A/N: From my old NaNo document. I wrote a bit of this and never posted it... Don't really know what I'll do with it. It's a piece with far too much stream-of-consciousness and italics, but hope you enjoy it anyway. :)
(In case you're completely confused, here's the little summary: If he's not careful, he'll start daydreaming. If he starts daydreaming, he'll fall into his fantasies. And if he falls into his fantasies... Well. They aren't the safest places, to say in the least.)
Crack. Crack in the ground. Crack on the wall. Crack on the ceiling. Little slither of black, just a slash, whispering, calling, murmuring Philippe... Phillip... Sir Phillip, Mister Phil, Phil-of-the-West, Song Weaver, Wretched One. Whoever you are.
Crack in the ground, crack on the wall, crack on the ceiling.
Crack in the boy.
Not quite here. Not all of him here. A crack and a vacancy in his mind: a reminder of the him out there.
“So, Phil. Are you ready to begin?”
The boy's head snaps up quickly, blue eyes wide. Guarded. Like an animal ready to bolt.
But no. That's not him. That's not Phil. Phil can't do that. He's in a – a psychiatrist's office. That place. Where they send the crazy, the loony, the insane. He's not insane. He doesn't belong there. But that doesn't mean he can run. He can't, shouldn't, won't. The Lady – Mom? – told him not to. Besides, he likes the cracks in this office. They have stories to tell.
Just like he has stories to tell.
“Yeah,” he mumbles.
“Good. My name is Dr. Stenson, but you can call me Miss Sophia. Alright? Good. So, Phil...”
My name's not Phil. Stop calling me that.
“... I hear from your family that you've – ”
“ – been hearing voices lately?”
Like it's the most natural thing in the world.
He shrugs. Keep it neutral, keep it vague. Eyes on the ground. They can't torture it out of him. Can't. Never will. He'd keep their secrets to the end of the world.
“Would you mind telling me a bit about them?” the doctor asks.
“They won't shut up,” he replies immediately, and collapses into laughter like it's the funniest thing in the world. And it is. They haven't shut up for how many years? Ten. Give or take a few.
Unperturbed, the good doctor – no, she's not good until she proves herself, isn't that what Mav always says? – doctor nods and writes a bit on her clipboard. “I see.”
She says that exactly because she doesn't.
“What do they say to you?”
The boy ponders a bit. “Which one?”
“Whichever one you'd like to start with.”
“Well...” the boy trails off, tracing the scars on his wrist. Should he? Should he risk it – again? Because last time it worked so well... “There's Hadrian,” he started, hesitantly. Just – just throwing it out there. What she does with it is her problem.
“Hadrian?” Scribble, scribble. “And what's he like?”
“He's – a lot of things. He likes swords, but doesn't fight. That's just because his dad is... was… the king, and he was always getting into fights with his brothers until he accidentally hurt his sister in one of them. So he stopped. Um...” the boy pauses, gauging the doctor's reaction.
She looks up from her clipboard and smiles at him encouragingly. It’s so obvious it’s just a mask for her disbelief. “Go on,” she presses.
“He... he's exiled right now because of Rydian. Rydian's always – ”
“Rydian? Is that another one of your voices?”
“Um, no, he's the king's magician. He... doesn't talk to me. I wouldn't want him to.” The boy shuddered.
“He’s… weird. He’s always doing weird stuff. Casting spells, making potions. That stuff. He spends all of his time in his dungeons. And he gives us a creepy feeling.”
The doctor’s good, as in well-trained. There’s only a flicker of the eyes when she hears the plural pronoun. “Okay. But he’s not one of your voices, so how do you know about him?”
“Hadrian told me,” the boy says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “He’s been investigating Rydian for years.”
The doctor nods slowly. Maybe she isn’t sure she believes him. She probably doesn’t. But she hasn’t gotten out the phone yet, so that’s a point in his book already. “Okay. And what about your other voices?”
“There’s Solena. She’s kind of quiet, since she moved to a new school. And I think she likes me.” He wrinkles his forehead, just a little. “I don’t know why. And then there’s Chase, he lives on a spaceship called The Infinity. And…”
He stops. What is he doing?
“Phil?” the doctor prompts. “Is there something wrong?”
“You don’t believe me,” he states.
She looks taken aback. Unsure. Uncertain of what to say. “Well,” she says slowly. “I’ve never met them before.”
“No. But you didn’t know me before, and you believed I existed.”
“But I had proof of you,” she says as gently as possible. “I had reports, papers, pictures. I only have what you tell me for them.”
He stares at her, then grunts. “Whatever,” he says. “Believe me or not. I don’t care.” He doesn’t. He doesn’t care. Once, he did. Not anymore. He doesn’t care about this world anymore.
She puts the clipboard on lap. “I’m trying to help,” she tells him quietly. “That’s my job.”
