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The Cocoon Called Conscience
by Isaiah Basye
For Sale
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13:34 Fables
Part I

Phillip stood in a long row barely listening to the instructor carry on about the basics of having a Guidence. Everyone knew what to expect by the time they reached eighteen, and Phillip had been preparing himself for this moment for the past six years. He didn’t really think it necessary to spend all of this time at a Guidence training facility, but the nation had become stricter on procedures since the last outbreak of improper Guidence behavior.

“As you may know your Guidence will instruct you on adulthood for the rest of your life. That is why it is so important to make sure you watch its influences carefully,” the instructor said. Her Guidence followed her every move as she paced back and forth before the trainees. The head instructor’s Guidence had bright green eyes, the brighter the eyes the more pure the Guidence’s thoughts. Other than that it had the normal Guidence appearance. It was pale white and bald from head to toe. It had abnormally long arms and fingers but stubby feet and toes. Just like all Guidences, it didn’t have a mouth, because every Guidence speaks through telepathy with their owner. Below its eyes were two slits that pulsed with each breath. The instructor’s Guidence wore the typical Guidence jumpsuit that grows and forms as the Guidence becomes more mature.

The instructor continued, “These next few moments in the system are the most crucial.”

Phillip’s sister had already been through the system. She spent the last months watching her cocoon and being very precise about whatever went inside it. The month following your eighteenth birthday truly is the most important. It’s the hours in which your Guidence begins to form its psyche and develops right from wrong.

“I have seen it happen,” the instructor warned. “Young men and women who didn’t pay attention to what went into their cocoon, and they paid the consequences. They are in jail or dead because of the bad choices derived from their Guidence.”

Phillip rolled his eyes. He knew all about the Influencers who kept watch during these last months of a cocoon’s growth. Influencers were paid big bucks to try and convince the teens to let them have moments alone with their Guidence. They often gave the young man or woman some kind of perk with their company or even transferred credits straight into their account. Phillip figured these people didn’t really mean any harm. The instructors always frowned upon it but even they were taking bribes to let the Influencers in the facility. If the cocoon had enough motivation from an Influencer to like a certain product then the Guidence would always lean toward their human purchasing it in their later life. As far as Phillip was concerned this was a win for everyone, and he looked forward to the benefits he might receive.

After the instructor finished going through the basics, the students were allowed to visit their cocoons. Phillip stood outside the hatched door.

“Greetings Phillip,” the security system said. “What is the password?”

“Deliver me from evil,” Phillip replied.

“Correct,” the security system clicked. The hatch swung open. “Your cocoon is low on nutrients. I recommend you feed it two syringes of donepezil.”

Phillip walked up to his cocoon. In the past couple of months it had doubled in size. It was beginning to bulge in different places and ever so often Phillip could see a face stretch through the rubbery like shell. There was also a larger layer of mucus forming around the cocoon. It hung gently from the ceiling by this strong mucus layer but it now clung to the floor for extra support. Phillip took two syringes and stuck them into his cocoon. His Guidence squirmed inside as an instructor came by, making her daily rounds.

“Phillip Grossler?” she asked in a serious tone.

“Yes,” Phillip responded curtly.

“Our records show that you have kept up on the proper feeding of your Guidence but…” the instructor said.

“But what,” Phillip interrupted without making eye contact.

“We see that you don’t make any attempts to make contact with your Guidence,” she continued. “These are crucial moments in its life. It needs to connect with you. It needs to bond. If your Guidence doesn’t get proper influence from you it will get it from somewhere else. You need to feed it the proper nutrients, yes, but you also need to feed it the right psychological ingredients. It needs love, affection, and companionship. What goes into your Guidence is what will come out.”

“I know. I know,” Phillip said annoyed. “It just freaks me out sometimes.”

“Well, remember that in about a month that cocoon will hatch and whatever comes out will guide your every thought for the rest of your life,” the instructor turned and left Phillip’s vault.

The Guidence inside moved and Phillip could see a hand push toward him. This scared Phillip, but he heard this was common in the last months. He placed his hand to match the Guidence’s and managed a smile.

“Soon you will be free, and we will go on so many adventures together,” Phillip said. “I’m so ready to get out of this town and move to a Hub. That’s where all the action is.”

Just then he heard a voice speak within his mind in agreement. Startled, Phillip pulled his hand away as a mucus layer stuck to him.

“Gross,” Phillip said wiping his hand on his pants.

