The eyes are almost perfect; they’re the only part of him that I haven’t finished yet but I’m almost there. I don’t think I’ve heard my tutor’s voice for over an hour now (I think) and have managed to finish everything up to his eyes. They are not hard to draw, because I can see them as clear in my mind as I have been able to see everything else about him, but I must take my time and move my hand smooth and careful so I don’t mess up; I won’t tolerate the faint markings of erased lines on him. Everything around me has fallen away as I work to complete the second cornea. I can’t help referring back to his image in my head of those beautiful dark blue eyes. My drawing just doesn’t do him full justice in only black and white, but the image in my head and now this drawing will be enough. I’m almost done- complete the necessary circles, add a little shading…
I jump at the yelling of my name and lose control of the pencil just enough to make a slash across his left eye.
“NO!” I couldn’t contain. “Look what you’ve made me do!”
What was I supposed to do with him now? Should I start over? I’ve worked so hard on him for such a long time. I couldn’t leave him like this, he doesn’t deserve that. I’ve failed him. My face was hot with anger and despair; I used all the determination I had in me to keep from crying.
“How many times must I call your name; this is the third time in a row,” Ms. Holloman said. “Put your sketchbook away and listen to lecture.”
“I’ve worked on him for so long and look what you’ve made me do.” I respond with a cold stare as I try to keep the despair out of my voice.
“Control yourself Alena! Put the book up and pay attention to what you are told.”
I can’t stand the sound of her voice, or the way she looks at me and the few others in the class, but I put my sketch away.
She gave me the moment I needed to clear out my torment and pain; to forget, at least for the moment, what had happened.
“Because I know you have not bothered to listen to today’s discussions I will simply ask for you and your mother’s status update and save your weekly intelligence test for tomorrow. Are you stable?”
I pause a moment to check my emotions one last time, sigh, and then respond.
“Yes, Ms. Holloman, nothing to report.”
“And your mother?”
“She goes through her own counselor to be evaluated, but I have seen no change in her.”
“I know your father could not adapt.”
“My father was one of the special cases.”
“Yes, thanks to him, and the others like him, the program has been set back from improving more of the population. That is why it is important that you hold no information back no matter how you feel about me. I can see that you may have a few things that you should learn to keep in check before you lose yourself as well.” I was insulted by what she implied.
“I was upset, that doesn’t mean I’m out of control.”
“That, nevertheless, should not be an issue for you and the others; you are supposed to be able to handle such things.”
“I understand, I’m fine and have nothing new to report.”
“Very well; and how are your studies?”
“Easy as always, I find the most joy in my drawings.”
“That is something you discuss with your counselor. Good; Timothy…” She turns to face the boy sitting next to me; it was his turn.
Sometimes I wish I was born normal; like how all kids used to be and how most still are in the world. I wish that testing brain activation for higher intelligence had never come about and everyone just stuck to researching artificial intelligence. But now they have my mother and others like her, who are the first and only test subjects. Then there’s the next generation born with this enhancement; that’s where I fit in. What we all are for, I don’t know, yet, but I already don’t like it. I wish I could go to a normal school and hang out with normal teenagers, but instead of learning whatever those normal teenagers learn in high school I am learning what a doctorate student in college would if they took every subject. I finished mechanical engineering last year. It has provided me with the knowledge to put any type of machinery together, even out of unconventional parts. I’m also almost done with medical school; I’m a third year classification. I could probably easily diagnose and treat minor things. I haven’t been tested fully to see if all that is true though, yet. All that I’ve learned is what makes their motives so suspicious. What would I need all this for? If only things wouldn’t come so easy to me, to us, I could possibly have some semblance of normalcy.
As Ms. Holloman interviews the others I seize my sketchbook again.
