Beyond Electric Dreams

Reads: 169  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young boy with complete control of his world is encountered by an intruding girl who wants nothing more then to be friends.

Submitted: November 17, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 17, 2010

A A A

A A A


Beyond Electric Dreams
By Brian Conley
 
 
A bird was perched in the high branches of a maple tree, playfully bouncing around on the skeleton limbs. From the grassy knoll beneath, the boy watched it intently with a flat palm to the sky. He whistled sharply, imitating the bird’s calls and wiggling his fingers foolishly. The bird fluttered to a lower branch, ducking quickly into a large knothole. The boy let out a huff of frustration and put the bird in his hand instead of calling it, letting it peck at some sunflower seeds piled on his fingertips. It hopped around on his palm, seemingly unaware of its new location. The boy watched the bird closely, smiling small as it paused to knack its neck to crack a sunflower seed. It fluttered its wings roughly and tossed its head back to swallow. The creature was impossibly light even as it ate and moved. If he looked away, the boy was sure that he could forget he was holding it. He traced its shape with his eyes, from the ruffled feathers of its head down to the twig legs: bent triangles ending in spread feet. 
It fluttered its again and began preening. As it smoothed it feathers, the boy became suddenly curious and gently put his free index finger onto its head. The bird, not liking the sudden intrusion, sang out a single note of displeasure and hopped off of the boy’s hand, opening its wings and flying away like a leaf caught in an updraft. The boy watched it transcend to the open skies and before he lost sight of it, put himself up with it. He slowed everything to a crawl and as he stood suspended in the fresh spring sky, grass and pointed trees far below, he watched the small bird fly. Caught in the boy’s whims of dilatory, each motion of the wing was smooth and a single frame of animation. The boy circled it, bending his head this way and that to observe the complexity of its flight, how the feathers bent with the air under them and how its feet tucked neatly against its belly. It was indeed a fascinating thing. The boy playfully rubbed the bird’s breast, taking care to keep the feathers undisturbed. 
“Come back again.” He said to it. He stepped to the side and put time to its normal pace, letting the bird fly away, comparatively, at the speed of light. The boy stood in the sky for a while longer, mostly looking down at the ground. He saw a far-off lake: a mirror set at the feet of a long rope of mountains. He smiled at it and started walking in its direction. Each step created a cloud off his heels. The trail grew quicker as he sped his pace, losing his shoes and changing his clothes to just long shorts. He leapt forward from his sudden run and took off flying, propelling himself towards the lake. The wind was cold against his cheeks and at first, he enjoyed it, but it quickly wore to an annoyance and he warmed it up, making it smell like the heat of the sun. It was clean and tender, soothing the redness in his cheeks. He put some birds around him, a flock of long-billed storks with wings of broad, beautiful watercolor strokes. With them he flew in silence. After some time, he called up clouds to gather in a ruffled quilt beneath him, a layer between him, the storks and the ground. He did some exaggerated swoops and on his last circle, swung down past the storks to skim the clouds. They were cool and moist on his skin, at once dampening his skin. He paid no mind and sped up, creating a storm to trail him. He swerved left and right and held his breath to dive up and down, like a dolphin. Once he tired of playing, he flipped onto his back and put his arms out, resting his body on the clouds as he soared. He slowed down and after a few moments, he saw the flock of storks he left behind pass by overhead. One they were gone, he looked for the sun, turning his head this way and that and only found it once he sat up, crossing his legs. It was starting to dip near the horizon, a happy, afternoon light. Staring at the it hurt the boy’s eyes, but he quickly adjusted both them and the sun so it was pleasant. It would be nighttime soon, a couple of hours. The boy took another lungful of the sweet sky air and fell backwards, toppling through the clouds. 
