Art could not believe what he was hearing from the rest of the team. Despite having accepted that there was something that lurked beneath the surface, he never expected that it would have a mind of its own.
I did that?
Midnight had already fallen upon the sleepy town of Yuval, yet the young man could not sleep; too many thoughts ran through his mind. He shook his head, trying to focus and digest what had learned.
Who am I?
Up until that point, Art never thought to question anything about his life; growing up in this town, knowing the people, adventuring, and aspiring to be a successful machinist with a creation he could call uniquely his own. The existence of an 'other' him casts a shadow of doubt on everything he knew about himself. He tries to recall the oldest memories he could muster.
I remember growing up as a kid in…I was born in…I got this particular scar…when again?
None of it registered, as if his mind collided with a brick wall every single time he tries to summon the thoughts. The very act of attempting induces a strong headache. His ears started ringing, a stinging sensation drowning his efforts.
As he tried to fight off the feeling, the ringing was replaced with faint whispers.
"…how could I let this happen?" a distinctly female voice resonated. A feeling of regret. I know this person…
"…haven't heard that in a while…" This time a male voice, warm yet somewhat uneasy.
Oh, no no no, not again… Art thought. It's happening again.
"…Arthur, I'm sorry…" Another female voice. Mom, is that you?
"…I promise I'll keep him safe." A man, somber in tone, as if solemnly swearing an oath. Is it you…?
I don't know what to think anymore. Why is this happening?
Art stumbled into the study, trying to shrug off the persistent echoes. It was no use, however; he could not clear his head. I have to take my mind off this somehow… he thought, severely distressed.
He approached the baby grand piano at the center of the room, and sat on the player's seat. He gave one more strained effort to push out the thoughts, as he recalled one of the only few compositions he knew by heart. Once he had gathered enough of his wits, he placed his fingers on the keys, and started playing. He could feel his mind slowly regain composure, the notes filling his mind, the rhythm establishing, and the soft music pouring out of the piano.
After a few minutes of playing, Art lifted his fingers from the keyboard - the whispers were gone.
Sonny always taught me playing sooths the mind… Art mused, recalling that Sanford had often played during his spare afternoons, and his pieces certainly had a calming effect even then.
As he got up from the piano chair, he noticed a sheet of cloth on the wall, covering a painting.
Oh, Sonny must've covered it up since nobody would be here. He gently pulled the cloth, revealing the picture underneath.
Mom, did you know about any of this? he wondered, looking at the painting intently.
Art placed the cloth aside, also trying to push aside thoughts of the past for now.
Jeez, things are getting more complicated now. Cousins keeping secrets, raging mad bombers, our real ward being some sort of terrorist, so much intrigue, and now this mysterious power? How can things get any worse?
He left the study and returned to his weapon, still covered in its protective wrap, and regarded the clothed surface with care.
They may have deliberately withheld information, but even so…I want to trust them. And if I can control this power, then maybe I can protect them.
The idea seemed absurd to him at first, having never committed to a cause other than his own. A feeling of renewed purpose filled his thoughts. He headed for the workshop, with future in mind, closing the door behind him.