Phillip’s encounter with his Guidence didn’t motivate him to interact with it any further. Phillip retreated to his room adjacent his cocoon vault and lay on his thin twin mattress to read the latest adventure of his favorite comic book hero. Phillip was allowed these hours of time between lessons with the expectation that he would spend time with his Guidence.

“The stories in this book are impractical,” Phillip jumped as he heard a voice in his head.

He began to calm as he understood the source, “When did you start doing this?” he asked.

“When you finally made contact with me,” the voice replied.

“Well, sometimes we read impractical stories to entertain us,” Phillip explained. “I don’t actually believe someone can fly.”

“Oh,” his Guidence replied. “I believe someone is at the door, master.”

Just then, a soft knock came from Phillip’s half of the vault. He shut the door leading to his cocoon and locked it for safekeeping.

“Who would be coming to see me at this hour,” Phillip thought.

“I don’t think they are from the facility. Use caution,” his Guidence replied.

Phillip opened the hatch, just enough to peek through.

“My name is Vernon T. Rosembee,” the chubby man said tipping his hat. “I hear you’re looking for an opportunity to make a little bit of profit on the side.”

Phillip noticed the man’s nametag. He was an influencer from MegaDue, a prominent industry throughout the capital. MegaDue was a well-known influencer and most trainees took their offer. This was due to the fact that, in one’s lifetime, a majority of commerce was done through MegaDue.

Phillip smiled, “Word must get around but don’t think I will just pick any deal that comes my way. If it’s not good enough, you’re wasting your time.”

“Oh it’s good enough,” Vernon said pulling on his suspenders. Vernon’s Guidence climbed up his pant leg and clung to his back. Phillip could only see its long fingers gripping his shoulders. His Guidences eyes were a not as bright as the others he had seen but this didn’t bother Phillip. “I’ve got an offer of a special bargain this year but it comes at a price.” Vernon shook his chubby finger in the air.

“Let’s hear it,” Phillip said trying to not look too interested.

“I can offer you 20% off all merchandise at MegaDue for the entire span of your lifetime,” Vernon said with a wink.

“Are you serious?” Phillip asked.

“Yep,” Vernon said. “Our competitors have been trying to shut us down, but we’re playing for keeps, young man.”

“What’s the catch,” Phillip retorted.

“Well that is the heart of the matter isn’t it,” Vernon’s tone changed. Phillip’s Guidence gripped tighter around his shoulders. “A hefty price like that shouldn’t just get a measly thirty minutes of time with your Guidence. I think an hour sounds like a more reasonable deal.”

“Forty-five minutes,” Phillip said.

Vernon frowned. He wasn’t used to trainees bartering with a representative for MegaDue, especially when 20% was on the table. But Vernon had to make his quota.

“Alright,” he agreed. “Forty-five minutes. It will be a quality forty-five. I don’t want any interruptions.”

“Give me a second,” Phillip said shutting the hatch.

“What do you think?” Phillip asked in his head.

“MegaDue is a respectable business. Reading your predetermined thought I don’t know how I feel about the monopoly they are creating, but I’m sure this opinion will develop once I’m a more familiar with the outside world,” Phillip’s Guidence thought. “I am going to say the discount is worth it. We will, more than likely, spend much of our income at this company.”

Phillip opened the hatch, “Come on in.”

Vernon took Phillip’s arm while pulling out a chip scanner. He placed it over Phillip’s wrist and pulled the trigger. A wide laser light appeared as Vernon scanned the chip implanted in Phillip’s skin. It beeped and the face flashed 20% off. Vernon threw the scanner back in his bag and followed Phillip through the door that separated him from his cocoon. Once inside, Vernon began to examine the cocoon. He placed his hand on its skin. Phillip’s Guidence stirred.

“Alright,” Vernon said wiping his hand with a hanky. “I said quality time.”

Phillip went into the other room and left Vernon to his work.

“I’m starting the clock,” Phillip yelled from behind the hatch.

Phillip looked up at the clock to determine when Vernon would be done. He then dragged a metallic chair from his computer desk to the small hatch window. He watched with interest while Vernon opened his old leather bag and began to pull out a variety of devices. The first item was a long cord with a needle on the opposite side. He plugged the cord into a helmet. Then Vernon took the needle and shoved it into the cocoon. Phillip’s Guidence stirred inside and moved to the opposite side of the cocoon, away from the needle. Vernon smirked as his Guidence put the helmet on Vernon’s head. The black helmet covered the entire head and had a small television screen on the front. Vernon’s Guidence pulled out a small foldable stool from his bag and directed Vernon to sit upon it. Then his Guidence flipped the switch on the helmet. Phillip moved closer to the hatch window as he watched his Guidence squirm more and more. Commercial after commercial played upon the screen from Vernon’s helmet. These scenes were implanted in Vernon’s mind and were being uploaded into the cocoon.

