I look around the room at all the melancholy faces. Some show defeat, some hopeful, some wanting an escape. I guess those are the reactions you should have for being afflicted with depression. Everyone here has something wrong with his or her life, something to fix, an ailment that makes us different from the rest of the world. It’s as if the life force of the patients here fell out of their hearts and shattered on the floor. Each patient is in a different process of trying to piece them self back together. Those who have almost completed their life puzzle show it; like they are getting their happiness returned to them that depression has stripped. Me? This is my first group session. I wouldn’t even be here if my psychiatrist didn’t make me attend.
My name is Veronica. Though, most people call me Nicki. So let’s stick with that since that has been my nickname for as long as I can remember. And that isn't very long since most of my life is a big fat blank. For what I can remember, I've been depressed for most of it.
The doctor walks through the door interrupting my rumination. “Alright,” the doctor says walking inside the room, “Let’s begin shall we? My name is Dr. Ellison and I will be your group therapist for the rest of these sessions.”
I let out a sigh.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Veronica. Do I disappoint you?" Dr. Ellison asks.
I send him a face. I assumed it was going to be my psychiatrist I've been seeing for years since she was the one that is making me attend these things. This Dr. Ellison couldn’t be any older than me, and I’m 22. To be a psychiatrist at that age is pretty impressive.
“You are all here because each and every one of you shares something in common. A key aspect of identifying with your depression is to open up to your fears of standing out. The fear of going from the shadows where you are hidden to the light where the rest of the world can see the real you.” Dr. Ellison walks over and sits down in the empty chair. Everyone sits in a circle. There are 11 of us in total.
“Let’s introduce ourselves shall we?” he starts. He pauses as groans and deep breaths fill the room. He claps his hands a few times. “Oh don’t act all surprised. You all knew introductions were coming. In addition to telling us your name, where you're from, what you like to do, and all of that boring garbage, I want you to describe yourself if you weren't afflicted with depression or some other form of condition. Who is your ideal self?"
Dr. Ellison looks around the room at all the patients. Some of them were staring at the floor, others at the ceiling, and others at the doctor himself. I, on the other hand stare directly at my lap, not registering anything the doctor says.
“Let’s start with you,” the doctor says looking directly at me.
I gulp. “Me?"
I shift uncomfortably in my chair. I sit up straighter so I’m not slouching over like a girl without manners. “Um,” I begin, “My name is Nicki."
“What's your story Nicki? Where are you from?" a guy asks sitting to the right of the doctor.
I need a lie. Quick. “I was born and raised in Miami,” I say, spitting out the first thing in my head.
“Really?” another girl boasts.
"Yes, really?" Dr. Ellison boasts with a tone that clearly says you're lying. "Tell us which part of the city you grew up in along with which neighborhood."
"Umm," I start, pausing to search for words. "I grew up near the beach mostly. My family owns a beach house, but the water is dirty and not very impressive." I look over at Dr. Ellison, widening my eyes. I mouth at him what are you doing? He sends me a smirk.
“Man, I bet growing up on the beach was awesome. I would have loved that," a guy says on the other side of the room.
“The beach isn’t for everyone,” I interrupt. “Anyway, I work for the Air Force. I’m a cryptographer with a top secret clearance.” That's a partial lie.
The eyes in some of the patients light up. “That’s amazing!” one of them blurts out.
I sigh. “I suppose it is.”
The doctor shifts the tension in the room with a random, out of nowhere question. "What do you see when you look into the mirror, Nicki?" he asks, changing the subject.
I squint my eyes at him. "I avoid mirrors whenever I possibly can. To be honest I'm not entirely sure why I do. But how do you know that?"
The girl sitting next to me chimes in, “Surely you look into a mirror when you do your hair or brush your teeth and the like?”
“Actually, I do not. Where I stay at my Air Force base, I purposely removed the mirror when I got my own room. Yes, I still brush my teeth and all the normal boring garbage. I just manage to do it without a mirror.”
