To Where The River Flows


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Scene Title To Where the River Flows
Synopsis I'll give you answers / To the questions you have yet to ask / Silence is beauty / Words they only complicate the task
Date June 18, 2021

Edward Ray sits in silence in front of a computer, one hand over his mouth. Scrolling through a PDF brief filed by researchers at MIT, he is left speechless. Taking his glasses off, Edward sets them on the desk and rubs his fingers over his aching, tired eyes. Blinking away his fatigue, Edward slouches forward and looks more closely at the details in the report, of the testimony of the individuals involved. His nostrils flare, pupils widen, and he looks for a deeper purpose behind the figures, the calculations, and the assumptions piled together in this dense document. In the top corner, a tag identifies the grave importance the file is given.


Two Months Ago

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dream Study Lab

April 8th

“She’s fast asleep now.”

Under dim lights and the faint susurrus of a white noise machine, the mild-mannered voice of Doctor Jean-Martin Luis sounds all the softer. He stands beside a hospital bed with its back partly upright, looming tall and gray over the small and blonde figure laid upon it, comfortably wrapped in a blanket with her head gently lolled to the side and eyes shut. An IV runs into her right arm, electrodes are taped to her forehead and temples, colorful wires weaving in and out of wavy locks of her hair.

The EEG beside the hospital bed beeps softly, showing unusual spikes in brain activity. Doctor Luis consults the tablet in his hand, brows furrowed to join the over creases in his face, comparing baseline information with what the EEG is displaying. “The brain activity is… already unusual, but I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise.”

“Nothing should be surprising when it comes to my sister.” From an adjacent hospital bed, Kathleen Brooks regards the sleeping figure of her sister Tamara with partway lidded eyes. She flicks a look up to Luis, brows raised with worry. “She’s alright though, right?”

Luis glances down to the tablet, not entirely sure how best to answer that. “I am not certain that medical science has progressed enough to fully understand Tamara,” his dark eyes wander from the tablet to the slumbering blonde, “but she isn’t in immediate distress, as far as any machine can tell. But like you said before,” he looks to Kathleen, “for Tamara, sleep is an illusion.” Worry crosses his face, fleeting but vivid. “What is an illusion’s illusion like?”

Laying back on the other hospital bed, Kathleen closes her eyes and begins affixing electrodes to her own head. “That’s what we’re going to find out,” she offers with a smile laden with nervousness and excitement, with fear and fascination of the unknown. “Isn’t it?”

In his nod of agreement, Luis moves a wheeled tray over between the beds, containing a pair of syringes filled with an ink black liquid. “The clinical trials have proven to be quite promising, but I cannot assure you what effects the amphodynaine will have on either of you.”

Kathleen nods, watching Tamara’s still form as she does. “I agreed to the risk,” Kathleen says in a soft voice, her smile bittersweet. “Tam didn’t decline, so…” her brows briefly furrow together, trying to discern meaning from that somehow. “I suppose she wants us to see where this goes.” It’s the only answer that makes any sense. “Wait at least… ten minutes? Before you administer the injections. I want to get my bearings before we turn up the contrast.”

Luis nods, in agreement, making notes on his tablet. Kathleen settles in, looking up at the ceiling, then to Luis. “I am a little scared, if that makes you feel any better.”

Luis taps a few buttons on the tablet, pulling up a graphic display of two brains side by side, each one lighting up to show hot-spots of cerebral activity. When he meets Kathleen’s eyes, his mild smile implies that it does, indeed, make him feel better. She can tell he’s scared too. “There's always fear of the unknown, where there's mystery,” Luis quotes as a response.


“David Lynch,” he corrects with an amused smile. “Be careful, Kathleen,” he adds as she closes her eyes and shifts her position on the bed to get comfortable. He can already see the activity in her brain changing as she focuses on her ability, tension rising in his voice.

“Be careful.”


The mirror-still surface of lightless water is punctured by the knife of human presence. Head first, Kathleen Brooks breaks the surface and descends in a cloud of shimmering bubbles. The light from the top of the mineshaft glitters faintly on the surface of the water like a waning moon, and she struggles in the freezing depths, limbs thrashing, arms twisting, finally scissoring her legs and swinging her arms as she orients herself and moves to the surface.

As she breaches the surface of the water, Kathleen draws in a sharp breath of air, eyes fluttering open and vision blurry, at first only able to see the sodden blur of light high in the darkness. But then, as her vision clears, she sees not the opening of a distant mineshaft nor its rocky walls slick with rainwater. Instead, there is but a waning moon high and small in the sky, and she in the rippling currents of an ink-dark river glittering across its surface in moonlight.

