1 Prologue: Strange Child

Perhaps it was the day after I was born when I began to be aware of things like my thoughts and surroundings.  The identity of my parents was nothing new, and everyone's way of speech was easy to interpret.  In the beginning, I thought this was a normal development, but I began to find it strange how I was continued to be treated like an animal incapable of cognitive thinking.

Then, I met a child who was supposedly my age; their thumb stuck in the depths of their mouth, stench seeping out of their bottoms, and drool dripping down from their chin.

"How disgusting," I thought.

I asked myself, "Have you no shame?"  I found the child to be bizarre, but I soon thought maybe it was the other way around.

"Why doesn't she cry?"  My mother would worry relentlessly.  I don't know.  Are my tears supposed to be wasted needlessly?

"Why won't you go to sleep?"  My father would often ask himself.  I don't know.  Why waste time on sleep when there are far more important things to do?

They would bring me to the pediatrician, and during the first visit, it was discovered that I was developing at an unusual rate.  Yet, they tell the same answers every visit.  "She's perfectly healthy."  Or "Not all children develop at the same rate. This is completely normal!"

After a few days of my existence, I was able to read.  Words were simple to understand as if it came to me naturally.  Though, my articulation was no better than that of an intoxicated man.

Soon after, came my speech.  I no longer babbled jumbled words, they were fluent and clear.  My parents were shocked the day they heard me speak.  Supposedly, a five-month-old child only babbles.  The eyes they had given me were unsettling—as if they had seen something that should not have existed.

I refrained from talking since that day.

And then, came my legs.  My muscles had developed to a point where I was able to stand on both feet and walk without stumbling.  This, however, was hidden away from my parents; I had an intuitive conviction it would raise suspicion of my genuity as a human.

Years passed, and I became of age to enter this place they called preschool.  At the start, I found it convenient that there were many kids who were able to speak properly.  They were still quite illiterate and incoherent, but it was encouraging to know that I would, once again, be able to speak freely without inciting any reaction from my parents.  However, when it came to lessons we were taught, I was insulted by their simplicity.  It became very clear to me; kids were very ignorant and dull, and that was normal.  I was not normal.

Following my epiphany, I became more wary of my peculiarity.  I was able to retain anything I encountered, making school a very easy task.  Other languages were easy to understand, and physical activities were effortless due to my athletic physique.  What stood out to me the most was the hologram—the blue screen.

An odd rectangular screen began appearing in front of me at random times since I gained awareness.  At first, I thought it was just a hologram—yet, there was no source as to where it came from.  I always assumed it was normal for kids to imagine things, but I had a suspicion that was not the case.

Growing up, it became simple to display it at will, as well as the screens of the people around me.  On it, was detailed information one would see in a game—things that could brand a person loathsome for knowing.  At an age where I no longer questioned my own intellect, when the screens did not disappear, I felt more distant toward others.  I eventually succumbed to the conclusion that there was something wrong with me.

At the age of 5, I discovered something about the blue screen.  I learned that I could store objects inside it by simply tapping it on the screen.  It became clear that the hologram was not in my imagination, and was very much real.  Since that discovery, I started exploring and unraveling what it could do.  Then, that was when I discovered it.

The root of my abnormality.

『DIVINE JUDGEMENT』A divine blessing given by the goddess, Cersys. You process information 10,000 times faster than an average human.  Are you still sane?

Yet, that was not the most perplexing portion of the screen.

『CERSYS' VEIL』(Effect: 99.94%): You have been cursed.  You have no memories of who you are or who you were.  You can learn anything, yet know nothing, but a grain of the truth. Just what hides behind the Goddess' veil?

At that time, I thought I was no longer sane—thought that my mind had fabricated the truth—and that perhaps, I needed help.

My parents were reluctant to refer me to a psychotherapist, but with time, they succumbed.  I was at the age of 6 when I saw one.  I had about a month worth of sessions before my parents pulled me out because of the judgmental eyes of our relatives, and the fact that the therapist was not producing any useful results.  They had diagnosed me with schizophrenia, but I knew better.

Often times, I wondered who was the therapist during my sessions.  I felt as though I was more observant than I was observed.  Still, no progress was made, and my actions only further damaged my relationships with the people around me—not that there were many.  However, the psychotherapist had taught me a lot of things, more importantly, the behavior of my parents.

It became conspicuous that to them, the purpose of my existence was to secure their fragile relationship.  On the contrary, my existence was like a bar of chocolate to an ill bitch.  Arguments became frequent, the front door suffered more lashes than last, and the neighbors easily became exasperated due to their constant quarrels.  Because I failed to be the hinge of their marriage, they diverted themselves to a different solution, which had lead to the making of my brother.

Fortunately, after fitting myself into a role what people would call normal, the attention on me was diverted to another strange occurrence.  About several years ago, the child of a politician had disappeared. It wouldn't be strange if it were only that simple, but they had suddenly disappeared from the eyes of several people and cameras as he was delivering a speech. Some say it was the work of a criminal, while some say it was the pressure of being under the spotlight. Nonetheless, with the attention no longer on me, I was able to make friends and start relationships.

_________

"Nevaeh, who're you taking to Senior Prom?"  I was asked.

"I'm not too sure, honestly.  Paris wanted me to go with her, but I just want to stay home."

"Dude, you two rarely go on dates.  Are you sure you guys are dating?"

"Yes, Benny." A sigh slipped through my lips, and nonchalantly, I asked,  "If you care so much about it, why don't you take her out on a date instead?"

Benny perked up, but immediately put on a grim expression as though to hide his eagerness, suspecting my words to be some kind of farce. "Come on, be serious."