The doctor writes something down in a notebook. “The last time you looked into a mirror, despite it being years ago, what did you see?”
“A girl in trouble,” I answer.
“So looking into this mirror reminds you of this troubled feeling?”
“I guess. It honestly feels like I'm missing something,” I say as I lean forward, elbows on the tops of my legs.
The doctor moves his glasses further up his face. I guess I only start to notice his appearance when there’s a flaw he needs to fix; like say, glasses falling off his face. I can tell from here that the frames are expensive. They are slim, not those giant glasses you see some people wearing. He has short dark brown hair with light brown eyes. He’s tall. I’m guessing he probably stands over six feet easily.
Another girl on the left side of the room speaks up, “For not looking into a mirror for years, you look rather stunning.”
I look over at her and blush. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the doctor show a brief smile. I turn my head to see, but the smile is gone as fast as it appears. I get a skeptical look on my face. “How old are you, Dr. Ellison? You look younger than me,” I say.
“I’m 22. The same age as you,” he replies.
“How do you know my age?”
“Well, you see being a doctor I have access to these pieces of paper. And sometimes these pieces of paper are compressed into a file. And in that file—”
“We get it,” I say, interrupting him. “And your sarcasm is noted.”
He grins. “Who’s next?” he asks looking around the room.
The girl who complemented me earlier speaks up, “I’m Kylie. I was born and raised around here actually.”
I zone out when she starts talking because frankly, I don’t really care about any of these people I sit in a circle with. We may all share the same problem, but not all of us have the same cause to that problem. Group sessions are dumb. Plain and simple.
The introductions continue as I start to nod off. Man these things are so boring. No one warned me about that.
Before I get to comfortable in my own little world and thoughts, the group session comes to an end. Time flies when you are having fun. Or so I’m told. What a bunch of crap.
“Alright,” Dr. Ellison says standing up. “That will be all for today. We will meet at the same time and place, right here next week.”
Everyone around the room starts to get up and head for the exit. I remain in my chair. The doctor walks over to a table and gathers up the papers that scatter it. Our patient files no doubt. Curious how no one thought to walk over and look at them since they’ve been lying out in the open this entire time.
Dr. Ellison gathers his papers and begins to head for the door. He freezes halfway there once he sees me out of his peripheral vision. He turns to look at me, “Why aren’t you in a rush to get out of here like everyone else?”
I shrug. “Waiting to see what you would do actually. You honestly expect us to believe you are 22 and a licensed psychiatrist?”
He takes a sit in his previous chair. “Why is that so hard for you to believe?”
“I just find it interesting is all. Like you aren’t who you say you are.”
“You’re one to talk aren’t you, Nicki?”
I get tense. “And what exactly does that mean?”
“Your files from both the air force and your psychiatrist had so many black lines in it that they might as well have given me blank sheets of paper,” he says while taking his glasses off, folding them neatly on his lap in front of him.
“Everyone has secrets, doctor,” I reply.
“Some people have secrets. But as for you, you have no secrets.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Meaning?”
“Meaning I know everything about you, Nicki.”
“That’s not possible. In order to get those files and information you would need top secret clearance.”
“I have that clearance, and much more,” he replies.
“Alright then, who am I?”
He smiles a smile that shows he is about to prove someone wrong. “Your name is Veronica Perez. You are a member of Colonel Rickman’s Division II Black Ops regiment. I actually have your performance reviews in your file as well.” He pauses and opens a vanilla folder, flipping through the pages. “Your performance is off the charts in every field; intelligence, physical strength, emotional strength, stability, awareness, perception, and many more on here.”
“Then you are aware that I could break you in half whenever I want,” I snap.
“I am,” he says with a little fear in his voice. “You look like an average every day girl. Yet you are a weapon, a machine. You are the ideal experiment for my research.”
“Wait, then why this group session?”
“So I could see you in person. Originally, your psychiatrist was supposed to conduct these group sessions.”
“Why are you here instead of her?”