“What if I don’t need help?” he snaps.
“Then just tell me like you’d tell anyone else,” she replies. “I’m not your psychiatrist right now. I’m just your friend.”
“I already have friends.”
“I believe you,” she says, so utterly serious that she shocks him into silence. “Would you mind letting me into that group of friends?”
He stares at her for a long time. She’s asking for his trust. She’s asking for his friendship. Why would he even consider…
But she’s the first one. The first one who cares. Does she really believe him? She might not – that’s most likely. She probably doesn’t. No one of this world does. But if she did –
“Okay,” he mutters. And shrugs like it isn’t a big deal. It isn’t, it isn’t.
“Good.” She smiles, but doesn’t pick up her clipboard again. “Alright. Now, who else’s in your head?”
Kicking off his shoes, he pulls up his legs onto the chair and folds them. Cross-legged is the position he’s most comfortable with, ever since Mahawa – that time. “I don’t really have voices,” he begins.
“But they are my friends.”
His blank, solid black eyes bore into hers. “Do you… Have you ever daydreamed?”
She laughs. “Of course I have. A lot more when I was younger, and even more in college during my professors’ boring lectures, but yes, I have. Many people have.”
“Okay.” He pauses. Here it comes, here it comes. “Then will you believe me when I say I fall into my daydreams?”
She blinks. “Pardon me? Did you just say…”
“Yeah,” he affirms. “I fall into my daydreams. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting there and some kid with a Harry Potter book will go by, and I’ll think – ”
He stops abruptly.
“You’ll think wiz– ”
“Don’t say it!” he barks suddenly. “I told you, if I think – ” His expression was tormented, pained, stiff. For a long moment he remains frozen and blank; then finally he relaxes and sighs. “I told you,” he mutters. “If I think anything, I’ll start daydreaming. And if I daydream, I’ll fall into it.”
The doctor is pale and shocked. Her eyes are wide; he can just see the thoughts running around in her head: what do I do with this crazy kid? She’ll probably report him as a nutcase. Insane. He’s not insane. He’s never been and never will be, but people don’t believe him anyway. This is the truth. Sometimes the truth’s crazy, Mav says. And Mav’s usually right.
See what your blathering has done? A little voice sneers. You should have known better than to trust someone from this world.
“Oh,” she manages finally. Suddenly she looks reluctant.
He bites his lip. That’s probably the end of the game for them. “Sorry,” he says, though he doesn’t know why he’s apologizing. It’s not like he said anything bad. It’s not like he cursed or raved or hit her. But sorry just feels like the right word to say right now.
It’s hard when you sound crazy even to your own ears.
“It’s okay,” she reassures him, her composure back. “I was just a bit surprised. Go on.”
But he doesn’t now, because he sees clearly that she wasn’t just a bit surprised. So he keeps his mouth shut.
“Go ahead. I believe you.”
“No you don’t,” he spits out, almost startled with the amount of disgust in his own voice. “No one does.”
“I can’t help you if you won’t talk.”
“Maybe I don’t need help.”
“Phil. If you’re falling into your daydreams, you do need help.”
She says it so utterly seriously that he looks up, wide eyed and disbelieving. And sees the truth in her eyes.
Truth? Truth? Why does she believe him? She should be laughing, or scowling, or shaking her head at him. No one believes him. No one.
“Why...” the boy whispers in disbelief. “Why do you believe me?”
She smiles and crosses her arms. “I used to do it myself, pretty often. When I was a child.”
She shrugs. “Had a big imagination. I’m guessing you have the same. I used to black out for days in my early teens – had to take weeks of sick days and even repeated a year.” She chuckled. “Those were hard times. But then they stopped.”
“How?” he rasps out, hope daring to kindle in his chest. If only. If only if only if only. He doesn’t know what to think – could he dare hope?
“It’s torture, isn’t it? To have to control every thought you think. To shut down your brain so you won’t zap to another world. It’s hard.”
“What do I do?”
“It’s easy.” She reaches opens a drawer in her desk, pulls something rectangular and black out, and places it in his hands.
It’s a notebook.
“Write it down,” she tells him. “That helped me more than any drug I took, any of the stuff doctors forced down my throat. You’ve got to write it down. It’s the only way to get them out.”
He doesn’t speak a word, but gratitude is there. Clutching the notebook, he nods at her as she tells him that the session’s over, and see you next week. Doesn’t look in her eyes, because maybe she’ll see his eyes and the shine in them. Doesn’t talk to the Lady as she escorts him out of the offices, doesn’t speak when she asks him how thing with the psychiatrist went.
Breathe. Don’t think. Don’t think at all.
As they walk out to the car, he keeps his eyes on the ground, still clutching the notebook she gave him. Keeps his eyes on the cracks. So reliable, cracks. Don’t lie, don’t tell people there is nothing wrong with you.
