The Aberration #3
Since Aberrations started appearing across the globe, the world was trapped in a communal nightmare. Children tossed away, instead of nurtured. Their gifts only seen as dangers, not a blessing, all hitting the teenagers right as they are trying to come into themselves.
At some point we all get lost in our dreams of what will be or what could be, but for Peyton Lark, trying to find the right path in his visions has him slipping into a delirium of insanity. The Seer among those who’ve hidden away on an island knows when visions increase, they are closing in on becoming reality.
While he has the ability to see danger coming, it doesn’t mean he can find the path to avoid it. With his other half, his love Claire Lawrence, being taken from him over and over in painful nightmares his main focus turns to saving her, with the rest a distant second. But the path isn’t changing no matter how much he tries to manipulate the dream.
Can Peyton find the way to save those around them from a weapon created for their complete annihilation? Or will he at least be able to spin the dream to save the one person who anchors him fully?
BUY THE BOOK
Knowing you’re in a dream is far from believing you’re in a dream. There’s a fine line when it comes to nightmares, especially when you’re in class and wide awake. Being a daydreamer had my parents coming to the office more times than either parent wanted to. Then again, coming to the office for anything beyond being told your child was earning a special reward would be more than any parent wanted to do. Now my mind was wondering if that actually happened. Probably not, that was noteworthy. A letter sent home to mom and dad with a child living in fear from the time the last bell rung until their parents had the letter it hand. Quite sadistic if you think about it.
Sadly, I was back in the office for daydreaming. More of the screaming when the soldiers came in, shot my teacher and held a gun to my head. Only there were no soldiers. We were reading from a comic book version of a Midsummer’s Night Dream. Just a few scenes, short enough to play out in thirty minutes, I’d been assigned Puck for obvious reasons. The class clown, if it weren’t for my perfect grades and the fact on the idiot tests, I graded above a high school graduate, both in reading and vocabulary, I would have been kicked out long ago.
Hard to be on an IEP, independent educational plan, when your grades say you probably would have no issue in classes four years ahead of where you were. Being already two years ahead, another four would put me in college and I’m not sure my mother could handle the lack of social media posting access.
“Mr. Lark,” Principal Neuman called, his pot belly straining the bottom buttons of his shirt. Thankfully, the ridiculous tie he wore covered the poor things.
What may have been a joke when he’d been a teacher now became his trademark. The man had to own the largest collection of tacky ties in the Tri-State area. One would hope no one else would wear them with pride, daily, even to high-class functions. Today’s tie appeared new and was some sort of fish. Bass, walleye, perch, who knew it wasn’t something that interested me. While the ties were supposed to break down the barrier and bring the student or parent ease at the authority figure, having a dead fisheye looking up at me had the exact opposite effect.
“Cool tie,” I said, not wanting to break with the tradition the kids had allowed me to join in with as I went into the cramped office and sat.
Being smart in high school is hard. Being taller than most of the teachers and students is harder yet. Being twelve, while being the former, in high school is the hardest.
“Your parents are on their way, but until they get here, how about we talk?” Mr. Neuman suggested.
Really? Without my parents? Now why would this man want me to do that? The last thing I wanted to do was speak to Nutty Neuman with his feel good, but gotta be tough mentality. This outburst should have been handled by one of the three vice principals if memory served. Then again, this was my fifth outburst in as many classes. Why my dreams couldn’t stay locked away in my unconscious state, I would never know. Then again, with how boring I found the classes, they may be in my unconscious.
Paying attention was key, watching as Mr. Neuman’s mouth moved, and eyebrows raised. Trying not to get distracted by the white bits of gunk forming on the corners of his lips before he took a drink from his thermos. The smell of old coffee filled the air around me and I gripped the steel covered in faux leather armrest of my chair. I was drifting again, lost in the moment, and was teetering on the edge of another daydream. The frequency with which I’m being attacked by them had me reading up on schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
“We know you’re bored in classes,” Mr. Neuman stated, his tone enough to keep me from running down a rabbit hole. “That doesn’t mean you can become a real Puck.”
“What did you say to my son?” my mother snapped as she stepped into the office with my father in tow.
Practically stumbling from his chair, Mr. Neuman stood and held his hands at his waist, but palms flat accidentally tipping over his thermos. The clattering of which as it rolled to the floor had my mind flashing to the dream from first hour and I shook my head to clear it before it hit me with full force. Déjà vu, the plague of my existence, it seems as of late.
“Puck, he’s playing that role in Ms. Gardner’s class,” Mr. Neuman bent over to get his thermos as my mother slid her hand over my shoulder protectively. “Did he not tell you?”
“Of course he did. We discuss Peyton’s school work every night at supper,” my father stated, jaw tight and frustration showing in his dark eyes. “Did Ms. Gardner misread the play?”
