Resurrect the Past, Destroy the Future
Time was moving fast, yet the scenery of snow remained unchanged. Every gust of air felt like the phenomenal sensation of having a ghost pass through one’s body. Unfortunately for Ryan, a poltergeist would be a mere child disguised in a white blanket compared to who he was up against.
After a quick shower – the first step he felt necessary to ready himself for the encounter – Ryan instructed Rebecca to keep an eye on Jhenine, claiming he was going to take a stroll somewhere. He made his first step outside and examined the vicinity in anticipation, but there was no one on the streets of the secluded village.
His chest felt heavy, his exhales were relieving and lasted longer; thus, a slow pace sounded like a good idea to him. He left his motorcycle chained to a metal pole on the sidewalk, bearing the thought that he should have, and could have, been at home, spending time with what remained of his family. And the more he should because he had not seen them for nearly a quarter of the year. He passed some houses. Laughter and joy existed inside each one. He hated it! Only because it was something he did not have – no, he despised it… because he could not have it.
When he left the village, the roots of his envy all suddenly disappeared. The roads were busy, the sidewalks were crowded, and stores were still in operation. Ryan felt an awkward comfort. If the majority of the world was in the same state with what was before his eyes, then what he desired was nothing more than an inessential aspiration. He irrationally welcomed the possibility with delight born of resentment. He took his time while crossing the pedestrian lanes, ambling. By the time he halted at a bus stop, it was almost dark. He stared at the surrounding people and withdrew his gaze whenever there was the risk of someone gesturing to return his glance. Ryan no longer considered that the writer of the enigmatic letter was within sight. The possibility of him or her waiting in the designated address seemed the most probable to him.
Christmas was never his favorite. He was sick of people using the holiday as the reason to be kind and charitable. Kindness should not be seasonal, he believed. He wished the world could realize that, but his voice alone was never enough.
The bus was nearly filled with passengers when it arrived. Ryan managed to squeeze through the lines and find himself a seat before it was taken. He inclined his back on the window, closing his eyes.
Nearly an hour had passed by the time he exited the bus. The sun blazed with a golden conflagration over the terrain… somewhere on the other half of the planet (I don’t need omniscience to tell you that). Night had conquered the sky above Ryan in a battle against daylight. The fleet of starts was yet to arrive; the pale moon was the sun’s last vestige, a sign that it had not forsaken them. The forty-five-minute bus ride had taken him to Karlana Nur, the business central of the region. Highways, tunnels, and bridges were tangled in a web of roads. One wrong turn could spell a detour of twenty minutes or so. City lights came from windows, lamps, automobiles, and Christmas decorations. There were no houses; skyscrapers dominated the area. The commercial buildings with the least height were shopping malls that stood at least four stories high.
A few minutes of walking on the sidewalk parallel to wide streets had passed by the time he reached his target destination. Ryan stared at the ruins of a three-floor parking lot wherein a cruel memory resided. There were irregular-shaped holes on the walls. Debris gathered in scattered piles, without any credit to human effort. Withered pillars had collapsed, some overlapping another, and portions of the third floor had sunken to the first level.
Ryan looked at the ground and was apprehended to see footprints on the snow. On the other hand, he felt reassured. Tired, he threw himself on the snow-topped ground, neutralizing the heat in his body with the cold. There, he inspected his ankle if his gun was still holstered in its case that was attached to his lower leg, and it was.
He spent a couple of minutes lying on his back, thinking. Not a single star gleamed in the sky, representing the darkened dome as an empty void. Satisfied with a bit of rest, he entered the ruined building. At his first step, lights flared into illumination. A footstep echoed, and an eerie shadow passed him. Someone knew he was there! He grew tenser and scanned the area in search of the source but did so with no avail. A large chasm rendered a spiral ramp, whose purpose was to connect the first two floors, unusable. The gap was too large form him to leap across. Fortunately, the same person who had activated the lights – or so thought Ryan, at least – had also placed a wooden plank that could serve as a bridge. It was wide enough for him to walk on without the risk of falling due to not enough space for both of his feet, but the question now was if it could endure in supporting him.