My mother always says she’s so proud of me for having such a raw talent, like her. I can draw as well as she can and have been able to pull objects out of the page since I was a child. It’s the only ability this genetic enhancement has seemed to have given me; aside from being “smart” of course. I wish I were able to move things with my mind like Timothy, but it’s an unstable ability and even I worry that he won’t be able to control it or himself. But what would mom say about my picture; would she suggest I just throw it out and start over? She knows I dislike erasing; I don’t even like using pencils that have erasers on them. The eye isn’t done; I couldn’t get to shading the center and I’ve no idea what to do about the slash going from the center of the eye up through the eyebrow. But I couldn’t bring myself to tear it out or crumple it up and throw it away. He was still beautiful to me.
After Ms. Holloman finished interviewing us, class time was over. I have just enough time to walk over to my counselor’s building a block down before I’m considered late for my appointment. Dr. Michaels is already waiting for me at his office door even though I made it on time. He invites me in and shuts the door behind me.
“So Alena, Ms. Holloman has informed me that you weren’t paying attention in class again, and made a bit of a scene.” He said as he takes his seat across from me. “I would otherwise not care that you were drawing instead of learning, because you are one of the brightest and your drawing is relevant to your ability, but the fact that you were drawing something you wouldn’t be able to summon off the page is a waste of your talents. Tests with your mother have proven all too well how unsuccessful a living summons is.”
“Dr. Michaels, I enjoy drawing just to draw as well, that’s all he’s there for. I remember seeing the test video with mom and the bird. I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore either way, he’s ruined; she caused me to mess up.”
I wish every day I could get the image of that mutilated bird out of my mind. How it would have looked successful if its insides weren’t jutting out underneath the feathers. How it struggled to breathe and then collapsed in on itself and the wings twitched.
“It’s so hard to remember that you are all still just children …” he sighed. “You are all so different and incredibly talented. But you must keep control of yourself, Alena. We have big plans for all of you and we don’t want to lose any of you like we lost a lot of the first generation; like your father. Those born with it seem to be able to adapt much better but that doesn’t exempt you from possible side effects.” He said calmly.
“I understand; I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“Now, how about we do some drawing exercises?” He seemed excited to brush off having to discipline me and get down to the ‘fun stuff’. Drawing what he always told me to draw was never any fun. He always watched over my shoulder with a stop watch in his hand.
“I’m going to have you draw a few larger items than last time;” he said. “A toaster and a lamp, and then we’ll move from there.”
I take hold of my sketchbook immediately.
I never feel quite right without it in my hands. I am suddenly aware of how a shortness of breath evaporates as I lay my hands on it; how well I can now breathe and the anxiety that disappears at that same moment.
I begin working on the exercises; one at a time. I finish drawing one of the objects, lay my hand on the paper, and focus on its image inside my head until I felt the buzzing in my hand. When I first started summoning my drawings my hand would feel like it was burning. It still feels like that a little, but not as intense and I’ve learned to ignore it. The image in my mind becomes more detailed; not only can I see the outside of it but also the inner workings of the object as I picture it in working order. The page begins to open down into a small, black abyss and causes a small whirl of wind; as if I were on the other end of a black hole. It lasts only for a few moments and the object rises out and sits on the surface of the page as the black hole closes up.
Dr. Michaels looks pleased; he asks me how I feel- I feel fine. Once I finish with the second object he gets up out of his seat and plugs the toaster and the lamp in to the nearest outlet to test them- they work. He seems proud, but not of me; maybe that they work, or proud of himself for some reason, or worse- he is proud of the experiment.
“Very good Alena; we’re going to work on some larger items next week.” He said as I gathered my things. “Oh before I forget, we will be placing you in a nightly Tae Kwon Do class.”
“Why do I have to learn to fight?” I was suspicious that this had something to do with the ‘big plans’ they had for me, as well as the larger items I would begin working on.
“Just another thing we would like you to become proficient in, that’s all. It can be good for the mind and keep you active; you could use just a little time away from your book each day.” He’s brushing me off. It’s so simple to tell when someone is lying, but I didn’t push, I know he will never tell me the truth.
