The Mystic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Natalie Kettle is a ten year old girl that can see the future. Some things are better left unknown.

Submitted: May 04, 2018

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Submitted: May 04, 2018

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"This way, Natalie, if you would." The assistant led the ten year old girl through the television studio by hand. He could feel her nervous energy through the touch. 
"Our producer Mr. Wellman is very excited to watch your show today." The assistant said.
"That's good," Natalie replied. "I just hope I have a prediction to share. It doesn't just work on command." 
Natalie had never seen so many cameras before. There were four mounted cameras in front of the stage. A lone chair filled the stage, contrasting against the brightly painted backdrop. The assistant grabbed a few pillows to prop the young girl up. 
Up in the observation platform Mr. Wellman watched on. He was a brusque and rude man who spoke rapidly to his secretary.
"This is absolutely absurd, I say," He began, his face getting redder and redder as he went. "Wednesday night 8 o'clock is the most hotly contested time slot we have and we're putting on a show of a ten year old girl talking? I tell you Charlotte this really had better be something good."
"Your going to do just fine, Natalie," The assistant said. The cameras were being manned now. From somewhere behind them a voice called out a five count. The assistant readied his slate and counted down with him. "This is tape 352, take one. Three, two, one..." The slate clacked loudly in Natalie's face. Her mind went blank. She looked for her grandfather somewhere, anywhere in the crowd of faces behind the cameras. He was nowhere to be seen. The assistant made eye contact with her and made a rapid gesture with his hand, as if to say "we're rolling!"
"Well, hello." Natalie said. "In school we've been reading Where the Red Fern Grows. It's a story about a rural country boy with two hunting dogs. It's good! I love to read. I just started a book on astronomy by Clark Duncan. My grandfather says if I get good grades in school at the end of the semester he will buy me a small telescope..." The girl trailed on about her school and home life for a few more minutes.
"Absolute rubbish." Mr. Wellman said to the small group of executives and producers watching. "Ok, cut the tape. This isn't playing." 
"Sir," an underling said. "This is Natalie's grandfather here." He gestured to an old grey gentleman with a stoop in his back. The old man made to speak but was cut off by Mr. Wellman. Most people were.
"Sir I don't know what kind of joke you think your getting over on me but I tell you this isn't funny at all. We're trying to make interesting programming here, do you understand?"
Natalie's grandfather straightened his back. He carried an air of dignity and posterity about him. "I tell you, sir," the old man said. "Natalie has a special talent, a gift even." At that moment Natalie stopped speaking and her eyes drifted off into space. Her grandfather knew well what that look in her eyes meant. "Look, sir, and see what I mean." Her grandfather said to Mr. Wellman
"...Tomorrow morning Gwendolyn Dober, that girl that's been lost in the Sierras, will be found." Natalie said. Her face showed no trace of the youthful excitement it had a moment earlier when she was speaking about her book. She looked straight into the camera solemnly. "Her leg will be broken," she continued. "But she will be alive." The look passed and she seemingly returned to her normal self. "Anyway, my teacher Mrs. Fitch is teaching us cursive handwriting..." 
She prattled on seamlessly until the very end of the 20 minute taping. Just as the director was about to call an end to the taping, Natalie's attention drifted away from what she was saying. Her eyes drifted off into space. She was somewhere far away again. "Tomorrow morning at seven," she said. "There will be an earthquake in Los Angeles. There will be damage to buildings and a some people will die. I'm very sorry to have to tell you this." The girl looked like she was about to cry.
"Okay," her grandfather said. He and Mr. Wellman walked down to the taping stage. Natalie's face lit up when she saw her granddad. The director called cut and Natalie walked over to join them.
"Excuse me, Mr...?" Mr. Wellman said. 
"It's Kettle. Hubert and Natalie Kettle." The old man provided.
"Well, Mr. Kettle, Natalie, I think it's awful that you'd put a child up to this. I'm going to have that tape erased. My assistant here will escort you out of the building.
Hubert nodded. He had known brusque men like Wellman before, men that only knew how to speak, never to listen. Men that bullied anything they didn't care for out of existence. But Hubert knew full well too that tomorrow he would receive a call from Mr. Wellman asking them to come back to the station.
The next morning Mr. Wellman came into the station late. His secretary put the day's newspaper into his hand. 
"Mr. Wellman!" she said. "Look at the front page! That little girl predicted it, alright."
Mr. Wellman couldn't believe what he was seeing. "Gwendolyn Dober found alive in the Sierras," the newspaper read. "The 14 year old girl suffered from a broken leg and exposure for over four days but she has been found and confirmed alive this morning..."
"Charlotte," Mr. Wellman said. "Turn on the news this morning. If there's an earthquake in Los Angeles around seven, let me know."