Cracks in the asphalt, cracks in the sidewalk, cracks in the boy. Cracks where reality ends and dragons begin. Spaceships shuttle colonies. Giant machines run the entire world. Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think.
“Mom,” he says. “Do you have a pen?”
Once upon a time. Onceuponatime. There was..
“Whatcha writing?” Hadrian asks.
The boy looks down in his hands. Oh. The notebook followed him here. Can’t think why. Maybe it’s because he was writing in it when he…?
“Dunno,” he says. “Something. I don’t know yet.”
“Hm,” Hadrian says, flopping down onto the grass and stretching out like a cat. The boy sits down next to him. Cross legged as always. “How did your psy – what did you call it?”
“Psychiatrist session,” the boy reminds him.
“Right, that. How did it go?”
Somehow, when Hadrian asks him, it isn’t as hard to answer as the Lady’s questioning. “It went okay,” the boy said. “She gave me this book.”
“Ooh. A lady. Was she hot?”
The boy shrugs.
Hadrian sighs. “Theila is being a pest right now,” he says amiably. “Can’t buy the dresses she wants, can’t go out with her friends, can’t stand to be stuck in the palace – ” He sat up suddenly. “Can’t she understand that we’re in a war right now?”
“She’s only sixteen,” the boy says. “She probably can’t.”
“You’re only fourteen,” Hadrian points out.
“No I’m not.” The boy stares at him. “I’m not ‘only fourteen.’”
Hadrian lets out a breath. “No,” he says. “I suppose you’re not.”
Onceuponatime onceuponatime the world fell into chaos and disorder. Only a percentage of mankind escaped with their lives, braving the perils of galactic travel and establishing rudimentary colonies on Mars.
Once upon a time, there was a –
“Spaceship,” the boy mutters, letting the ball of his pen drag over the paper deliberately.
“What did you say?” Mav swivels his captain’s chair around and gives him a look.
The boy shrugs.
Exasperated, Mav swivels back to his controls. “I’ve told you a hundred times,” he says. “It’s not a spaceship. It’s a – ”
“Highly esteemed transport for use in high space,” the boy murmurs, letting a ghost of a smile drift over his face. “I know.”
Mav snorts. “Sure you do. Everyone does. Never mind that I hear that word every day from some snot-nosed newbie who thinks he can call this beauty of a transport a spaceship. That’s the word they teach toddlers for the letter ‘S’!” He swears loudly. The boy lifts his pen from the paper. Maybe he won’t put that in.
It’s comforting in Mav’s cockpit. Usually there are other pilots in the chamber, but late in the night – like now – it’s just them. Mav’s a bit like a father to him – well, maybe more like an uncle or godfather. For all his rough edges, Mav likes to spoil him. In general, the boy likes the people of this world. Mostly they’re pilots or crewmen. They were intimidating strangers before, but now they’re like family. This world’s one of the ones he most likes.
“Mav,” the boy says after staring at the blank pages of his notebook for a while. He hasn’t gotten further than spaceship. “Do you have any stories to tell?”
It’s a redundant question. Mav grins slowly. “Who do you think you’re asking? This is the captain of The Infinity speaking, Phil. Now which one do you want to hear?”
Once upon a time, there was a castle forgotten by many, even by the most avid of historians. It had no name, no ruler, and no rules to govern its domain. No human ever entered and came out alive without its permission. Those who had been unfortunate to stumble upon its gates disappeared as soon as they crept through the castle’s barriers. One day, a boy, brave and blessed with the protection of nature itself, ventured into the castle and its maze of corridors and rooms in search for the rumored treasure, the Ruby Penchant of Angolin…
“Hullo, Phil!” Tyr exclaims, looking down at him curiously.
The boy looks up at the other, pausing his scribbling. He felt something cold and familiar against his back a while ago. It’s just the stone walls of this castle. The two of them are in a long, dark hall that smells damp and moldy. Tyr’s dressed for the weather, but Phil isn’t.
Shivering a bit, the boy pulls into himself and balls up.
“Hang on a bit, I think I’ve got a blanket.” Tyr rummages in his light backpack and pulls out a thick, wool blanket that looks too big to fit in the backpack. He tosses it to him. “’ere you go.”
“Thanks,” the boy mumbles.
“So what’s in the book?” Tyr asks, sitting down next to him.
The boy shrugs and hands Tyr the notebook.
After reading a bit, Tyr leans back and smiles. “Nice!” he says, and passes it back. “Here. I’ll narrate and you can write it down. That way you won’t miss out on the stuff I’ve been doing while you weren’t here.”
Phil nods and places his pen on the paper.
A/N: This is my experiment to combine messy narrative and fantastical worlds in one story. Except I haven't finished it. I hope this wasn't too messy to read. o.o;;