The sun is setting as I leave Dr. Michaels and I start to walk home. All of us, experiments, live in what looks like a gated community from the outside but it’s really just fancied up government property. They like to keep an eye on us. The residential areas are like rows and rows of brownstones that all look alike with their dark bricks and white doors, like the ones in New York, I’ve heard; I’ve never been on the outside. Once I finally reach the outer townhomes I see a figure walking slowly toward me. I stop and wait until I can get a better look at the person. I fight the fear that’s building up slowly inside me and search for a rational explanation. There is no way I would be in danger here on campus.
As the person continues walking I see that it’s Mr. Isaacs. He was tested on around the same time my mother and father were and he’s also one of the oldest subjects to be tested on; various ages were required. He’s walking in an odd pattern, looking to the right and left like he’s lost in an unfamiliar place. His arms are wrapped around himself as if he’s cold but it’s actually very warm outside. He sees me and walks warily towards me; his face telling me that he is either trying to remember my name or trying to remember me at all. His behavior is starting to worry me, none of us act like this and we are to assume that anyone who does, here, is having trouble adapting to whatever ability they’ve developed.
“Why are you frightened of me? I’ve known you since you were born.” Mr. Isaacs said. Judging by his actions I was afraid he would think I was a stranger; none of us were strangers.
At least I know what his ability is now and that he knew who I was.
“I’m sorry, it’s…I just thought you were behaving a little strange Mr. Isaacs, I meant no disrespect.”
He squeezes his eyes shut and starts banging his temples with his fists. I walked toward him, as if I could help him in some way.
He didn’t like the fact that he could hear what I was thinking. But shouldn’t he be used to this by now, or is this a new ability that has developed after so long? Is that even possible?
“Is there anything I can do for you sir?”
He instantly throws his hands down and screams “JUST SHUT UP!!” I couldn’t help but jump back. I’ve never seen someone crazed before and it frightens me more than anything ever had. I feel the panic spark in me and my heartbeat begins racing inside my chest. It’s as if I’m petrified, frozen even as I see him reach out at me, and I can’t move quickly enough even though I registered these movements as they occurred. Once I’m finally able to move it’s too late and he’s shaking and pushing me, making me dizzy. I don’t know if he threw me to the ground or if I fell but I suppose it didn’t matter. When I hit the concrete my sketchbook flies a couple of feet away. This sends vibrations all through me and I wince; as if my sketchbook is a part of me that’s injured. My hands burn for it as I wished that I really had Timothy’s unstable telepathy so that I could bring it back to me- my anxiety begins to build once more.
Mr. Isaacs is still coming at me even though I’m on the ground; I did my best army crawl over to my sketchbook as faint sounds of panic escape me.
I would get to it, rescue it, and run home as fast as I could. I would let whoever I came across know about Mr. Isaacs afterward; I just needed to get to my sketchbook.
The natural breeze of the outdoors is blowing the pages of my sketchbook back and forth. As I reach out to grab it my hand landed on him; the boy I had spent hours upon hours working on until he was almost perfect. I can hear Mr. Isaacs behind me and the terror that shot through me seemed to empty out through my hand and onto the page. The vibrations in my hand begin; it didn’t even occur to me not to do this. Suddenly I felt my hand begin to burn again just as bad as it felt when I was a child; but I stay focused on him. I can see him in my mind, I can imagine him coming to my rescue; to save and protect me. I can hear his heartbeat as it moves from a steady beating to a much faster pace; the same with the rhythm of his breathing. I can see him alive and thriving in my thoughts of him and I wished for him to be here so I wouldn’t be alone. My black hole opens up and a great whirling funnel of wind wraps itself entirely around me and my sketchbook; I have to bury my face in my arms as I lie on the ground. Then it ends moments after it started, just like all my exercises. When the wind died off and I raised my head off the ground slowly. There he is.