He extended his arms out and cascaded like a feather, swinging gleefully back and forth in big swoops until his feet touched the ground. As the tips of his toes pressed to the grass, he made a flock of doves explode from the dirt and escape to the sky. The sound of their wings drumming was fantastic to him and he stuck his hands in his pockets watching them soar above the clouds. He walked casually to the lake, pausing only to call up an apple tree and pluck one of the fruits from the branches. He had finished it by the time he arrived and dismissed the core, brushing his hands against his clothes. The lake was shiny-smooth and still persisted as a mirror in the ground. He found a slight slope against one of the shores of the lake and stood atop it, looking over the water. He sat down and hung his legs off the side. His toes glanced the water and ripples started to curve over the surface, but he stopped them. The storks returned, flying noisily to the far side. Some landed near the edge and leaned their beaks in for a drink, but the boy frowned and froze them still. He wanted to be the one to break the calm of the lake, not them. He dipped his foot into the water, making sure to keep all ripples away. The water was cold, icy even. He shivered and adjusted it, making it warmer, but not warm enough that it would be like soup. He kept it as cool as he did the winds when he was flying, warm enough to stand, but still cool and carrying kisses. He smiled at the perfection and with a small grunt, pushed off slope. The surface shook in countless ripples rolling to each long corner of the lake. It was much deeper then the boy expected and to avoid getting the warm water in his lungs, he put a flat rise of earth under his feet. Once he was comfortable swimming, he put the lake bottom flat again and swam to the storks on the other side. He ran his hand down the long beak of the one closest to the water and smiled at it. He set them free and they fluttered wild at the boy’s sudden presence. They flocked to the other side of the lake, where the boy had come from and all congregated around the slope he had used to enter. 
The boy swam for hours and hours, splashing water and adjusting the size to big tidal waves and humorous waterspouts. He glazed his eyes like a crocodile, paused his need for air and went underwater, swimming to the dark bottom and watching all the fish and plants. He made a bright ball of light so he could see and kept it in his hand, thrusting it at whatever he thought needed the illumination. Most fish scattered when he shined his light at them, but he quickly froze them and swam around, feeling their scales and fins before letting them free to hide. He got tired of holding his light after a while and the glaze on his eyes was starting to itch, so he got rid of both the novelties and just made it so he could see clearly, even in the low light. Like this he traversed the entirety of the lake, coming to the back end. He lightened his body and floated to the surface, coming up at the base of another high-rise slope. He huffed as he tried to reach his arms up to the lip and when he conceded that he couldn’t, he simply lowered it to where he could and pulled himself up. As he did, he looked back behind him. He had indeed walked the entire scope of the lake: the little slope he had jumped from before wasn’t even visible; all he saw was rippled water. 
As he got back to his feet, turned back around and flinched in shock as he saw the big wall that stood before him. It was humungous, as tall as the sky—maybe taller—and made of red bricks, millions of them, all stuck together with grey mortar. The boy looked to the left and right, following the wall both ways. To the right it cut through the mountains, not once getting any shorter. To the left, it stretched on forever and ever, not once showing any signs of stopping. The sun was a half-circle on the horizon now and the sky a hazed orange. The clouds caught the burning shadows of the sunset and deft winds blew. The boy shivered. He hugged himself and put clothes over his body, adding a thick sweatshirt in addition to his jeans and boots. Once warm, he stepped forward and ran a hand over the wall, letting his fingertips run through each dip and brick. He wondered where it came from…it hadn’t been there when he was flying around, he would have seen it. Then, it appeared when he was in the lake? But even so, walls had never appeared in the boy’s land before, never. He wondered what was behind it. More fields, perhaps? Or maybe it was a city? But how could either of those things exist if he didn’t make them so? The boy knew the extent of his power and was sure that whatever was here was because he made it so. He didn’t make this wall and surely didn’t make anything behind it. Maybe it was just an anomaly, some kind of error he created unconsciously, some errant thought in the back of his head that came suddenly to fruition. If that were the case, then he could easily get rid of it, cast it away as easily as he did his apple core. 
He tapped the wall and tried to dismiss it, but it wouldn’t budge. He frowned and tried again, focusing on nothing but the wall. It persisted. He growled, taking a step back and roughing his hair. He huffed. How could he so easily be defeated by a wall? He tried one more time to get rid of it, closing his eyes and willing it away so powerfully that he fell backwards. So, it won’t just vanish, he thought, it’s not under my control. What other options did he have? Plenty, he thought. If it wasn’t under his control, then it wasn’t part of his world and he didn’t want it. He got to his feet and called up two boulders, each a thousand times bigger then he, the big toes of giants. He reared them back and hurled them against the wall. They fell apart like crackers. He got rid of the rubble and crossed his arms, genuinely frustrated. He summoned windstorms and earthquakes, bolts of lightning and tidal waves from the lake behind him, all of which did nothing. What more could he do? He thought for some time and then, with clenched hands, took his nightmares from the corners of his mind, the most powerful horrors he could muster and set them towards the wall. Black, stringy shadows pulled from holes in the ground and even though they frightened the boy, he kept them going, each one assaulting the wall hard enough to send shockwaves through the ground and slices of fear through his body. It didn’t work, the wall remained unscathed and the boy, despite his anger at the lack of progress, was happy to get rid of his demons.
