Canton chroniclesrising.., p.3
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.3

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
 
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“Listen to me you brat, I don’t know who you are, what the hell you are doing here, in my dream, insulting me, but it’s time you get out. I want to be alone.”

  The girl turned around and faced her at last. Her eyes were indeed black and sad, so sad that Val backed up a little bit, regretting her harsh words. That child suffers in ways you can’t even imagine, Val. Like you did once. She also look older now, not five or six as Val originally had presumed by her tiny figure, but more like nine or ten. And those eyes… and her words, hundred years of wisdom in them. She looked at her now and smiled heartily.

  “So you finally did speak. I am glad for you Valentine. I really am. Because where you’re going next, you have to be strong. Your journey has no place for the weak.”

  Val felt every hair on her body rising. Even in her worst nightmares, in her worst days, she’d never felt so intimidated.

  What kind of dream is this? It feels so real.

  “Why are you here? What do you want from me?”

  The girl tilted her head like an obedient dog, like Val’s question was the most ridiculous thing in the world.

  “It’s simple. A stupid thing really. Wake up.”

  “Excuse me, what?”

  Suddenly the field became blurry, the forest and the barley disappearing from her sight. Val closed her eyes and when she opened them up again, there was nothing left. Only an echo of the girl’s words.

  Wake up.

  Somehow, she did find the strength to get up, in order to get ready for work. She had only two months on her current job, so she couldn’t afford to be late or distressed. But the dream had deeply disturbed her. Not because of the little girl, an unknown presence who had entered her mind by force. Val was not a stranger to people forcing their way on her.

  But, the fact that this girl, who seemed no older than ten years old with a mouth too big for her age, felt so real, was chilling Val to the bone. No child should be talking like that, she thought and the thought perplexed her.

  Val shook her head. Real or not, the fact remained, that the girl wanted her to be strong for some upcoming task. It was actually very fitting since she still had some anxiety when it came to her job. And not just any job, one that she actually wanted and had hoped to find for a long time.

  Having studied Social Services for two years, Val was now hired at a 24-hotline centre for people who needed mental help, like suicidal teenagers or fully depressive adults.

  Having a few rough moments in life herself, Val loved to helped people. It made her forget of her own problems, most of the time. She shrugged, as a flow of painful memories tried to overtake her mind, unsuccessful. The past belonged to the past. No more tears.

  Working almost two months in the helping centre, made her realise a lot of things about herself and the others. She went gladly in her work, unlike most people. Even if it wasn’t a fancy one, like a high ranking profession in the Canton Tower. But then something like this dream happens. Something unsettling and disturbing.

  Stop thinking about the stupid dream. It was just a warning from your brain. There was no use thinking about it anyway. She was going to be late if she didn’t take off soon, and the real world was more important to her now. She looked herself in the mirror one more time. She was more or less pleased with her reflection. She looked good in the plain T-shirt and jeans, exactly the right spirit for her job.

  “Tall, curvy and with a pretty face” her closest friend Mandy, had once told her. “What more do you want from your life, Val?”

  What indeed, thought Val as she closed her little apartment door behind her.

  She walked the few meters it took to reach the train railways, or the Overground, like the majority of Canton called it. The Overground had four main lines and was extending like a spider web all over Canton City and its Outskirts, connecting all the major hotspots with the majestic Tower at its centre.

  Val lived on the south-eastern part of the City and she rode the Overground for exactly 36 minutes, in order to get to the northern-eastern Outskirt, where her company was. It was a fairly long ride, but it was worth it. Because Val could see the Tower every day. She was riding the Overground for two months now, and even though she saw the Tower every single time, it never failed to impress her, as she found new hidden details on the complex structure.

  The Tower’s height was 496m, which caused its metallic thin point to look like it was touching the sky. The base of the Tower was made of three thick and impressively sturdy metal lines, directing away from its main circular core.

