Closer

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

5 comments

Fantasy

It started with the headaches. Searing pain with no warning - flashes of sound and colour. They became more and more disruptive to my life and no medication or treatment could provide me with any relief whatsoever. The headaches led to the appointments. First with doctors, then with specialists and psychiatrists. It all had me convinced I was some kind of crazy. And trust me, having several PhDs delving into your subconscious day in and day out will definitely provide something for you to feel traumatized about.

It’s not that the therapy and probing was all useless. Some interpersonal tools were developed and a new level of self awareness was reached. I even went through a phase of dating where I asked my dates questions and got better and better at acting like I was interested in what they had to say. That might paint me as a bit of an asshole, but I’m just someone who knows what they want and I’m not interested in wasting my time with men who are immature children in cheap suits. Or playing the dating games and pretending I’m some docile woman who eats only salads and just pines for that knight in shining armour. 

But work, dating, leisure – none of these areas of my life remained safe from ruin by the headaches. Voices too. Voices and scenes playing through my head. As if I were watching an internal movie, or better yet, frequently sifting through channels in my mind. For awhile I was able to get by just taking sick days or cancelling plans when the headaches took over out of nowhere. Luckily I had no previous reason for sick days or vacation and had banked up some flexibility for myself. Regardless of how supportive and flexible your workplace though, at some point they do get tired of frequent absences with no clear cause. And the symptoms kept getting worse - ramping up in severity as time went on and it got harder and harder to work, socialize, or do anything beyond trying to prescription drug myself into oblivion and confine myself into my small, spartan room devoid of light and sound.

The symptoms and appointments went on for a few years. It’s odd now thinking back to that time and how those headaches and voices had so nearly consumed my life. Now it’s different. You might say I found the remote control. No more voices or disconnected scenes, scripts running through my head. The light, the colours, all of it could be contained or even switched on and off. I finally realized something I had told none of the specialists. Not even the cute one with the pencil skirts and perfect doll face. You see all of these symptoms were because I could tune in, decipher, read peoples’ minds.

At first it had been overwhelming and disruptive. Like I mentioned with the headaches. Schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder with hallucinations, some had diagnosed. But then as I began to have some control, I started wondering, and with my wondering came some questions. I was no longer taking the word of a myriad of professionals at face value and dismissing my doubts as further symptoms of a crazy person. My practical accountant brain was reaching into its very nooks and crannies for some creative options. I was now thinking what if it was something else?

It was this graphic novel of my nephew’s that started me on the right track. The book was certainly out there in the sci-fi, fantasy, suspended disbelief realm. Mind control, psychics, strong emotional connections - what if this was just some form of evolution I was experiencing. Or devolution. Our brains don’t reach their full potential, right? Maybe IQ is just one very small piece of the puzzle. Or maybe I’d been inexplicably exposed to a radioactive bug. Amidst a litany of bizarre possibilities, a new idea began to take hold. There was at least the infinitesimal chance that my symptoms were in fact abilities.

So I did some research, watched all the Marvel movies, borrowed the rest of my nephew’s graphic novel collection. I even read into the occult and various government conspiracy theories. I didn’t find many answers but I got some ideas for how to test myself. I made one of my friends help. She owed me anyway because I had helped her out of several sticky situations with men – my general detached attitude helped to provide her with insights that were very obvious to me as a serial single woman. To test myself, I gave her a stack of cards and tried to guess what they were. It was a complete failure but quite a riot when paired with alcohol. Next I used some tarot cards and realized I knew nothing about them and didn’t accomplish anything beyond becoming more inebriated. I tried teleportation, telepathy, telekinesis - and any other ‘teles’ I could find. There wasn’t much to go on, but every one in a while I had what I called a spark. Some flutter of connection and flow of images. Not anything polished or controlled, but just enough to convince myself there was definitely something extraordinary taking place.

There didn’t seem to be any one thing that helped the most, but I eventually implemented a rigorous training routine to develop and continue testing my abilities. An early start to the day, then exercise to the point of physical exhaustion. This may not appear to have much to do with the mind, however I was basing much of my training regimen on those of martial trainings throughout history. I had been a karate student in my teenage years and I tried to reignite what training I could recall. Physical training was the key to unlocking clarity of mind and disciplined focus. I tried a vegan diet too. Only the freshest, organic superfoods for my mind temple. Fresh local berries and greens with only the highest quality of teas and herbs to support health and vitality. 

The food and exercise provided me with a level of focus and energy that I hadn’t experienced previously in my life. Next was meditation. I’d start with an hour in the morning, followed by four hours or so of ‘searching and scanning’, and then in the evening I’d meditate for an additional hour to clear my mind and integrate my experiences.

I had a journal too which I used to record my experiences and progress. My profession definitely equipped me to keep a clear record of cheques and balances – the progress and observations I made through my experimentation. It was a dark leather book – simple yet elegant. The book itself was mostly unremarkable, however the contents described experiences unknown to modern science or biography. Only fiction could approach the required level of bizarre.

I wondered what reading minds should be like. Perhaps my abilities were only hindered by my imagination. I had seen images and scenes, heard thoughts or maybe memories. Many were inane – people thinking of their loved ones. No specific thoughts really, just flashes of emotion and peoples’ faces. For awhile I kept seeing a woman in a red dress. She oozed allure. I’d see her smiling and undressing, but each time, before she was completely nude, the scene would go back to the start. Other times I’d be seized with an overwhelming urge to leave everything behind and move to Hawaii. This was coming from a guy named Steve who was experiencing crippling doubt and pressure trying to live up to his father’s impossible legacy. As my training continued, I became more skilled and while at the beginning I hadn’t been able to tell that these urges and images were coming from others, now I could sense who they were to a larger and larger degree.

I started having my favourite ‘channels.’ People I’d check in on and watch similar to a soap opera or in some cases, a train wreck. It really was like tuning in to a station on a radio. My ability to focus would allow the signal to get stronger, and my control over my own mind and emotions allowed me to sense more and more about the people I tuned into. One of my favourites was a visual artist. She was a piece of art herself. I could sometimes see her face or catch glimpses of her while she painted and it was all gracefulness and perfect symmetrical expression of female proportions. Ariadne lived near the sea and painted for days on end. She saw beauty everywhere she looked and would be swept into waves of ecstasy from a simple hike or evening of stargazing. Her life was one of extremes, extreme joy and passion which I liked to tune into. But there were darker days too for which I didn’t stick around for. She was the type of woman you wanted to be when you were a young girl. Beautiful, tragic, some kind of magical fairy princess in her tower near the sea.

I also found the mind of a genius. It wasn’t what I expected to find. I thought that this guy, some mathematics professor at an Ivy league, would have a brain full of equations and brilliant calculations. I thought I would be in awe and bewilderment of his machine like precision and abstract musings. It was nearly the opposite. He would focus intensely on a thought or question and filter everything in his life through it’s relation to his topic of the moment. He made connections from everything to the barometric pressure, to traffic congestion, and café daily specials while he worked out a problem. Once he considered all the ways a croissant could reinforce mathematic principles. For instance the Fibonacci sequence, and limits (as butter approaches critical mass, quality in terms of rich taste and flaky texture approaches infinity). He continued to focus on the croissant for the rest of the week and the café was in no way disappointed by this. If I focused on a croissant for a week it would be boring as shit and I would never want to eat one again. However, Martin made croissants fascinating since through his eyes they were a key to the universe with the power of mathematics.

An artist, a painter, and also a celebrity. It was just too tempting not to tune in and see how the other half lives. One of the things that struck me was how busy Chris’s schedule was and how little control he seemed to have over it. However the manicures, facials, beyond gourmet dinners and premium cocktails, the watches and suits that could individually fund a small empire for a week, and the women. It seemed worth anything to have such a buffet of delicacies presented on such a regular basis. His closet was a work of art. His whole sphere was perfectly arranged and allowed for. Only the most finely crafted and rare items were acceptable for this god among men.

It was strange though. As I kept honing my abilities, and being able to experience these people’s lives in deeper and deeper ways, they started disappearing. I couldn’t find their minds in the usual way. First it was Martin the mathematician who slipped from my grasp. The last time I viewed his mind it had gone a bit foggy and felt strange. And then it was just gone, no trace, not even a crumb of a croissant. I made note of this in my book as a challenge, a possible oversight in my training. Before I could come up with any theories or strategies it happened with Ariadne too. As I tuned into her I felt something different. There was fear, violence, a methodical presence. It seemed I was being blocked or intercepted maybe. It was not a comfortable presence whatsoever. There were flashes of red and black and a thirsting need. It didn’t feel like the other minds, it felt almost alien. It was a type of lust I hadn’t experienced in my life or recent ‘mind surfing’.