He went to touch the wall again, once more rubbing his fingertips over the coarse surface. “Where did you come from?” He asked aloud. 
He made a fist and pounded the wall decisively. His arms flung out to both sides and just like that, the world around him vanished—except for the wall. He made his world nothing but sky and still, the wall persisted. It stretched it all directions now, going so far each way that it was impossible to see if it ended. He angrily flew alongside it up and down for a while in each direction, hoping that eventually he’d see the top or bottom and that would be that, but it never came. He put the world back and shook his head, pressing his palm to the wall. He hated it, but figured he had to accept that this thing, this unwanted barricade, was here to stay. It wasn’t under his control, wasn’t breakable in any fashion the boy could think of and it reached on and on and on, past the top of the sky and far below the soft ground. He felt tired and decided that even though it made him angry, he would have to put off solving it for now. Maybe tomorrow he would come back with a fresh head and try again. He turned to look at the sunset once before going back to the lake to spend the night and his foot, swinging carefree, hit something. The boy looked down and saw that he had inadvertently struck the leg of a woman, a girl that was sitting on the ground with her back to the wall. She had her head down, eyes closed. The boy frowned and tilted his head. Two unknown things in one day, so close together. He certainly didn’t like the new trend. Instinctually, the boy pushed and tried to make the girl disappear, but couldn’t. He weakly tried again and shook his head. He didn’t bother with boulders and nightmares—the target was too small and he was too tired. 
The girl suddenly opened her eyes, whipping her neck up with a slice of air. The boy stood over her as she flipped her eyes around.. Her face was round, held with high cheekbones and a soft chin. Her hair was the color of faded maple leaves and she wore a simple outfit of jeans and a white tee-shirt. There was a tiny pin shaped like a lilac hanging in the locks above her left ear, keeping her bangs free of her aqua eyes. 
“What are you?” The boy asked, curious but spitting with disgust. The girl took a few stray seconds to find him and smiled to his face and quickly soured to his words.
“That’s not very nice.” She said, “I just got here, finally.
“Sorry you wasted your time.”
“Oh, it’s not a waste.” The girl stood up, brushing off her backside. She leaned a hand against the wall, “It’s very pretty here.”
“I don’t want you here.” The boy tossed his words like rocks.
The girl smiled pretty, “I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t care what you believe, I don’t want you here. Take your wall and leave me alone.”
My wall?” The girl pointed at her chest, “It’s not my wall.”
“I don’t believe you.” The boy said.
The girl laughed, “Believe what you want, It’s not mine.” The boy growled and turned around.
“Get out of my world.” He said, “Or I’ll kill you.”
“Temper, temper. Aren’t you the little underfed lion?”
“Shut up.”
The girl turned her head, “This is a nice place you’ve got here. This lake sure is pretty.”
“Don’t do that.” The boy crossed his arms. He spoke softly and with his back turned, the girl had to lean forward pick up his words. 
“Do what?” She asked.
“You shouldn’t even be here. Go away.”
The girl stepped forward, “Don’t do what?” She repeated. The boy ignored her and took a step away. She mimicked him and together they walked like this for a few dozen paces until the boy spun around, angry. 
“Stop it!” He yelled. His eyes were narrowed and wet, his brow a compacted mess. The girl saw his hands as fists in front of him. Her smile vanished and she crossed her arms. 
“You’re like a little kid, lost from his favorite toy.” She said.
“Stop talking about me!”
“Why are you so angry?” The girl said, keeping her face straight. Her lips were a line from cheek to cheek, her eyes flat. Her gaze met the boy’s.
“Because you’re here!”
“Just me? Really?”
