Trying to escape, terrified, she backed away as the shadow in front of her advanced. She could feel the killer instinct it emanated, but still she couldn't scream for help. Fear crushed her vocal cords. Her right elbow ended up slamming hard against the placard behind her, giving her an unpleasant sensation.
It was as if an electric current ran up and down her arm.
At that moment, another shadow entered her room, but unlike the first one, this one emitted a small purple light that allowed her to see what was stalking her.
Beings physically identical to humans, but with the ability to control a force called "dark energy". This allows them to have powers beyond comprehension. Precognition, telekinesis, time jumping, etc. Everything seems possible for them. That is why until the advent of the modern age they were called sorcerers, wizards or witches and were usually persecuted as they were linked to the evils of the world.
In the late 1980s, the psychis found in Melbourne a city that opened their arms and punished the violence against them. Around four million of them, which was about half of the total population, ended up there.
As technology advanced, scientists emerged in the city, curious to dismantle all the secrets surrounding those who are able to manipulate dark energy. Such is the case of Isaac Williams, a member of the D.C.E.O. (Department of Dark Energy Containment). His wife, Mai, and daughter, Emily, are psychis. This motivated him to find out all about them to see if he could bring them closer to the rest of the humans.
Isaac made great advances and made a name for himself in the community with hypotheses such as the one that explains that psychis generate their powers and abilities unconsciously.
Everything seemed to be going well for the Williams family. While the father, Isaac, was being recognized and rewarded for his scientific achievements, the mother, Mai, was opening her own restaurant in Chinatown. Emily, like many teenagers, was searching for meaning in her life. Just turned 16, she was in the tenth year of her studies, the last of the obligatory years. Her grades were very good, her teachers appreciated her and she was very close to her class delegate, who, at the time, could be considered her only friend.
One evening in June 2010, Emily arrived home after going to the cinema.
Her parents were still at work, so she lay down on the living room couch and started scribbling words, trying to imitate some of those poems she read from books in her mother's old library. She used to do it when she was alone, because she considered herself very bad at writing.
The first to arrive was her mother. They watched television until 11 pm. Mai was worried about Isaac; he never came home that late. That concern increased when he arrived after midnight, pale and nervous. She asked him if something was wrong, but he evaded the question and told her that this week he will be very busy with a new investigation he started a few days ago. Immediately after saying that, he locked himself in his office on the top floor of the house.
The days went by and the Isaac's condition worsened. Dark circles under his eyes, a haggard face and, a sense that he was aging at an alarming rate. Emily tried to go about her life even as she fretted. She didn't want to meddle in her parents' affairs.
Mai kept trying to talk to Isaac, but he would only pretend to listen to her and then head back to his office late into the night.
It is a typical middle-class family home. American style, two–storey, in a quiet residential neighborhood, it has a large living room and a fully equipped kitchen.
Isaac's office is on the first floor, at the end of the hall, in the middle is the master bedroom, the bathroom and on the other side is Emily's room. Isaac made sure to provide the necessary comfort for his wife and daughter so that everyone can be happy in that house. Everyone thought he was a great father. This is why it was so painful for Emily and Mai to see him suffer so much, but he would not open up to their help or their words.
Something serious was going on.
More than a week passed. Winter had started a few days ago, so you could feel the icy wind hitting the windows. Emily and Mai went to bed earlier than usual because, being big, the living room was very cold.
Emily wasn't very sleepy that night, so she went downstairs to find a book to read. Just then, Isaac came through the front door of the house. She couldn't see her father's face in detail; he had completely ignored her presence and headed for his office. She overlooked her father's newly habitual behavior and went back to her room, where she read for a few hours.
Emily was about to fall asleep, a few pages short of finishing the book. Suddenly... A blackout. She marked the page where it left off and left the book on the bedside table next to her bed. She could hear the swirls of wind hitting her window. Likewise, she pulled the blanket over her eyes to keep from getting cold. After she did so, she heard the bedroom door open, followed by a moaning sound like a hungry beast. A shadow in the shape of a man entered the room. Emily saw that the shadow was holding a glowing object. As it drew closer, she realized that what it was holding was a large knife.
The shadow moved erratically as if it were a zombie in a high state of decay. When it lunged at Emily, she rolled off the bed with her blanket and fell off the bed, picked up the book on her bedside table and threw it at the shadow. This gave her enough time to get up and try to run away, but the door was on the shadow's side. The room was small. Behind it were only a large wardrobe and a window, which, on the other side, was ten feet to the floor.
