As It Appears

One never knows if it is.

Living in an institution all her life, Eve has no reason to believe things are more than they appear as her day continues, though things are definitely changing...

The world is chaos

The world is order

Explosions surround me.

I am safe in a bubble of calm

I am in a world I don’t belong in

At least it’s not real

Soldiers from both sides seek me.

It’s only a dream, nothing revolves around me

I am grand noble of the order,

I am ordinary

I am surrounded by people not my own kind

But I am human, just like everyone around me, all the doctors say so

The one that is carrying me is not blood, he is not family, he seeks to steal me away from my pride

But he is, was, my father

I do not know this man, I don’t know how I got here…

“Eve, come back.”

I have to survive until I am rescued…

“Evelyn!” Doctor Mary Bishop sits in front of me in her office, she looks concerned. I was dreaming again, I hope she doesn’t think she needs to give me more ziprasidone. “Where are you Evelyn, I need you to focus. I want to help you, but you have to let me.”

Dr. Bishop was a motherly figure; her dark hair was thinning and graying. She was the kind that would give the shirt off her back if there was a glimmer of hope it would help. All my time in this adolescent mental care facility, Dr. Bishop was my primary caregiver, as she was the only one not outright afraid of my burgeoning abilities during my early adolescence. Better yet, she was more willing to try nontraditional AKA non-pharmacotherapy approaches to problems. It wasn’t that they didn't help, rather they simply weren’t as dangerous to me. All this meant that she was one of the few adults I could connect to in this horrid place.

It’s not horrid though, all the doctors and staff have their hearts in the right place, at least. They genuinely want to help and have helped dozens become productive citizens and such. The problem was, they were working under the assumption that I am human. While I can’t prove otherwise, I knew I was at the very least different, at most not human. Yet, they insisted on treating me as one of them. They needed to treat me as I am, not what they think or wish me to be, before it was too late. 

The office was simple, functional, much like her mind. I liked the order. I wish the minds of the others were as ordered. That was the only plus of the pharmatherapy; their unintentional assault on my mind was dampened, if only slightly. The off whites and pastels of the room were comforting; the blinds on all the windows to the facility were drawn to keep these sessions private. Dr. Bishop liked to keep the windows to the outside open. She was calmed by nature, and that helped me. The sun was bright and cheery, barely a cloud in the sky.

“I am sitting in front of your desk, just like every other day, I’ve been here.” I answered after a long enough pause to make a show of the effects of the drugs.

“Really, Evelyn…” I glared at her, I hated that version of the name they had given me, she knew it, “…Eve, you have been zoned out for a few minutes now, since you sat down, in fact.”

I didn’t know my real name. I hoped someday to learn it, after all, I keep hearing names are power, and I wondered if it was true. I needed all the power I could get if I was to get to and stay in safety.

“With the drug cocktail you have me on, is it any wonder…”

Whenever I could, I complained about the drugs they made me take. Whenever I got off one, I would make a special effort to make a show of being better and always resisted any new drugs. The ones I was on were bad enough. She knew this game, and to her credit even played well against me. She thought it was helping my psyche to play, whatever worked.

“We are trying to help you, Eve… You know it’s for your own safety…”

“At least just take me off the ziprasidone,” I pleaded, those drugs were killing me even if they couldn’t see it; the rest were more of an annoyance.

She considered it for a moment, in my more lucid states I could exert some fashion of will. Right now, I was able to exert at least some, but she was strong. This was yet another reason she was in charge of my ‘recovery’ she resisted my will better than the rest. She wanted to help, but they knew nothing of what I was. All their knowledge told them their cocktails should help me, by cutting off what made me, me.

“I’ll talk with Dr. Murphy, we’ll see what we can do.” She sighed after a moment.

With that, a load was lifted from my mind, my focus was allowed to expand a bit beyond self preservation. I read concern on her face, she played with her wedding ring she wore despite being a widow. This was something she did whenever there was a ‘monster’ attack. Over time with her, I learned that Mr. Bishop had been killed in one of the earliest attacks 15 years ago. Even though she accepted the formally crippling loss, she refused to move on. At least she never allowed it to interfere with her work. 