“Yes, just you. Yes, really. Now go away!”
The boy turned around and started stomping off, pausing only to slam a fist against the wall. The girl cocked her head.
“You have an entire world and yet you won’t share, not even with a single life.”
“This is my world!” The boy turned around again, once more hitting the wall, “I don’t want you here!”
“Your world?” The girl pointed, “Are you sure?”
“Of course I am.”
“Prove it.”
The boy flung out an arm and the lake vanished, replaced by wheat fields that yawned to the horizon. The girl shifted to look at them and how they glowed silver in the moon. They waved back and forth in the lucid winds, dancing is a silent symphony.
“Pretty.” She said. The boy closed his eyes.
“Don’t do that.” He muttered.
“Don’t do what?” The girl responded, “That’s the second time you’ve told me to not do something without specifying.”
“Don’t keep count.” The boy looked away from her, opening his eyes, “And don’t tell me that my world is pretty.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s not yours. I don’t want you taking any claims in it.”
“Even just the tiniest of opinion?”
“Even the tiniest. Just…go away.”
The girl took two big steps, putting her nose to his. His breath pressed against her. He looked to her, eyes still wet and bent with anger. She put on a faint smile.
“No.” She said. The boy twitched at her despondence, but calmed himself and took a step back.
“I’ll kill you.” He said, “If you don’t leave.”
“Promises, promises.” The girl held up a pinky.
 “What is that?”
“You’re going to kill me? Then promise.”
The boy stared a long time at her pinky, held out straight towards the sky. He looked at the shimmering wheat fields, the wall and then her eyes. Even in the moonlight, they shone brilliant. She had a fierce look and her eyes were claws, sharp and precise. The boy lifted a hand and batted hers away. She grinned.
“Just go away.” The boy said, “I’m tired.” He turned to leave. The girl floated out a hand and put it on his shoulder. He slowly bent his neck to look at it. Her fingers were long, her skin smooth. She tightened her grip just enough to make wrinkles in the cloth. 
“Don’t leave me behind.” She said. There was a crack in her voice, something of sadness, and the boy turned around to look at her. If she was sad asking the question, she didn’t show it. In fact, she was smiling, eyes closed, cheeks red. The boy looked at her for a while, eyeing her up and down. She was pretty, yes, but she was something that he didn’t create, thus, he didn’t want it. Just like the wall next to them, she was an intruder. An alien in his world.
His legs hurt though, from all the standing and swimming he’d done. With an easy motion he knocked her hand from his shoulder and put his back to the wall, sliding down to sit on the soft dirt. He adjusted it beneath him to mold to his shape until it was perfectly comfortable. He rested his arms on his knees and looked at the wheat fields. The girl leaned against the wall next to him.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“No.”
“Don’t be mean.” The girl playfully knocked his head with two knuckles. He glared up at her.
“Why ask if you can ask? Just ask your dumb question, don’t toy with me.”
“Aren’t you lonely?”
The boy rolled his eyes, “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I am.”
“I would be lonely.”
“Who cares what you would be.”
“Why do you hate me so much?” The girl fidgeted. 
The boy looked up to catch the girl looking down at him. He frowned and looked away.
“I don’t even know you.”
“And that’s why you hate me?” The girl sulked, “You really must be lonely.”
“Shut up. Why are you even here?”
“To talk to you.”
“Where did you come from?”
The girl put a finger on her chin, exaggerating her thinking process, “I don’t really remember. And I don’t know why either, if that was your next question.”
“It wasn’t.”
The girl laughed, “Liar.”
“Go to hell.” The boy spat.
“Maybe.” The girl answered. The boy flipped his head to look up at her. She was staring out across the wheat fields. 
“What’s that mean?” He asked.
“Nothing. Listen, why are you here?”
“It’s my world.” 
“How do you know?”
“Because I control it.” The boy wiggled his fingers in front of him and silver butterflies flew from them, away over the fields.  
“Control is ownership?”
“Yes.”
“So, what if I could control it?” 
The boy’s eyes went wide and he grabbed handfuls of grass, “You can?”
“No.” The girl looked at her feet, “But, what if I could? Wouldn’t it be my world then?”
The boy stayed silent, but he relaxed.
“Now that I’m thinking about it, if we’re both here, isn’t this our world?”