Phillip got bored watching and continued to read his comic. He periodically checked the clock as time wound down. Vernon’s session was almost complete when Phillip heard a loud knock come from the hatch. Vernon was mumbling angrily under his breath as he knocked again, even louder. Phillip jumped from his mattress.

“Give me your arm!” Vernon ordered.

Phillip put his arm behind his back only to get it jerked to the open by Vernon’s Guidence. Phillip struggled but soon gave up fighting.

“What’s wrong?” Phillip asked. “You got what you came for.”

“Your Guidence is what’s wrong,” Vernon shouted. “I had ten minutes left, and your Guidence wouldn’t stop shoving the needle out of the cocoon. I’m a representative from MegaDue, boy. Do you know what that means? I don’t have to put up with this nonsense.”

“Thirty minutes is probably all it can stand,” Phillip said still trying to pull his arm back.

“A deals a deal,” Vernon pulled out his scanner, and the same laser scanned Phillip’s chip. Then the screen upon the scanner read 5%.

“But there was only ten minutes left!” Phillip argued.

“You’re lucky I let you have anything at all. What nerve! To push out a respectable influencer’s needle is uncalled for!” Vernon stormed out of Phillip’s hatch and slammed it shut.

Now standing before his cocoon, Phillip thought, “What was that all about?”

“I didn’t like it,” his Guidence responded. “The constant images flashing in my mind. It was poison. Can we limit the amount of time?”

“Alright,” Phillip replied, “nothing over thirty.”

“Yes,” his Guidence agreed.

Phillip locked the hatch tight and returned to his evening lessons. He doodled in his notebook while the instructor droned on about proper Guidence grooming, and he heard the occasional whisper of fellow classmates. Most were discussing what they had received from the influencers. Phillip felt a bit jealous when he saw the new communicator that Elick, the typical pretentious rich kid, was showing off. Some of the other students had even found opportunities to use their discounts online.

When the evening lesson was over Elick and his groupies gathered around Phillip’s desk.

“What about you, Grossler?” Elik said to Phillip. “That is your last name right, Grossler?” The young man snickered to himself. The others did the same.

“What do you want?” Phillip replied, lowering his head.

“Did you meet the MegaDue rep? He came to my vault right after yours. Check out what he gave me? He must know my father. They don’t usually give these away.” Elik smiled and elbowed another boy. He flashed the new communicator and quickly put it back in his jumpsuit. “Anyway, he didn’t seem very happy when he came in my vault. Of course I cheered him up after I let him go with my Guidence for an hour. He said this would help him “make up for lost time”. What did he mean by that, Grossler? Do you have a weak Guidence? Could it not handle a measly hour?”

The boys around Phillip all began to laugh. Phillip’s face turned red as he pushed through. In his anger, Phillip retreated to his vault and slammed the hatch behind him. His pillow soon became a punching bag as he let out some inward aggression.

“What’s wrong?” his Guidence asked.

“Nothing,” Phillip replied. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I can easily scan your brain and find out what’s troubling you,” it said.

“I don’t want you to,” Phillip yelled out loud. “I don’t give you permission. Would you just not talk to me for the rest of the night?”

“I will allow you the night to come to reason,” his Guidence said.

It didn’t take long for Phillip to fall asleep. He had even forgotten to turn the lights out. Phillip was a hard sleeper but anyone would have awoken to the loud knock that came from his door. Apprehensive, Phillip sat up and listened again, wondering if it was part of a strange dream. There was another knock.

“Probably Elik here to torture me again,” Phillip whispered.

He jumped as a dark figure poked its head in the small hatch window. Phillip knew whoever it was couldn’t see inside, so he watched curiously as the hooded man scanned the bedroom. It was way too late for influencers.

“Kid?” the hooded man said. “I heard about your problem today. I’m here to help. I tried to get in earlier, but the guards were being jerks. They wouldn’t let me in without some form of payment, but I’m not going to stoop to their level.”

Phillip stood up. He opened a small crack. The man had a familiar leather bag, but he was wearing a long black coat. As he took his hood down Phillip noticed his rough exterior. His left eye was glazed over and hollow. He had long grey hair and a bushy unkempt beard.

“How can you help?” Phillip asked.

“One of the kids said your Guidence isn’t taking to influencers. They told me you might be interested in toughening it up,” he said.