As I stretched out, I noted that she had also made a special effort to turn off the radio in case news would interrupt Chopin. Past experience showed classical did calm me down and helped me to focus. She wrote notes on her tablet carefully. Wheels in my head turned as I considered all the options.

She began, like always with banal, chit chat. I cared little for it but she always insisted, so I turned on my generic response generator, while I scanned the room with my active mind, and thoughts. Carefully, I searched every crevice I could find, weighing the options.

Since I can remember, incidents seemed to follow me. Yet, they were never directly a threat to me or any facility I was in. It was like they were searching a haystack knowing to look for someone, but not certain exactly who. They wanted to find me. They knew a general area to look in, but couldn’t localize me. Safety in an obscurity that wouldn't last.

The more I insisted that I was being sought, the more ‘care’ I received. So I stopped insisting, merely noted when it happened, noted if it was truly a threat. This pattern was starting to border concerning...

That’s when it hit me, she wasn’t moving on today because she didn’t want me thinking too deeply.

“Why didn’t you tell me there was another attack?” I deadpanned.

She knew that I had a ‘sixth sense’ as she called it, and was not surprised I could sense her discomfort. She was more ashamed she hadn’t hidden it well enough from me.

After a long sigh, she capitulated, “We want to keep you safe, we – I didn’t think you needed to know, you have enough to worry about.”

“But the visitors,” I indicated the shadows through the window of the door, “They are looking for something… it’s about the pattern.”

I wanted to continue and inform her that I knew they were looking for me. But, I had just gotten her to accept getting me off the ziprasidone. I couldn’t risk agitating her. The staff here looked poorly on what they called ‘paranoia’; they were all fearful of someone as strong as me becoming a schizophrenic. I had presented with those symptoms at my last home before the others found it and forced its closure and all the residents being relocated.

“Police do investigations, and we have some troubled people here, you can’t jump to conclusions Eve.” She started, despite the blinds being drawn, the outlines were distinct, but she had to find out if I was right, and how right I was, so that she could ‘protect’ me. “I’ll see what this is about, sit tight, and don’t eavesdrop, it’s rude.”

She got up to leave and softly shut the door as she made sure I was still in my chair. I hadn’t moved, I didn’t need to get up. If I was connected with someone nearby, like in the room I needed to see, and I had the ability to focus, I knew what was happening.

“Oh, Dr. Bishop, I was just about to…” started Nurse Carter, who was usually at the front desk to help all manner of visitors.

“Nurse, I am in the middle of a session with E… one of our residents.” It was against protocol to announce who was meeting with whom in front of non staff, “Can this wait?”

“Is this resident, a difficult case?” Asked the lead detective, before Carter could respond.

“Information on our residents, and staff for that matter, is on a need-to-know basis. Like a warrant is needed to loosen our lips. But I will tell you, as you are no doubt aware, many of our residents are challenging. That is the nature of this facility.” Dr. Bishop professionally replied, “Which is no doubt why you are here, given the nature of events late last night, or really early this morning. But none of them have been off the premises recently.”

“Since the Montauk incident, there have been increasing evidence that some don’t need to be physically present to affect things.” He scanned the area.

I knew he was using more than just his eyes. Like me, he could get a sense of things without being in a room. Unlike me, however, he needed no connections to see beyond his own body. That must be what it was like to be totally free of ziprasidone. Right now, though, all that mattered was that he was one of my kind; but was he friend or foe?

“What is it, McHenry?” the other asked when the lead’s attention focused in this room too long.

The other officer was human, he had no abilities and thought McHenry was human as well, “Nothing, Shane, the cause for our investigation isn’t here. Please accept our apologies, Dr.”

