The morning breeze ruffled through my short curly hair, my eyes still heavy with sleep, my wooden cane lying lifeless beside me on the bench.
The day had started out quiet, the sun rose, so did I, finishing all the chores that a middle aged, British man needs to attend to.
But I knew the calm atmosphere was soon to change to its usual ruckus. All I needed to do was wait for my two friends to arrive.
I hunched forward. Waiting.
“What will it be this time?” a smooth voice said.
I turned to face my two closest mates, a slender woman of twenty, who always seemed to radiate a faint glow and always wore a white frock. Her sleeveless outfit revealed her pretty wing tattoos on either of her arms.
“Angie” I smiled, as she smiled back.
I looked at the stout man standing next to her, a leather jacket covering his obese figure, his untidy beard not as unsettling as the fake horns he always wore above his head, which he considered his style. Much like Angie, he radiated a glow, though this one was blood red.
“Dev” I nodded.
Though I’ve known them since my childhood, I never saw their actual faces. Where there should have been a pair of eyes, nose and lips, was a large gaping hole, and as they spoke, they’re voices seemed to be coming from within that space, originally giving me nightmares, but now became a memory of comfort.
It was part of the gift.
All of it was His doing. Part of his plan.
The gift, of course, gave me many abilities. It made me special, and even though it made my childhood miserable, I was well accustomed to it by now and couldn’t imagine a day without it. It gave me everything I ever wanted. I looked to my left, at the mountain sized mansion which I called home, I thought of the happy people living inside whom I called family.
The gift allowed me to accomplish my dreams, though I had still not cracked it’s exact limit. I could just about do anything, teleportation, telepathy, telekinesis. I could create beings, destroy them, see people for who they were, and much more. I could more or less do everything.
With the gift I viewed the world much like how it’s depicted in the written works of God. The Bible, the Quran, the Veda, all remained true and alive through my eyes, though others couldn’t see it.
That was the gift.
“What will it be this time?” Dev asked again.
“Let’s not today, something’s wrong” Angie replied “I can’t function”
“You said that last time” I sighed sadly “and the time before. Are you losing interest in me”
“Of course not honey” Angie whispered “you’re special, isn’t that what we’ve been saying from the beginning?”
“Yeah” scoffed Dev “I hope you haven’t been thinking about those bastard kids. There’s nothing wrong with ya, don’t pay attention to them”
But I had been thinking. It’s what happens when I’m left alone for too long.
It all began back in kindergarten.
The other children played around in their play clothes, some with wooden animals, some colouring onto paper.
And amongst them, out of nowhere, I let out a chilling scream, as I locked eyes with a man, as thin as a stick, struggling immensely in a straight jacket, his face showing scars.
The police were called of course, after I bluntly put in my so called visions into their perspective. After no such man had been reported seen over the next week, the name calling started.
You could say, that was the beginning of hell.
Third grade, the teacher was conducting a spelling test. I was a good student, one of the best actually, and had been waiting the whole day to ace the test. The teacher said a word one by one, and I jotted them down as quickly as possible.
Then a voice “It won’t matter”
I gasped, and whisked my head around, staring once again into the sunken eyes of the man in the straight jacket.
“It’ll all be for nothing” he said in a raspy voice.
I let out the scream which I’d been holding back, the whole class lifting their heads.
The man proceeded to rip his arms out of the straight jacket and grabbed mine with great force “end it before it ends you!”
My mother, was heavily disappointed in my uncivilized behavior after that. Not only had I brought shame to the family, but after that incident, my grades stared to stoop down as well.
At some point, I lost all human interaction, both from friends and family. I dropped out from school for a while, unable to get out of bed and face the hallucinations. I would get startled on the way to bus by the most bizarre things. German warships dropping bombs, a lion set loose on me, a rumbling volcano.
During a birthday party, the first one I’d been invited to five years after the last incident, I met with Angie and Dev. I thought they were normal people at first, but then, after they explained themselves, I realized that they too bore the gift. They taught me to control it, use it for my own benefits.