“I think I’ll be okay,” Phillip was about to shut the door when the man put his hand in the way.

“Listen,” he huffed. “Do you want a weak Guidence for the rest of your life? I’ll help. The best part is I’ll even pay you for it. You can make up for what you lost today.”

The old man pulled a scanner out of his bag and showed Phillip the image that was flashing on the screen. Phillip looked at the man in disbelief.

“Most influencers don’t even pay half this amount,” he smiled at Phillip’s reaction.” Twenty thousand credits will keep you a happy man for a long time.”

“What’s in it for you?” Phillip said. He kept staring at the number twenty thousand that flashed.

“I’m working for an experimental company,” he replied. “Your instructors work for our competitors, another reason they wouldn’t let me in. We work in Guidence reconstruction. We process the Guidence and enhance them. Notice that my Guidence isn’t even here.”

The old man made reference to the lack of Guidence around him. Phillip had wondered where his Guidence was and this perked his interest.

“My Guidence is so strong he can communicate with me all the way from our facility,” the man said.

Phillip opened the door wider, “Come in.”

The man walked through the hatch and pulled out his scanner. Phillip watched with excitement as he scanned his wrist. What will those jerks think of this? He thought. The scanner flashed twenty thousand credits one final time and disappeared as the money went directly into Phillip’s account.

“Alright,” the man said. “Show me the way.”

Phillip led him to his cocoon. The old man began to move his palms across the sticky exterior. He didn’t seem to mind the mucus that covered his hands. He closed his eyes as he concentrated.

“She is lovely,” he said.

“She?” Phillip asked.

“Yes. It’s a girl,” the old man replied. “I have an ability to tell the gender of a Guidence. Most don’t even know theirs. Yours is a girl. She is asleep, another reason I like to work at night. I don’t want to bother her. Now if you don’t mind I won’t be long. You can go back to sleep, and I’ll make my way out. By the morning, you will have a fully matured Guidence. She will be strong willed with the best enhancements. Just remember who helped you out when people ask. You’ll be one of the first to experience the future of Guidence enhancement.”

Phillip was excited. He would be like one of the heroes in his story with this new Guidence. She could read others’ minds, and her new strength could help him in hard times. He could impress others with the long-range telepathy. Phillip couldn’t wait until the morning.

Phillip slept while the old man worked. He pulled out the same type of cord as the man before, but the needle on the end was different. It was surrounded with a claw, made to get a tight grip on the cocoon. This would prevent the Guidence from rejecting the enhancements. He plugged the cord into a helmet and placed it on his head. When he turned the helmet on Phillip’s Guidence began to stir. If Phillip were awake he would have heard the telepathic screams coming from his companion. He would have seen the images being displayed from the old man’s thoughts on the television screen. They were images of destruction, chaos, and pain. Most of all, he would have seen his Guidence doing everything it could to resist the needle but failing.

Part II

Phillip woke up and checked on his Guidence, excited about the changes. At first she didn’t move. She was usually very rambunctious in the morning but not today. Phillip could tell she was awake, but she just meditated. Her features had grown and bulged in the cocoon.

“Good morning,” Phillip thought.

“It will be once you feed me,” she said with more confidence.

“Alright,” Phillip said smiling. He injected her cocoon with two syringes. “Just a couple more weeks and you’ll be free.”

“I have a name,” she replied.

“What?” Phillip questioned. “Do all Guidences have names?”

“No, but I thought of mine last night,” she said. “I would like to be called Abaddon.”

“Alright,” Phillip said. “That will take some getting used to.”

“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for class?” Abaddon barked.

“Oh yea,” Phillip stammered.

Phillip spent the lesson as he always did. He opened his notebook to the last remaining empty pages and began to draw pictures of him as a super hero with the aid of his new Guidence. When class had finished his doodles caught the eye of Elik. He gathered his friends behind Phillip, laughing at his artwork.

“Your Guidence is no super hero,” Elik snapped. “More like a super zero.”

The other classmates laughed.

“You’re wrong,” Phillip’s blood began to boil. He stood from his desk. “My Guidence is better than yours, it’s better than all of yours.” He motioned to the class.

Elik moved dangerously close to Phillip’s face. Elik tried to intimidate Phillip, hoping he would back down. Phillip did the opposite. He spoke to his Guidence from across the facility.

“I really hate this guy,” Phillip thought.

“I can handle him. As you have said, I’m better now,” Abaddon replied.

