Hope Visits the Brain Trust

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A scene I dreamt, of a young man needing a helping hand.

Submitted: April 21, 2016

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Submitted: April 21, 2016

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Hope Visits the Brain Trust

 

“Here’s your first Hope.” A brown folder was plopped down in front of her. The leather shining at her from under the little light that could escape from the billowing smoke in front of her. She took her penetrating hazel nut eyes off of the binder to look up at the voice. Smoke greeted her gaze, gray smoke. The smoke looked to be trying to fill the room with its constant movement but was contained by some unseen barrier, so as to only obscure the voice addressing her.

She took her eyes off of the unusual situation in front of her. Her pale white hands took the project in front of her. She adjusted herself slightly in her chair and opened the first page. The white page stood in stark contrast to the dark room. The very page seemed to be illuminating itself. The title read JAMES DONOVAN, her eyes traced down along the page until stopping at the sub-title: Self-Induced Pain.

“When do I leave?” She directed at the cloud of smoke while flipping through the brief.

“Now.”

**********

Hope found herself in front of a polished oak door. She took a moment to look over herself. She wore a dark blue blazer over a white blouse, a dark blue skirt followed and led to a pair of black heels. She turned around but all there was to see was white light, to her right, to her light, everywhere except for the door directly in front of her. Her right hand held the brief she had begun to look over moments ago, and so with her left she gently knocked on the door.

She did not need to wait for more than a few seconds when the door opened to her. At first she did not see anything except what appeared to be a rather dark hallway. She then noticed bobbing blonde hear not 3 feet from the ground.

“We have been expecting you.” She was greeted by a young man’s voice that did not match the smiling toddler who was now extending his delicate hand to her. Her startled expression quickly became composed once again. She replicated his smile. Two shiny smiles where the only difference lay in that the young boy in front of her seemed to be growing his in.

“You must be the caretaker I take it.” She winced inwardly. First job and she was making puns, disgusting. She took his hand in her. It felt warm to the touch, she could almost sense the energy coursing through him.

“Yes!” He practically yelped with joy. “I am your dedicated guide for you journey.” With that he made a low bow, his small nose nearly touching his green and red sneakers. He jumped up out of the bow causing his white button down to sneak out of the elastic waistband of his black bands. He took her hand once again. “Oh do come in, I will show you around.”

Hope and the Caretaker started to walk down the dark hallway that she had seen when he had first opened the door. She now noticed there were steel doors lining the corridor. The sort of doors you may find on ships, with a circular window near the top. There was a bright blue light spilling out from each window into the hallway. Hope could also make out a glimmering light at the end of the hallway but she could not quite make out what it was.

She was being led by the caretaker’s hand. Each door had a date on it. “These are the earliest memories.”

“Right to the point aren’t we?” She quizzed her little guide.

He shot her an apologetic look. “I am sorry Hope, I know you expect some formalities but our lobby has fallen into some disorder and well… I felt like we needed an early start.”

Hope had her mouth open to reply but the Caretaker suddenly stopped in front of a seemingly random door off to the left. October 19th 1999. “My favorite one.” The Caretaker enthused. “Why don’t we take a look?”

He opened the door. Hope was initially dazed by the sunlight gleaming in. A two-story house surrounded by a pristine blue sky without a cloud in sight. The grass could not have been greener. She spotted a dog being chased by a young boy. The boy bore a striking resemblance to someone familiar. She watched the boy laugh as he and the boy played.

“James!” A female voice rang out from the house but Hope just couldn’t see the figure. She strained her eyes and she thought she might have just caught the glimpse of a brim of a sun hat.

“That’s all there is.” Whispered the Caretaker gleefully.

As Hope was being led out the door she recognized the child from the previous scene. “That was you! Even the clothes!”

“You’re right!” The caretaker was beaming. “James’ earliest memory. I hope he never forgets me! I think I am a rather good caretaker.”

He began speeding up the corridor. They were whisking by the doors now but Hope could still make out a few scenes here and there. Science fairs, soccer games, birthday parties, friends, romance, doting parents, they were the recurring character seemed to be getting a little older each time.