Here in front of me were a pair of legs, and as I continue to gaze up I see more of the boy that had lived for so long only inside my mind. How could this have happened? I started to a sitting position and back away from him. Even though he is so familiar to me I’m frightened of how he had gotten here. I no longer care about Mr. Isaacs.
I can’t see fully in the dim light but I’m sure that his eye, the one messed up on the page, is white and filmy, with a scar that comes out of it and up through this eyebrow, and is half covered now as his hair falls in front of it. The boy is looking at me as if I had hurt his feelings and then he turns his gaze to Mr. Isaacs. The boy takes a few determined steps toward him, and that’s all it takes for Mr. Isaacs to run off in the other direction yelling out into the dark.
The boy turns back to me and innocently smiles. With his first couple of steps toward me I matched them by moving backward, still sitting.
“I wouldn’t hurt you…” he said with a pained expression.
He moves forward again and this time I let him help me up and then he picks up my sketchbook; I felt alright again somehow; I know my sketchbook is safe even though it isn’t in my hands. But I’m suddenly worried that someone may have seen what happened. The boy smiles at me again and that seems to rid me of the fear I had of his existence. I grab his hand and pull him in the direction of my house; I have to get him inside before someone sees him.
I pull him the whole way; even up to the door. Then I stop him:
“Stay here, I’m going to see where my mom is, then sneak you in.”
He nods and leans against the wall casually. The light from the porch illuminates his golden hair and his damaged eye more clearly; I feel a pinching sensation inside my chest. It was all Ms. Holloman’s fault, and mine for not being careful, that his eye looked this way.
I open the door slowly and quietly, step in and look around. Mom must be in her study. I quickly grab the boy and push him toward my room, and shut the front door. Mom wouldn’t be able to hear me come in this quietly from her study. I lock my bedroom door and can finally take a deep breath. The boy is standing in the center of the room waiting for me to do something, I guess.
“Ss…sit down, please.” I asked. He sat on the floor exactly where he was standing. “Okay…” I said quietly to myself. I sit down in front of him on the floor.
I wasn’t sure how this all happened but I knew he couldn’t stay, he wasn’t real, was he; and what about me? If the government finds out about him I’ll be even more of a lab rat than I already am. Who knows what kind of after school classes they’ll have me taking then or what they would want me to bring out of the page.
I sighed. “I can’t let anyone find out that I could bring you here. I…I’m going to have to put you back.” I said carefully. The boy looks upset but makes no response for a moment.
“I don’t want to go back; I want to stay here with you. I can protect you; I belong to you. My maker…”
“Don’t call me that…my name is Alena.”
“Alena…” he said as if he was trying to memorize me, and the way he was studying me told me the same.
I drew him to look like the boys around my age, but he sounded almost like a child. He didn’t act like a child but I knew there were things he just wouldn’t understand.
“What’s your name?”
“What have you called me?” he asked curiously, and then excitedly he continued, “Give me a name.”
I thought about it for a moment. How do you name someone who’s already a teenage boy, would he like a name I picked out? I assume it’s easier to name someone when they’re still an idea of a person.
“How about…Adam, since I’m pretty sure you are the first drawn person to come to life.” I thought it fit best.
“Adam…” he tested. “I like it.”
“Well, Adam, you don’t belong to anyone, not even me.”
“But you created me. Please let me stay.”
“Does it scare you to go back? Do you know if it would hurt?”
“I don’t think it’d hurt, it didn’t hurt coming here; I’m not scared to go back…I don’t even really remember being there, but I like it here, I want to stay.”
I was sidetracked as I took a better look at his eye that was hiding under his hair. I brush his hair out of the way and absently touch the scar’s end on his forehead and trace it down to the eye. His eye looked like a regular eye if it were covered in a thick film to where it would be impossible to see any color on it, or the lack of it rather, since I hadn’t had the opportunity to shade it in. The scar came all the way down through the eyelid but I can’t see where it connects to the eye. His other eye is closed as this one is permanently fused open.
