Resolve

Resolve

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

Set in an alternate, modern day New York City, Resolve follows the story of a troupe of psychics for hire. These individuals enter the minds of others to repair emotional and psychological damage, or gather intel as the job requires. Recently, an outbreak of acute insanity has begun plaguing the city, and it falls upon the psychics of the Resolution Society to find the cause.
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Summary

Set in an alternate, modern day New York City, Resolve follows the story of a troupe of psychics for hire. These individuals enter the minds of others to repair emotional and psychological damage, or gather intel as the job requires. Recently, an outbreak of acute insanity has begun plaguing the city, and it falls upon the psychics of the Resolution Society to find the cause.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Prologue

Author Chapter Note

This is the first re-write of the prologue. I'm hoping for some feedback in regards to the overall tone and pacing of the writing. Should I be spending more time world building, or is Terrance's mindscape fleshed out adequately? Any feedback would be appreciated, and I hope you enjoy while you read!

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 05, 2017

Reads: 60

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 05, 2017

A A A

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Resolve

 

PROLOGUE

It was risky business stepping foot into another person's mind. Like every person was unique, so was every consciousness. An organized mind was always a stroll in the park, everything put in neat little rows. Those were in and out jobs. Spend a few minutes, find the broken emotion or neglected memory, put it back in place, done.

But then there were also minds like this. Felix found himself in a maze. His feet, although only a figment of his imagination, touched down solidly on blood red stone. The ground was bent and twisted, erupting into unnatural shapes and trails. The air was somehow stagnant yet volatile at the same time. He had to try not to think about that. Try to rationalize the irrational and you were liable to wind up broken yourself.

The sky above him looked like a broken TV. Several "plates" floated freely, showcasing a crimson sky with quickly moving cloud cover. Between them was sheer emptiness. When someone really, truly broke, this was what it looked like. Cautiously, he stepped forward.

The red rock made a makeshift pathway into a distant jumble of even more warped red rock. It began to twist, and at a certain point he would have been falling into the emptiness around him were it not for the absence of real gravity, or physics. His feet simply stayed where he wanted them to. Up was always up, even if it was actually down.

Hours seemed to pass as he worked his way along the tangled web work of insane stone. Occasionally, the surface of the path would turn from rough to almost crystalline smooth. Here, reflections of the man's past echoed. Memories. Horrible memories full of violence and fear. Felix saw a man entering a dark room, a belt in one hand and a half empty bottle in another. He heard the desperate cries of a woman outside, pleading in words so vague they themselves held no meaning. But Felix saw the meaning all too well, surrounded by memories of Terrance's father. This man's childhood had not been a happy one, far from it.

The further towards the center of the corruption he traveled, the hotter it seemed to get. Flashes of memory in the stone became blazing patches of emotion. They began with confusion, a sort of dark blue haze in the stone. This shifted into violet fear, and Felix could feel goose bumps forming along his neck as he himself felt anxiety in their presence. Fear became anger, then hatred. Hatred aimed at one man in particular...and then something else. Rage, pure and animalistic, turned the air fiery as he reached the deepest recesses of Terrance's mind.

Felix had to force himself to believe he wasn't sweating, despite the thick fabric of his meticulously tailored suit. Even still, he loosened his tie a bit and unclasped the top button of his shirt, just in case. A habit from the real world no doubt.  Ahead, around the last few curves of his path, he saw his destination.

A metal door, rusted, almost glowing from the heat, erupted from the stone abruptly at its end. There was no more path behind it. There was nothing behind it, except broken pieces of red sky, and the expanse.

There were no handles on this door, but as he approached, Felix willed the door to open. It creaked heavily, protesting the assertion of someone other than its creator. However, it gave way as he closed in, and swung open with a gasp as he arrived at the precipice. Felix looked in.

More blackness, but at its center a single plain of white. It looked no bigger than a city block, but it still existed none-the-less. The last vestiges of rationality among the chaos. That area was covered in natural sunlight. Grassy slopes rose from nothingness, trees swayed in a gentle breeze that shouldn't even exist. And nestled at the crook of a flowing tributary stood an old cabin. The logs that made up its walls looked cracked and weathered, yet the whole structure still seemed to be stable.