  In the “feet” of the Tower were shops and markets of any kind. A metallic cylinder was serving as the Tower’s main body, extending high towards the sky, thick at the bottom, slowly becoming thinner on top, until it reached an impressive open balcony with a sharp point in its middle. The pointy edge of the Tower was responsible for the signal and all communications of Canton City.

  Up until the middle, the thickest part of the Tower resembled metal liquid, a dark grey material shaped in long wavy strides, with large semi-circle windows on the entirety of its surface.

  The thinnest and highest part of the Tower was totally made out of glass, which sparkled bright on the sunny days and reflected the clouds on the rainy ones. The balcony itself was of black metallic colour, and its tip a mixture of fiery red and light blue, all three colours of the Deities.

  It was a work of art, and also a symbol of hope, a symbol of better times, when the human race thrived and still was in peace with the Deities, without being corrupt.

  Val was never a God-loving person. The death of her parents at an early age, her loving but tough years under social care, her rage issues and her three-year stay in the Asylum for the Mentally Challenged, well, it made her believe more on her own powers and less on the holy, spiritual ones. But still, she couldn’t help but having a warm feeling at her chest, every time she saw that Tower. A long awaited sense of freedom.

  She reached the steps of her company, went through the centre’s double automatic doors and took out her card.

  “Good morning, Val. Hell, you look better every single day.”

  The guard winked at her. She blushed and smiled back at him. She slammed her card on the machine.

  “Confirmed. Welcome, Valentine Stone.”

  A new day has come.

  ***

  Canton Western Outskirts – 9:00, 20th July, 200 A.D

  20 km further from Valentine Stone, lying in his antique, high-ceiling double-bed, John was waking up from his own perplexing dream. He didn’t feel sad or scared though. He had accepted his “dreams” a long time ago, even from his childhood years.

  John Lucas had dreams, but they were not his own. In his dreams he caught a glimpse of other people’s lives. The things that had happened and things yet to come. Past, present and future. That was his gift, in a time where gifts had simply ceased to exist, and Powers were forbidden.

  The dreams were almost always about people he knew. John could foresee people’s actions, and act accordingly to their situation. For his extraordinary “perception”, as his friends and teachers called his gift, and his high level of intelligence, John had been loved his entire life.

  He couldn’t deny that he enjoyed the fact. The only son of an extremely rich and famous bloodline, adored by his parents, always having the friends he wanted, and a little later the attention of the girls he wanted.

  At his sixteen, he was the youngest elected member of the Medical Academy, pursuing a doctor career, making his parents bursting with pride. On top of that, John was an exceptionally good looking guy. Standing at 1.80 with a lean and athletic build, with handsome facial features, soft brown hair, light brown eyes and glasses that actually suited him perfectly, John had everything he could wish for in life. Almost.

  Sometimes, John dreamt of a stranger, a girl unknown to him. He didn’t know how or why, but it, she, was the beginning of his dreams.

  John remembered that day clearly, when, in the
middle of a class-break, he felt a weird buzz in his ears and a numbing feeling in his brain.

  Must be the sun, he’s thought then. I must…

  He never got around finishing his thought. The buzzing sound got stronger, until he couldn’t hear anything else around him anymore. Not even the screams of his classmates, as he collapsed, shutting his eyes tightly. And saw her.

  A young girl, about his age, taller than him, beautiful in a very particular, melancholic way. She was dressed in black, crying silently.

  Even with the excruciating headache, John felt a twitch in his heart, connected somehow with the girl’s pain.

  Her parents are dead, he thought. So incredibly sad.

  And then the vision ended, with the piercing feeling in his brain gone, as abruptly as it came.

  After the incident, John was rushed to the hospital, and after a series of tests, the doctors re-assured his parents that it was a one-time event. The doctors asked John to inform them if any of the headaches continued.

  He never told his parents or his doctors about his dreams. Luckily, it became a lot easier for him to tolerate the visions. The headaches and the buzzing continued, but John was now prepared. His life continued normally with just this small hindrance.