Slowly, Kathleen pulls herself along the surface of the water, moving to the rocky shore were wet moss welcome bare hands and feet. As she rises, the waterlogged hospital gown bleeds with colors of pale blue, fabric unrolling like fresh bolts of cloth, tumbling over her shoulders and waist, crashing down to her ankles to create a sleeveless gown of powder blue cotton that deepens to midnight hues where it is soaked in the river.

As she emerges from the banks of the river, Kathleen finds not but dark forests around her, trees bending inward like curling fingers on a grasping hand closing down. Soon the pine boughs meet and the forest’s fist is closed, the moon is swallowed, and she is once more alone in the dark. In that blackness, she raises a hand and clicks on a flashlight that was not there a moment ago, casting a thin and silvery shaft of light into the dark.

Walls, corridors, flooded up to her knees. The azure paint is peeling off of the walls, revealing rust red beneath, long strips of it like desiccated flesh. Above, the ceiling is splotched with black and green mold, sagging wetly like a heavy stomach. The water flows onward, ever, into the darkened and mouldering corridors.

Kathleen draws in one steady, sharp breath and wets her lips as she looks into that watery gloom that reflects her flashlight in mottled shapes across the walls and ceiling. She takes her first steps, moving like the river:

Ever forward.

The current drags at the backs of Kathleen's legs, pushing, pulling, urging her on in its implacable way. The encompassing darkness seems to grow only deeper as she progresses, stark void a bitter contrast to the flashlight's steady glare. No stars appear above to relieve its oppressive blackness, nor anything so mundane as a light switch on the wall.

Yet light gathers nonetheless.

Mist blooms across the water's surface, a few hesitant tendrils that catch the flashlight's illumination and diffuse it, simultaneously easing the ambient night and providing a different manner of obscuration. It drifts past like the memory of sunlight on a summer day, pleasantly warm, even soothing. The haze thickens as she continues on, becoming a bright, dense cloud that overlays the walled-in river without ever rising above the traveler's waist.

Above, the sky begins to lighten with approaching dawn, though it remains devoid of moon and stars alike. And it is sky, for all that the walls remain, seven feet of rust-striped blue that hem Kathleen in on both sides and somewhere along the way lost their joint crown. Birdsong wafts in from somewhere beyond, the chipper side-to-side warble of a robin greeting incipient day.

Above, light glimmers. A sparkle above the walls, faint but growing, or perhaps coming closer. As its presence strengthens, it seems to gather color: a vibrantly pure shade of cerulean blossoms at its core, unfurls outwards like petals, resolves into the delicately luminescent wings of a butterfly. It hovers in the air as no true butterfly might do, neither rising nor lowering, whirling nor swooping.

Another sound crescendos out of the ambiance, muted rumble building into torrential uproar far more rapidly than her walking pace can justify. The walls terminate abruptly, swallowed by shining mist that somehow fails to obscure Kathleen's view of the butterfly ahead and to her left. The resounding rumble is louder on her right — which is also the direction the current turns.

Below, sand shifts under each step she takes.

Above, puffy white clouds float across a brilliantly blue sky.

There is bewilderment and amazement in Kathleen’s eyes as she surveys the changing surroundings, head turning to listen to the rumble to her right, while feeling the inherent texture in the reality against her mind. She tracks the movement of the butterfly, remembering a half-dozen colorful idioms related to their nature, some cautionary and others not. Perhaps it is that mixing of metaphor that has Kathleen uncertain of which corner of the subconscious to explore, whether to follow the seemingly inexorable pull of the river into the torrential depths, or the innocuous butterfly.

Kathleen ventures for the flitting wings.

Moving against the hard current, feet slipping on unsteady sand below, she moves to follow the butterfly rather than brave the roar of the water, which in the back of her mind she fears as another fall into deeper subconscious levels. She isn’t ready for that, not just yet.

The low-lying mist masks everything below Kathleen's waist; all she has to go by in her progress is feel: the water soaking her dress, the pressure of the current, the yielding coarseness of sand. It takes several steps before she realizes that water level is ebbing, trailing lower and lower until at last her foot lands on dry ground for the first time since falling into this dreamscape.

It, too, is sand.

A zephyr rises out of the west, tugging at Kathleen's hair, rolling back the drift of fog. It reveals what can only be described as a sandbar, a long strip of moisture-darkened grit that winds ahead with water stretching on both sides as far as the eye can see. Its depths span a gradient that begins at turquoise and deepens to azure, implying more tropical ocean than river.

The sound of the waterfall is gone, as is any indication of river, building, or cavern.

So is the butterfly.

Perhaps a hundred feet ahead, the sandbar widens, its surface disappearing beneath brush and trees save for where a clearly delineated path cuts through the growth to expose pale earth. Where the sun and sand and jewel-toned water implies tropics, the shape and color and texture of the woodland is its antithesis: each and every plant patently belongs in New York.

It takes a moment for Kathleen to realize the nature of the plants, not just for their geographical predilection, but for their material composition. She squints, considering the strange growths as more sculpture-like than grown from the ground, for they are steel and chrome, glass and concrete; flowers with petals of stamped license plates, stems made of brittle glass. There is a symbolism there, one drawing a curious look as she spies the registration sticker dates on the license plate fragments, constantly changing like the rolling symbols of a slot-machine, never stopping, never legible.

The trees are looming things, with slate gray trunks of water-damaged concrete and leaves made from rusted iron that give the appearance of faux-autumnal hues. The ones that have fallen to the path crack and crumble into brittle pieces of rusted metal. For all that the flora is more manmade than wild, the fauna is distinctly alive in appearance. Birdsong sometimes bursts into life in the canopy, starlings in flight taking shapes that briefly resemble material things; a rorschach test for Greek prophets. Two white ravens perch on another nearby branch, eyes red and beaks dripping with blood.

Kathleen is distracted from the startling ravens by a brush of something winding around her ankles. As she hop-step recoils away, there is a slim black cat padding through the forest, its green eyes staring up at her before one clouds over white and it darts off into the artificial wilderness, trailing wisps of colorful light behind it.

Colette?: Kathleen whispers to herself, turning to look down the winding path again. With that association, she turns to look up to the white ravens, but they are gone, replaced by two triangular panes of white light that flicker away like sunspots in her vision. There’s a huff of breath, worry creasing her brows, and she continues down the path deeper into the darkening wood.

It is at the end of the path that Kathleen finds the forest parts into a clearing, where a crudely sketched house exists in the most literal sense. It is a plain white building, perfectly square save for its triangular roof. Its front door is large and inviting, flanked by perfectly square windows divided into four equally opaque white panes. As Kathleen approaches the house, her brows furrow together and lips part, for as she circles around the building she realizes that it is exactly as it appears.

It is a drawing.

The house has but two dimensions, height and width, and when Kathleen peers around the side of this flat plane there is nothing on the other side, not even a back to the house. It is as though the drawing itself doesn’t exist. As she leans back to the front of the phantasmagorical residence, there is an immediate understanding that grows in her. The door is inviting, and so she does as any polite person would before intruding into a private space: Kathleen approaches the impossible door, and knocks.

Kathleen's first knock raps on the door exactly as it should; it sounds and feels just how one expects a door to. The second touch of knuckles to surface produces no sound at all, but instead ends in her hand sinking half an inch into the cool white material, ripples wavering out across its surface as if it were water. The third knock, carried out through reflexive habit, contacts nothing at all, the door evanescing into mist and fading away.

On the other side… is home.

Part of it, anyway: the living room dominated by dark-stained mantel around a fireplace that was decommissioned long ago, coffee table and sofa and chairs before it, bookshelves and bric-a-brac along the walls. There's a television in the corner, video games and DVDs to go with it, and a wall of windows as blank, blinding white on the inside as the house's representation was on the outside.

Tamara sits at one of those windows, attention turned outwards as if she can see through it, at once both congruent with her surroundings and utterly out of place. She was fifteen the last time they were in this room together. She is not fifteen now.

Absurdities mount as Kathleen continues to take in the venue.

The door is gone. Indeed, there are no doors at all leading from this place, though the real apartment boasted several other rooms.

The murmur of flowing water provides a constant white-noise backdrop, one that was never a feature of this room in life. It originates from a tabletop fountain, three stone bowls on tiers with each pouring into the next — but under close inspection, the water seems to be flowing uphill rather than down.

And every time she returns attention to a part of the room, the dreamer could swear it changes, nostalgic past being overtaken piece by piece by more concrete present.

The changing furniture and environment paints over the familiar and replaces it with things Kathleen has only seen in part. The furnishings of Tamara’s home with Colette, the here and now eroding the past. Kathleen tries to focus on the fireplace and it's mantle, on her memory of the have-beens and was-onces, exerting a will against the changing tide to make something a stable anchor.

All of her effort is focused on a hazy spot on the mantle, rectangular in shape, distant and ephemeral while at the same time being immediate and close enough to touch. Eyes closed, Kathleen tries to focus on a face years gone from her, one faded in both their memories but just strong enough in Kathleen’s to remain a ghost. The rectangular shape: a picture frame. The face: their brother.

Tamara,” Kathleen’s voice comes from around her rather than her mouth as she tries to bend the dreamscape, “do you remember his nickname for you?” She tries to find something that is tangible. Kathleen’s hope is that something is left of Tamara’s declarative memory, just detached and inaccessible. But if she can make the right connections, here in the theater of the mind, where subconscious and conscious can build bridges between the remembered and the forgotten… maybe she can make those bridges cross the river.

The woman at the window turns as her name is spoken, looking over her shoulder at the dreamer in the middle of a space that maps only imperfectly to memory as a whole, though everything within it is — or was once — real. Tamara smiles, affection mingled with a mild sort of chide; when she rises, the blonde is wearing a dress that to her sister's knowledge has never existed: white, knee length, a blue sash wrapped twice about the waist and tied in a bow at her back.

Kathleen can't seem to remember what she was wearing before.

Tamara takes the three steps that bring her across the room to stand before her sister, one hand reaching up to lay against the curve of brow and cheek that outlines the dreamer's face. "You're counting leaves," she declares, and: "Stop staring at the tree."

Another layer of background noise adds itself to the ambiance; the rush of cars on city streets, perhaps, incongruous with the sandbar that had been outside but entirely in keeping with the urban environments Tamara has called home all her life.

Leaning in, the seer brushes a kiss against her sister's cheek. "You don't have that kind of time."

The roar becomes louder, less subliminal; less like road noise and more akin to the rush of an incoming wave racing up on shore. Kathleen's eyes widen as the wave closes the distance on her, and in the roar of that approaching current she can hear a cacophony of voices all around her. Shadows move beneath the surface of the water, glittering lights shine on the surface, and split apart into a fractal pattern of countless waves that all crash down on her like a thousand thousand hammers.

She is screaming, and in that scream, there is truth.

Tumbling, twirling, end over end down the dark mineshaft and beyond the dwindling point of light anchoring her to the world she knows.

Blonde hair swirls like a curtain in the air, wraps across her face as she turns, a hand outstretched toward the darkness below, fingers splayed in a defiant gesture: no.

But there is no stopping her descent, no ending the plummet into the unknown, she falls as freely as the water running over the mineshaft’s edge, into the deep and unknowable depths below, where rainslick stone meets the scent of familiar flowers…

…and unfathomable currents.

Present Day

Department of the Exterior, Remote Office
Washington DC

June 18th
9:12 am

"And you're sure?"

The man seated across from Edward Ray slouches back into his leather-upholstered chair with a suspicious stare leveled at the precognitive. Edward sits forward to mirror the deputy-director's movement, tapping his fingers on the hard copy file on the desk between them.

"This is unprecedented. I know you and I haven't seen eye to eye on a lot of things, but we all made hard choices because of what Arthur—Samson did to our lives. This isn't that paranoia, this isn't derangement or delirium, this is a series of facts as cold as the steel that nearly took your life." That pointed delivery from Edward earns him a withering, silent stare. Dark eyes dip down to the file, then back up to Edward.

"Presuming that we can verify anything in this report, and that what Ms. Brooks saw inside of Tamara's mind is any shade of accurate…" He slides his tongue across the inside of his cheek, slowly shaking his head from side to side. "What does that mean for us?"

"It means we need to find a way to re-establish contact with the Home office," Edward says with an exasperated swallow, "we need more data. I need more data."

Roger Goodman has been many things in his life. But all of them have boiled down to being a resolute agent and a servant to what he believes is the greater good. He is also nothing if not a survivor. He survived Kazimir Volken and the destruction of the Breach team at Geopoint, he survived Odessa Woods, he survived Arthur Petrelli and Samson Gray. But in spite of his tenacity, in spite of his ability to persist, what lays within that file worries him more than anything he's ever felt.

"You said Kathleen drew this?" Goodman says, flipping open the folder to a pencil drawing on plain white paper. Edward nods.

"As soon as she was out of the dream. That's what she saw." Edward explains, motioning with his chin to the drawing. "Every path we've ever taken, every river, leads to one ending…"

Goodman looks up at Edward, then back down to the drawing.

"The ending."


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