Felix stepped through the door, and in seconds was standing in a spot that had been miles away. His black leather wingtips nestled in shallow grass, and the heat from before was replaced by cool spring winds. In front of him, the cabin moaned in protest as it was struck by the gusts.  Felix shoved his hands in his pockets and studied the house for a moment, pondering. What are we hiding in here, I wonder?

He looked back over his shoulder at the now distant doorway, and the red light pouring forth. That was the man's subconscious mind, torn asunder by traumatic events. Stability had been turned into frenzied violence, and somehow this cabin was causing it. It had destabilized the entire mind, pulling the subconscious fear and ramblings here, to where he stood. With a nervous shudder, Felix realized he stood in the man's true consciousness, the last dregs of his control. And as he studied the edge of the hills and fields, he could see the darkness was quickly devouring this as well. He didn't have much time. Soon enough the mind would collapse on itself to chase him out, a last line of defense.

He held out a hand to his side, stilling his own heart as he counted his Three. One by one, Felix recalled and focused on the three most important moments of his life, moments set firmly in reality. He had recalled and recited their every detail. Every breath, word, thought, feeling. They all felt final. They were memories he was certain beyond any doubt he would never distort. Within this dreamscape, the mere existence of these memories seemed to warp the very air around him. There was a light snap, and a revolver fell firmly into his grasp.

The metallic rigidness of its edges shone in the "sunlight" of this place. It was without imperfections, every surface meticulous and even and right. To maintain control and affect change in the mind, one had to center their grasp of reality and wield it as a weapon. As their Resolve.

Of course, it wasn't a real gun, but its effect would be much the same in here. The subconscious was little more than a fever dream, but here, in this field...in this man's Theater of the Mind; things were made reality in their own way. The mind would create injuries it perceived, cause the body to react to mere imaginings. The same now applied to Felix as he stood here. If he died here, his real body would die as well.

He pulled back the hammer of the gun, and kicked in the door of the cottage.

There was a rush of air as this place long undisturbed was suddenly exposed to the outside world. For a split second, there was silence, and Felix stood just inside the doorway surrounded by shadows and still air. He held his gun at the ready, and took another step.

It roared.

Instinctively, Felix ducked low to the ground. He could feel another blast of air as the beast’s huge paw narrowly missed his scalp. He could barely see in here, and whatever this thing was, it was fast. He rolled to the side just as another paw crashed into the rotten wood floor, bursting the foundation of the cottage and sending a shiver through the building's walls. Felix brought up his gun and aimed, using his best judgment to find his target.

He was too slow. A hairy paw backhanded him, picking him up off his feet and sending him flying through a rotten wall back onto the grassy knoll. He slid a few feet in the unkempt turf before rolling back onto his feet. A clawed hand settled into the gap left by his flight from the cottage, the nails easily as long as his forearms. He was lucky he'd taken a blunt strike.

The creature pulled itself through the portal and rose to its hind legs. The light seemed to be absorbed by the black fur of what could only be described as a bear. However, this was bigger than any bear had a right to be. On its haunches, staring down haughtily at its prey, the fiend was easily three times taller than Felix was. By all accounts it shouldn't have even fit in the rotten hovel it had emerged from, but that was the way of the mind. It made things work, more so when it was determined to.

Wavering, panicked eyeballs were strewn across its body, blinking rapidly as they tried to grasp the creature’s new surroundings. In places where soft flesh should have been, obsidian scales glinted brightly. A scaled tail ran behind it, capped with a rattler. Danger, it seemed to say as it made a hissing cacophony. The beast's face, a blood colored smear among the pitch of its fur, stretched abnormally as it grinned at him through razor-sharp fangs. The eyes set in its face were serpentine, rather than human like those adorning its legs and torso. These stared at their new prey without fear, but instead with malice.