With that he worked very hard to stay calm, yet hurry out despite Shane’s resistance. He had found me, but was working very hard to project nothing; he knew it wasn’t safe to contact me. He knew that if the others knew, I was as good as dead. My heart rate went up, I had to leave this place, my home for the past 10 years was not safe anymore. But I couldn’t let anyone know.

In the common room, I was swarmed by the loose assortment of ‘friends’ I had made. The connection was too strong, or I was too unskilled, or some combination of both, that I couldn’t hide my misgivings about the events in Dr. Bishop’s office. It was not a swarming, that would be too obvious to the staff, and my circle was now almost overprotective of me. However, they did circle the wagons quicker than usual. They were mostly boys, easier to manipulate than the girls, I guess, more desiring of my attention, maybe. Those not in my thrall hated me, saw me as a threat perhaps. But that was fine, my broken circle always protected me. At times, even at the cost of themselves, even without my willing it. Sometimes, their actions were against my will, stupid ziprasidone.

The common room was decorated in pastels and pictures of cute animals. The large space was divided with different colors of throw rugs and carpets on an aged tile floor, that was sporadically waxed. My area was in an alcove beneath large bay windows, the color scheme was dark grey and green. There was no furniture, just large bean bags and some art supplies.

As I strolled through, my circle paused, then abandoned their projects to follow at a comfortable distance. The orderlies glanced at our passage, but shrugged it off as something normal; so long as I was not insulted by non-thrall, nothing untoward would occur. I sunk to my spot in the middle of the bench chest at the base of the window, the rest formed a loose perimeter and started occupying themselves.

“You are troubled.” Dave stated, surprisingly he had gained some perception ability in his 8 years as my self appointed majordomo.

Dave had become surprisingly stable since I met him on my first day in the facility. He had been withdrawn, trapped in his own delusions of grandeur and often had lost touch with reality. Now, he was balanced, his light brown hair was always well maintained, he looked better with short hair, but none of us were trusted with sharp objects. So the length varied, he was due for a trim soon. We spent most of our days inside, so, like me, he was kind of pale; I wish I could see the garden more.

“I’m tired, Dave, the session took more out of me than usual.”

I looked over my small queendom with something like low level pride. I had, in spite of many obstacles, built this. I was surrounded by people that would give all they could for my comfort. Soft music drifted in from the speakers, music to sooth the savage beast. It was calm, serene even. I inhaled deeply, desperately hoping it would last.

“Stevie brought miss master chocolate milk” interrupted one of the more troubled of my circle, I hated that I had connected with him.

He was spindly, gaunt, almost emasculated, even when he got the chance, he wouldn’t go outside, so he was not just pale, he was ashen grey, like a living zombie. Not pleasant to look at, even less pleasant to feel his oily thoughts next to, even trying to invade my own mind. One advantage he did have, he was fanatically loyal.

My influence had calmed him down. The effects were proportional to his distance from me; and he was desperate for any approval I would give him. But, the price to me for his well-being was steep. This price was one the staff tended to overlook in their quest to middle the whole facility. I had to, like all other forwarding people, look after myself. Sometimes, that meant I should have the right to leave behind those that were hurting my health. After all, while he was calmer around me, I was more agitated, more broken in his presence. The ziprasidone forced me to connect with him, and when I could, I resisted the connection, which often led to a hell spiral.

“Thank you Stevie,” I accepted the cold glass, one thing he could do, was make good chocolate milk, “Go, please, sit in your spot...”

“Miss Master is displeased with Stevie?” he almost wept.

I was surrounded by planes of ash and rivers of fire. Smoke billowed all around making it impossible to see more than a few dozen meters ahead. There were, things, creatures, scurrying through the charred plants and red hot stones.

“Oh, great, not this poop again.” I grunted in disdain.

The first time I was here, just like the first time jumping into anyone else's untrained, unprepared, mind, I was lost. To get out, one had to find the goal, a macguffin important to each individual, and it was different for each personality. For Stevie, I had to find the dragon, and remove its heart stone. I just hoped it wasn’t in a castle again, that would make this take forever. Unfortunately, once connected, I was never truly free of the mind, a little always stayed behind.