Sure enough the earthquake came to be and Natalie and Hubert were brought back to the T.V. studio. For just over a year she came in twice a week to record the Natalie Kettle show, where she made unerring predictions. Sometimes the predictions were mild, like a thunderstorm rolling into town or highways being blocked off. Other times she helped missing people be found, foresaw counties invading each other in the middle east, foresaw disease epidemics and hungers across the world.
One early summer day a psychologist came in to the studio to meet Natalie and her grandfather. She found them in the recording studio. Natalie was having her make up finished just before she went on stage. 
"Excuse me, Natalie?" The psychologist said. "I'm Dr. Winters. Would it be okay if I talked to you for a minute?"
Natalie looked up from her chair at the doctor. Dr. Winters recognized mistrust in her almond shaped eyes. 
"They told us last week that we would be investigated." Natalie said.
Dr. Winters laughed. "Oh no, not investigated. The university that I work for has been given a grant to study Extra Sensory Perception."
"You mean my being able to predict things?"
"Yes. I just wanted to ask you what it's like. Do you have a vision?"
"Like pictures? No. It's not pictures and it's not words. It's not... It's like it just comes into my mind. I just know."
"I see."
"One thing I have noticed is that I can only predict something if I already know about it. Like the missing girl. I only had that prediction after I saw on T.V. that she was missing."
"So if it's not already in your consciousness, you can't predict it." Dr. Winters sized up the girl. She spoke like she was much older then eleven. 
The make up artist finished his work. The assistant came and told Natalie it was time to start recording. Dr. Winters and Hubert walked together to watch Natalie do her work.
"I believe that her ability is as much of a curse as it is a blessing." Hubert said. Dr. Winters looked at him with a raised eyebrow, a question.
"I often wonder what it would be like," Hubert continued. "To be able to see into tomorrow. What a dreadful weight it must be to know of disasters and death but be unable to do anything about it." Dr. Winters nodded thoughtfully.
Just then the assistant came and got Hubert. "Is there a problem?" The girl's grandfather asked. 
"I don't know. Natalie needs to see you." The assistant said. Hubert rushed over to where Natalie was sitting in front of the cameras. A small crowd of people had formed around her, including Mr. Wellman. Hubert pushed pass them. Natalie was bent over in her chair, holding her stomach. She stared off into space, her eyes listless and dull. When her attention came back to the world around her, her eyes were fiercely afraid. Ringlets of sweat made their way down her face.
"I need to go home, grandfather. I need to go home. I need to go home..." Natalie said.
"Then home we will go." Hubert responded.
"Wait!" Mr. Wellman interjected, as he is ought to do. He took a knee to look Natalie in the eye.
"Natalie ,sweetheart, what's the matter? Do you need a doctor?"
"No, no, not a doctor." Natalie said. "I just need to go home right now. I can't do the show today."
"But what about the production schedule?" Mr. Wellman realized as soon as he said it that wouldn't mean anything to an 11 year old girl. He tried a different angle. "What about your adoring fans? You know, there are people out there right now waiting at their television sets, just to see you. They'll be afraid if you don't record the show today. Tell you what, if you can get through today, the station will foot the bill for you to go on a two week long vacation anywhere you want. Europe, Asia, anywhere. Deal?"
Natalie used her sleeve to wipe the sweat from her brow. Hubert could tell that she was unwell but left the decision to her. It was her gift, after all.
"Okay." Natalie said.
Natalie talked about school and what she had learned that day for the entire twenty minutes. She didn't make a single prediction. Mr. Wellman complained loudly to Hubert. Hubert told him that Natalie was holding something back, and to just be patient. 
"Well," Natalie said at the end of the show. "I guess that's all I have to share about me today. I want to... I want to tell you all about tomorrow." She was as serious and austere as a preacher at a funeral. Her eyes relayed deep abiding dread.
"Tomorrow... tomorrow is going to be a very important day. It's going to be a new day. So far we've seen a lot of bad stuff. We've seen war, we've seen plague, we've seen famines." Natalie started to cry. "People have staved when there's been food. People have died of disease when there's been cures. People have been lost in their anger and hate for each other. We've seen so much hate. I don't understand it. I don't understand any of it. But tomorrow is going to be different. Tomorrow, for the first time since humans have lived on this planet, we're going to start living how we should. Like brothers and sisters side by side with each other. We're going to forget all about bombs and breaking and killing. All around the world a type of garden will grow, and we all will nourish it together. Tomorrow will be the start of all of that. Tomorrow... tomorrow will be a better day. Goodnight."
After the show Natalie, her grandfather and Dr. Winters walked out of the cramped studio into the evening sunset. The sun was orange and crimson and strong, casting the busy street into those colors. Natalie looked wistfully at the sun, still crying. Her grandfather put his hand on her shoulder and whispered to her.
"What's really going to happen tomorrow, Natalie?"
"I just learned about it today, Grandpa. It's called a solar flare. The sun's going to get hotter, so hot. But don't worry, Grandpa. Nobody is going to feel it. It'll just be a flash of light and it'll all be over."


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