Hope frowned. “These all shouldn’t be happy, where are the rest?” she quizzed the caretaker. He didn’t even off her a courtesy look before replying sheepishly, “We will get to those don’t worry. Now just through here.”

They had reached the end of the corridor. The light Hope had noted from before was coming from a golden door at the end of the hall. This one had no window, just an etching across the top that read: LOBBY.

Once through the door Hope realized what the Caretaker had been talking about when he mention the lobby was in disrepair. Dirt everywhere. Furniture stripped. Wallpaper hanging loose. The only sense of order appeared to be a clock hanging over a dreary red loveseat, but upon closer inspection the clock was simply spinning about in endless motion & then just as it would reach midnight it spun back the other way.

“Sorry about this, let’s just sneak right through.” The Caretaker apologized as he hopped through the room careful to avoid the bugs that Hope now saw scurrying about the floor. The Caretaker shot a scared look towards the lift to their left. The metal grate was open, inviting them to climb inside the wood paneled transport.

That was yet to be their destination however as they bore right and came upon a set of double doors. The Caretaker took out an impossible large set of keys from his toddler’s trousers and started to unlock the locks. Hope had a foreboding inkling about what lay beyond this door. If her fears were validated then this job was much bigger then she had initially expected.

The last lock unlocked with a piercing metallic click. The sound reverberated off the walls before being interrupted by the groan of the double doors splitting way for the two intruders. The last of noise drained off and so Hope and her little guide once again joined hands and set off.

Hope was holding her silence while her thoughts formulated. This corridor was not unlike the first. Steel doors once again lined each side with port holes at about eye level. The scenes however were as different as they could be from the joyous ones she had just been commenting on.

She saw scenes of James crying, being scolded by adults, being mocked by peers and perhaps worst of all, being ignored by those he loved. As the protagonist grew older there was less crying. His face became a mirror of stoicism. There was still longing in his eyes, but this would look would be replaced by a certain hungry glee as his eyes caught the glimpse of a bottle of liquor or pills, or of some woman he desired.

Hope stopped dead in her tracks. The Caretaker led on before being pulled back by Hope’s unwavering grip. He turned to face her and adopted a scared complexion upon seeing the wrath in her eyes.

“How could you? You separated the good memories from the bad! This isn’t natural, you’ve broken his very experiences. He is floundering through this corridor without a chance to see any good he has ever done. I didn’t even know this was possible. Why, how could you?”

“You don’t understand. He was crumbling before me, I thought that if I just took care of the good ones then,” The Caretaker cast an anxious look about the portholes. “Then he would be as before. I just missed the real him, not what has replaced us.”

Hope missed this last bit of his excusal. She remained riveted to the stop where she had stopped. Her eyes peered into the window at her side. The same young man appeared at a desk. Dressed in sweatpants and a black tee he appeared to be pouring over some letter or other. He unceremoniously jerked his head up. Cocked it to one side and slowly turned to face the intruder. Hope would’ve gasped if her throat had not tightened. His eyes were transfixed. Looking right at her and yet through her with that unrelenting stare that is truly incapable of simple sight. He got up, without blinking, and swept the content of his desk across himself. He moved toward Hope, her eyes caught a glimpse of the page he had been reading: “Thank you for your interest Mr. Donovan but we regret to inform you…” Hope reverted back to the emotionless face, which as only showing the worst of emotion. The scene disintegrated before he reached the door. Reforming with the young man back at his desk.

She turned towards the Caretaker’s horrorstricken face. “It is time we went upstairs.”

They quickly moved back the way they came. The soft red light flashing in a blur as the two companions burst back into the lobby. The same disorder presented itself. This time Hope took no time to take in her surroundings. Hope moved swiftly into the opened lift. She immediately noticed that there were no buttons to push. Next she saw that the Caretaker had stopped just short of the lift.

“Have mercy on him.” He looked as if wanted to ass something more but the gravity of the situation weighed on him. “Well I’m not allowed up there so for now we say goodbye.” He rapped his knuckles across the wall neighboring the lift and the metal grates clanged shut. As the elevator climbed Hope caught a last glimpse of the Caretaker’s weak smile before bring her attention to her front.

