jim_icon.gif orwell_icon.gif

Scene Title Övermorgon
Synopsis Jim chases some visions and finds himself with a deadline he didn't anticipate.
Date September 6, 2020

Park Slope

Jim has always had a strange relationship with his ability. Well, ‘always’ is a bit of a misnomer, since he hasn’t had his ability always, has he? Not by a long shot. But it feels like it’s always been there, sometimes. It’s difficult to remember what life was like before it was upended, especially since it’s disrupted again every however long.

The one thing that he’s been sure about ever since it happened, though, is that it could consume him if he’s not careful. He has to control it. He can’t get in too deep, because that way lies…well. Something he doesn’t want to imagine.

So, knowing that, why is he now doing what he’s doing? He’s in Park Slope, and he’s found a place among the overgrown remnants of that once beautiful place that is really now still beautiful, but in a much more wild way.

He’s here, and he’s going about the business of trying to induce a vision.

Even as he goes about setting up the things he would imagine he needs, his mind is telling him to abort the mission. He’s enlisted Orwell’s assistance, just in case things go awry, and while it would be a little weird to just tell him never mind, that this was a bad idea and they’re going back, it probably wouldn’t be totally unexpected, and could probably be understood.

However, he doesn’t. Instead, once he’s ready, he turns to the other man. “I’m not sure this will work,” he admits. “We might be wasting our time. But even if it does, you shouldn’t have to do too much. You’ve seen what happens when I get one. There’s really nothing to manage.” Hopefully that will be the same if he manages to give himself one, too.

Orwell swats at some gnats that seem to like whatever product he’s used in his hair to give it the shaggy “just woke-up” look — mostly shampoo and nothing else.

“Sure,” he says with a shrug, moving to park himself on the hood of a rusted-out Toyota Corolla. “I’ll make sure the feral dogs don’t come nibble on you when you’re out.”

He pulls a phone from the front pocket of his hoodie. “I remembered there’s shit for internet out here, and downloaded things to watch in advance, even. This, my friend, is what we call adulting.” He grins as he unlocks the screen by holding it up to his face, then swipes at the glass to find the show he’s chosen to watch while Jim communes with nature and the fates. Finally he pops his Air Pods in, but doesn’t press play until Jim begins meditating.

“Thank you.” It sounds a bit wry, and slightly self-conscious, as though Jim is suddenly embarrassed that he’s even doing this. However, he’s in it now, and so he sighs, turning toward the fire that he’s started and sitting down in front of it with his hands on his knees, though enough away that Orwell will probably not have to put out any accidental flames on his person.

Once he’s settled, his eyes focus on the flames. He stares at them, his breathing slowing purposefully. Minutes pass, several in fact, and he does not move. For a while, it’s clear that nothing’s happening — though eventually, there is a shift in him. It’s very subtle, hard to catch, but it’s there. The stare becomes suddenly vacant, and his lips part slightly as he sinks into a vision.
“No problem. Cool to see you do your thing,” the painter says, watching for a few ticks before he presses play on the video he’s downloaded to watch. He does look up from time to time, gray eyes passing over the other man staring into the flames, then back to the phone in his hands.

When that shift comes over Jim, Orwell presses pause and watches the precognitive curiously. Nothing dangerous comes out of the wilds of Park Slope so there’s not much need for OG’s protection. A crow flies to a nearby tree and croaks out a greeting, and OG looks from the crow back to Jim’s face, waiting for the other man to come back to the present.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

The metronomic ticking fills Jim’s head, reverberating in his skull before anything else comes into focus. The noise of the clock overlays and underlies everything at once.

Visual cues slide into place: a vague field of green sharpens into focus until it becomes a forest — a normal forest at first, until he sees a section, a circle, that seems shrouded in mist. The mist shifts, growing thinner at times, and at times he can see inside of it — buildings that belong in the past, wagons drawn by horses, women wearing long dresses and bonnets, men carrying muskets. A boy lying in a bed, covered with a rash. A beast — a boar, maybe? — crashing through the dark forest. The sound of horse hooves pounding the ground in pursuit.

Tick. Tock.

As he watches, the shrouded fog recedes. The circle grows smaller.

Tick. Tock.

A group of people from Jim’s time approach. Their faces are hard to make out. He thinks he recognizes one or two. They enter the mist.

Tick. Tock.

The circle recedes again.

It’s a good five or so minutes that pass with Jim in this state — staring into the flames, but not truly looking at them. His body is completely still, almost stiff, and his hands press harder into his knees. He’s so still it almost seems like he’s not breathing for a few long moments at the end, right before he jerks and comes out of it with a sharp gasp that adds to this impression.

“Watch out!” The words rip from his throat as he jerks his head away from the flames and in Orwell’s general direction, eyes suddenly wide. He focuses on the other man, but he doesn’t quite seem to see him yet.

“You have to stay, it’s not your time.” When he says that, though, it seems to snap him out of it and he shakes his head, quickly, as if to clear it. “I mean, that’s not what I mean.” It isn’t exactly clarification, but hopefully the other man will get the point. It does, at least, sound lucid, and actually directed at him. “I didn’t think that would actually work.” He doesn’t sound totally happy about it.

When Jim’s posture grows more and more stiff, Orwell slides his phone into his pocket to actually do the job he’s been asked and watch the man having the vision. His eyes widen when Jim gasps, and he hurries the few steps over to make sure that the precognitive doesn’t pitch himself directly into the fire.