“No. You’re just a parasite.”
“You don’t even know anything about me.”
“And I don’t want to.”
“So mean, you are.” The girl sat down, rubbing shoulders with the boy. He fidgeted away from her, gaining mere inches. 
“How did you get here?” She asked.
“I don’t remember.” The boy mocked.
“Sure you do.”
“Why should I tell you anything at all?”
“Because you love me.” The girl smiled.
“I don’t.”
“Then you hate me?”
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“Because you can’t tell me where you’re from.”
“You haven’t told me where you’re from, either.”
“Someplace dark.” The boy answered. The girl drooped her shoulders.
“Me too.” She said, “Funny, that.”
“Why do I have a feeling that you’re not telling me everything?” The boy asked.
“I have that feeling too!” The girl smiled, “We must be soul mates!”
The boy rolled his head to look at the girl. She smiled at him. He shut his eyes and got to his feet.
“I’m sick of this wall.” He said, “I’m leaving.”
“I’m coming with you.” The girl said, standing. The boy looked at her as she smoothly got upright. He didn’t feel so angry now…now it was more annoyance then rage. The boy shook his head and started walking, making a path in the wheat. The girl dutifully followed behind, lagging only two short paces—a gap she could easily fill if she chose to. The boy found this extremely annoying. If you’re going to walk with me, then walk with me. If you’re going to invade my world, tell me who you are. If you’re…never mind. Just go away. 
“So, where are we going?” The girl asked. 
I’m going to find someplace to sleep.” The boy waved his hand, “You just go away.”
“Are you still singing that?” The girl asked, “I thought we were friends now.”
“What made you think that?”
“Well, you’re letting me follow you and you haven’t killed me or made me vanish, even though I’m sure you have the power to do so.”
The boy bit his lip. He had already tried to make the girl go away and, like the wall, couldn’t. But maybe that was a fluke, he had hardly put effort into it. Maybe he just needed to try harder. The boy stopped sudden and the girl stumbled and caught herself on his shoulders. 
“Geeze.” She said, “What happened?”
The boy didn’t say anything. He put his hands in his pockets and made fists. He tried to get rid of her, using everything his body had. He pushed as hard against her as he had the wall. His teeth broke the skin of his lip and some blood dripped down his chin. The girl let out a grunt, dragging her hands down his back. Her breathing was heavier and as the boy turned, he saw she had her forehead to the ground. Her hair was messy and the pin hanging only by a few strands. She coughed roughly and the boy watched her start to regain her composure. After a few minutes she was on her knees, her arms around her stomach. 
“So…” She sputtered, “you really dohate me.” 
She coughed some more, lighter this time. The air seemed to be returning to her and after a few more minutes, she started to get back to her feet.
“Good thing you’re not that strong.”
The boy couldn’t see her face, it had been hung low and he hadn’t bothered to lean in close enough to look. She kept it drooped as she ran her fingers to straighten her hair. She clasped her pin correctly and looked up. The boy expected her to be angry and sort of wanted her to be—if she were angry, she’d go away. But she looked up with a smile, broad and sincere. He made eye contact with her for only a glance and then looked away. She gasped.
“You’re bleeding!” She said, stepping close. She lifted the hem of her shirt to dab at his mouth. 
“Stop.” The boy said as he pushed her away. 
“No, you’re hurt…” She said, pressing forward again. The boy shrugged her off and put a hand over his mouth, quickly fixing his lip. He scowled and she frowned.
“I guess you don’t even need me.” She said.
“That’s right. Why don’t you take the hint?”
“That really hurt, you know.”
“Oh, don’t get sensitive now.”
“Not that.” The girl said. She rubbed her belly, “You really hurt me.”
The boy said nothing.
“Is it so bad, having another person around?”
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“Because this is my world.”
“Aren’t you lonely?”
“Not at all.”
“Well, I am. I’m lonely, all the time.” The girl put a hand on his shoulder, “It makes me sad to see you so despondent.”
“What’s with you?” The boy asked, knocking her hand away, “You worm into my world, pester me like a fly searching for honey and then smile at me after I try to kill you. Why don’t you just go away already? Can’t you see I don’t want you here? And take your wall with you.”
