Isaac was walking home. He had kept his head down the past few weeks; he didn’t want to draw attention to himself if he could- besides- he felt like he was being watched. He feared any behaviour out of the ordinary would attract unwanted attention. He still entered minds; it was almost a compulsion now to read peoples thought now, although he had refrained from attempting to control them.
The walk home from college took around half an hour. Usually he would catch a bus, but for some reason they hadn’t turned up that day, the streets themselves seemed eerily empty. He turned a corner into a lane that was practically abandoned. That was when the car pulled up beside him. Isaac’s heart lurched in his chest. Who are these people? What do they want? It clearly wasn’t a simple group who were going to mug him; the car was far too expensive. A large, shiny, black Bentley parked directly next to him- something was very wrong.
The door opened and a familiar face appeared. The dark haired woman who has been present throughout his questioning sat inside, her skin was perpetually pale, and her glare was always icy; it was some time before she finally spoke a word.
“I’m going to need you to come with me, Mr Rivers.”
Isaac returned her cold stare.
“I was taught from a young age not to get into cars with strangers.”
“We both know that I’m not here for anything so crude,” She deflected, sounding almost disgusted at the suggestion, “but if you are concerned we will drive away with you inside- Frank!” She called out, presumably to the driver, “leave us for a few minutes would you?”
That wasn’t a question- that was an order, Isaac thought to himself. He needed to see what this woman’s intent was, he needed to see into her mind.
He looked deep into her eyes. They were unmoving, and grey. Isaac could not see past them- this hasn’t happened before.
“Something wrong, Isaac?”
He lingered for a moment, trying and failing to penetrate her mind, “no- nothing.”
The glyph on his hand began to itch, and suddenly he was extremely thankful that he was wearing his fingerless gloves to cover up the marking, otherwise the twitch of his hand would have drawn her eye. He stepped, hesitantly, into the car.
The atmosphere was warm and the seats were ridiculously comfortable, the only thing inside that caused him any form of distress was the person who was inside with him. She closed the door behind Isaac before he had chance to close it himself.
The woman was adept at staring. Again, words were not spoken for some time, Isaac was under the impression that she was observing him closely, looking for anything even remotely out of the ordinary. He felt extremely vulnerable- exposed even- he couldn’t see what she was thinking, nor could he change it should something go horribly wrong.
“As I’m sure you are aware,” she began, “I was present throughout your brief time in custody, I was observing you.”
“Why?” Isaac blurted out, unthinkingly. She stopped, sighed slightly, and then pulled out a briefcase from the side of the chair. She opened it and began to flick through the files within, almost as if by force of habit rather than to gain any information from them.
“There are certain-“ she paused again, apparently to weigh up her words,”- individuals within our society who pose a threat to our way of life. They are extremely dangerous, volatile and if they are not caught and contained then there is no telling exactly what they might be capable of.”
“I believe you may be one of them.” Isaac’s eyes widened; he was a suspect? How could she possibly know about the Glyph? Was that even what this was all about? Questions ran through his head without providing any answers, and each one filled him with even more fear. “Nothing to say, Mr Rivers?” she smiled. Her smiled was somehow even more chilling than her usual relatively blank, mildly agitated, default expression.
“I- I’m not a criminal” Isaac stated, “I’ve not committed any crime, and I don’t plan to any time soon either.”
She seemed unconvinced. Her eyes still boring into him mercilessly, she began to chew, even though there was evidently nothing in her mouth.
“You should know that it is my job to track these individuals and bring them to justice, if you are telling me the truth, then you have nothing to be afraid of, but I’m warning you now- there are people out there who wish to do you harm, people with more power than your average lowlife.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, am I free to go now?”
“I have no reason to keep you, but should you notice anything suspicious, or anyone acting out of the ordinary, contact me- immediately.” She handed him a small, formal card with a number and an email printed clearly in a bold font. There was no name, just a symbol, a glyph, eerily similar to his own.