He transferred weight to his feet, bracing himself, then dashed through the board and crossed safely. The plank rattled because of his swift yet reckless movements and nearly slid off the edge; luckily, it did not. Ryan adjusted it to lessen the chances of it suddenly falling, hoping to use the plank once more when going down.
He looked around, his body bathed by moonlight. He happened to stand on a portion of the floor that was devoid of its ceiling. His eyes caught something in the darkness but could confirm what it was. When he tried to concentrate on the figure, another burst of light surged and filled the room. The object was actually nothing more than an old car, abandoned by its owner while thought to have been crushed along with the wreckage; though in reality, it was undamaged with a portion of the area. There was one large hole in the opposite side of the room. Ryan gave the undamaged area another glance. Still, there was no one. He inspected behind pillars and looked behind stacks of debris, but his target was too quick for him.
He then remembered what he was here for.
He activated his Vision. His pupils shrunk then expanded insignificantly. The hue of his brown eyes was tinted by a bit of yellow. He felt a flow energy poured through them. His eyes became wide open; his iris shook in resistance against something. Alas, tears formed but remained on his lids as he witnessed a memory which was never his.
A cloud of flames consumed everything within sight. A shockwave ripped everything in its path, tearing a man’s black suit and flesh, his skin was split then burned. Ryan watched as metal bits were blown away, cracks formed on walls, and as the ceiling collapse. Dust mixed with smoke and ash, obscuring the dread sight for moments. When it subsided, blood was seen on broken glass, on the floor… and on dead bodies.
Ryan’s eyes returned to normal. With a blink, the tears landed on his cheeks. While he saw the dread visions, he heard nothing. He saw fires around his body, but he remained unharmed and his clothes were still in one piece. Ryan reactivated his Vision, calling his father’s name, yelling him to run. The man gave no response. In a desperate attempt, Ryan ran after him and tried to touch him. To his dismay, his arm penetrated the suited man like a ghost through a wall. It was as if he was partially existent in the world he had seen, hopelessly watching the events unfold as all he could do was observe, unable influence the outcome. Ryan felt a transfer of weight to the front portion of his body. One of his shoes was on the hole. He swung his arms to retransfer his weight, preventing his fall. If he had continued to pursue the man in his vision, he would have dropped into the first floor with shattered bones.
He was about to reattempt creating an intervention when a man’s hollow voice halted him. “There’s nothing you can do to change the past.” Ryan remained wordless, wishing he could say something to rebut. “There are only two things you change about it: how you feel and what you are going to do.”
“I want revenge… and I’ll get it,” Ryan snarled. He stretched his fingers while trying to locate his gun without relying on sight.
“You won’t. Even with your Vision, you won’t be able to find out who set up the bomb.” The speaker revealed himself to Ryan, but the young man seemed too distressed on what had been said to react at the stranger’s appearance. The man slowly walked closer to him with a commanding height above six feet. His hair was florid; his sideburns were constricted by a gartered headband. The tail of his hair covered his nape. His shoulders were wide, a leather pauldron was equipped on the left. His iris possessed an orange hue and they eyed Ryan predatorily “Tell me… how do you think your Vision works?”
Impulsively, Ryan kicked the wall and leaned his leg. Before he could reach for his gun, the sound akin to the unlocking of a firearm rang. “Don’t move,” the man demanded, coming closer with his weapon aimed. Ryan felt uncomfortable in his position but considered the advantage of having his gun within reach. All he needed was an opportunity to grab it and return aim.
“Who are you?” Ryan said, his shoe slowly slipping down the wall.
“That hurts. I wrote to you twice some months ago. The first even came with a package, a black motorcycle.” The man ended his displacement with a meter between them. “For now, call me ‘Racer.’ Easy to remember, right?”
“So what do you want?” The leg of Ryan’s pants submitted to gravity’s pull and revealed the firearm attached to his ankle. The man who had revealed himself as Racer gave no hint of planning to take it, but Ryan kept alert.
“How rude,” Racer said monotonously. “I was the first to ask, and you still haven’t answered. And now you want me to answer another question? I believe it’s your turn.”
Ryan gritted his teeth. “Fine,” he surrendered uncomfortably, the joints of his leg started to burn.