Felix smirked, and stood. "You know, I must have killed a thousand Personal Demons by now...and to be honest, I can't understand why you're all always so damn ugly."

The bear chuckled a bit, its voice sounding like a dozen different animals somehow pushed haphazardly into one. Venomous spittle flew into the air as its mouth moved awkwardly, forming words it shouldn't know. The ground seemed to rumble as it began speaking.

"I don't know who you are, insect. Terrance has never met you s-"

"You know, I'd love to let you go on a monologue since I'm sure that's your thing." Felix interrupted, leveling his gun at the creatures head. "But the truth is the story is always the same. Daddy beat me, mommy didn't love me, everyone at school hated me. I could go on for hours. But at the end of the day there's one simple fact: Terrance has issues. Issues that made him do some bad things. You're the cause of it."

The fiends sneer turned into more of a grimace now as it studied its prey. It fell onto all fours and began pacing, slowly circling the human. Felix trained his gun on its target, never losing focus on the creature for an instant. "So what happens now? Are you going to shoot me with that imaginary gun of yours? Do you kill me and suddenly Terrance goes back to being a normal 17 year old kid?"

"Nope." said Felix. "He's never going to be normal. He already crossed a line and there's no coming back."

The bear's face contorted at this. It lunged. Felix jumped, high, higher than should have been possible, streaking up and over the beast as it crashed to the ground below. It glanced up in shock. "There won't be any coming back for you either." said Felix. He squeezed the trigger.

The thunder clash of the gunshot seemed to send a ripple through the Theater. The air warped again, this time more violently as Terrance's wavering hold on reality was met with Felix's steadfast Resolve. The bullet landed squarely in the bear's eye, continued, rending a fist sized hole through it's skull as it exited. The bullet then drove down into the ground of the Theater, and instantly the land around them began to shudder under its power. The beast fell prone, twitching in its death throws. "HOW!?" It screamed.

Felix landed nearby and watched impassively as it began to die. "If you had some ordinary emotional baggage to deal with, it would have been kept out in the Ether. Your subconscious. In here though, the mind creates reality. Your mind may not believe this gun is real, but mine does. And my belief is stronger than yours."

"YOU'VE KILLED ME YOU'VE KILLED ME YOU'VE KILLED ME"

Felix shook his head. "No, I haven't. What I just shot was your Personal Demon, a mental block. It was the only thing keeping you from seeing the truth. A nasty scapegoat you could control from afar...the real you is still in the cabin." His Resolve fluctuated again, forcing the mind around it to believe, setting up structure that had long since been torn away by madness. Around them, the narrowing hills and fields spread out as if poured from a cistern. The pristine wilderness spread out infinitely, beyond what Felix's eyes could see. Beautiful, he thought. Beautiful and sad.

The creature took a last desperate swipe at him. Felix easily stepped out of its way.

"You asked if this would fix you, let you go back to normal...but there's no coming back, Terrance. I'm sorry for that. No one realized what was happening to you until it was too late..." His Resolve completed its work, grounding Terrance's mind fully for the first time in many years. Felix let the gun evaporate from existence, walked over, and began to softly pass his hand through the creature’s fur as it died its movements now more subdued. "You aren't 17, you're 33. You've been in a prison for the mentally insane for over a decade now. You killed your sister, Terrance, and several of her friends."

The expression in the beast’s eyes went from reptilian and predatory to shock in an instant. It’s struggling slowed, and ceased. The violent sounds of its rattler lowered to a  whisper, and suddenly the sound the breeze seemed uproariously loud by comparison.

Felix stood again, looking down with pity. "I didn't free your mind as a favor. I was hired by one of the girls' parents. They wanted you to be here, clear, free from all the walls your broken mind had created. They wanted you to be completely aware of what you'd done when they put you to death tomorrow. And unfortunately for you, they pay very well."