  He co-existed with the mysterious girl, without her realising it, until his mid-teens. John’s visions of the girl varied, some shorter and some longer, other times interesting and other times not so much. But he always waited for the dreams with excitement, hungry with curiosity, ready to indulge in the mind of his strange visitor.

  He became short of attached to the visions, his vivid imagination racing, making scenarios of the two of them meeting, becoming friends, possibly even being together. He tried, with a number of ways, to find her amongst the thousands of Canton citizens, but failed.

  It took a long time for John to shake away his obsession with his mysterious girl. He succeeded by falling in loving with Aileen, a brilliant, brunette girl transferred in his high school. In his relationship with Aileen, John forgot about the girl, more or less. He was happy, totally love-struck, his mind flying high in the clouds. Pre-occupied with his studies and his girlfriend, he stopped having visions, thinking that this was the end of his strange gift.

  He couldn’t have been more wrong.

  It was a hot summer day, and John was walking down the long hospital corridor, having just started with his medical training. On his way to his new patient, his mind went completely dark. It happened so fast and with such intensity, that John fell head first on the floor, as his whole body twitched and a dark stain appeared in his white pants, as he lost every control of his muscles.

  The girl, his girl, was a woman now, but she wasn’t happy anymore. She was dirty and powerless and broken. Her once beautiful hair were a filthy mess, and her body was thin, almost emaciated. She had two scars on her wrists, like handcuffs or restraints. She was siting curled in a corner crying. It was like a prison, or a really nasty institution. John knew, felt with all his strength that the girl was being punished for something she did. Her will was almost completely broken. The door opened and a female guard entered the cell…

  The vision ended again, as suddenly as it’d begun. But John wasn’t crawling in the ward’s floor as he originally had thought. He was in the patient’s toilet, secured from all the curious sights. Opposite him, just a few centimetres from his face, were two guys around his age.

  A white thin guy with long hair and a black bulky guy with a hospital’s robe. John recognised the both of them. The patient he was supposed to interview and his best friend who was with him most of the times. Now the only feeling he had was shame. He was there to supposedly help his patients, and here he was, stuck in a toilet, confused and embarrassed.

  In the midst of his confusion and pain, John started talking, like he’d never done before. He cried and went-on bubbling, not really caring what the guys were thinking, not really caring about anything.

  “You are going to report me to the medical stuff now, aren’t you?”

  John addressed them as his story came to an end, the back of his palm wiping away his own tears.

  “You go ahead, I am probably a lunatic, after all.”

  He felt two hands in his arms. It was the big black guy, holding him tight.

  “No matter rich or poor, young or old, doctor or patient, everyone has his breakdown moments. We all have our ups and downs, I and that guy over there”, he pointed a finger at his best friend, “we have come to acknowledge this fact very well by now. I don’t know you and you don’t know us, but I think… I believe you. It’s crazy, I know, but I do. We both do. Right?”

  He took a quick look at his friend, and the boy nodded slowly.

  “If you need someone to talk, you know my room. I believe you were actually on your way to interview me right?”

  John nodded faintly. The big guy laughed heartily.

  “And that’s what you are going to do. Don’t let it get to your head. We all have our rock-bottom moments. I know my brother right there thinks I am a fool for believing you. I hope you are not sent by someone to mess with our already messed up heads.”

  He laughed again and his best friend also smiled behind him. John was sincerely moved, maybe for the first time in his life. He always had friends because he didn’t burden them with his problems. It was the first time he had friends because of them.

  With the support of his newly found friends, John found the strength to speak to Aileen about his visions and the mysterious girl. The revelation was too much of a shock for his girlfriend to handle. She suggested that they stayed alone for a while, and John had been in an on and off relationship with her ever since. His heart was still aching for Aileen, and sometimes he wished he’d never told her the truth, he even wished he never had this dream-curse.

