule snaps, and the nurse takes a deep breath. 

“Then get him to come see me when he wakes up. There’s nothing else I or anyone else can do for him until he comes to.” With that the nurse gets up and walks away, leaving Rule to watch after Malrick’s unconscious body. 

She stays by his side until the pains in her stomach grow too intense. Dreading each step which carries her away from him, she walks over to where the lunch lady has no reappeared. She’s not your typical lunch lady, young, thin and beautiful with blond hair and baby blue eyes, which are wide and innocent like a doe’s. 

“Get me a sandwich.” Rule demands in a tone easily interpreted as rude and obnoxious. Instead, all Rule feels is anxiety clawing at her from the inside and hunger driving her mad, leading to her being abrupt.

When the lunch lady returns from in back with a foil-wrapped sandwich, rule tosses some money on the counter and walks away, not bothering to wait for her change. She pulls up a chair to sit next to Malrick, clutching the Blocker pills tightly, debating giving them to him or not. In the end, her fear for his health outweighs her fear of Blockers. 

She tears into the sandwich ravenously, almost spitting it out when she realizes what’s on it. Bologna and mayonnaise on soggy white bread. It was either all that was left or the lunch lady was pissed because of her unintentional rudeness. 

Regardless of the sandwich’s grossness, she chows down and finishes it in a minute flat. 

After what feels like hours of agonizing worrying, Malrick finally stirs. It takes another minute or two for him to regain full conscious, his reddish-brown eyes filled with confusion when they finally snap open. 

“W-what hap-hap-happened?” He stammers, sitting up frantically in his chair before groaning and slumping down again. “And w-why am-m I s-so hun-hungry?”

“Because it’s almost three in the afternoon and you haven’t eaten lunch yet, dimwit.” Rule scoffs, trying not to betray her relief. “Oh, and the nurse wanted to see you. You know, because you passed out?”

“I-I d-d-d-did?” 

“Yes.” Rule says, growing gentler. “Yes you did. Now go see the nurse, I’ll show you the way.” 


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