**********

The lift opened onto a waiting room. The walls were whitewashed. There was a brown leather sofa towards the left facing a wooden table. Hope marched across the room, passing what she assumed to be an empty receptionist’s desk.

The door facing her had the inscription: THE BRAIN TRUST written in large black bold letters across its head. There was no know or knocker, but as Hope approached the door have her admittance to her final act.

The auditorium was vast. The ceiling could not be made out nor the sides. They were boundless to Hope’s eyes. The floor was a consistent black of some material or other. White streaks of light flew by at speed around the center, or what Hope took to be the center, of the place. A long oak table stood in the center. Ringed by seven high backed chairs, the sort found in an office building.

Hope recognized James at the head of the table. His brown hair was of medium length yet it hung about his bowed head like a heavy weight. A pale white arm slung about his shoulders. The other playing with his hair. The owner of the arms was a woman with long blonde hair tumbling across her stunning red dress. Her eyes were black. Lust.

Lust’s lips drew into a smile both equally wicked and seductive. She made no move to address her sure to be adversary. There was no need to have fear of an outsider in this inner sanctum.

The man to Lust’s left did stir. His pitch black suit glistened as his head turned to face the newest addition to the room. The smile spreading across his lips bespoke of no friendship. His beady black eyes matched his suit and they twinkled as he began to stand.

“Look sharp Sloth. We have a guest.” The t was unmistakably hissed out. Sloth for his part sat unmoving. As Hope approached the unusual scene she noticed two peculiar things. The first was that the man who had addressed her had a striking resemblance to James. The difference could only be that his skin was smoother, tanner, his hair was smartly cut, he was a bit taller and he had an absolute exudation of confidence. He bore a handsome charm. The second was the Sloth was not sitting on a chair at all as Hope had assumed. Rather he was so large that he merely sat on the floor and his hulking mass was big to allow his head to appear at a height expected of one at a table.

Sloth’s bulbous bald head craned left. Hope was reminded of an owl as she could not make out his neck. Sloth’s black eyes did have the dark beauty of his companions, rather they betrayed a sickening insatiable desire. His tongue wet his chapped lips before replying, “What did they bring in Avarice? A doctor? A therapist?” His face lit up into a cackle.

Avarice, as Hope now understood the well-dressed man to be, smiled to impossible lengths as Sloth’s laugh echoed throughout the room. He allowed himself a small chuckle. “No, not a doctor, not a therapist, something even more ineffective I’m afraid. I was rather looking forward to a challenge.”

“What is she darling?” the words drawled out. “James say hello to our visitor. We mustn’t be rude to pretty girls.” She pulled his head up by his hair.

James’ eyelids were barely open. His eyes were ringed with dark circles. His facial hair was unkempt and growing unevenly as is common for men of his age. He was looking at Hope without seeing her. She was reminded of the last scene she has seen in the corridor with the Caretaker.

“Hope. Hope has decided to show her face.” The joking pretense had vanished for an instant from Avarice’s face as he sneered these words at Hope. They were displayed once again upon his face as soon as they were gone.

A rattling noise brought Hope’s attention to her left. She noticed that the room was host to three more individuals. These three needed no introduction as Hope noted a collar on each. A woman dressed in armor, hers read COURAGE. A man in a lab coat, his read REASON. Finally another woman dressed in a blue sundress, hers read LOVE. Each appeared to be trying to speak but their voices carried no sound. Reason appeared to be particularly strained as he desperately, mutedly, shouted at Hope.

“See how far your little subject is Hope? These fools cannot even be heard. We have total control and why shouldn’t we? Those before you offered James nothing. No pleasure, no success. There motto is that of work while ours is of greatness.” Avarice laughed a sort of mocking laugh. “The only surprise is that it took this long.”

Lust spoke up. “Oh lets end this nonsense. Here in front of her, lets show little James how right he was to choose us.”

James stirred at his name. He seemed to see Hope for the first time. His face morphed into a puzzled expression. He made to life his hands but they were cuffed to the table. He opened his mouth to comment on his state but before he could do so Lust whispered in his ear loud enough for all to hear. “Let them free James. Let the foolish voices speak again.”

