The Dream Journal of Frederick Willspin Avery
Tueseday, M 5, D 13, 427 AP.
My brother once told me that light is only the illusion of life. I asked him about this yesterday right before I went to see the Shepherd. I was scared. I still kinda am. I don’t know what to think of Shepherd Jaques.
“Freddy, lighting up and producing heat doesn’t constitute life.” I asked him what would, and he rolled his eyes and told me that he had an appointment and he would be back to get me at five.
Allan Wolfgang Avery has become a famous name, and I’m a little famous for being his brother. He’s a Kinetic Alchemist. He uses heat to manipulate and transform things so that they make music. His first love is science, but he will take part in orchestras to help pay the rent like with “Song of Glass.”
Shepherd Jaques is an ancient man with thick, unfashionable glasses and a white beard. But there’s a sparkle about him. In his eyes? A light. I can’t place it, but I trust him.
The first thing he said to me yesterday was, “So I heard you have lost your love.”
Is that what they call it?
He laughed and went through what a Shepherd is supposed to do, but I had already heard all about it from my brother.
Shepherd Jaques told me that my brother was concerned, but I know the real reason he needs me “fixed.” If I don’t play the violin, how will we survive?
Of course I can play other songs to satisfy the landlord and the grocer for a little while, but the real currency of Alexandria is original music. Or original paintings. Or original novels. Or original musical instruments, like my brother’s invention. I don’t know where we’re supposed to keep getting all of this stuff. They’re pumping us dry and expect us to keep pouring out the masterpieces.
“Master Avery, you have fourteen years of age, hardly ‘pumped dry’ as you claim… But it is the claim of most clients, people mostly in their sixties. But I have helped them.”
He wanted to take me back to why music had originally been important to me.
“Because my brother told me it was.”
The eyes of Shepherd Jaques grew slimmer, and his lips pursed, but the light in his eyes grew stronger.
He forced me to talk about all of the things that I talk to myself about all the time.
I don’t remember my parents, and Allan won’t talk about them.
I don’t know.
My brother is twelve years older than me.
I don’t know what a brother is supposed to be like because Allan is more like my dad, mom, and brother. Maybe even my sister, too.
Allan only created “Song of Glass” because he wanted to prove that he could turn science into art. Visually and musically. He wanted to work at the Institution, and he finally has that dream. But I knew it wasn’t for art. It was for curiosity. And now that he has a chance to satisfy that curiosity, he has less time to deal with me.
“Tell me about you, Master Avery. This has nothing to do with your brother but with your music.”
I play the violin because it reminds me of the cello. I like the sound of the cello better, but it looked too awkward to play. The violin is the second most beautiful instrument.
It’s not like the piano with lots of notes overtaking your mind and drowning you. It’s a lone voice. A beautiful cry into the abyss. Sharp or mournful.
“Yes!” Shepherd Jaques’s eyes began to glow. “There is the love. Tell me, where has it gone.”
Nowhere. It’s here. I’m here. The violin is here. But when I go to the violin, and I look at it, and it looks at me, and I pick it up like I always have… It isn’t silent, but I can no longer translate its voice to the world.
Shepherd Jaques asked me if I had ever considered poetry as an alternative.
No. And I don’t want an alternative. I don’t know what I want.
“Well Master Avery, before you can once again begin translating your violin’s voice, you must translate your own.”
The idea of a journal made thousands of butterflies flutter against the lining of my stomach, nearly causing me to throw up.
“You will do it,” Shepherd Jaques said with a smile. His voice wasn’t authoritative like my brother’s, but more like a reassurance that I was capable.
I know what’s wrong. Shepherd Jaques knows what’s wrong too, even if he won’t talk about it because that’s not his job. His job is only to help be rekindle the creative spark that will make me a useful contributor to society. But I don’t know if I want to be a useful contributor anymore. There’s just something wrong with Alexandria, I think, and everyone inside.
“I think I’m trapped in a trench, and a war is going on around me that I can’t see. And no one else can see it either, but we can all feel it,” I told him.
Shepherd Jaques smiled. He was used to dealing with cases like mine – never in one so young! – but then again, I had no parents.
Allan had rescued me from being a permanent resident of the Academy when he turned 20 and could become my guardian. At the Academy he was like my brother, always showing up unexpectedly with gifts and bear hugs.
Shepherd Jaques said we would begin with writing my thoughts, and yes, that meant whatever I wanted. Whatever concerned me. We would pick up in two days (tomorrow) when I came back.
Would I use this as a dream journal? Allan, now working at the Institution had told me something about a dream drug known as Invenire.
Absolutely not. Well, hopefully not. Invenire was only used as a last resort.
Thurseday, M 5, D 16, 427 AP
Shepherd Jaques told me that we would have to start using Invenire.
We began talking about sources of inspiration, and I mentioned dreams that I had, how I felt like it was me in those dreams even though it didn’t look like me. Not completely. I was dressed different. But in one I was in a large wooden container moving over an expanse of blue with waves and birds and open sky, and all I knew was that I could not drink the foamy water. I later learned it was the sea, and that was where I got inspiration for “Sea Voice.” Some kids from the Academy came to me asking to “help” put their grubby hands all into my project. I let them.
When I told Shepherd Jaques that Richard, a friend of Allan, had joked that I could be the descendant of Antonio Vivaldi, Shepherd Jaques’s eyes became so wide that I could see flecks of gold buried in all the brown.
So, I guess this will be a dream journal after all.