  His studies and his two friends became his everything. He only had one dream of the girl, his last one. She was a grown up woman by now, in a small apartment, lost and alone, but hopeful for the future, smiling faintly under her stream of tears. The vision left John with a sweet taste in the back of his mouth. At least you’re happy, sweetie. Happy and free from this wretched place.

  John’s life was mostly quiet, not that the stranger girl was gone from his mind. Until last week. The dream was so intense, so totally frightful, like nothing John had ever experienced before.

  In it, there was a man. A badly scarred, wicked man. The man was brilliant, so brilliant that John couldn’t help but feel awed, despite of himself, but his thoughts were poisonous and sinister. The man dreamt only of revenge and destruction. His past was filled with blood and loss, and now he wanted the people responsible dead, guilty and innocent alike. He wanted Canton to be his, and he had already plans to make his intentions true.

  John had two horrible visions of the man, both of them small and terrifying, both of them in the course of a week. This time he was so tired and scared, he didn’t have the courage to tell the others. Not yet.

  John realized it was time to snap out of his trance. He was still in his bed, shivering, going in a thought rally, clearly an unintended one. He stood up from the double antique bed and went straight to the shower, intending to forget everything paranormal taking place in his life, strange girls and wicked men alike. He had his own life to take care of. He couldn’t afford living the life of others, too.

  ***

  Canton City Centre – 15:00, 20th July, 200 A.D

  “Isn’t it a little early for us, to be starting with the heavy lifting? The party starts in six hours.”

  “Isn’t it a little early to start your complaining routine? Even a lazy bastard like yourself should have some self-respect, Seb.”

  His best friend Sebastian tried to give him a poisonous, you-drive-me-mad-kind of look, but all he achieved was to look amused and ridiculous. Then, unable to keep up with his seriousness, burst out laughing.

  Mike Barry smiled and continued his sacred job, which was making s
ure everything was ready for tonight’s concert. True, it was still a little bit early and the first people where likely to arrive in five or six hours, but he had no intention on running at the last minute like a madman. His commitment on his job came as a total contrast with his laid back, no-stress-whatsoever, character, but free-time was one thing, and work was another.

  Mike honoured his job, even thought he was just a bartender working in a club, and not some highly important Council employee. But, the fact that “Just Dance” was the most popular club in Canton and its owner, Brian, loved Mike like his son, was enough to make him word as hard as he could .

  Mike was no stranger to harsh life moments, having experienced more than one difficult periods in his life, not just the one Brian pulled him out of. It wasn’t easy being the firstborn of a black/white marriage, especially one when neither grandparents wanted or approved. Living in Canton’s Outskirts, along with the poor workers, junkies and homeless was not either.

  Despite the difficulties his family was facing, Mike had a happy childhood. His mother loved him, and his father, although strange and quiet, loved him too. The problems begun when he lost his job. His father took up drinking, arriving often late at night, spilling his guts out and sleeping on the couch. He was never violent, more apathetic and estranged. Mike’s mother tried with all her power to save him from his drinking nightmare, but no matter how many times his father had promised to quit, it was what ultimately killed them both.

  Mike received the news at 3 o’clock in the morning, as he was putting his little siblings, Sheila and Denver, three and four years old respectively, to bed. The phone rang and Mike picked it up totally pissed off, being certain that this was a prank, wanting desperately to believe that it could be nothing more than a prank, because if it wasn’t, at this hour…

  The voice in the telephone informed him, with the right level of seriousness and compassion, that his parents had a car accident. Alcohol intoxication, most likely. They had both died instantly, feeling no pain. Alone with his siblings, Mike rushed to the hospital.

  He would never forget the moment he saw his parents’ faces, white like a sheet of paper. He didn’t have time to say anything. He couldn’t tell them that it was all their fault, that they were selfish and mean, bringing three children in this world and then dying drunk in a freaking car accident. He couldn’t tell them that he loved them, that he hated them. Nothing. He had been only sixteen at the time.

 
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