“No, no,” Mr. Neuman indicated for my parents to sit in the last two seats in his office as he closed the door this time. “Nothing like that. I’ve been reviewing Peyton’s record with the other administrators, and this isn’t his first outburst in class.”
“Outburst? We weren’t even told there was an issue with Peyton,” my mother admonished, folding her peacoat and settling into the meeting. “Not even a letter home.”
“We try our best to keep the parents out of our discipline—”
“Discipline,” my father barked. Being a surgeon, I knew there was a high chance he’d pushed back a patient or worse yet, had a colleague covering call. “You’ve been disciplining our son without our knowledge.”
Biting my lips, I fought the urge to jump up and whoop. No reason to encourage what would happen when I got home by being my father’s champion now. While outwardly I could see they were on my side, internally I knew grounding was only level one of my punishments.
“Minor infractions,” Mr. Neuman pleaded.
“That will be on his record, and we had no knowledge of it,” my mother countered.
“Have you been pencil whipping our son?” my father asked. “I demand to see his record, the full one.”
“No, no, I swear—”
“Don’t, we want it now,” my father said. “Peyton is a special child with potential beyond your imagining. Now I don’t know if it’s his brain, age or skin color that’s intimidating to you, but you will not hamstring my son with little digs at his character. Especially with no indication to his parents how and why he is being chastised.”
The back and forth lasted less than five minutes, with my mother and father winning the argument, but when I got home, I would be the casualty of the war.
“We could easily put him in one of the dozen private schools that offered him entry,” my father said as he stood. “But the variety of classes here, and the fact his older siblings have matriculated from this public institution, gave us hope you could handle our son. Obviously. we were wrong.”
“I’ve been speaking with the local middle school principals, and I reviewed Peyton’s birthday.”
“No, you don’t,” my father snapped, his finger cutting through the air like a switch cut from a tree. “My son is not one of those freaks.”
“He fits the criteria,” Mr. Neuman stated, and my mother stood, yanking my shirt to pull me up as well. “We don’t know—”
“Exactly, we don’t know, but last I checked, my son hadn’t electrocuted anyone, started a fire with his bare hands or threw a car in a fit of anger.” When my father crossed his arms, it was more than a barrier, it was a warning, one Mr. Neuman was as oblivious to as he was his ties’ appeal.
“Peyton is almost thirteen, and we aren’t sure what these abnormal—”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” my mother countered. “I’m insulted that you would put my child in with those freaks.”
While I was allowed to be special, it was more of in a picture-perfect way when it came to my mother. The middle child of five, I learned early on, probably before I could lift my head on my own how to pose. What a camera was and what was expected of me when it was pulled out.
Social media wise, in public, we were the perfect family. Perfectly curated pictures, even the ones that were supposed to show how crazy we could be with our tongues sticking out or tossing a cake in our face. At times, I wondered what was real and what was an image. To the world my mother was a volunteering supermom, with five kids, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy as if she’d planned it that way. Spaced as happy surprises, but I knew better. I’d been more than aware of the fertility struggles my parents had starting with me. But Sandra Lark had a brand. One, to me, my father indulged a bit too much.
“I want his full record printed out now and we will have a line-by-line discussion when I’ve reviewed it,” my father warned. “What class are you missing?”
“Trig,” I said meekly.
“Get back to class. I’m sure you can give him a pass to avoid another infraction on his record.” The stare burned from my father and asserted on Mr. Neuman made me wonder if he was one of those laser beam kids. Lord knows Mr. Neuman moved fast enough to make one wonder.
Three days later, it wasn’t my scream that was real. It belonged to others, and I had no reason to scream because what was playing out had tormented my waking and sleeping thoughts. I’d seen the movie and knew when to jump. Only they weren’t soldiers, they were men who believed they’d been ordained by God to save the world from creatures like me. Ms. Gardner’s head splatted on the whiteboard in an arch as the bullets riddled her body. The drills on active shooters automatic, only the shooter was in our room. We couldn’t duck or cover, there was no blocking the doorway and piling desks until we heard the all clear from the police. The others in the class didn’t need to fear, not that I could explain that to them. I knew the second gunman was for me.
The rest of the class scattered to the edges, and I stayed put, script in front of me, and decided the time to lie was now if I ever was to survive. My acting was beyond sub-par, then again, I doubted this man was a Rhodes Scholar or a fan of the theatre, r-e version that, at the least.
“You brought a gun.” I shook my head and stood. The man flacked up with patches that had as much meaning in the world as my little sister’s sticker collection. Sure, they were pretty, but in the grand scheme of things, it meant we went to Disney one year and Wall Drug the next. For this weekend-warrior-wanna-be, my only hope came from my size and the fear of the unknown. “When you don’t even know what power I possess, let me guess, you did a search for two-thousand babies with the county registry. Then cross-referenced with the schools and found out one wasn’t in the middle school. Thought two of you would be enough to handle me while the rest of your monosyllabic knuckle dragging friends mowed down the middle schools.”