"I'm a psychi who still has no powers, and can't fly, this is so wrong," she thought. She stepped back as whatever was in front of her moved forward. She could feel the shadows' hitching breath that gave a sensation that could only be described as bloodlust escaping from its mouth. Emily turned around to open the window and try to jump out, but in the dark she slammed her right elbow against the placard, giving her a jolt similar to an electric shock. A strong impression was etched in her mind.
As Emily held her elbow with her left hand, she could see from the entrance of the room another shadow, though this one emitted a small purple light. That was enough to illuminate the entire room. Emily was able to make out that the shadow at the entrance of the room was her mother using her powers and that the shadow attacking her with a knife was her father, Isaac.
This happened in a second: Isaac lunged at Emily with the intention of killing her. She instinctively closed her eyes. A beam of purple light appeared around the man's body. Emily heard only a loud noise, the sound of something heavy falling to the ground. When she opened her eyes, she noticed that her arms were covered in blood, though in reality she was completely covered.
On the floor was Isaac. He had been cut in two and some organs could be seen protruding from his chest. Emily didn't scream, she didn't move; she just stared at the scene with eyes devoid of any color. In her head, the only thing that was clear was one question: "Why? Mai hugged her as she cried.
Several months passed. Mai and Emily were about to move to another suburb. The woman had been acquitted in the case of Isaac's death, and the girl was having a hard time going back to school. Her mother thought that after the move, attending a new school would be a breath of fresh air for her. Emily regretted losing everything she had built up in Melbourne up to that point. The respect and appreciation of the teachers, her grades and her only friend. But after everything that had happened, she could only stay with her mother.
Even though some time had passed, both Emily and her mother wondered why a man loved and respected by all, a good father until then would try to do such a horrible thing. There was no hatred or resentment in them; they knew something had happened to him. Something that produced a 180–degree change in him, but it was too late to ask. Mai regretted that she hadn't insisted he talk about what happened to him that she had just yelled at him.
They had already packed everything except the stuff from Isaac's office. It was really painful for them to go in there, but they couldn't leave those files there. Mai went to get all the stuff from the office and Emily stayed in the living room waiting for her. One, two, three hours passed and her mother hadn't returned. Emily peeked down the stairs and saw light coming from inside. She slowly made her way down the hallway, but she didn't hear her mother cleaning and putting things away, instead, there was a faint sobbing sound. Worried about her mother, she hurried into the room. There lay Mai on the floor, trembling in a fetal position. Tears streamed down her face. Next to her, under Isaac's desk, was a hardcover notebook. Despite being curious about the contents of the notebook, Emily helped her mother. She took her to her room and made her lie down on her bed. She seemed delirious with fever, but her body temperature was not high. She noticed a small light fluctuating all over her mother's body. Emily hesitated to call an ambulance, so after giving her some medicine, thinking that what she had been just a fever from working so hard, she sat down to wait for some sign of improvement. After a while she decided to pick up the notebook that was lying on the floor to distract her, thinking that maybe she had written down something of importance to her and her mother, so she began to read the last pages.
"Tuesday 15 June 2010
Tomorrow we will start a new experiment. We will use a talisman of dark energy brought by some agents belonging to the department. They found it at the base of an organization that was engaged in the illegal trade of dark energy. Energy that they obtained by extracting blood from dozens of psychis against their will. We'll start simple; we'll subject him to different types of scenarios in order to put him under as much stress as possible. From there, we'll measure how he behaves”.
"Friday 18 June 2010
I feel a bit sick. After several days of experimenting with the talisman, my body and mind were affected. It is strange. Although I had no direct contact with the dark energy, I feel as if my insides are rotting. Leaving that aside for now, with the help of the talisman, we mapped the residual dark energy flow. Some dark energy used by psychis, when walking or using their powers, floats in the environment, in this city it is much more noticeable. That energy doesn't just end up wandering around the universe, as it was thought to do. It seems to move through several specific points in the city, where all that mass–produced by the more than four million psychis is concentrated. One of those points, but on a tiny scale, is this talisman. I feel very bad when I'm near this thing, but it may help us discover something very important”.
"Monday June 21 2010
These last few nights I had several horrible nightmares. In them, my wife and daughter.... No, rather, all the psychis I know were committing horrible acts. Brutal murders, terrorist acts and many other repulsive things. It must be the influence of that talisman, because that would never happen... Wouldn't it? That doesn't make sense. Why would I see things like that because of dark energy, when I haven't had direct contact with it?
