((Interior. Windcliffe Psychiatric Hospital. Sub-Basement Level.))
Quentin Collins' eyes snapped open, instantly feeling their strain and dryness jabbing deep within his mind.
He tried to move, but found it difficult. He tried to stand, but found it nearly impossible. The smell of stale cloth and semi-sterile flooring immediately telegraphed where he was, however. A place that he thought he had left behind decades ago. Panic and raw emotion started to bubble through his chest and throat.
He pushed himself against the wall, which gave in a mocking, almost accusatory way thanks to the fresh padding of the cell. Yet another clue to where and when he was. But was he back in his own body again? He tried to bring his hands up to his eyes, which were starting to adjust to the dark, but again found that he couldn't. More panic started to rise.
oO Notagainnotagainnotagainnotagain Oo
As he struggled the straightjacket just tightened his grip on his torso. He slammed himself against the wall the moment he rediscovered his feet. He bounced listlessly back against the wall and clattered again to his backside, sobs slightly choking in his throat. He turned himself, sliding onto his knees and turning his wild eyes toward the doorway. Passing shafts of light finally illuminated the "home" that was his during that black summer. The summer his mother had him committed to Windcliffe. A memory he had yet to divulge to anyone aside from medical personnel (and only when they asked about it specifically).
She told him the day she left that it was for his own good. That she, herself, had sought the help of the Windcliffe doctors too when she was his age, all those years ago. It was another three months before he would see her, or his family again. At the time, he said it helped. At the time, he had said he appreciated his mother's concern. But, then and now, it just confirmed to him his darkest suspicions about his family. That he was insane and that they had known. Known since his birth that his mind was touched by something...unnatural. Fearful, even to the powerful and influential Professor Bouchard-Collins.
And so, they threw him away. Unable to look at his shameful form. And now he was back. And it just reconfirmed what Quentin had feared all his life.
That he was defective and that his proper place was here, with the rest of the cast outs.
But he had not come alone. The last time he had his eyes open, Maria's mind was still linked to his.
oO Oh, God, no...Oo
Was SHE here too? Trapped in some ziggurat of his own mind's making? A roar of frustration and rage boomed through his throat along with more struggling against the anachronistic and backward straight jacket. He had to get free. He had to find her. He had to tell her that this wasn't him. That he was better now.
Oo But are you? Are you REALLY, Midshipman? Oo
He lashed out violently with his boots, clamping them hard and fast against the exposed metal of the door in a stuttering CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! noise.
Suddenly, as his volleys intensified, the door swung open and he spilled into the hallway outside. To the leering face of Faraday...or Fallow, or whatever the hell he was calling himself now. He gazed down at him, as if he was looking at him from some kind of godly view-finder, fascinated with his plight and reddened face. He was dressed like a Windcliffe doctor...but that damn smiley face button still leered from his lapel.
He scrambled to his feet as Faraday's chortle thundered through the hallway.
Collins: I don't have time for you.
Strong hands violently grabbed him and hauled him around. Back to face that skull-like grin as he pulled him as close as a lover would.
Faraday: OH, NO?!
He pushed him hard and backward. He fell through the blackness once again and landed with a thump onto...fine sands.
((Exterior. Collinsport Harbour.))
Waves splashed and derisive laughter carried on the wind. He stood again, seeing that Faraday had also made the "journey", but his costume had changed. Now he was dressed like any old salt that sat down the Blue Whale; heavy waders, a floppy hat, and a thickset sweater but one that still housed that bloody button. Quentin's own "costume" had changed as well, freeing him from the restraints and depositing him once again into his uniform.
Quentin whirled his head around and realized again where he was. The first day he almost died. When the bullies had chased him to the dock and thrown him into the water, covered in a heavy fishing net. He watched himself splash and flail throughout the waters as the teenagers and Faraday laughed at him. His fear was now fully intermingled with rage. How was he even here? He wasn't even REAL (maybe). Were the Gentii so cruel and exacting that they were now conjuring full memories of his?
He sloshed slightly into the surf, heading to rescue himself. But something else was off...something....his hand again reached from the water. But it wasn't his hand...
IT WAS MARIA'S! She was in the net! He dove, recklessly into the water, darting himself as quickly as possible to the ropen net through the foam and brine. Just like his father taught him, he slipped his right arm through one of the slats in the rope and started to wind it across the right with his left. Trying to get it up and out of the water as quickly as possible. But as he threw it, bodily, onto the beach, Maria wasn't there anymore. He sloshed and splashed in no avail as the derisive laughter continued.
He turned back to his tormentors, eyes flashing.
Collins: Where. Is. SHE?!
Faraday: How should I know? This is YOUR darkness. We just followed you here.
Quentin had enough. He bounded from the water, aimed squarely at Faraday. He tried to tackle him to the ground, but wafted through him like so much smoke, landing hard again to the ground, which had changed again.
((Exterior. The Base of Widow's Hill.))
The crabgrass of his ancestral home greeted him once more as he, once again, rose. Faraday's costume had changed again. As had his face as he stood at the closed gates of Collins House.
No longer was he Faraday. Instead he was Hal Mika. Smiling a pallid, rictus grin framed by his ghoulish and dusty Teal uniform. Quentin could barely stand to look at him, but he didn't want to give him the satisfaction. His commbadge had been replaced with the smiley face.
Mika: Just like I did...
Collins: Stop it.
Mika: You still think about me, don't you?
Collins: I said, STOP it.
Mika: Think about how you hurt me. How you doomed me.
Collins: I SAID, STOP IT. ::he said, attempting and failing another physical contact with the being::
Mika: But I'm not all you think about, am I?
He shifted, warping his skin as if it was paint. The uniform stayed, but the color was different. Now it was Security yellow. And the leering face was Irina Pavlova's.
Pavlova: So many hurt for your dream. So many sacrificed once more by the will and words of a COLLINS.
Collins: You aren't real. THIS isn't real.
A heavy fist collided with his jaw, sending him and a few drops of his blood into the grass at their feet. The same hand clamped across his chin and hauled him up again to look into the eyes of his fallen mentor.
Pavlova: REAL ENOUGH for you, Q?
Collins: This...this isn't...
Faraday shifted again. Into the cruelest persona yet. The shining hair and deep set eyes of Kayla Drex.
Drex: Isn't what? FAIR? RIGHT?! Neither is getting your so-called friends KILLED.
A heavy boot crashed against his chest which then pinned him underneath.
Drex: But that's what you do, isn't it? You play the "good son", the stalwart officer, and they follow you. Some might even love you. The way you've craved all your life. But they don't know how TRULY broken your bloodline is, do they? How turbulent your mind. I wonder...would they still love you, still follow you if they knew the truth? Your curse touches them all. And you. Can't. Save. Them.
He struggled and fought, but the ghost's foot held firm, casting a wolfish grin through the face of his dearest friend.
But behind the gates...a SCREAM. Quentin found his strength again, throwing off the being and crashing through the gates toward his home. He didn't know if that was Maria's voice, but he had to try and find her. Had to save her. Had to save HIMSELF.
Even as the mocking laughter of his enemy flowed through the air around him.
Faraday: RUN, QUENTIN, RUN! GHAHAHAHAHAHAH RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
(The Psychic Imprint of)
QUENTIN COLLINS III
U.S.S. ARROW NCC-69829