“Does this hurt you?” I asked. I felt a knot in my throat as my own guilt tries to choke me.
“No, I don’t feel it at all.” He replied as he opens his good eye. I drop my hand back to my lap and try to get back on track with the situation at hand.
“Adam, things would get a lot harder for me if they found out about you. But what if I promised to let you come back once in a while? It’d have to be our little secret, no one else can know you’re ever here, okay?”
“I won’t let them hurt you, no one will ever know, I promise.” This time Adam sounded like the age he looked and it caught me off-guard. He had blind faith in me that I was telling him the truth and I suddenly didn’t want to say goodbye.
He laid my sketchbook out, to the blank page he came from, on the floor between us. I’m hesitating now, but it shouldn’t be this hard. He grabs my hand and places it on his chest. This is usually how I put objects back on paper, you have to touch the object, but I can’t help being distracted by touching him. It feels different now that it’s a real person I created; I can feel his heart beating under my hand. Was I being selfish putting him back? Whether I was ready to put him back or not the vibrations started in my hand and a wind picked up inside my room and it spun itself around us.
“I’ll see you soon…” he said, and just like that he was just a drawing in my sketchbook.
“I’ll see you soon.”
I closed my sketchbook and embraced it; tightly to my chest.
He will be my little secret, even from my mother; it’s best if no one knows. I don’t know what the government has planned for me but I intend to put a stop to it, even if it’s something as simple as pretending I can do no better than a toaster or a lamp. My purpose, whatever it is, is nothing small; especially in training me to fight, making me learn vast amounts of information, added to my ability to create anything I want just by drawing it on paper. I will keep my full power under wraps until I can get out of here. I’ve realized what I have within me and the government will one day realize that they’ve underestimated me.
“Come on, Alena. A chair is not that much bigger; you can do this.” Dr. Michaels is losing patience with me but I’m not afraid of him and I’m determined to fail.
“It’s just too hard, I’m sorry maybe if I just keep practicing with smaller things for a while it’ll get easier.” I lied.
“The smaller objects are easy for you, I can tell.” He sighed in defeat as he pinched at his eyes like I was giving him a headache- good. “We’ll try again next week, same day and time.”
'Keeping Adam a secret forever just won’t work for me and I won’t let them have him, or me. For now the plan is to just get away, and I’ll have a little help.
It’s been just over a week but I can’t wait any longer. I said goodnight to mom, went to my room, and locked the door. I laid my sketchbook out on the floor to his page. It was harder than before and at first I couldn’t get it to work; maybe I wasn’t as emotionally pumped as I was last time. I thought more about how bad I wanted to see him and how anxious it made me to think of how things have been for him in there.
Would he have had any concept of time, I wasn’t sure; the impression I had from our encounter led me to believe that he was left in some kind of suspended animation while on the page.
After a few tries the vibrations started, the burning returned as well but I pushed it out of my mind, the page gave in and a whirl of wind funneled around. Then it stopped, the page was empty, and there he was standing on top of my sketchbook.
He looked different, but the same. As he stood in front of me he looked more like the image I’d always had in my head instead of a drawing come to life; the boy from my dreams was finally real.
“I knew I’d see you again.” He said as he stepped off my book and pulled me in for a hug; I didn’t pull away. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too. Was it awful being back in there?” I spoke to his chest, afraid of his answer.
“Like I said before, I don’t really remember being in.” he laughed “I guess it’s kind of like being asleep.” I pulled away then to get a better look at him.
“I’m sorry I had to put you back; and I’m sorry I’ll have to do it a few more times. But after that I won’t anymore. I’m going to escape from here soon; will you go with me when I do?” I was strangely worried what his response would be.
“What about your mom?” He seemed concerned.
“I can’t tell her, I can’t bring her; it would be too dangerous but I know she would want this for me if she knew more about what they were thinking about doing with us.”
He was silent for a moment and I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but then he smiled and all my worry went away, “I’m in.”