“What do I call you?” he asked, now securely on the pavement outside of the car.
“For now? Just call me P.”
“As in, the letter?”
“Is there any other kind of P?”
Isaac had to stop himself from laughing; only regaining himself when he became aware of how immature- let alone inappropriate- it would be to laugh at something so idiotic.
“I can think of a few,” he smiled. She grimaced back.
At that moment Frank appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and re-entered the car. In the next moment, the car was gone, and the whole scenario seemed like nothing more than an odd, fleeting dream.
The second the car was out of sight he began to shake. Did that really just happen? He couldn’t go home and be seen in this state, he needed time to cool down, to gather his thoughts. Why couldn’t I read her mind? Have I lost my powers? He needed to go somewhere where he could sit and just think for a while. He was pretty sure there was a library not far from where he was, he’d been there a few times, it would be quiet at this time- at least he hoped it would.
The place was closer than he anticipated, but was just as quiet as he suspected. He entered the building, passing by the woman at the front desk and finding himself a deserted corner of the library. Finding a small table with a few chairs scattered around it, he sat down and placed his head in his hands. Before he could simply convince himself he was being paranoid, but now, now he had proof that he was a suspect, they would find out about his power. In truth, he felt it may even help to have someone know, the power he had frightened him, it was too much too soon. How would his parent’s react? What would happen to his education and career? Who am I kidding; I have no idea what I’m doing…
“Something on your mind?” Isaac jumped. Someone stood in front of him: a man, not much older than himself. He wore a navy jumper with the white collar of a shirt underneath sticking out from the neck; one side of the collar was up, while the other was neatly folded over. His hair was a dirty blond, and was the very definition of windswept, with it branching out at all different angles; it also seemed to protrude higher on the left hand side. Also, on his left eye, a large black eye patch shielded his vision.
Isaac hesitated a moment. “S-Something like that.”
“Well, it isn’t surprising,” he stated, “everyone one in five males suffer from depression or other form of mental disorder- statistically it’s not unlikely that you are a victim of such an illness.”
He was taken aback, is it possible to be any more blunt?
“And who are you, exactly?”
“Gave it to myself- I don’t know my real name, I may not even have one, I’m not entirely sure I need one, what purpose do they serve really? Once you know a person, you know their identity, you do not need to put a name to a face- not really.”
Isaac’s bemusement was evident. “O- Okay.”
Scorch picked up a large book that had been left on the table.
“Hamlet- interesting- is this yours?”
“No, someone must have left it there before I got here.” Scorch turned away from Isaac. He looked at the book inquisitively and lifted up his eye patch.
He turned back, the eye patch now once again, sealed firmly over his eye. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” He had quoted the play he was holding in his hand, Isaac couldn’t help but be impressed.
“You’ve read it then?”
“Only just heard of it,” he replied, throwing the book in the air for Isaac to catch, “have you?”
Isaac stumbled out of his chair and rushed to catch it. The book landed painfully in his hands, the hardback cover digging into his palm as he caught it. Sighing, he turned to Scorch who was now perusing a shelf, seemingly with no true goal.
“I’ve read most of Shakespeare’s plays- so how did you-“
“Force of perception, you observe anything close enough and I find you can learn all there is to know about a single subject that there is to know.” He stated without looking Isaac’s way. He stopped at another book and lifted his eye patch as he had done before. There is something off about this man.
Isaac wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by ‘force of perception’, it sounded like he was talking nonsense; maybe he was. It suddenly struck him- he still was unsure whether or not he was still able to enter a person’s mind, surely he should try now? It would, at the very least, sate his curiosity as to who this strange man was.
He turned to face him and Isaac looked into his eye.