I can't turn to my family. Every time I come home and am greeted by my wife, I see only the horrible acts she commits in my dreams, what's my fault? It felt so real. I'm having a hard time telling what's real".
"Tuesday 22 June 2010
One of the scientists who work with me in the department showed me a tape of one of the experiments we did with the talisman last Saturday. In that experiment, we put the object between two sheets of element 347 to put pressure on it. Element 347, being the only material that does not degrade when in contact with dark energy, managed to break the talisman after producing a force of 6000 newton’s. On the tape, I can see how a fragment of the object goes into my head. I suspect that since then there is a link from the talisman to my head and that I have been constantly receiving dark energy from my wife and daughter. This may explain my increasingly emaciated body. Also, the multiple nightmares I have suffered these last few days. I can use this as study material”.
"Thursday 24 June 2010
I'm having a hard time sleeping. I don't know why I write here anymore. I think it's the only way I find to unburden myself. Talking to my family has become impossible. Not because they won't listen to me or ignore what I say, but because seeing their faces makes me nauseous. Looking at them, I see death in person. They are coming for me. I can no longer distinguish reality from these nightmares. What the hell am I thinking? I don't know. Everything is losing meaning. Concepts are slipping out of my head. Please let this end soon. I will strive to remove the dark energy from my body”.
"Saturday 26 June 2010
What is real and what is not? Dark energy is death. There is no doubt about that. Death, death, die. Please die. Leave me alone. Get out of my head. The dark energy is killing me. No... My family is killing me. Every day, every second I'm around them, is hell. I must keep working, to heal myself".
"Tuesday 29 June 2010
If I don't do something soon, I will die. I don't want to die. I tried hundreds of things to get this out of my head, but I didn't succeed. When I'm at home, I'm bombarded by death. I don't understand it. I don't understand dark energy. If I don't find a viable way to save myself, I'm going to have to do something crazy".
"Wednesday 30 June 2010
Today it will be. Please g0d, I am sure you will forgive me, I am sure you will protect them".
Emily closed the notebook immediately after she finished reading. Many feelings were swirling around. Her doubts about what happened that night disappeared, but in return there was a deep pain. She thought he was right about one thing: dark energy is death. She began to remember what had happened that night, no.... She began to feel the same thing she felt that night when she slammed her elbow against the cupboard. That electricity coursing through her arm. This time, that current flowed outward. When she realized that, she saw a sphere in her hand. It was the size of his palm. She held it tightly and her mind began to gradually shut down. All the negative feelings she had when she finished reading that notebook began to flow outwards and her vision began to blur until it went dark. Before she lost consciousness completely, she heard the sound of breaking glass.
New Delta, a small piece of land away from the city center. It was planned to be a commercial suburb, but the project was abandoned by the current mayor. The two–storey buildings were gradually taken over by criminal gangs. Drug trafficking, human trafficking, clandestine fights. Called the dark underbelly of the city, it keeps the neon lights out and the human corruption in.
In the middle of one of the streets of that filthy place, walked a doctor. He wore a white lab coat over his suit.
It was strange to see someone dressed like that in that place, and even more so at two in the morning, but there were not many passers–by. Most of the people in the area were crowded into the windowless buildings.
Soon the doctor realized that something strange was going on. In front of him walked a girl no more than 17 years old, disoriented, seemingly not knowing where she was going. As she staggered around trying not to fall, behind her were several people on the floor. They seemed to be suffering from an electric shock. When he returned his gaze to the girl, he saw that in her hands were dark violet spheres. "Psychi eh... But what are you doing here?" he whispered. The doctor reached his right hand into the left sleeve of his dressing gown. From there he pulled out some rectangular envelopes of a platy color, brighter than mercury.
Each envelope had, on one of the short sides, a needle. He was about to throw the envelopes at the girl, but at that moment he was distracted by her wailing. He tried to decipher the soft words she was saying, but received a shock from the spheres in the girl's hands. The doctor was pushed backwards. He took advantage of the flight to turn around before landing on the ground and threw the spheres, which ended up hitting various parts of the girl's body.
She fell unconscious almost immediately.
Emily opened her eyes. When she did, she did not see the familiar wooden planks on the ceiling of her room, only concrete blocks with damp stains and leaks. She was lying on a stretcher and, on her body, several probes were attached.
Looking to the side, she saw several machines and instrumentation similar to what you would see in a hospital room. The door began to open and a boy no more than 17 years old walked in. Shoulder–length golden hair, huge dark circles under his light blue eyes.
He carried a cardboard cup of coffee of a famous brand in his hand. He sat on a stool next to the gurney. Emily was restless because she didn't know where he was and who this boy was.
Noticing her awakening, the boy made a surprised face and spoke in a sleepy voice.
—Oh, you woke up! I guess you have no idea what's going on. Welcome to the Hecker Clinic. My name is Bill; I'm the brother of the doctor in charge named Leonard. Here we treat people who have problems with the gangs in the lower town. My brother found you in a troubled situation.
—I don't remember anything. I just remember that I was with my mother and at one point electricity came out of me and... No, something had happened before...
Emily managed to remember everything she had read in that notebook and what happened to her mother. Nausea began to fill her throat and as she tried to move, Bill stopped her.
—Moving in your present condition is dangerous. Your body is filled with element 347. That inhibits dark energy from reaching the brain, so you'll be weak for a while. My brother had to jab you with that stuff because you were blindly attacking anyone you came across, even though the area you were in wasn't a bad idea, you never know when you might have killed someone innocent or self–destructed. He hasn't diagnosed you with anything yet, you may simply have had a psychotic break.
—Did I really do all that? —She commented in anguish, "I still have to go and check on my mother! She was in a very bad way when I lost consciousness.
Emily tried again to get up, but Bill held her shoulder, preventing her. He let out a sigh of resignation and continued talking to her.
—Relax —he said—.we did some research on you, Emily Williams. We went to your house to see if we could talk to someone about what happened to you, and we noticed something strange, the door was open and there were several lights on even though it was already daylight. We went in worried that you had attacked your family and, we saw how she was. We brought her here; she's in the next room. I suppose you live alone with her, don't you?
—Yes, she's the only person I have. I didn't attack her, did I?
—No, but the situation is not to be celebrated. So as not to make unnecessary drama, I'll just tell you: Your mother has dark energy phase shift dementia.
—What's that? Can your brother cure her? —Emily said in a thin voice.
—No, her mind is completely and irreversibly disconnected from reality. My brother keeps her fully sedated, even though he doesn't think she's having a violent outbreak like you.
Emily bit her lower lip in frustration. Bill held her chin to keep her from looking down.
—But I know a way to keep it from ending like this. But it will require your full cooperation.
—That's fine. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to save my mother. —Emily said, clenching her fists as tightly as she could.
—It's weird that you're so quick to trust me. I could be using her as an excuse to take advantage of you. —He scratched his cheek, after pulling away from Emily a little.
—tell me what other choice I have. I'm already here, totally helpless, after I've been attacking people. I'll just close my eyes and trust the method you have.
—I understand. We recently discovered something that was thought to be a myth, the Eyre stones.
—¿... Eyre stones?
—Yes, they are objects created from the flow of residual dark energy. When a psychi uses his power, walks, exercises or does any other activity, he releases dark energy in small amounts. It was believed that this energy was simply lost to the universe, but it turned out not to be so. Your father discovered that this energy is concentrated at various points in the city, in objects, more precisely, those are the Eyre stones. It is known that there are only three of them, two of them have already been found, but their possessors were killed. Now it is not known in whose hands they are, and one has yet to be found.
—Was my father's research published?
—No. Someone in the D.C.O.E. leaked it. Never found out who it was, though. A boy we managed to save from a mercenary attack told us everything. Apparently he was an informant for the country's largest criminal organization, "The Last Light", but when he discovered the nature of those stones, he betrayed them.
Emily pursed her mouth in disgust. Her father lost his mind, attacked his family and ended up dead for discovering all that, and they simply threw that information to the scavengers in the city, she couldn't forgive that. Bill ignored his feelings and tried to continue.
—The important thing is that with that amount of dark energy, with the strength of all the psychis in the city, you could ask for anything. With those stones, you could save your mother. But in order to do that, you'll have to take out the current possessors, because apparently these stones fuse with her body.
—I don't know how to fight. I don't even know if I can control my powers.
—Don't worry about that. I know someone who can help you control your powers, so you can fight. Your ability is to control electromagnetism, so you'll learn quickly.
—Okay... —I guess. I still don't know why you want to help me, but like I said, I have no choice. I'll look for the Eyre stones. For my mother, for me, and for my father as well. To reverse the damage the dark energy has done to my family.
Merci pour la lecture!