"You're former psychiatrist is an old acquaintance of mine. She owed me a favor I did for her a long time ago. So, she agreed to allow me to psych this group session to help my research."
I stand up, suddenly on edge. “What research is that?”
Dr. Ellison stands up as well and walks towards me. “Have you ever heard of the Breach, Nicki?”
The doctor and I walk down a long hallway. Everything is white. The walls are white. The tiles are white. I’m also pretty sure I’ve become paler than I was an hour ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if ghosts wonder these halls without being noticed. Camouflage is a powerful thing.
Surprisingly enough, we are at the Air Force base where I currently work under top secret clearance. From what I can tell so far, we are in a research building. I’ve never been inside this building before. The fact that guards continuously surround it with around the clock security and checkpoints may be part of the reason why.
We pass through another set of doors. Shocker, this room is completely white as well. There are some computers and tables scattered throughout, some chairs that remind me of the dentist, and multiple shelves with numerous vials and syringes.
“Take a seat in one of those chairs,” Dr. Ellison says as he walks towards the shelves.
I walk over and sit down. “Are you going to tell me what all of this is about? Or do I have to torture you to get answers out of you?” I ask.
He starts fumbling around with the vials and needles. His shoulders slightly elevate, giving me the conclusion that he’s grinning at my remark.
“All of our research will be conducted in this room. Are you aware of your past, Nicki?”
“Define past,” I say, “How far back?”
“As far back as you can remember.”
I watch him walk over with multiple vials. He sets them on the table next to me. He walks to the other side of the room, dragging a normal, uncomfortable looking chair with him. He puts it down next to me and sits in it. “I don’t remember much of anything prior to 15. I can only remember things I've done since that age.”
“I thought as much.” He inserts a syringe into a vial, pulling back as the clear serum fills the tiny cylinder.
“I’m not letting you stab me with anything until you tell me what I am doing here. And apparently how you know about my past,” I say, getting nervous though not letting it show.
He sets the vial down on the table next to my chair. “The military lied to you, Nicki.”
“I pretty much figured that out on my own. What is the Breach?” I ask.
“Try to keep up if you want to know, as some of this may confuse you. The human mind lives out reality in three different ways: The conscious, the subconscious, and the unconscious. The conscious part of your mind is what you experience every day, reality. Using your five senses, experiencing the world. Your awareness.”
“With you so far,” I say.
“The subconscious is the part of the human mind that we are not aware of. Since our attentional capacity and focus has a limit, the human mind cannot let our brain be overwhelmed. Naturally, we unknowingly create a storage space where all of our memories, events, experiences, and the like are drawn towards.”
I run my fingers through my long brown hair. “Getting a little confused, but continue.”
“Think of this last part, the unconscious, as the abyss of your mind. Many psychologists and psychiatrists alike believe the unconscious has a mind all its own. And I say think of it as the abyss because it is here that the events we would rather forget or that have been suppressed are stored. It is a very unpredictable part of the mind. As well as the least explored part of the mind.”
“So you think my past has been suppressed in my unconscious?” I ask trying to make sense of things.
“Wait,” I say sitting up and leaning forward in the chair. “If the military were the ones to suppress my past, won’t you get in trouble for helping me remember?”
“As far as the colonels, generals, and the like whom are aware of my research, they do not know the purpose of it. And that purpose has been you, Nicki.”
“Me?” I ask pointing to my chest.
“Yes. You don’t remember. But we knew each other a long time ago.”
I pause. “How do you plan to help me?”
“Through my discovery of the Breach.”
“Right, I thought you were explaining that to me.”
“I was building up to it,” he says, getting up from his chair. He walks over and grabs one of the laptops and walks it back over, setting it on the table next to the vials and syringe. He starts typing as an image of the human brain pops up on the screen. He turns it towards me so I can see it. “The human brain, a marvelous piece of science. Much of which we still know nothing about. But I lowered that percentage through my discovery.”