This mind was unlike any other, he knew that from the first second of being inside, the place was boiling. Every corner of his mind was bristling, teeming, bursting with information, an army of databases on a massive scale of subjects, all of them fully understood and appreciated. There was a distinct lack however, of any sort of memory, only the past month could be remembered, anything beyond that was darkness- and fire- so much fire, burning, smothering- scorching. Then there was the anger, the frustration, the-
It screamed at him. The voice was so loud it almost made his ears bleed. Then there were arms wrapped around him, forcing him away, pulling, tearing, grasping. He was being forced out of his mind- violently. His head throbbed, his heart ached, his ears felt as though they were about to explode as the voice continued to scream at him, amplified at an alarming volume.
He fell back into the chair, panting and sweating, horrified at what he had just experienced. Scorch looked at him, a wicked grin spreading across his face.
“So- after all this searching- I’ve finally found someone just like me,” he looked as though he might burst out laughing, but not a carefree, gleeful chuckle, more of a menacing, vindictive howl. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!”
Without thinking Isaac removed his glove and threw his arm in the air, showing Scorch his marked palm. At the same time Scorch ripped away his eye patch to reveal the ‘X’ emblazoned on his eye.
“Aren’t you the lucky one? You didn’t have to sacrifice an eye for your power- not that I mind all that much of course- it is merely a slight inconvenience.”
“I don’t know how much you saw while you were trespassing in my brain, but let me put it simply for you: with this eye, anything I see I can instantly understand, I immediately have all the information on a topic, I am aware of every potential viewpoint and any alternatives, it is all installed into my brain- instantly.”
“What happens when you look at a person?”
“I know all personal information about them: their name, age, weight, ethnicity, I can also immediately assess their character, whether they are selfish or selfless, introverted or extroverted- but you- I can’t see you.”
“You can’t?” he stuttered.
“It’s why I came to talk to you, I needed to know why I couldn’t read you, and now I know why.”
“I saw- I saw what you want- what you are planning-“
“I don’t want anything; I am doing what must be done, for the sake of humankind.”
“You can tell yourself that if you like, but you want it, and it is wrong- don’t you care about all the devastation you will cause?”
Scorch simply stared at him. Isaac knew the answer to his question; he didn’t know why he bothered asking.
“You can join me- if you wish- your power would be invaluable to my cause.”
Isaac simply shook his head. He wasn’t going to be part of anything this man was planning, he could see the malice in his intent, they joy in his purpose, and it was terrible to behold.
“Very well,” he resigned, he picked up his eye patch and placed it over his good eye, so only the glyph remained visible, “you will not be able to penetrate my mind again, so don’t even try.”
“How did you know?“
“You needed me to face you when you wished to enter my mind, it stands to reason that you can only access people’s brain through their eyes, and since I am technically blind in this eye, despite the fact I can see everything much clearer, you will not be able to access my thoughts any longer.”
He pulled out a torn, burnt piece of paper from his pocket and picked up a pen from the table. He scribbled something and thrust it into Isaac’s hands. “My number; if you change your mind.”
He turned to leave, walking slowly towards the exit, “oh, and just a warning- do not try and stop me.”
“Scorch! I understand how you feel, I have seen your frustration, I have felt your pain- the burning- it never ends, but doing this- it won’t make it any better, it won’t change anything.”
He stopped for a moment, absorbing Isaac’s words, then without saying anything more, he turned a corner and vanished.
As if I didn’t have enough to worry about.
The thoughts inside Scorch’s head were terrifying. He sought the devastation of society as it currently stood and a new order to put in its place: a utopia for him, oppression and misery for everyone else. Families would be torn apart, whole cities burnt to the ground, governments overthrown in a violent tidal wave and the entire world thrown into disarray, simply because he misunderstood the meaning of humanity. Isaac knew what he had to do; but he was reluctant.
He pulled out the card from his pocket. He stared at the glyph emblazoned upon it, afraid of the consequences of his actions- no- he had to do this, for the sake of all that mattered to him. He pulled out his phone and dialled the number on the card.
“I think I’ve found who you are looking for…”