“Good,” the man said, pleased. “How do you think your Vision works?”
“It lets me see the past,” Ryan replied after some hesitation.
“I didn’t ask you to tell me what it does. I asked you to tell me how you think it works.” The redhead lowered his gun. “Perhaps you are too uncomfortable. You can stand straight now.”
Ryan used the moment to arm himself, unlocking the trigger. The man grinned. “Why are you assuming that I’m an enemy? Is it because… I’m a threat?” Ryan was out of words. “Silence means yes. But I say, ‘Silence means the answer you don’t want to say.’”
“Yes. You are a threat,” Ryan admitted. “So answer my question. What do you want?”
“Assuming that I’m an enemy. Tsk tsk…” he replied, unpetulantly shaking his head. “Would you believe if I said that I wanted to help?”
Ryan’s finger slipped from the trigger. “Of course not! I can’t trust a stranger.” In his mind, he was arguing with his words.
“I know you have an enemy. But do I have the same silver hair as him?” The brunet froze. Before Ryan could ask, Racer said it for him. “How do I know about him? He’s my enemy, too.”
Ryan did not want to be convinced but could not argue with his logic. “Who is that guy? And what does he want?”
“You always ask what people want, but I bet you never give it to them.” Bitter laughter followed. “We can call him ‘Hunter’ or ‘Tracker; your choice.’”
“Why those of all names?” asked Ryan.
Racer sat on the floor, inviting Ryan to follow. The boy did not budge, still aiming. “You should know by now that you and Jhenine aren’t the only two with Visions.” Ryan was shocked, but what he heard was expected. “Tracker’s Vision allows him to track anyone from anywhere. So despite circling around the entire Atlantis Continent, you never succeeded in hiding. All you managed to do was run.”
“So what do I do?” Ryan felt heavily concerned for his own safety. How could he sleep through the nights, knowing how capable the murderer was? Was he doomed to always run away? He could not tolerate the undesirable need to abandon his family again without giving them an explanation. He focused all his thoughts into finding a solution, but not even the least brilliant of ideas came to mind.
“Tracker knows how far you are. He knows you are here. But he won’t come yet. He will need the right moment. Right now, you are several miles apart and yet you’ve never let your guard down. But do you think you can endure long months without ever falsely concluding your complete safety?”
Ryan swallowed his breath. “Where is… Tracker… right now?” Referring to the murderer with such a name felt uncomfortable.
Racer grunted at the young man’s habit of refusing to answer his questions. “I may not have his Vision, but I know he’s in Northern Atlantis.”
“Why that far? I thought he knew we’re in South Atlantis,” objected Ryan.
A scowl of disappointment curled Racer’s lips. “I think I overestimated you, boy. Can you tell me the effects of Jhenine’s Vision?”
“She can see emotions.” His answer was unaddressed. “Wait! How does she?”
“So you never asked,” Racer said, dissatisfied. “Jhenine sees colors emitting from people. Yellow represents joy. Red is for anger and violent intentions.” The man bent his legs and rested on his arm on his knees. “And you’ll love to hear this. Some emotions can affect her senses instead of just her sight. When she senses fear, her pulse accelerates. But that does not mean that she herself is afraid.”
“What’s so good about that?” Ryan interrupted.
Racer’s forehead furrowed. “I wasn’t done yet. If you keep on changing the question quickly, you’ll never hear the complete answers.”
“Sorry,” said Ryan unconvincingly.
Racer let it pass and continued, flicking his hand as he talked. “When someone, let’s say Tracker, goes near her enough with the intention to kill, she gains the same ability as Tracker’s Vision, but she can only target the one with the brutal intention. Also, she will suffer from a headache, but it will last just for a few seconds.”
Jhenine could detect the killer? This was great news for Ryan. His muscles settled down, and he sighed in deep relief. “So you mean –”
Racer cut him off. “Yes. Jhenine’s Vision is like a bomb. When Tracker goes near enough, it will trigger, allowing you to ready yourselves.” Ryan glowered at Racer’s badly chosen choice of words. Those black memories were enough to completely rid him of focus. He envisioned the flames, the rough winds that tore everything. He wished he could blame Racer, but realizing there was no right reason to, he returned sober.
“I think you know more of my Vision than I do, so can you tell me how my Visions actually works?” Ryan did not want to look like he was starting to depend on him, so he tried to speak flatly.
“I’d like to hear what you think first,” the redhead said with the intention to test him.
“Well, based on my observation, it allows me to see the past of a certain area. In particular, the one I’m looking at.” His answer was immediate like when stating a known fact.
“Here we go again.” Ryan could feel that Racer was starting to get annoyed. “What it does and how you think it works are two totally different things. Try to understand the question carefully.”
Ryan was frustrated, but accepted his error. His disliked the man, but knew Racer could provide the answers he was seeking. How does my Vision work? There’s no such thing as magic, so this has to have some scientific explanation. Silent moments had passed, and still no answer. He tried recalling some lectures, but the facts only answered the question ‘what’ and not ‘how.’ “I give up,” he said.
Racer stared at him unfavorably. “Perhaps my expectations were too high. I’ll give you a clue. When we seen an eclipse, is it happening or has it already happened?”
“It already happened,” he answered. “Ah! I get it. Normally, we see things that already take place since our eyes gather light and our brain processes it. Even if it’s near, there will still be a delay of information, but just by an incredibly small amount of time. And if it’s far enough like the sun, it could take minutes.”
“Good.” Racer clapped sarcastically. “Continue.”
Ryan used some time to analyze and interpret the information. “So my Vision can somehow absorb light information that no longer exists. So when I use my Vision to see the past, I can see whatever had happened at the exact same space in the area that I’m looking at.”
The man shook his head. “You were right until the last part.”
“What’s wrong with it?” the brunet retorted.
“The Earth rotates at its axis and revolves around the Sun. And in theory, the universe is ever-expanding, which would lead to our galaxy moving farther away from the center of the universe. Of course, this won’t apply if we were located in the center of the universe, but the odds are very, very low. And yet, we feel no displacement because of gravity,” he explained.
“Then how does my Vision view certain locations if they don’t occupy the same space as before?” Ryan queried.
“Good question. But if knew a little bit more of Visions, then asking a question like that would make you look like a total fool. The area of effect – which is based on your sight – has a relative position to the Earth’s core. Putting these together, we can say that the information your Vision gathers is not based on the space occupied by the area, but by its relative position to the core.” Racer enjoyed entertaining questions which he deemed intelligent. He awaited the continuation of the boy’s inquiry.
“How does it do that?” Ryan was very eager to find out.
“Having a Vision makes you a host to a certain organism. It’s a strange one though. Outside our bodies, the organism has a body made out of light. It hasn’t been given a name because only the Vision seems to be the significant part. But if you wish to talk about it, we can refer to it as the ‘V-Parasite.’ Once it enters us, it becomes one hundred percent undetectable. It does not feed, nor does it harm the host. The only effect is the enhancement of our eyes and other senses if applicable. Being an organism, it has bodily functions. When a bird migrates during winter, it uses the planet’s magnetic field to navigate. The V-Parasite has a similar effect.”
Several possibilities opened up to Ryan. He never knew how complex the structure of his power was, mainly because he had never given it much of a thought. There was so much to ask, he could not decide right away where to start. Making a choice, he asked, “How come I know it’s called a ‘Vision?’ When this power awakened in me, I instinctively knew what to call it. And when Jhenine lost her memory, the concept of Visions remained in her head. It’s like we knew it out of instinct.”
“You just answered your question,” said Racer. “Instinctively, one with a ‘Vision’ will name the power with the most fitting word in his or her vocabulary. I happen to know someone who called his ‘Sight.’”
“Wait! So this… V-Parasite… how did it exist? How can it be made out of plasma? And what allows it to do extraordinary things. And why do they work differently?” Racer failed to answer instantly, so Ryan added a follow up question. “And how did I get infected by the V-Parasite?” It seemed like he was very fortunate to obtain his Vision. He wondered if he was just lucky or if destiny played a role in his life. He started to question who Jhenine actually was. What was her involvement with Visions?