I started down a path, the best way to start in a roughly familiar place and looked at what I had equipped.

“Still in the simple clothes of the facility, this isn’t going to work.” I sighed and closed my eyes to concentrate.

If I was in my own mind, I would have full access to all my mental prowess, and would never have to strain. But this was not my mind. I had what I could scrounge or had somehow smuggled in. Stevie's consciousness was not hostile to me, even if his subconscious was hostile to all, so most of the accumulated loot I had gathered carried over. And so, over time, and with many visits to this accursed place, I had built a bit of an inventory. My armor was crafted from the dragons I had already slain, as were my swords; guns didn’t exist here, but at least I had a kick-butt bow. Now that I was ready, I began to search in earnest.

“Oh S...” The dragon found me this time, and he was pissed.

It was a grueling fight, I was injured several times, but never crippled. Healing in a mind battle was sometimes about ‘recovery items’ the host may leave lying around, and sometimes about siphoning off some energy from the environment. I was able to do both and keep going. As was the dragon, but I was better at it then the dragon was. In the end I stood victorious, covered in purple dragon blood, over the corpse.

“I bloody hate this place.” I groaned, as I dug in to find the heart stone to transfer out of this place.

“No, Stevie did good, I’m tired, I need space.” I panted as Dave supported me while I faded back into reality.

I was ashen, sweaty, my circle was getting agitated. I closed my eyes and pulled away from Stevie as I took some calming breaths and consciously put out waves of calm. Agonizingly slowly, the room’s tension level dropped. Stevie, to his credit, realized he was harming his mistress, and slinked away to his spot as he tried to shrink to nothing. Satisfied no fight was going to break out, the orderlies went back to what they were doing.

Many in my broken circle were like Stevie, though not nearly so broken. None were there by my own choice. The staff had long ago learned if I connected, my psyche would smooth over rough spots in their minds as a self defense measure. For this reason, I was exposed to much I would rather have avoided, and being involved in pharmatherapy. So, I was constantly in a fight or flight mode, connecting to form walls of protection, even though that protection was poisoning me. Another reason I had to leave.

“What can we do to help?” Dave started as I settled again.

“Right now, I just need time, got to let the pharms settle.”

“As you wish.”

The night was perfect for a run, clouds covered the moon and the cold moist air stifled sound. As I lie on my bunk above my desk, I reached out. My sober-ish mind was far more alert than it had been in quite a while, it kinda felt good. Residents wrapped themselves in their blankets and the few staff that ran the night shift distracted themselves between rounds with television and/or games. The night on the edge of my perceptions boded ill, something heinous was on its way.

“It’s now or never.” I sighed to myself, rising to quietly pack my bag.

“I can’t let you go, Eve.” Martina, my roommate whispered, “Not alone.”

It had taken years, but I had connected with her, and now she was one of the more ‘loyal’ of my circle. I didn’t like putting them in needless danger, which was why I didn’t tell them I was going. It seemed I too, lacked the ability to hide my inadvertent telegraphs. Though I knew he had some gaps in his power, McHenry had fewer than I. I just hoped McHenry was a friend and that he would help me hone my abilities, because I had no idea how. In the end, one thing was certain, even if I found no help, staying in ‘homes’ and ‘facilities’ was not going to work anymore. I had to be able to come and go as I pleased; I had to make a perfect circle, I had to stay safe.

“It’s too dangerous, I can’t let you come.” I insisted, no one else needed to die for me.

“Safety in numbers, Eve, it’s either together or not at all.” She placed her hand on the call button near the door for emphasis.

Martina was a little older than I, she had been here far longer, as well. Her mixed Hispanic and Irish heritage was quite pleasing to the eye, like Helen of Troy; her voice, was like that of a siren could lure even the strongest to an early grave. While she had no power on her own, she had an obstinance that would put an army of donkeys to shame.

“Together then.” I allowed, I could ditch her later if need be.

