Word Count: 862.
Notes: Timed challenged. Over five hundred words in a half hour. --Takes places up to the beginning of the main story.
Summary: The basis of madness causes many a thing--it is not odd that caution finds itself among them.
This is what becomes of those who know nothing.
He watches, casually, curious, as the neighbor is pulled from his home, giggling and fighting at once, despite the contradiction in behavior. The man is mad, the set of cookie-cutter foster parents say. And madness takes away everything.
Least of all, your rights as a person. The man protests his insanity, crying, and the men dragging him ignore the protests, lock him in the back of his car. Labeled as insane, the man is less than an animal. And like in Christian mythology, animals, of course, lack souls to make them as human.
The man becomes nothing. The car drives away.
Was he insane? The neighbor had a son, a perfectly cheery boy, bit of a brat. The boy was in the hospital now, recovering from surgery. One of his organs had twisted inside, stopped growing, and was on the verge of ceasing to function. There was no way to know this without a detailed analysis. But the man had gone to the doctor, listed the details of the condition, and his paranoid wife had pushed the doctor into checking.
The boy could have died. In a year. In months. In weeks. But the neighbor told exactly what was wrong, told to him by an entity that didn’t exist.
The doctor had been one to help the stone throwers. The man saved the boy’s life, and half-ended his own.
And Alan watched all of this, quietly, curiously, and committed the facts as they were to detail.
So it is that years have passed in moments. And Alan knows he is insane.
How else would one explain knowing things that weren’t possible? Factual evidence pointed out at thirteen labeled it as madness, something dangerous and to be locked away. He explains his grades by secret studying--not that the material was known before the class had started, not that the literature came to motion inside his head, the plays acted out in drama and blood. It becomes a game with his classmates--they hum five beats of a stanza and Alan recites the lyrics of the song by rote. It’s fun until he always wins. And then he becomes something strange to them.
He stops talking. He doesn’t need to. He is almost fourteen, and he’ll soon lapse into silence for another reason.
He wasn’t insane, and he wouldn’t accept that label for himself at any rate. He denies the knowledge of what resided within him--he studied just as hard as any other. The knowledge of what was in the books was cheating. He had to read them, rememorize for no reason, and only then would he accept the words.
Life was a struggle. He understood this in parcel and part. And it was a world where you had to show your work, your breakdown, your references. Having the skills and doing the math in your head was not accepted.
There was a freedom to be had. Away from all others and wandering eyes. He only had to work to gain it, pass the tests to move through life as he willed. He was not that neighbor. The man was found out because he had others too close to him. They saw too easily what one had to hide to exist.
It was foolish. If you knew you had the inklings of madness resting within you, why would you ever move to touch others? It was too easily seen, how they would toss you aside in a moment. Humans pressed too desperately on their fear of the unknown.
She borrows his pen and he’s done in. She follows him cheerily, attempting to return it, discoursing instead of offering it back each time it’s reached for. He snaps like a ill-trained dog, growls curses, and insults her name. She laughs, something darker in the sound, and smiles like the sun shining. She is a brilliant contradiction, and part of him realizes that. Part of him recognizes madness in another, an echoing piece of similarity.
But he is not insane; like everything, that option was denied, and she is just an annoying female who will eventually go away. There were others before, but he held to his vow, and each turned from the cold-hearted creature to mutter cruel gossip in lieu of their own rejection pangs. He hears, and doesn’t care. He’s thankful for their kindly hate.
She is still talking, watching him with bird-like eyes, and something in him is uncomfortable at the attention--a looking based on seeing instead of just directing the eyes. She is looking for something, finding who knew what, and he wants to slap her.
As if she can tell, she hands over the pen, tells him she had switched into his next class, and that she would see him there.
She touches him, lightly, on the forearm. His skin is bare there for once, sleeves pushed up in the heat, and the contact shocks him. It lasts for nothing, not close to a second, and she is gone after that with nothing else.
Something moves within him. Something reminding him of risks. Reminding him that he knows nothing.