“I don’t know the answers yet. But it seems miraculous, don’t you think? It could be artificial life. But that’s just my theory.”
“Only God can perform miracles.”
“Oh. So you’re a man of faith?” A vague expression crossed his face, but Ryan could not identify what it meant. He recognized how useful Jhenine’s Vision was in a situation such as now.
“D’uh! South Atlantis is a Christian Country. And that’s where I live. We both know that,” he said.
“Not everyone here is a Christian. And even if everyone was, there are those who are only labeled as Christians but their doubts and selfish works show otherwise.”
“So I guess you’re one of them, huh?” Ryan wished his assumption was wrong.
“I still doubt His existence. And I wonder… Can a Christian really be selfless?” Racer’s voice was solemn, being unsure fueled his sadness.
“What do you mean?” Ryan felt a switch of roles, now seemed the best time to help him.
“If I don’t believe in God, then I don’t believe in Heaven either. Heaven, the Eternal Paradise, is a reward for good acts. Is that why Christians do what the Church says is ‘moral’ and avoid what they deem ‘immoral,’ so that they can attain Paradise?”
“I don’t discriminate non-Christians. I believe they too can learn to love and fight for justice. And as you said, some nonbelievers are better off than those falsely-labeled Christians. Humans – Christian or not – are like and are above animals. What we have in similar is instinct. If we do an act which makes something good happen to us, we’d continue it. And if we get hurt or punished for something, we’ll try to avoid it. But as humans, we can learn to love and follow moral ethics.”
There was a moment of silence. The two exchanged glances, waiting for the other one to talk. “See how easy it was to talk, knowing we could trust each other,” the man with orange eyes suddenly uttered.
“Yeah. I’m sorry for acting the way I did.” Ryan returned his gun to its holster.
“No one’s to blame. Even I brought a gun. That’s just how human instinct is.” Racer tapped the floor, inviting Ryan to take a seat. The boy gladly accepted the offer. “Now before we get carried away again, allow me to explain what I said earlier. The reason your Vision cannot help you is because the bomb was placed over there.” Racer pointed to the large hole. “There used to be a wall over there. If you stood here and used your Vision, you still wouldn’t be able to see passed it. And that’s where the bomb was set.”
“H–How do you know this?” Ryan started to speculate. Chances were that their newfound trust was going to shatter.
“I know the bomb is there because of its blast radius. As for the wall, why don’t you try using your Vision to verify my claim?” There was something in Racer’s voice that seemed lacking.
“But that doesn’t explain how you knew of the wall, unless – your Vision! How does yours work?”
“I’d prefer not to say,” he said sadly. “You did something to make me think you’re not ready to know. It’s something you can’t handle. Not with the way you are.” Ryan wondered what it was.
Racer casually changed the topic. “Sorry for your loss. I could have scheduled this meeting on some other day.”
“It’s okay,” he replied. What Vision could he possibly have that allowed him to predict my actions? And how does he know so much? Shaking the questions off his head, Ryan said, “It’s sad that they’re just leaving the place like this, huh.”
Racer grunted. “No one wants this place anymore. They’re trying to ignore in the futile attempt to forget everything.”
“So why don’t they rebuild this place or build something else?”
Ryan’s idea felt rational enough, but it was quickly overridden. “No one wants to risk spending on this land. If I build a hotel here, people might think that I’m not in touch with reality, that I have no respect for the people who died here.”
“I wouldn’t mind if they rebuilt this place,” Ryan commented, looking away.
“Perhaps neither does everyone else. Those with money are too scared to take a risk.” His words seemed to target the officials and business, but there was no proof to that.
Ryan had nothing to say.
“Ryan,” he called, “for now, just live your lives normally while you can. When Tracker approaches, I’ll contact you.”
Racer was about to leave when Ryan said, “Wait! How can contact you?”
“When you need to, I’ll contact you instead.” And he left, but his voice could still be heard. “The Ablisbey Hospital will stop letting visitors in at eleven. I suggest you visit your mother. I don’t want to get too involved, but you’re missing too much because of me.”
Ryan remained silent. Darkness poured in as a tear fell from his eye.
< Message edited by Crimzon5 -- 5/27/2010 9:50:36 >