I watch as he presses some more buttons and a part of the brain on the screen illuminates. “If you think I’m supposed to know what that highlighted part is you’re mistaken,” I say.
“This highlighted portion is my discovery. I have named it the Breach. Usually, discoveries such as this need to be replicated by the scientific community. But the breakthrough of this discovery has led the government and the military to classify it; to hide it from other scientists around the world.”
“That picture may as well be useless since I know nothing about the human brain or any structure on that screen,” I say honestly.
He glares at me and presses the laptop down to close it. “I guess you aren’t much of a visual person.”
“I can be,” I say, running my eyes up and down his figure. “Depends on what I am looking at.” I stop myself, bringing my eyes back up to look into his.
“The Breach is the point in the human mind where consciousness, the subconscious, and the unconscious converge. I have found the point in the mind and the cells, or neurons, responsible for these three different levels.”
“So what does this allow you to do?” I ask, finally starting to relax.
“I can only speculate. I have numerous theories. But what I know I can do is help you remember. In order to remember your memories, you will experience them again. Think of it as a hallucination. Normally, you can recover your memories through typical means, therapy and all of that. But that takes years. My method, will take days, if that.”
“Do it,” I say firmly.
He grabs the syringe and moves closer to my neck. “Are you sure you want to remember?”
“Whatever the memories may be, they are certainly better than how I feel right now.”
“Very well, then.” He sticks the needle into my neck and pushes on the syringe. I feel a tingle, a certain numbness of the physical world. The white room disappears. The doctor disappears. My chair disappears underneath me as I fall to a floor I cannot see. I stand up, standing in nothing, living in nothing. I feel nothing. I am nothing.
“What’s your name?” a gritty voice asks.
There is a bright light in my face; so bright that I can’t make out the face or the figure asking the questions.
I pause. “Who wants to know?” The bright light comes from the desk in front of me. Whoever the man is sits in a chair behind it, facing me.
"Don't evade the question by answering with a question," the voice snarls.
I grin. "Well, aren't you smart?"
I hear footsteps as the buff man walks up and slaps me hard across the face. My head turns roughly from the force of the blow so I face the mirror covering the entire side of the wall. I stare into my reflection. I look young; no more than 12 or 13 years old. I move my head in all directions and slowly notice that mirrors cover the entire room. I freeze. I try to bring my hands up to cover my face, but my hands are bound to the chair. I force my head as far into my lap as I can manage so I don't have to look into the mirrors.
"You like that?" the man asks pointing to the mirrored walls around the room. "Just a little something I thought would come in handy when I question you."
"Question me about what?" I ask.
I raise my head in order to size up the man. He's pretty well-built and dressed in a black military uniform. High arch strips as well as several lines cover his shoulders, indicating a highly ranked military official. He is bald with yellow-green eyes and pretty tall, easily over six feet I bet. "You know very well why you're here."
"Actually I don’t so if you can inform me that would be great."
"Fine, play the smart ass child. I'll remind you so we don't waste either of our time. Time you don't have by the way. You were found in the middle of no where on the very edge of civilization in a frozen northern Alaskan field. You knocked out the person who found you; which unfortunately for you, he was a military spy looking specifically for children like you. When he woke up, he alerted us to your location."
"Well, damn. I'll be sure to kill him next time then." Wait, why did I just say that?
"You'll never get the chance to hurt or kill anyone ever again," the official says coldly.
"You have a little girl bound to a chair. What do you possibly think a little girl can do against highly trained military personnel? Tickle them? Maybe bake them some cookies? Give me a break," I reply. I move my hands around behind me, trying to unbind my hands.
"Don't give me that smart ass tone. You took out a Black Ops team that came to extract you. You rendered all five of them unconscious. And when they woke up, they had no clue what happened to them. We've seen your kind before only we can't explain why it is you can do what you do."