It’s a good thing he doesn’t, because Orwell was still a few steps away when Jim shouts at him.

“I’ll stay!” he says to appease the other man, but he nods when Jim says it isn’t what he meant. “Intense, huh? What did you see? Maybe if you do this on your own don’t have a fire by the way. Some bikram yoga or something might be safer, in hindsight.” He scuffs his foot to send a rock rolling toward the little campfire.

Even though it wasn’t actually directed at Orwell, when the other man confirms that he’ll stay — whatever that means, anyway — Jim seems to relax a little bit. He lets out a breath, and then his eyes close as he reaches up to rub his forehead with a wince. “Yeah,” he says with a chuckle, though it’s quiet and a bit forced, even though it doesn’t sound fake. “You’re probably right.”

He doesn’t answer the first question right away, though. Instead, he takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. The tiny lines at the corners of his eyes are a bit more pronounced, and when he speaks again it’s quiet, in that sort of quiet voice that people might use after a hangover. “I heard a clock,” he says, “and I saw people. From another time, not now, behind a fog. From the past, I guess. It looked like it. Horses and wagons. There was a little boy who looked like he was sick with something. Some kind of pox? He had a rash.” He takes another breath in, then continues, “Then some people who looked modern wandering around outside the mist, before they went in. I thought I recognized some of them, but maybe that’s not right.”

Orwell’s brows lift and he nods slowly, looking a bit like a bobblehead toy, the kinds given away at baseball games and the like.

“Sure,” he says slowly. “I mean, why wouldn’t you see people disappearing into the mist of the 19th century?”

He shakes his head, but it’s not in disbelief. He believes in Jim’s ability. He just doesn’t know what to do with that information.

“Could you tell where? Can you do your, you know, namaste shit to figure out more information? Because that’s about as useful right now as the times I paint a vision I’m not even aware of until, you know, five years later when it comes true.”

“Exactly,” Jim replies, and while there is a smile that accompanies it for the humor, it’s a little tight. Probably for the same reason that he’s speaking pretty quietly now. “I guess it seemed like a good idea. I’m not quite sure why, but there you go.”

He shrugs, reaching up to rub his head again as his eyes crack open to look at Orwell again. The ‘namaste’ has him eyeing the other man a little bit, but he just shakes his head. “I don’t know,” he says. “I wasn’t even sure this would work.” A beat; then: “I’d know it if I saw it again.” As though that would help — wandering around until he sees a place he recognizes.

“Well, now you know you can make it happen. That’s something. Maybe I should try that. I think I’d probably have to take a Xanax first to sit as quiet as you did,” Orwell says, and clearly it’s killing him to be sitting in one place as long as he has been.

He holds out a hand to help the other man up, then starts kicking dirt into the ring of flames. “You should probably rest your noggin a bit. I don’t get a headache either — so weird. But my version’s pretty useless, even if it’s less annoying.” He shrugs again. “The grass is always greener, probably. Let’s get back to civilization, yeah? I’m dying for an iced coffee.”

One Day Later

It’s a good thing, really, that it worked — Jim is trying to remind himself that today, but it’s a bit harder to with the residue of a bad vision hangover and the knowledge that he’s about to try it again, even though that’s probably even more ill-advised than just doing it once. Trying to induce another vision this soon after the other is stepping very far out into unknown territory.

However, there are quite a few lingering questions about the first, and so he’s gone out again to try and answer them.

The day is warm, a bit humid, but lush greenery of Park Slope makes it a touch cooler than the parts of the Safe Zone where asphalt and concrete haven’t been overtaken by the plant life. There’s a strange juxtaposition that comes in such places. What was once a beautiful neighborhood is now bereft of people and all the noise that comes with them — children laughing, car horns, music playing from stereos or the chatter of neighbors talking. There’s loss here, but there’s also hope, symbolized by the earth’s ability to reform itself after disaster.

The fire from yesterday is still there and it’s easy enough to start up again. While it might seem like they’re far from civilization, as Orwell had said, Jim has modern means of kindling the flames anew. After a few moments, he slips into the trance and into that place that is neither here nor there, neither today nor tomorrow.

Tick. Tock.

The same metronomic ticking seems to fill Jim’s chest and pulse points.

This time, his focus is on those questions he’s been murmuring to himself in his head, the mantra that’s put him in this trance state. Where? When? How can he help? Images flood his vision. Roads he’s familiar with, signposts, as if filmed at a fast-clip and fast-forwarded together. 206. 70. 9.

It’s the Pine Barrens.

He sees hands — his hands — picking up boxes of medication and putting them into a bag. He sees an unfamiliar face of a young woman dressed in strange clothes, a cloak, a dress. He sees the forest, dark and foreboding in feel in a way nature has never seemed to him before. He feels out of place as he enters it. He feels time shrinking around him as he moves through it. Hurry. Every sense seems to scream at him.

Tick. Tock.

He sees ahead those people from his time, those he feels he knows somehow, even if he can’t quite make out their faces. This feels better, to be with those from his own time, but the ticking of the clock reminds him they don’t belong here.

With a sudden roar, the head of a red-eyed beast fills his mind’s eye. The ungodly thing is a mix of ursine and porcine features, with slavering jaws and hot, putrid breath. He can’t see them, but Jim can swear he hears the sound of flapping wings. It snarls and snaps.

And Jim’s eyes open again, the tick of the clock echoing in his ears.

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