“Patient 313,” a nurse with curly blond locks calls out from behind the counter. She’s holding a small paper cup of oblong and round pill tablets. “Patient 313!”
A skinny man with oily hair and a crooked grin hurries out of his room with a notebook in his hands. A plastic band around his wrist says, Patient 313. His name, however, is Spencer Goodwin. “S—sorry, Nurse Hannah. I was…” he giggles and then shushes himself. “I was just doodling in my thought journal.”
“That’s okay, Hun. It’s time for your bedtime medicine. Here, take these for me.” She hands Spencer the paper cup of pills with a plastic cup of water.
Spencer knocks back the pills all at once, downs it with a sip of water, then holds his tongue out for the nurse to see.
“Okay, you’re good to go. Have a good night, Spencer. Jerome will come by in thirty minutes to make sure you’re in bed.”
“M’kay, Nurse Hannah. Thank you, goodnight.”
Spencer walks back to his room, his flip flops silently smacking the soles of his feet with every step. Once in his room, he sits cross-legged on his bed, pulling his feet close.
“You do what I tell you?” a voice asks.
Spencer’s smile fades as his head turns up. A man stands against the brick wall in the corner of Spencer’s room. He wears a lengthy black robe with a droopy hood that hangs over his eyes and drenches his face in a shadow. Spencer reaches into his cheek and pulls out several partially dissolved pills. He holds them out in his open palm to The Shadow. From beneath the shadow of the hood, the sheen of teeth is all you can see as the man smiles.
“Good,” The Shadow says. “You’ve been feeling better recently, hm? Clearer.”
Spencer nods, hesitant.
“Hey now,” the The Shadow says, his voice soothing. “This is good, remember? Those medicines, all they do is limit you. They rob you of your real powers. And you don’t want that, do you? You want to be great, right?”
“Attaboy. Now, what’s your name?”
“Sp—Spencer the Great.”
“What’s your name?”
“Spencer the Great,” Spencer says, more firmly this time.
The Shadow nods with satisfaction. He holds his hand up and slowly drags it down through the air. He places his hands together, twists his palms, and when he takes one off the other, there’s a pencil in his hand. “Do you know what this is?”
Spencer takes a moment to examine the yellow-painted stick of wood. “Um. It’s a pencil.”
The Shadow chuckles. “You’re not wrong. But this here, it’s not like other pencils. This one I’m holding is a magical pencil. It has the ability to make whatever you draw on paper come to life. But you can’t just draw it; you have to believe it.” The Shadow holds the pencil out to Spencer and he takes it. “You understand?”
“Exactly. And should you ever decide you’d no longer enjoy the presence of your creations, you can either erase them, or simply crumple your paper. Let your imagination run wild, Spencer. Create.”
Before Spencer can say anything else, he looks up and The Shadow is gone.
“Magical,” Spencer says. Lightly gripping the pencil in his fingertips, Spencer puts the pointed lead to paper. A jolt of electrical current puts a black smudge on the paper and sends a shock through Spencer’s hand.
He flinches. “Ow!”
Spencer adjusts the pencil in his fingers and steadily sets it back onto the papers with a deep breath. He drags the lead across the blank page until he’s drawn a square. Spencer then holds still as his eyes move over the room, watching, waiting. A moment passes and nothing happens.
Maybe it has to be 3-D.
Spencer then draws a cube onto the page. Again, nothing happens. He lifts the yellow hexagonal barrel close to his eyes and examines every side from every angle. There has to be something he’s missing. A button? A phrase? What?
Then he remembers what The Shadow had told him: “You can’t just draw it; you have to believe it.”
Spencer flips to a new page; with The Shadow’s voice still clear in his head, he puts the pencil back to the paper and begins to draw, believing in what he draws more than anything. When he’s done, he doesn’t look, he just waits. Believe. Believe.
“I… I don’t understand. What am I doing wrong?”
As Spencer sits, the sight of something small enters into his peripheral. He hears a soft flutter, then stares with eyes wide as an orange-winged butterfly floats past him. His jaw drops as he lets out a maniacal bray laugh.
To be continued…
Copyright © 2019 Jordan Antonacci
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