Prompt 122-Something’s Wrong

Look around you right now. What is wrong with this picture?

Shane rolled over to find the other half of the queen-sized mattress vacant. The blankets were rumpled and the bed still vaguely warm; she hadn’t been up long. The sizzle of grease in a pan filled his ears as the aroma of breakfast from the kitchen filled his nostrils. The teapot whistled and Lara muttered a curse as she hurried to silence it, unaware he was already awake.

Artificial daylight poured in through the window on their corner apartment. How long had he been asleep? The digital readout on his bedside table read 7:27. She was up early.

He sat up in bed and waited for her to return. He knew she was making breakfast for both of them to share. Something about that seemed odd, but he shrugged it off. He was still drowsy. The tea she was brewing would fix him right up.

He leaned back against the wall, fingers braided behind his head, eyes closed. He could see Lara in the tiny kitchen pouring the boiling water over the tea leaves she had placed over their chipped mugs. The bacon continued to sizzle on the stove. She lazily stirred the eggs in the other pan as she flipped the strips of meat.

Shane couldn’t contain his grin. Even though she continued to struggle in her Reading, she had become so strong in her Moving in such a short time. Katya was, perhaps, a better teacher than he. He was a powerful Reader, but he didn’t know how to transfer his knowledge to the new generation, despite his best efforts.

Lara was a powerful Reader too. She would probably be stronger than him, once she learned control. Collette disapproved of the way Shane shielded Lara. She didn’t understand; she couldn’t know how special Lara was. So what if her telepathic progress was slow? She was an impressive Mover, and an Elemental and a Seeker. She showed signs of being a Hero as well. If her telepathy lagged behind while she strengthened other skills, who was he to complain?

His smile widened as she appeared in the doorway, two plates of breakfast in her hands, two cups of tea hovering at her shoulders. She was still clad only in one of his old t-shirts, the dark grey cotton contrasting with her blue-green eyes and tawny hair. Her lips curved down in a pout. “You’re awake.”

He chuckled at her disappointment. “How could I sleep when something so delectable was in my kitchen?”

Lara stuck her tongue out at him as his tea floated into his hands. “I wanted to surprise you,” she said.

“I am surprised,” he replied, breathing deeply of the herbal concoction she had brewed. He couldn’t quite make out what was in it. The bacon was overpowering everything. “You don’t usually wake up before me.”

She shrugged, making her way to the bed and handing him his plate as she sat down. He accepted it with a kiss to her cheek. “It’s been a long time since you’ve slept so soundly,” she said. “It seemed a waste to wake you.”

“I sleep just fine,” he answered, stealing another kiss. She flushed and shoved a forkful of eggs into her mouth. There must have been something special about the day. Was it a holiday? His birthday? He glanced back at the clock to check the date. It still read 7:27.

Still? No, he must have misread it earlier. He forgot about the date as he ate the breakfast Lara had made for him. Bacon and eggs. It seemed such a normal, American thing. He paused, fork halfway to his mouth, as he observed her.

She ate happily. Her teacup hovered within reach, and she periodically grabbed it to take a sip. She smiled when she caught him watching her. Asked him if everything was alright. The wooden ring on her finger caught his eye.

Shane frowned. She was a very strong Reader. The clock still read 7:27. “Who are you? Where am I?”

Lara’s face showed confusion, shock, fear. “Shane? It’s me, Lara.” She set her plate on the bed and cupped his face in her hands. “We’re home. Don’t you know me? Don’t you love me?” Her eyes searched his frantically. Her voice was pained. Strained. Fake.

Shane smirked. “You’re not Lara.” Not-Lara scowled at him, releasing him from her grasp as she stood. He looked around in awe as the room dissolved to nothingness around him. “You’re very good though,” he admitted. “Where am I really?”

Not-Lara dissolved into a dark-skinned woman of similar stature. Her eyes were both the same blue as one of Lara’s eyes. Shane looked down at his arms and found them shackled to a metal chair. A plate of meat sat steaming on the table in front of him. So, they had influenced the illusion. His stomach growled at the smell.

He pushed thoughts of eating away as he considered the woman across from him. “Fascinating,” he said. “You can alter my memories.” Not-Lara said nothing. She continued to glower at him. “Ok, maybe not alter. But you can make me see things that I want to see. Is that a Reader ability or are you something new?”

The woman rolled her eyes and took the plate of food away. Shane sulked. He was hungry, after all. A man entered as she left. He walked with the support of a cane, but Shane could see this was all a show. This man wanted Shane to think him weak and infirm. It was a test of some sort, but Shane wasn’t quite sure what the passing result would be.

He’d passed the first part, acknowledging that his dreams were just that, dreams. Maybe this man sitting across from him would help him find the answers he was looking for. The way to keep Ark from finding the answers he sought. The way to save Lara. Maybe then, his dreams wouldn’t just be dreams anymore.

Notes: While I was brainstorming what to do with this prompt, I had the thought “psychic interference a la X2.” The whole sub plot with Striker’s son being able to implant visions, illusions, into other people’s heads and how Striker used it to get Professor X to use Cerebro to hunt down all the mutants. The idea of “this thing I’m seeing isn’t real” seemed to fit too perfectly with this prompt.

But I couldn’t think of how to write it without an established premise of psychic manipulation. Then when I was driving home today, thinking about the prompt as I tend to do while driving, it occurred to me that it would work in my SFF story. I had thought about writing it with Lara being the one shown visions, but then I realized Shane would be more interesting.

He’s off searching for the Forgotten (or whatever the exiled/shunned group ends up being named) and it seemed like a good opportunity to explore other aspects of the psychic affinity. I’m tentatively calling this one a Writer, since she was able to see Shane’s past and construct a vision based on his memories. It seems like a neat idea to have new/unknown powers/affinities rise in those who don’t fit the Dome standards.

At any rate, I really liked this particular prompt. I hope you can come up with something neat for it too! I hope it inspires you like it did for me. As always, I will return tomorrow with a new prompt and a new post! Have a great night/day!

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