“It’s not my wall, sheesh.” The girl rolled her eyes and tucked her hair behind her ear.
“Where did you even come from? How did you get here?”
“I could ask you the same thing. Haven’t we been over this?”
The boy looked at the ground. The girl was wearing thin sandals and her toes were rolled tight under her feet. He took a step back.
“I’ve been here forever, as long as I can remember.” The boy said.
“And how long is that?”
“A long time. I lost count after twelve years.”
“I’m surprised you kept track for that long.”
The boy took another step back. The girl had her head tilted as she thought his words through. 
“Can’t you control time here, thou-“
The girl lost her sentence as the lake reappeared beneath her. She yelped as she fell into the shimmering water, hands flailing above her head, hair frilled this way and that. The boy watched her splash around helplessly from the circle of land he kept dry. He sat down and crossed his legs. She went under once and came back up gulping what little air she could and going back down. She bobbed like this three, four, five times before finally staying under. The boy didn’t smile, but felt a relief. He was glad to be alone again, it was a familiarity like a blanket. He sat still on his island for a while, watching the sky. It was nearly dawn now. The moon was falling and the calm azures of morning twilight started to paint behind the clouds, which were going from the haunting ghosts of night to the cotton of morning. The night had gone by quickly, the boy noted. It was that girl’s fault…if she hadn’t been bothering him, he would have been able to keep it at it’s normal length. He was getting tired though. He stood up and stretched. He couldn’t sleep in the daylight, so he would move the moon back and fill in this lake, maybe make a nice log cabin. His arms hit his sides again and just scant seconds before he made the changes, the girl exploded out of the surface of the water. She was closer now to his island. She flailed her way over to it and pulled herself up to her chest, gasping and coughing water from her lungs. Her pin was gone and her clothes were a wrinkled skin. The boy watched with surprise as she rolled onto her back.
“Why won’t you just go away?” He asked. She tried to speak, but could only muster harsh hacks. They were violent coughs that rocked her body and erupted water from her lungs. She held up a hand, her fingers a fist except for the pinky, which pointed at the sky. The Boy grit his teeth and kicked her hand hard. It slung to the ground, red and bruised. She winced and he turned his back to her, sitting again cross-legged.
“There must be a million worlds out there.” He said, “Why’d you have to invade mine?”
The girl floundered around for some moments more, gasping lighter and lighter with each painful breath, until at last she could break her voice through them. 
“You make it sound…” She softly sputtered word by word as her body would allow, “That I had a choice in the matter.”
The boy punched the ground, “Stop hiding things from me.” He breathed, “Just tell me who you are, already.”
The girl gathered herself enough to get to her knees. She stayed bent, keeping one hand flat on the ground and the other pressed against her sternum. Her shallow breaths were getting deeper with each intake and she pried her eyes open, letting the air sting them. 
“I’m a survivor, it seems.” She said. She glared up at the boy’s back, “Didn’t realize that I might be able to swim, huh?”
“Could’ve fooled me.” The boy replied.
“Almost did.” The girl bent a cruel laugh. She sat back on her knees and tenderly nurtured a deep, full breath of air into her hungry lungs. The two sat in silence for a long time, the girl carefully fixing her breathing pattern and the boy mindlessly staring out across the lake. The sun rose around them and the sky became a cascade of gold and silver. By the time the girl was sure she had recovered fully from her near-death, the boy had laid down, using his sweatshirt as a pillow. He was a wall on the island. He made his side that much longer to comfortably fit himself longwise. Some sunrays floated around them in soft circles, some pure yellow and others carrying the dark shadows of clouds. The girl shivered as she watched them pass over her and cross the boy’s shoulders. She hugged herself briefly and bit her lip, looking this way and that. She stared then at the boy’s back, watching the slight movements of his breathing chest. She started to peel off her shirt, rolling it up from the bottom, pausing only to take care not to bend or pull her bruised fingers. The boy noticed the tiny sounds she made and looked over his shoulder to see her bare chest just for a fleeting moment as she turned around to lay out her wet clothes on the lip of the island. Her shoulder blades were bamboo, curved and long. They squeezed together as she lifted herself off her knees to start wriggling out of her jeans. He turned away. 
&l


© Copyright 2019 BrianMConley. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments: