A dream turned into a story: Differences
I had an interesting dream that I think will work into a pretty good short story. I will try and post it in parts and just see where it leads me. Here’s the first part:
We were standing in the hallway of a semi-underground government installation. It’s purpose was the training/control of those ‘unique’ children/teens that the society occasionally came across. Those citizens that could do the unusual.
Light fires maybe. Without a lighter or matches.
Or guess winning lotto numbers. Every week.
Control animals at a distance. Any animal. At any distance.
Things like that. Things that made waves in society. Things made people uncomfortable to see or think about. Things that ‘normal’ people didn’t or couldn’t do. All those and more were brought to THE Center. A place to watch others with special ‘talents’ and learn how to control ourselves, or so I had been told.
Where we found ourselves. As I said.
The hallway had metallically smooth glistening texture, and the floor was covered by a soft gray substance much like the rubber that is laid down around playground equipment in order to keep children from scarring themselves for life when they fall off the swings or merry-go-round.
We were arguing. Apparently I was new there, and you were not. You worked for ‘Them’ somehow. It felt like it was my first or second night there… Go figure. You were explaining that we were perfectly safe in the shelter, and to go with the nice young men in lab coats, please. I was trying to tell you that we were in imminent danger and had to get everybody out. Now!
We worked out later that the dam at the head of the valley had been compromised by age and two weeks of near torrential rainfall. All I knew at the time was that I had an oppressive feeling of !Danger! in the back of my skull, but wasn’t doing a good job of expressing how or why. It may have been the fact that it was three in the morning, but one would think that people used to dealing with special ‘talents’ would have been more receptive to warnings like that. Go figure.
Just about the time the “nice” young men in lab coats were reaching for none-to-nice concealed weapons, the lights went out. And it was dark. The kind of dark one can only experience deep underground. With no power and several million tons of cold water pouring its way down the elevator shafts and stairwells. An ice cold breeze started blowing past us in the inky blackness. A precursor to its wet cousin working its way past doors and lifts on every floor.
I grabbed your arm and bolted. Not left or right, but elsewhere. I hadn’t formed any real intent, just the primal need to “get out!”. One moment we were facing an icy cold grave, the next we were swimming in what looked like a tropical fjord. Gagging on salt water for a moment, you broke the surface of the water and stared at me with blue eyes. I looked at you for a moment, then began to head for the less steep rock walls to our right. Blinking in the bright sunlight, you hesitated, then followed a bit behind.
Perhaps I should explain…..
My talent is to apparate. That means to…. travel. Sort of. It means I can go anywhere I really want to. Without a machine like a car or plane to help me. Without worrying about how long it will take or what obstacles are in the way. If I can picture it clearly enough in my mind’s eye, I can go there. Period. Instantaneously.
The first time it happened, I was 11 Years old and my mother and I were at the park. She started telling me a story about her childhood home. It sounded really wonderful. I took her hand and concentrated. After a moment or to of feeling liquid, we were there! Freaked Mom out, right and proper. She just looked at me with wide eyes and asked me in a shaky voice if I could also take us home. I nodded and did so. Right to the kitchen table! I was proud. She was wigged out. It was the first time I saw Mom drink. That first time was cooking sherry. After that she kept a bottle of Irish whisky in the house.
The odd part was that no one talked about my new-found ‘gift’. It was just implied. After the first night, Dad took me aside and tried to explain how people don’t like what is different. How it frightened them. How they would get angry or violent. So I hid my abilities. Or tried to. Being a teenager is a hard experience. Constant pressures and stresses. Even the most controlled teen is apt to have ‘accidents’ once in a while. I know I did. There had been several close calls, but one day I blew it and got caught.
Occasionally I would ‘short-cut’ on the way home. Or to school. I found an out-of-the-way spot about 50 feet down an alley about a block from school. It was a little alcove formed by a pine tree and the rear corner of someone’s garage. Enclosed on three sides, it shielded the view from all but about 10 feet of the alleyway.
It was just my luck that a small group of classmates happened to be occupying that space when I appeared. Maybe I got careless. Or wanted to be found out. I don’t really know. Naturally, this sudden appearance freaked out quite a few people. Parents started threatening to pull their kids out of my high school if I wasn’t at least kept a “safe” distance from the ‘normal’ kids. I got to spend my days alone in an empty classroom. teachers stopped talking to me and started talking at me. *sigh*
About a week after “the moment”, Mom, Dad & I got a visit from a couple of pasty-faced men in dark pinstriped suits. I had just returned home from school and dad had had to come and pick me up out of in-school suspension. Mom was sitting in her chair knitting something for my Aunt Molly’s new baby. they were sitting on the sofa when dad and i walked in the door. I hadn’t noticed a car outside when we pulled up. Apparently they had wanted their visit to be a surprise.
The one in charge was tall and thin. Neat right down to his perfectly tied shoe laces. His partner was a bit more slipshod. He was shorter and his shirt had a few wrinkles on it. Neither one smiled. The short one had his right hand on something inside the left side of his jacket. Their eyes rarely left me as they got down to business.