Somehow I made it out well and alive, somehow everything I wanted, luxury, education and a family, had been given to me. I couldn’t exactly remember just how I’d made it this far, but I wasn’t for complaining.
Nowadays, I depended on these visions for adventure, a sense of thrill mixed in with such a luxurious life, who would want that?
Angie and Dev would visit me everyday, accompanying me in my adventures. We would fly planes together, tame wild bears, assassinate Hitler, and conquer the world together.
I was happy in my other world. It was real. It felt real.
“What do you mean you can’t function?” I asked Angie, snapping back to the present.
“There’s something blocking us kid” Dev replied “like a force, it’s been happening for a couple of days”
“Well, these days have been uneventful” I sighed “it’s like I’m turning normal, like everyone else. Been sitting here looking at the view for days mates”
“I mean a couple of quiet days wouldn’t do anything right?” Angie shrugged “I suggest you wait it out until we’re all proper and th-”
“Nah kid” Dev strolled and sat next to me “You what? Thirty five right now? And you wasted the first sixteen years of your life? I say go for it, on your own, you don’t need us anymore, go destroy, create whatever you want out there”
“Now, I don’t think, that’s wise. You might get into trouble, you might get stuck in a reality” Angie placed her hand on my shoulder “you hardly ever listen to me, but sit this one out for today, it isn’t safe”
I looked back and forth between both of them, struggling to make up my mind. I bowed my head down and scrunched up my nose.
“I’m sorry Angie, but I did stay put yesterday when you told me to”
Dev laughed and slapped my back “That’s ma boy, now go on, get outta here”
I smiled at him and cast a glance at Angie “I’ll be back soon I promise”
And then I shut my eyes.
A headache began.
My joints started to hurt.
My throat became dry.
I opened my eyes.
Dark. Pitch black.
I saw nothing.
And then I remembered.
The Dark Room.
This had been happening for a few days, I recalled. I simply forgot. Not on purpose, it was like déjà vu.
I’d never felt this weak in my life.
I was lying in a horizontal position, as I tried to raise myself.
I couldn’t, I was tied down with something I couldn’t see. It felt like a straight jacket. The wall seemed padded, my stomach growls echoing within the room.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was the silence. Pin drop silence. Something which I was not accustomed to, due to the voices.
But there was nothing, the dread and fear clawed at my throat, the environment deafening, as I sat there for God knows how long.
And then I heard voices,
“How is he?” a female voice said with no emotion.
“It’s only been a few weeks ma’am, and the medicines have already stared doing their work. He just had an outburst yesterday which is why he’s in there. I just assumed you’d like to see him” a man said
“You assumed wrong” the woman said “I’ve already prepared a tombstone for him, right next to his father, both disgraces to the family!”
I had no recollection of my father, other than the fact that he was sent to War and killed himself cowardly just a couple years after I was born.
A door, out of nowhere creaked open, illumination flooded the small room. My eyes took time adjusting. Two people entered.
“Hello Blair” a man dressed in a white coat spoke “How you doing son? Do you remember what happened? We had to use pretty heavy sedatives on you”
“No?” I croaked.
I looked at the woman next to him “Mom?”
She glared at me “You are no son to me”
“Miss” the man stopped her “Son, how you feeling”
“Where’s Angie?” I asked desperately “And Dev?”
The pair looked at each other, the man with worry, the woman with frustration.
The man knelt down next to me “Son, we’ve had this conversation before, but those drugs must’ve really knocked the sense out of you”
“What’s going on? Where are my friends?” I said, tears welling up.
“Blair, those people, they’re not your friends they’re your conscience” the man sighed “Listen you’ll be okay, everything will be fine, you just had a fit with the other patients-”
“Patients?” I trembled “Please I don’t understand what’s going on”
The man regarded my frightened face “Blair, for the past two weeks you’ve been admitted to London’s finest mental hospital, your diagnosis being schizophrenia”
My eyes widened as the reality dawned.
“All the things you’ve been thinking of, all the people you’ve been talking to, all the incidents you’ve encountered, they aren’t real” the man continued “this other world, you’ve been living in, it doesn’t exist and it never has”