My memory starts to come back. I am in a field of snow in northern Alaska. Trees scattered here and there, not enough trees to be classified as a forest but more than enough to make moving amongst them unseen easy. I spot the five members of the Black Ops team from one of the tallest tree branches. They are dressed in white camouflage armor to blend in with the snow and complete whiteness of the field and area. I guess they didn't train these men to look up in trees. I mean come on, that should be a given.
They pass right underneath me. I take out a syringe filled with clear serum, jam it into my neck, and push down on the syringe. In terms of time manipulation, what I think becomes reality. I think and I feel my heart rate slow to dangerous levels. Doctors have a name for it, bradycardia, or a life-threatening low heartbeat. Time starts to slow. Once slow enough, I jump out of the tree, easily seven or eight stories up and slow fall to the ground behind the Black Ops team.
My irises change color from my natural to a bright golden-yellow, noticeable from over 30 feet away, possibly longer. My pupil now resembles that of a black hole in space. Now that I've fallen out of the tree, I think to shift time again. My heart rate increases to dangerous levels. I believe this is called tachycardia. As time begins to shift, one hour becomes one minute, one minute becomes one second, and one second becomes one millisecond.
The Black Ops team turns around to see me standing in the snow, bare foot, wearing old, ragged clothes. To be honest, the cold doesn't affect me like it does normal people; which is why this is my ideal environment to live in.
I disappear before their eyes; much like a television channel turns to static snow when a signal is lost. "What the... Fan out, slowly. Cover all angles," the Black Ops leader barks.
It's pretty easy to understand the concept of teleporting. Time quickens exponentially to a point where the human eye can no longer see movement. Thus, giving the illusion of teleporting from one location to the other in the blink of an eye.
I teleport behind one of the men and immediately jump and put him in a headlock. I'm young, so I'm much shorter than these men and my feet don’t touch the ground. He tries to scream, but I choke him harder so that he can't alert his team who all has their backs to use as part of the brilliant plan to fan out. He shoots his gun forward. Well, damn, should have thought of that. The rest of the team turns around. "Release him!" the leader demands.
I shake my head.
The Black Ops leader shrugs. "We're supposed to capture you alive and only use force if it is necessary. I believe this is necessary." The four remaining Black Ops members get into position quickly as to make sure they don't shoot their own member. "Fire!"
Gunfire fills and echoes throughout the frozen tundra of northern Alaska.
With my victim still in my arms, I teleport again behind the four men just as the man I’m choking falls unconscious. I toss him aside as they all turn around and fire right as I disappear from sight. I appear in front of the man holding the left flank position. I jump up and push off his chest with my foot, just as you see a ninja back flip off a wall. As I push up, I flip and bring my other foot up, kicking him underneath the chin which sends him flying backwards several feet. He hits the back of his head on a patch of ice, rendering him unconscious.
Before I land, I teleport behind the Black Ops member holding the opposite flank. I kick out his leg at just the right angle to fracture the bones above his ankle, dropping him to one knee. I punch and kick him in the throat hard, tossing him back several feet. His eyes close.
“THAT’S IT!” the leader yells.
I turn my head to look at him. My eyes meet his as I vanish once again. I re-materialize in front of the leader, anticipating the other member to panic. He does. He fires directly at me. I teleport a few feet behind the leader. The bullets, which apparently are rubber, hit the leader in the chest, arm, and skims the side of his throat. He’s thrown backwards and lands right in front of me on his back. I place my foot over his throat and press hard; choking him until he passes out from lack of oxygen.
The last Black Ops member standing drops to his knees, realizing he cannot win. “Please,” he begs. From my current position, I turn to start a roundhouse kick, teleporting mid kick to the position of this last, desperate member. I finish the roundhouse kick upon porting to his position, my foot slams into the side of his face. He falls over, not moving.
I sigh. “Damn, which number is this? The seventh Black Ops team I’ve had to deal with?” I turn the guy over and search him to see if I can find some sort of identification. I see a flag. “The U.S.” I crack a smile. “It’s about time. To be honest they weren’t any better than the other teams countries have sent after me.” I turn and walk back through the trees, my feet leaving footprints in the snow.