“We understand that there was a problem at school last week.” They started off after introducing themselves and showing Dad some sort of badge with an I.D. Card.
“It was just a mis-understanding..” my dad started to reply…
“Look,” Tall, dark, and unfriendly replied, “we’ve dealt with these ‘mis-understandings’ before. Since your son is 17, we have a few options available.”
“What kind of options?’ Mom asked.
“Well,” Short and stocky responded, “since he is almost an adult, it may be possible to relocate him. As a nominally free citizen. Provided he is willing to ‘play ball’. Otherwise we will have to go the detention route.” Definitely no smile this time. His hand stayed in his jacket.
My heart was racing. I knew perfectly well what the rules about oddballs like myself were. In the last fifteen years, there had been problems with other ‘specials’ like me. Burned down buildings, trashed property, stolen money, rigged lotteries, things like that. A few resulted in deaths. That’s when the Feds stepped in.
Titled the “Special Persons Urban Relocation and Resettlement Act” (SPURRA), it entitled the Fed to take “responsibility for” persons displaying ‘special gifts’ and see to their “safety and proper social integration” in order to keep them safe from the public at large. At least that’s what the bill was purported to do. In reality it meant virtual imprisonment or slavery for anyone showing special “talents’. Upon discovery, at whatever age, a ‘special person’ became an instant ward of the State, and was whisked away into obscurity.
It was said that they received special schooling and lived in small communities of similarly ‘talented’ people. They were supposedly free to live their lives like any other citizen, just isolated away from the ‘normals’. For their own safety, of course.
Rumour had it that ‘specials’ were locked up in hidden institutions and used for experimentation or national security interests. Special branches of the military, spying, assassinations, and such like. Ten years ago several world leaders had died in highly visible locations, often in front of cameras. Their deaths were linked to heart attacks, aneurysms, things like that. But rumor held that they were assassinated by the ‘specials’. So more restrictions followed. Special punishments for mis-use of a ‘talent’ that resulted in death or serious injury. Special prisons were built. And filled.
And now here I was getting ready to join ‘them’. Whether I liked it or not.
I heard other vehicles pull up outside while Tall and Thin kept speaking to my folks. I didn’t really listen to what they were saying. I had researched the process on the Web, and was pretty sure i knew how it was going to go. They would try talking to me and my parents and get me to go quietly. If that didn’t work, there were always the people outside. Armed with tranq rifles and other non lethal capture devices, they would make sure that I went along quietly.
My parents were listening to the feds, but they were looking at me. They always knew this day would come, I think. They had tried to protect me, but they had known. After all, I was pretty headstrong and stubborn. Mom was crying silently. Dad looked like he was being asked to swallow molten lead.
“It’s okay.” I told them. “I’ll be okay. It’ll be alright. Like joining the Army.” I tried to smile and almost succeeded. We sat there looking at each other, memorizing each others’ features. When I left, we all knew I would probably never be allowed to return. We all knew I would try, but the rules were pretty clear. Contact between the parents and “special” kids was frowned upon. It prevented them from acclimating to their new lifestyles, it was implied. But I was still going to leave out a slender hope.
“Remember that summer with grandpa?” I said slowly. They both nodded, puzzled.
” I sure had a great time.” Dad seemed to get it. I’m not sure about Mom.
When I was 14, we had visited with Dad’s dad at his place up in Western Canada. We had spent almost the whole summer at a little vacation cabin miles from anywhere. A little run down, it was once a prospector’s cabin, but it had been home. For a little while anyhow. It was there that I had revealed just how much I could do to my parents and Pops. At first they were shocked, but Granddad had taken it in stride and helped us all to communicate and work it out. We reached equilibrium there under the pine trees by the lake. And a month later, Granddad had passed away. We had all grown up a bit that summer.
Before going home that year, we had instituted a new holiday. “Beginners Day” was to be celebrated on the 5th of August every year. It would represent our new-found acceptance of each other. A present from Pops. We had gone back every year to that little cabin by the lake to celebrate and remember.
I put out my little lifeline and could only hope my parents would understand. Dad smiled. Mom just sat there with her eyes filled with tears, her hands clasped tightly together in front of her, drinking in my face. I smiled lovingly at her then turned to the two feds who had been rambling on about national pride and duty.
“Can I pack a few things?” I asked in the middle of tall and unfriendly’s little speech.
He stopped speaking, cleared his throat, and said, “That won’t be necessary. Everything will be provided for you.”
I shook my head and took a deep breath. “Okay. Give us a minute to say goodbye.”
He and his partner went to the door and waved outside. “No problem,” he said. They didn’t leave the room though, just stood there with their backs slightly turned away.
I went over and hugged Dad and then Mom. There really was very little to say. We had already said it. My dad smiled encouragingly. My mom didn’t. What more can I say? I set my backpack down on the sofa and squared my shoulders. Then, turning to Abbot and Costello said, “I’m ready.”