He brought his confused to look to face her. “But you told me never to do that. You said I must only listen to you.”

Lust’s face turned into the perfect countenance of insincere empathy. “I know dear one but just this once. Just to see the end of them. Our kind guest will take them away from us.”

“I will do no such thing.” Hope quipped.

“You won’t have a choice, James will made you do it.” Sloth wheezed. This time his eyes betrayed hatred of the purest sense towards Hope.

“James, listen!”

“Turn away!”

“Set us free!”

The three caged individuals cried out in unison.

Hope cut across all of them as she turned back to the table. “How can you claim to have led this boy to happiness? Look at his state. He is a shell of the man I visited down below.”

“Happiness? We never promised happiness. We promised fulfillment. Fulfillment of desire. Fulfillment of dream. Fulfillment of needs. We have delivered and we have delivered quickly once James gave us the chance.” Lust shot back. Here smile had been replaced with the ugliest of scowls as she addressed Hope. She got up and sidled next to Avarice. “And what did they,” She pointed to the chained “give him? Work. No fun. No fulfillment. Only a little longer James, your happiness is right around the corner, just try a little more. That was killing him, the burden of trying to be virtuous not the submission to the pinnacle of vice.”

Courage’s face had flushed into a deep crimson as Lust continued her tirade. With the floor open she launched her rebuttal. “Fulfillment of desires? Is James so base as to live his life in that way? What fulfillment could you possibly give him Lust? Another pornographic showing? Another whisper in his ear that he will the girl he craves? The fulfillment of desires indeed, the most sinister and shallow life goals one could espouse.” She spat this at Lust, and to everyone’s surprise except her own and James’ her left arm ripped out of her shackle.

Reason, no doubt understanding the meaning of what had just happened, was quick to jump in before his enemies could. “James, we don’t offer the easy road. We never have but that’s not what you ever wanted. The toil is worth it, the reasoned virtuous road is one full of love, learning and comradery. Those low moments you experience aren’t to be filled with the half measures offered by succumbing to your vices. Those moments are instrumental in your path towards living a truly fulfilled life. The fruits of labor are all the sweeter for they have been forged in the sacrifice of the easy fulfillment of desires.”

“Toil, path! You clichés are not welcome here doctor!” Avarice’s face was a horrid picture of rage. “Your promises have never amounted to anything. Why do you think I am here and you are chained? James has outwitted the simple doctor. He has desires that must be med and you cannot feed them.”

Reason’s small frame shock as he delivered his counterpunch. “Desires? He has desires because of you. Our path has no fulfillment for such wants as we harbor no desires. The unnatural pull of greed, gluttony, lust, revenge hold no position in James’ heart because they do not exist. They are fabrications of you pitiful creatures. You hold no power over this boy’s heart.”

“Powerless?” Mocked Sloth. “Wrong again our little friend. Look where you sit and where I sit. The power is here.”

“James is the only one with power. He choose to give it to you and he can choose to take it away.” Hope had reentered the conversation. All eyes swiveled to her. They had seemed to have forgotten that she was there.

Love gave her a reassuring smile before turning to James. “James.” He turned to her but he could not bring his eyes to meet hers. “Do you feel fulfilled?”

As the words left her mount, the chains around her disintegrated, even her neck collar. James caught her eye for a second. He studied her face but was forced to consider Avarice who was eager to have a word.

“This is ridiculous. Remember the red corridor James. Everything there is a product of broken promises by the lying three. Listen to my sister and brother. We will take you to even greater glory.”

James did not hear him. He took his eyes off of Love and faced Hope once more. “Am I too deep to change?”

Hope realized in that instance why she was there. She was not there to give a speech or tell somebody how to live their life. She was not there to lay out a plan or instruct the caretaker on how to work. She was there to be there. To be in the presence of anyone that needed her and to let them figure it out for themselves. Her eyes locked with James. A loving smiled caressed her smiling face.

“I will be here for you, but it is for you to decide James. Will you be a slave to desire or free to love?

**********

 

 


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