JOHN


I take in the rearranged surroundings, it is pretty hard to believe I can just enter the Dreamscape at any given moment. I walk off to follow the apparition of Reinhardt. The long white hallway stretches out in front of me, featureless walls to the sides of me.

I catch up to Reinhardt, as he stops walking. He stands before a white door, similar to the one we left the small room from.

"This is where I leave you, John. Your next gift resides in this room. Valhart will be in there to greet you."

I stand tall.

"I've decided that I'm going to need to see Sarah before I do any more here."

He looks at me, his eyes staring holes into my soul.

"Is that right? Well, I suppose we could work something out. Finish this trial, and I'll have them take you to her. Deal?"

I realize that this is the best I'm going to get. I can't really argue with him, he could kill her if he needed to.

"Fine. Let's do this."

I see Reinhardt smile, then he fades away. I place my hand on the handle, and twist it. The door opens wide, and I see many robed scientists who seem to be working on something. In the corner of my eye, Valhart catches my attention.

"Hello John, I see you've met with Reinhardt?"

"He said after this gift is when you're taking me to see Sarah. Let's get this over with. What's the next gift?"

"Woah! Hold on there, don't be so hasty! Go too fast, and you might tire yourself out!"

"I'm not in the mood for games, Valhart. Next gift, now."

He crosses his arms.

"Fine, This next gift is the gift...of clairvoyance."

"Clairvoyance...you mean the thing that fortune tellers use?"

"Correct."

"Wait...isn't that the same as precognition?"

"Not when you get down to it, no. Clairvoyance allows you to feel an objects aura by direct contact."

"Feel it's...aura?"

"I think it's better left seen."

He turns away, and walks toward a grand machine. It stands in the middle of the room, silver plated and industrial. There's an indent that looks fit for a human body...my body. The door lays open, it seems they're going to shut me in that machine.

"C'mon, John. you're the one who wanted to do this fast."

What the hell are they going to do to me in there? It can't be safe.

I slowly walk over to the machine, my legs trembling. This is my first time willingly being put under their torture. My hand eventually meets the end of the machine.

"Go on, step on in," Valhart casually strews about.

I take a deep breath and climb inside the machine. The hard metallic exterior greets my skin with a cold, harsh twang. I cringe as I lie down inside the machine. The door closes, and I'm shrouded in complete darkness. All is silent, I can't hear anything at all.

I feel a tingling sensation, the metal around me begins to hum and vibrate. It heats up around my body. It doesn't stop heating up, I can feel it burning my skin, I can't move. I begin screaming as my flesh begins cooking inside this giant microwave like machine. I try and push the door open, but it's stuck shut. I keep on screaming,`the metal reaches a constant temperature and then finally cools down to cold metal. The door opens, and I look out to the room outside. I can see the steam rising off of my body, and various burns all over. My whole body is sore.

Valhart greets me with a smile.

"Hello John, I trust things went well?"

"Fuck...off..." I say as I feebly climb out of the machine.

"My, that isn't at all the attitude you want to have if you are going to meet a certain someone, is it?"

He instantly has my attention.

"Good. That got your notice. I'll take you over to Micah, and we can test your new gift. Then we'll go see Sarah."

"I'm just supposed to go like this? I can barely walk!"

"Well, if you want, we can escort you to the infirmary, and then bring you to your next trial."

He's challenging me. He wants to know if I'm strong enough to go on with the original plan, or if I'm going to crumble and lose my chance with Sarah.

"Let's go, where's Micah?" I say as I stand up, every muscle in my body is screaming.

Valhart smiles.

"Right this way."

He motions for me to move along with him. It takes a few seconds, but I manage to achieve a walking momentum to keep my body moving.

I walk towards the door, every step a new hurdle. I finally make it towards the door, closer and closer to Sarah.

SARAH


She calls me Sarah. That's what she says my name is. She also says I like to draw. This makes sense, I do remember something along the lines of my art skills, not much else, though.

I wake up in my bed as normal.

Well, that's what mom tells me, at least.

She walks in, a smile on her face.

"Hello, darling! Breakfast is done!"

Something doesn't feel right. Something is missing here...but I don't know what it is. I decide to shrug it off.

"Okay, what're we having?"

She smiles.

"Macaroni and Cheese, your favorite."

I smile, and follow her downstairs.

I enter the kitchen, and take a seat at what she calls my favorite chair. She places a steaming bowl of macaroni and cheese down on the table. Something about it smells...odd. I am tentative to take a bite, but when I do, it tastes unlike anything I've ever tasted. I continue to wolf down the rest of the macaroni and cheese.

After I'm finished eating, she shows me to where I did all my art, according to her. It's a room, but it's designed to be like a garden, It's absolutely beautiful.

"You're free to draw or paint or do whatever in here, just be ready to leave at five."

"Leave? For what?" I ask.

"We...have somebody to meet," she nervously replies.

"Who?"

She does a double take and comes in close to me, arms length away.

"You need to listen to me, honey. I don't want you to freak out, but you're going to be meeting a very bad young man."

I gasp a little and stand back.

"A bad...what did he do?" My eyes dart to her.

"You don't need to worry about that, darling. All you need to do is just talk with him, but you need to tell us if he says anything about escaping or trying to get out."

"Well...why am I talking to him? Don't they have cops or something that can do this?"

"Don't worry hun, you'll do fine."

She doesn't answer my question. I shrug it off and finally agree. What could this guy have done that was so bad? I begin to wonder if this is even a good idea.

"So, I just go and what...talk to him?"

"Yes..."

"But why? Why must I go talk to this apparently horrible guy?"

A sullen look comes across my mother's face.

"Honestly honey? I don't know."

She walks off, not another word said between us. I sigh, and turn back towards the garden. A sketch pad lies on an easel in the middle of the garden. I pick it up, and next to it is a newly sharpened pencil.

I take in my surroundings, and before I know it, I'm drawing.

I seem to lose track of time, a marvelous sketch before me, but the garden's artificial sun seems to have set, it must be time.

As if on cue, she walks in, calling my name. Telling me to hurry and to gather my coat, as it's still pretty chilly in this early of March.

Something about this screams urgency to me...something about March...but what?
I put on my coat, and head outside with her.