Each step I took forward, he took one back, his hands trembling and finger nowhere near the trigger. My dream, while partially true, had been little more than a warning. One with no time, just a place for me to avoid. Only I couldn’t avoid English class forever, no matter how much I wanted to. They would find me, kill my teacher as if Ms. Gardner would be inclined to a heroic gesture and try to save me. The thought alone ridiculous.
“What about these kids? They haven’t determined if it’s only us kids born in two thousand that got it.” Another step while his friend tried to get him to focus, but his gun was swooping through the room now, as I wasn’t the only threat to him or his automatic gun wielding friend.
“Don’t throw us into this,” Gunner, a kid who’d been held back a year, said. “You know none of that crap you freaks do. Don’t listen to him. All he has is a big brain.”
“One that’s trying to control you, Roy, don’t let him,” his friend hollered, though I noticed the sweat practically running down his face.
“Something tells me control is in your future,” I replied, glancing over at Ms. Gardner, her eye fixed and open, the other side of her face gone. Lord knew where the other eye was.
Hunting the mutants or not, he’d killed a teacher. My teacher and while not my favorite, it still shouldn’t be a job where you’d get killed outside of a random electrocution from a frayed wire the school didn’t have the money to replace. But I lived in suburbia, and we had the money for the best of everything and none of the money was put into basic security.
“Tell me something,” I asked, both men nearly jammed into the door frame. “Who truly has the power in this situation?”
* * *
Five years later
By seventeen, I’d experienced more than my fair share of wet dreams. Honestly, I’d woken in piss-soaked sheets some mornings until early elementary, even with an early evening cut off for liquids. That was then replaced with the prepubescent dreams brought on by the funny feeling I got when I saw a pretty girl. My current soaked clothing wasn’t the shameful urine, or the satisfaction of the hormone induced dream of a perfect girl. No, my back was soaked as if from a fever inducing dream. With a quick roll to sit on the side of my bed, a chill ran down my back, causing me to twitch. At some point, I should be allowed to outgrow rubber sheets. Really, it was a mattress cover made for liquid spills, but I was closer to being an adult than a child. Sadly, my sweat was far from a pop exploding when it opened, wetting the sheets.
Running my hand over my normally clean-shaven head, I glanced at the outline of my body. The pale blue sheets darkened in a practical chalk outline type of way and I knew they would have to be washed. My pillow too. Claire, my girlfriend, told me I never move until I wake up and thankfully she was on the other side of the bed. I’ve stopped screaming most times. At least I learned to control my escape from the dream.
Sweat soaked my shirt completely and the top of my shorts. Standing, I took off my t-shirt and tossed it on the floor. Blessed to have my own bathroom, I crossed to the small three-quarter bathroom. Running the water, the blessing it was slightly above freezing, gave me a chance to splash water on my face. The cold waking me fully from the nightmare currently plaguing me. At one time it had been distant. Now I walked freely, replaying options, and trying to force a different outcome.
Bracing on the pedestal sink, I stared at myself in the mirror. My head in desperate need of a shave, not my face so much, but my hair had grown in a bit, and I knew I would need to get rid of it. Growing up, I would go to the barber at least once a month. Getting lined up, even if my hair was long with thick curls, I kept the sides short.
A soft, familiar hand glided up the center of my back as a second came around my stomach and I captured that one with my own hand. Bringing the delicate hand to my lips and kissing the center of Claire’s palm.
“Again,” she said as she rested her cheek on my back. How she could stand it, I don’t know. I needed a shower. I’m sure my skin was sticky if not wet still. “Same one, Peyton?”
“I better clean up,” I said, tapping her hand three times to signal her to release me, but she wouldn’t. Not now, not after the dream that attacks at night. “Baby.”
It was useless. Claire could see deep inside of me and wouldn’t allow me to get a pass. One of the many reasons I cared for her, the love she showed me nearly three-fold.
“I checked the calendar,” she said, and I closed my eyes, not wanting to hear what she would say next. My tracker, my other half, the one person I can never lie to and who sees the real me all the time. “Eight days. It’s been eight days.”
Eight days since this vision haunted me. The curse of being a seer. Visions came to me all day long. Some small, some big. All confusing the real from the imagined when they are vivid. This one choked me, tangled me, pulled me under and I was spun. Only it was a repeat. Possibly giving me new information, but I didn’t want to document the dream with the others in my notebook.
The stack high with college ruled sheets filled with convoluted dreams. Starting when I was young and had night terrors. My mother telling me to tell her the stories to get them out of my head. As if telling the nightmare would make it go away. She started writing them down until one of my nightmares came true. From then on she told me to write my own. No knowledge, no guilt, I assume. Not sure why, school shootings, even at elementary schools, were sadly normal. What made her think I had some psychic power? I didn’t. Psychics could focus on a person, I got visions. Some simple, some twisted.