"Quite honestly, I think you have more things in common with her than I do, and it seems like you both have good chemistry together," I shrugged, not caring much of it.  Then again, I never cared much for anything. Besides, Paris was a girl who was interested in guys unafraid of displaying affection. "If you ask her out, I'm very sure she'll break it off with me."

"And you're really fine with that?" He showed concern.

"Yes, why shouldn't I?  I hardly know the girl."

He looked at me grimly.  "If you don't really care about her, why did you even date her to begin with?"

Ah, no. I knew where this conversation would soon lead to—a lecture on taking relationships with conviction as though they held the highest priority. It was a lecture I'd rather avoid, if possible.

"Don't misunderstand.  It isn't that I don't care for her, I simply don't know her well enough to care."

"You can be such a dick sometimes, you know."

"I suppose it would seem so."

There was an awkward silence I refrained from acknowledging.  "It's because she stopped dyeing her hair, isn't it?"  When I didn't say anything in return, he shook his head as if disappointed in my actions.  "Why do you care so much about the color of her hair?  Don't think I haven't noticed how you have a thing for platinum blondes.  You even dated that woman who was a decade above you because of the color of her hair."

He wasn't wrong.  I had this weird infatuation with girls possessing platinum blonde hair.  I didn't know the origin of this fixation of mine until the night I had that dream—a wet dream some would say.  There was this woman, writhing beneath me, free from any clothings.  With her bosoms erect, strands of her lustrous silver hair were trapped between her lips as sighs passed through them. I noticed her eyes—colored with blue and purplish hue.  They stared at me, yet they could not see me as she was submerged in the blissful sensation of ecstasy. She was, in two words, breathtakingly beautiful.  However, thus far, I have not once met this woman, yet her presence brought me a sense of familiarity—something I had craved to a fault in this life that felt so alien to me.  She had made me felt a lot of things that seemed like I've felt before long ago.  The realism was uncanny, and when I had to awaken from the dream, I fell back into a state of numbness. Yet, I could not cease myself from weeping as though lamenting over a significant other.

Despite the numb, the craving I held for this woman intensified, and nothing that I did seemed to relieve it.  It was an itch that couldn't be scratched.

"She was measly 15 years above me.  I don't understand how you find it unacceptable."

"15 years!  She was more than a decade older than you!  She was clearly a pedophile!  And you know what's even worse?  Your relationship with her lasted more than the other girls you've dated!"

"Benny, it lasted for 2 weeks.  It isn't a number to lose sleep over.  To add on, to be fair, everyone my age feels like they're 15 years younger than me." I glanced at the stares we were attracting in the library.  "May we move on to a different topic, please?"

He huffed before pinching the bridge of his nose. "How you're not seeing what's the issue here is not normal, Nevaeh.  But fine, let's move on then."

He changed the topic to another gossip, but despite all the words that came from his lips, my mind focused on one word that he previously said: normal.

There was it again, that word.  Despite all the efforts I placed into perfecting the role of a normal teenage girl—well, somewhat—it appeared as though it's never enough for people.  Someone will always find a way or reason to point out your flaws.  It was a lesson I learned not too long ago, and lately, I have been deciding to simply care no longer.  Shockingly, even for someone like me, caring was an exhausting task and a burden that I no longer cared to uphold.

As Benny continued his rantings, the bell rung and we were to go to our classes.  So, we went our separate ways.

___________

After school, I went home and laid on my bed, paying no mind to the others living in the house.  A part of me hoped that sleeping would lead me back into the dream I had continued to become captivated by as though bewitched, but the other half knew that would never happen.  After all, the woman never had a second appearance in my sleep no matter how much I longed for another encounter.  So, I gave up on my foolish expedition.

Sounds of laughter resonated from the floor below me, and I decided to tune them out.  I had thought of going downstairs and associate with my family, but it would only bring awkwardness, and thus, be an unnecessary act.

I found myself staring at the painting on the wall. It was a painting of the woman—the woman who possessed those spectacular eyes colored like a planetary nebula, and locks of silver hair. I could remember every characteristics of hers from that single encounter that if I could paint a thousand portraits and the woman, herself, were to see them, she would find no fault on my delineation of her.

Lately, I have been doing nothing, but stare at this sacred painting in this isolated room. I have always valued time as something priceless, but this woman has proven to be worth more than the seconds in a day. She had taken such a vast amount of my attention that I had given her a name, "Iris." A foolish notion I had at the time, but stuck like glue.

Certainly, she was something to me, but what it was is something I could never figure out. Was she someone I knew from the past? I doubt it. My ability to remember everything I encounter has never failed me to recall anything. Perhaps, she was someone of my past-life? Ridiculous. I was never one to affiliate with a religious belief such as reincarnation.

Then again, how could those titles on my screen be explained? The titles that were claimed to have come from the goddess herself.

I turned away from the painting, knowing it would only lead to an inevitable yearning desire that would drive me into the corner of madness.

Eventually, I noticed the book I retrieved from the library. It was a book about artificial intelligence—something I had resorted to calm my fixation. In fact, with my abilities, this was among the impossibilities that I could make feasible. In fact, if the woman herself refuses to manifest in my dreams, why shouldn't I make her appear before me?

That was it! That was the solution to end this mania.

I looked back at the painting on my wall as I felt the corners of my lips turn upward. It was a brief feeling, but an astonishing feat as it was rare of me to feel the sensation of excitement in this desensitized body.

It was at that point I found myself feeding my obsession over this mysterious woman. However, I refused to let this matter go. It held too much significance to surrender.

"That's right. Since you refuse to appear in my dreams, I'll just make you appear before me."