When Chris disappeared, it came with a disturbing realization. Because he was in the public eye, his disappearance was quite publicized. They had no suspects, there seemed to be no motive, yet foul play was suspected due to his strict routine and complete lack of a trail. But realizing he had gone missing motivated me to look more deeply into my other favourite minds. They had not just disappeared from my mind network, they had literally disappeared from their lives. I hadn’t made the connection before that they were all close to me geographically, but now as I searched for them, it was clear that we all lived within the same city centre. It made a kind of logical sense to be able to tune into people who are physically close by more easily. This gave me new avenues to explore in my training for sure but more pressingly I wanted to see if there was a connection between their disappearances and if possible a source.

My training took a turn at this point. I don’t know if it was a lack of focus on my part, or if there were some external machinations of or around my abilities that I wasn’t yet aware of. But every time I tried to tune in, I felt the interference. It didn’t always start right away, sometimes I could enjoy quite the session of mind surfing before I felt it. But inevitably I saw the black, red, and felt the dark, violent thirst. Now that I was aware of the geographical factor with my abilities it was quite unnerving to notice that this interference felt like it was getting closer with each connection. I couldn’t make out details about sex, race, just the undeniable thirst, closer and closer.

Instead of focusing on my training quite as much, I’ve been following the investigation into the disappearances. They have more information now. A connection has even been made – not one that is helpful to me particularly, but they’d linked my favourite minds together. They found Chris’ body. Meticulously and expertly butchered. Then the others too. For some reason, their brains were the only body part missing. The rest of the organs were placed around the body in mysterious but seemingly significant locations. I was not equipped for this. Portland was large enough for murders to be somewhat common, but not involving anyone I knew. Or at least I felt I knew my favourite minds. I felt a level of intimacy with them that I had never felt with anyone.

With this new information, the horrifying news, my focus was not improving, and neither was my training. I could barely attempt to surf before feeling the immediate connection with the interferer. And then something worse happened. I had decided for the time being to just forego the surfing and go back to the meditation and mind clearing. Yet the interferer pushed in again. This time it was even more terrifying. It was overwhelming like the migraines I had at the start of it all. Images of slaughter burst into my mind: Ariadne’s throat being savagely sliced open. Nearly surgical precision removing her organs with demonic passion. To see such a beautiful soul destroyed in that violent and callous manner – it was the truest tragedy I’d known. The images were overwhelming me physically and emotionally, I didn’t know what to do, I was not even remotely equipped for this madness. I started to really question myself. The mind surfing had felt so tangible and wonderful that I hadn’t questioned my mental stability but now I didn’t need to. I felt completely unhinged and welcomed any ending to this horrifying mental invasion. I had long ago stopped working or seeing anyone I knew. I was isolated, disciplined and healthy, but completely cut off from my former life.

Then somehow things got even worse. I tried desperately to centre myself, detach, unravel myself from the clutches of the invader. As I did so their hold only strengthened. I felt them take more and more control. It was almost as if they were grinning, laughing in a sick twisted form that was basically inhuman. I dunked my head in ice water, chugged black coffee, did frantic jump squats, trying desperately to clear and centre my mind. It didn’t matter what I did. Nothing helped at all. With complete horror I felt the invader find what they were looking for. My location. All this time they had been hunting me. All my training and exploring had done nothing other than lead them closer each time I connected. I felt terror, guilt, shock. And worst of all, they knew exactly where I was.


July 03, 2020 01:39

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5 comments

Cynthia Cronan
23:09 Jul 10, 2020

Rebecca - Nice work developing the story so that as the reader we feel the frustration, the curiosity, and the tension. And nice cliff hanger ending.

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19:24 Jul 11, 2020

Thanks! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. If you have additional criticism I'd be really open to hearing it. Lots to learn!

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R.T. Donlon
12:45 Jul 10, 2020

Cool storyline! I would’ve liked more action rather than exposition in places (maybe it could lead to some interesting dialogue between the 2), but the connection between hero and villain kept me wanting more at the end. :)

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19:26 Jul 11, 2020

That's definitely a valid point. Thanks so much for the feedback...both encouraging and useful.

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18:42 Jul 09, 2020

Headaches are often a very serious symptom.

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