I’m actually more relieved about writing my dreams than I am my own thoughts. I’ll probably write some of my thoughts every now and then anyways.
Suneday, M 5, D 19, 427 AP
Ivenire makes me feel as though I’m stumbling through my own mind looking for a way to escape, but it’s not even me. It is me, but it also isn’t. I don’t understand it.
I had two dreams last night. Once, I was a girl with slitted eyes looking at a book secretly with another girl. We were one of many, and I think we drank our sisters’ blood without knowing. The other time I was awake, staring upwards, tasting metal, and birds pecked at my skin.
Shepherd Jaques told me it would take at least five to six days before it would take effect, but I should write down any interesting dream that I have in as much detail as possible.
I think those dreams should have disturbed me, but I felt like I was watching the life of someone else through their eyes. It was easy to stay calm.
Allan wasn’t frightened about me taking Invenire. He actually seemed happy. I would finally be useful.
“Has it helped you any, Master Avery?”
I told him that it makes me feel strange. His eyes dimmed, and he asked me what I thought that meant.
There’s a strangeness. It’s always been present. Everyone has them. Memories of things that never happened. Blurry emotions and thoughts that aren’t really ours. Invenire intensifies this.
Shepherd Jaques said nothing, but Allan told me.
Short version: Invenire helps us get back in touch with our past lives. Our past creativity. Our past passions. The “past self” that existed before I was born.
But I have to take it for another three days before it will help me.
Shepherd Jaques wouldn’t tell me if it’s ever backfired, but I’d assume it has.
Wedneseday, M 5, D 22, 427 AP
Dream 1: A Rebel
I stood in front of the mirror, a little older than I am right now. I had on baggy green pants and no shirt, and blond hair fell past my shoulders.
I hated myself.
I stared out through my own eyes and tried to understand. It was so blurry.
An unwelcome, bemused ghost being dragged around like baggage in a time that no longer exists, holding on to the emotions of who I am now with one hand, and holding the angry, dissatisfied emotions of a different self with my other.
I was skinny, and I cursed a lot. I was too angry to eat. My house had white walls with paintings of flowers. My dragon tattoo and face piercings were so out of place. I never dressed.
I tried to talk to myself, but it was no better than screaming into the void. I banged the piano repeatedly before throwing my papers into the floor and screaming.
(I never wake up, but something shifts.)
Then I’m outside, and I’m a woman staring at a brick wall, waiting for words to appear. I’m wearing a dress and walking quickly. It’s a different city than Alexandria. The buildings stretch into the sky. When past me glances at them, current me gets dizzy.
I have important papers. I ask myself what, but she doesn’t answer.
All she thinks is, I have to hurry, have to hurry, have to hurry.
I have to hurry.
Why are we hurrying?
(That’s all I remember.)
Thurseday, M 5, D 22, 427 AP
I learned today that we never die.
My Invenire glitches, as it does with some people, but Shepherd Jaques said it will begin focusing in soon because the right side of the brain remembers more creative aspects. It just takes time.
I know how to play my brother. Pluck the right strings, and he sings louder than a violin.
Shepherd Jaques confirmed it. He’s one of the “Originals,” as they call them. So is Allan.
They both talked to me about it. Said I couldn’t say anything to anyone. Not Richard. Not Maria. (Allan’s friends because I don’t have friends because I hate people.)
Allan’s eyes were glowing like he’d just come off the mount from speaking to God, but Shepherd Jaques’s face was very pale and dim.
Allan came to my session today because he needed to inform Shepherd Jaques that he’d let something slip. He hadn’t let something slip because he’d opened the dam doors himself, nearly drowning me in the flood that followed. On purpose.
“I don’t want to be alone,” he’d whispered after cupping my face and pressing his cheek against mine. The strings inside of him were vibrating with anticipation, and I tried to seal myself off from him. I didn’t want him to scare me, to make me sadder than I was.
But I had already figured. “Past self.” Could they be more obvious? And it didn’t make me emptier. I was actually relieved.
“What’s the date?” Allan demanded, grinning, shaking.
“AP… What’s AP, Freddy.”
My heart had already been pounding, but at that moment it began choking me. Did I want to hear this? No. Yes! How can I explain this? I was covering my eyes but staring between my fingers.
“Younger Master Avery… The Originals, including your brother and I… we developed the cure to the Plague. But it came at a price.” His eyes looked like muddy water.
What does that mean?
People can’t have kids. People who don’t die of the Plague will never be able to have kids.
But it’s been 427 years after the Plague.
Yes, they know.
Other Originals, Allan among the chief scientists, developed a way to make sure the human race never dies out until the cure is discovered. There are only 1,997 known human beings left on earth. All have been kept alive for the past 427 years. All live within the city of Alexandria. None have ever actually died
I know too much. But when Shepherd Jaques turned around, Allan winked. He would tell me everything later.
Shepherd Jaques said he had to call Chief Williams and tell him about my knowledge. Allan hugged me. Why is he so happy? My insides have melted to my feet, and I can still barely breathe.
It means something. All of it means something. And I think it’s something bad.
“No one has ever gone outside Alexandria. The earth has evolved to destroy humans. The only safe place is within its walls. Motion sensors, cameras, laser guns all protect us from what is outside the perimeter, and poison spray prevents the deadly plants from growing over the walls. All to protect what remains of the human race.”
Lies. Lies. Lies.
Is it still a lie if it’s not completely a lie?
(Photo: Kat J)
This is the promised final project from university. I released the abstract a while back as a writing prompt, and it can be found here. I’ll release more parts in the upcoming days.