Felix began to leave, but turned back to look at the creature one last time. "You shouldn't worry, you know. What you did...I can see from being here that you haven't been yourself for a long time. It wasn't all your fault. There's forgiveness for you, I'm sure." With that, Felix pulled himself from Terrance's mind and into his own. As he fell into sleep, Felix was sure he could hear the voice of a boy begin to sob.

 

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He sat up quickly from his bed, covered in sweat. Outside, the bustle of New York’s streets were laying siege to the room, seeping through the dusty glass window into his room. Even this far from some of the larger districts and busier streets, the city seemed alive. An El Rail, gently humming just outside the window, seemed to stare taunting at the nearby buildings from its perch. It was almost as if it said, Another train’ll be passing through soon. Hope you aren’t enjoying your peace and quiet. From the looks of the shadows streaming across the floor, it was mid afternoon.

"You alright there, Felix?" said a warm voice from the side of his bed.

Felix sighed, rubbing a hand through his matted, shoulder length black hair. "Yeah. Job was a little rougher than we thought. Wound up in a Theater of the Mind."

He pulled his bed sheet off, looking down at his torso. A large bruise had already begun to spread across his left side where the claw had struck him. He prodded a bit, wincing, but thankfully concluding he had no broken ribs. No doubt Clair would be here to give him a second opinion when she heard about the job. Somewhere deep down Felix sighed at the thought, exasperated.

He turned his attention to the old man sitting at his bedside. This tiny, elderly gentleman would have looked like a hobo or even a carney to anyone who didn't know him. His face wore the scruff of three days without shaving. Neglected eyebrows seemed to pour from his brow over his grey eyes, and flimsy bowler cap sat atop a balding head. Purple bags had begun to form on his lower lids, and he held a mug of coffee in a surprisingly steady hand. All in all, an unassuming man. You wouldn’t look at him and imagine he’d be the leader of a group of psychics.

"How long was I out Stan?"

The old man smiled warmly. "All in all 27 hours, give or take a few minutes. If you wound up in a Theater, I'd call that a new record. Well, for you maybe. I could have done it in twelve." He grinned wickedly.

Felix smiled and swung his legs from the bed. "No doubt. Thanks for staying up with me."

"I'd say it was out of kindness, but I saw the check those people wrote us. Enough money to keep the whole crew fed for three months and then some. We owe you. Still can't believe you got uppity people like that to believe you long enough to throw money your way."

"They were desperate" said Felix, grabbing the coffee from Stan's protesting hand. "They would have done anything to have real retribution for their daughter. They're just lucky they ran into the real thing. That kid...he went through some heavy shit Stan. Heavy enough that he made himself forget it completely. It's been a long time since I've seen a mess like that." He took a heavy swig of coffee, feeling its warmth spread through his torso like a mother's embrace.

Stan nodded. "Well, point is you made it out with just a bruise. We got a call from the Madranos a few minutes before you woke up. Terrance Witherington went from a babbling fool to a lucid, sane man over night. Half the doctors at the asylum think it's some sort of miracle, and the other half think he's been faking it for 16 years."

Felix looked down, staring at the steaming drink in his hands. "I'm not sure he deserved it Stan. If he hadn't been born when and where he wound up, he might have grown up to be a peaceful man. All I saw in that mind was an abused child. You should have seen him when he finally snapped out of the daze he was in…after I told him what he’d done…"

"You can worry about ifs and buts all you want," Stan growled. "The fact is that's not what he became. He killed people, several people. Kids. And even then that doesn't really matter. You were given a job, and you did it. Bottom line." The old man stood, stretching his back with a loud crack. "You can't get emotional in this line of work. Thought I taught you that."

Felix grinned again, taken out of his slump. "You did, old man. I'm just a slow learner."

Stan grunted and walked out on deceivingly lithe legs. "Keep the coffee kid. I don't wanna catch whatever it is that gave you those ugly big toes of yours."

The younger man grinned at the half joke, holding onto it for as long as it would distract him from what he'd just done. It didn't last long, and in his gut he felt the guilt sinking in once more. He sighed, set the coffee down on a nearby table, and laid down again. This time to not only sleep, but to rest.


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