Claire tried to get me to type them up and catalog them, but I had gotten too used to writing them down. Plus, the computer was my escape. The last thing I wanted to do was cross the world of make believe and reality. My visions did that enough for me.
“You know what it means, denying it only makes it worse,” she said, sliding to my side.
Her tiny frame barely came to my chest. Her normally silvery hair was an ash blonde, and I ran my fingers through it hoping it would ease her worry. Instead, it darkened more. Soul readers wore more than their heart on their sleeve. Every bit of her worry played out in her eyes and hair. Gorgeous when fire red, with eyes ruby. Sadly, her worry was dark. Never to the point of midnight, at least not in a few years. I’d been there when she arrived, dark, curled in a ball from and aching belly as she had been in my nightmares.
“I’ll shower, regroup and try to process, that okay with you?” I questioned, not wanting to sound irritated even though I was.
“I’m going to get dressed and check out the fresh snow,” she acquiesced, her hand trailing on mine. “I heard Gordan and Petra finally have that greenhouse set up in the courtyard. Maybe I’ll get you something.”
I caught her hand in mine and pulled her back, capturing her lips for long enough, her hair deepened into an amber shade for a moment.
“It’s fine, I promise,” I said when I broke from the kiss. “Let me shower, check the world, and meet you in the courtyard.”
Watching as she pulled on pair of pants and a sweater, before tying her hair back, I was hoping the red tint would stay, but the darkness fade away. Sadly, it didn’t. At least her eyes were a shade of blue, that gave me hope as she tugged on a hat.
Flipping on the spray, I waited for it to warm up, knowing it may never get more than lukewarm. At least I have a space to think. Doubled up only because Claire and I were a couple, not out of necessity. The latest hiding place in disrepair we got for a steal under the shell companies and cash given from the elders. A former asylum, tucked away on an overgrown island in the middle of a lake, currently iced in since we had moved into Canada. Crossing through a mix of leaping, cash payouts and weak spots in the border. Countries no longer mattered to us, those born in the year two-thousand. The aberrations were a country unto themselves, for the time being.
That time slowly slipping away, this time the soldiers would be real and would win. I hadn’t been able to find a way out of it. The twisted dreams now compounding the main one had us regulated. In locked dorms or prisons. At first, I thought it was the asylum we found. The rooms have heavy metal doors that could be locked from the outside. A feature we quickly remedied before taking up residence. Too many in Satori, the country we’d created, had been in camps before. Government run, easily identified by the smiling faces on the brochures and the screams of pain on the inside.
No, move in day wasn’t enough to stop the dreams, which meant all in Satori were going to be taken. At some point, a government from some country would capture us, lock us away and this time there would be no escape. I’d dog walk them all as if I were playing a video game, waking before losing all my lives and still I hadn’t figured a way out. In less than a year, we would be wearing matching uniforms and training for a war we didn’t start or ask for.
Stepping in the spray, my body seized, the water, mixing with the cool air hitting me in all the wrong ways. Why couldn’t it have been a sex dream? At least then the cold water would have served a purpose. Instead, it was going to fill my lungs with pneumonia as I scrubbed off the sweat and tried to clear my head. There wasn’t a cheat code to my dreams, God knows I’ve tried to find one. They had to be pieced together. I had to examine every nook and cranny to discover the out, but I was only one person and with no one able to meld into my dream I was on my own.
What irritated me the most was I was the sole person tasked with this curse. The seer. The one who is more accurate than a horoscope. All of it bull, because no matter how much I wander in a dream state, I couldn’t make this one stop.
Getting out, I toweled off and headed toward the window of my room that overlooked the courtyard while I dressed. Corner room, top floor, for some a penthouse, for me a prison. Much like in the past, I have a room of computers running twenty-four seven. Tapped into satellites and more. I watched as Claire cut through the thickening snow and into the new greenhouse. Fogged glass from the heat meeting the cold air housing the newly grown garden. There was little left of the courtyard itself. The squared space now had an arched building with dark figures moving inside.
A pain shot through my eye and into my skull, sending me stumbling backward and onto my bed. The vision crystal clear in my right eye while the left stayed locked closed. I no longer had the ability to fight it. Flipping on my stomach, my knees crashed into the floor, my upper body stayed on the bed as my head swum.
These were the worst visions, precise, in full high-definition glory and they could send me into a vomiting fit if I didn’t get it under control. Slamming my right eye shut, I braced, hands gripping the sheet ready for the ride.
A ride, with soldiers, electronic neck collars and a crumbling building. One that was very familiar and not in previous nightmares. Once again, our thoughts of safety trashed. There was no escaping fate, and that bitch was beating down our front door.