The passages were deafeningly silent, though the shined tile floors threatened to shatter the calm should we misstep. As we made our way to the garage and workshops, I stretched and strained to detect even a hint that something was amiss. While there was more cameras and checkpoints on this path, it was the best way out, through the common room which lead to the gardens.

Out of the corner of my mind, I felt a presence I had hoped to not feel ever again. We rounded a corner into the common room, and there was Stevie, presenting me with a bag of...

“Good god Stevie!” whisper-screamed Martina, “Is that, blood!? Why would you do that?”

“Really, you're not concerned over whose blood it is, that is a lot.” I softly scoffed as Stevie’s face went blank.

“Miss Master is in danger, she needs power, blood can give her that...” He meekly squeaked.

Before I could ask how he knew, Martina demanded to know if the donor was dead.

“Miss Master does not approve of killing, Stevie did not kill” he believed he left the person alive, that was something, right?

I had only unintentionally learned about blood being a source of power, before I arrived at the facility, and chose not to share it with anyone. After all, it was disgusting, and they already thought I was crazy. I knew fresh blood was best, unknown blood was dangerous, and not knowing how it was harvested was a problem as well. I had no intention of consuming it, but I accepted it just to keep him quiet as we moved on.

As we got to the middle of the room, in slow motion deer sized ursine-lizard hybrids smashed through the windows. The creatures growled and sniff the air, as Martina darts off they hone in on me, and Stevie rushes them, shouting for me to run. I don’t know what he expected to accomplish against several beasts larger than he was, but I didn’t question it while I darted behind a couch. Never before had I wanted access to the dragon blades I used in Stevie’s mind so badly. Even if I was a fighter in reality, there was no weapons around to wield. Erratically the three of us darted here and there, grabbing anything we could hurl at the beasts or hit them with as we scurried from hiding spot to hiding spot. Stevie was a bit more aggressive, seeing it as his duty to protect me in the physical world after all the bad stuff I had to deal with in his head. We were out matched.

But, just as Stevie was extinguished, lifting a weight from my mind, the rest of the circle arrived on the scene with the night staff. Best news of all, they brought weapons. Showing some level of intelligence, the beasts shifted their focus to the armed adults. Us kids took to the edges to harass the enemies with thrown toys and art supplies.

With so much activity in the room and emotions erupting, it was both a good, and dangerous time to try to stretch my senses. Deciding to take my chances, I found a nice place to sit and concentrate. With a deep breath, I closed my eyes and opened my mind to embrace eternity. I managed a rickety bridge amongst my circle, but the adults resisted. Using the senses of all the spokes I had, I was able to coordinate their actions better while I still tried to build a bridge with the rest.

Chaos slowly began to be beaten by order, but suddenly I was struck by a beast. The cry of pain and anguish from my circle rose as one as bullets pelted the beast, forcing the beast to back off. While I was distracted by my own pain, I couldn’t focus the forces and the order flashed away, I felt the lives of several fade.

My body was bashed, my face scratched, my life was slipping through my fingers. I had no choice, while the beasts began to focus on those that remained, I used the blood Stevie brought. I started to recover, but the resistance stopped and the beasts converged on me. As I accepted my fate, I felt McHenry approach, so did the beasts.

With blade and bullets, McHenry began clearing the room as others of our race assisted with mind domination tactics I didn’t know existed.

“Her aura is fading.” I heard another speak up, “The blood was not harvested correctly...”

“But it gave her time.” McHenry returned as he came to stand over me. “Princess Alura, we have finally found you, please stay calm, preserve your light, we will take care of this...”

“We are knights, not healers...” the other voice spoke up, “And most of our tech is damaged, we still can’t call the home world for pick up...”

“We just have to wait, they know we were lost and they will keep looking for us, just as we didn’t give up.” McHenry maintained, “As far as her health, our field medic should suffice, we just have to keep her alive until we get back to the base.”

“What about the humans?”

“We don’t have time, and they can’t know about us, leave them.”

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As It Appears