Elik’s face went from intimidation to fear. He stepped back and began to put his hands on his temples. Elik screamed with pain as he fell to his knees. The other classmates tried to help him, but he pushed them away. The teacher ran to his communicator and called for assistance. Phillip was proud at first but this soon turned to concern.

“Alright,” Phillip thought, “that’s enough.”

“He has not learned his lesson yet,” Abaddon said. “He still believes himself better.”

“Grossler, cut it out!” Elik exclaimed.

“I’m not doing it,” Phillip responded. His classmates began to move away from him.

“Please stop, Abaddon,” Phillip pleaded.

“As you wish,” she thought.

Elik took his hands away from his temples and fell to the floor. He panted and looked at Phillip with horror. His classmates did the same.

“You’re a freak,” Elik said.

“I didn’t do it,” Phillip left class distraught once again.

When Phillip returned to his vault he glared at his cocoon. His Guidence had grown more while he was out, and the cocoon was beginning to crack. Phillip was certain this wasn’t normal.

“Why did you do that?” Phillip asked.

“You wanted it,” Abaddon said. “I could tell. It was in your deepest desires. Were you not satisfied?”

“No, everyone thinks I’m a freak,” Phillip replied.

“They are only jealous,” Abaddon retorted.

“Maybe we should change you back,” Phillip thought. “The old you wouldn’t do this.”

The Guidence began to move, more of the cocoon cracked. Then the face of Abaddon appeared through the stretchy membrane. Her face was larger and different. Phillip noticed a divide form between her nose and chin, a mouth.

“You see,” Abaddon said. “I am better. I can talk, and I can do much more.”

Phillip ran from his vault, but the door slammed shut in front of him. He tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge.

“I am also telekinetic,” Abaddon said laughing.

The door opened, and Phillip ran out. He did his best to not generate any thoughts as he got away. Phillip rushed into the instructors’ lounge. The instructors were all watching a holographic television that sat above their meal distributors. Whatever was playing had their full and undivided attention. That’s when Phillip noticed the picture of the distraught old man the news anchor was talking about. It was the man who made a visit to his vault and changed his Guidence. The reporter wasn’t covering good news.

“Any information leading to the capture of this man, Flint Cipher, should be disclosed to the police immediately,” the anchor stated. “I repeat, approach him with caution. Flint Cipher is a well known supporter of Guidence rights. In his attempts to free Guidences everywhere Flint Cipher has created a toxin with the ability to make ones Guidence have independent thoughts and the ability to speak. Reports have also indicated the Guidences who receive the toxin have formed superior abilities. Flint has sent a public warning. The next step for the superior Guidences is to kill their owners. Then the separation is complete. There have already been ten casualties in Flint’s attempt…”

Phillip was speechless. He stood frozen. One instructor noticed his odd behavior and began to get the attention of the other instructors in the lounge.

“Phillip,” the head instructor asked, “is everything okay?”

“I think I made a big mistake,” he stammered. “That man came to my room last night and now my Guidence is acting odd.”

Just then Phillip’s head began to pound. He pushed on his temples hoping this would stop the pain. Screaming with agony, Phillip fell to the ground. His brain was quaking, on the verge of an aneurism. The head instructor rushed to the medical cabinet found on the opposite end of the room and recovered a metal helmet that she placed on Phillip’s head. Instantly the pain stopped. Phillip panted, blood dripped from his nose.

“Thank you,” Phillip said.

“It’s made of aluminum. It blocks telepathic thought. We use it when a trainees Guidence goes bad and needs some positive influence before it can make contact again,” the head instructor explained.

“So what are we going to do about his Guidence?” another instructor asked. “I’m pretty sure the news just said it wants to kill.”

“Tell us what you know,” the head instructor said helping Phillip up.

“I know that she came up with a name last night,” Phillip stopped from the expressions this statement caused around the room. “That’s not the worst thing. She has formed a mouth, and this morning she tried to kill Elik.”

“I don’t think we should waste time,” the head instructor stated. “We should handle this while it’s still in the cocoon stage.”

“I think she is about to hatch,” Phillip replied. “What do we do?”

“We can’t do anything. You have to do it,” the head instructor said. “If we kill it we risk damaging your mind from the abrupt disconnection. If you do it then your mind can better cope with the change.”

“So I won’t have a Guidence?” Phillip asked.

“We can talk about that later,” the instructor replied. “For now you have to kill it, stop it immediately. It’s the only way. When students aren’t careful about what goes in and Guidences get really bad, we just start over.”

The other instructors strapped the same metal helmets on. They also armed themselves with sonic-wave pistols, the most effective way to stop a Guidence. Last the head instructor pulled out a small case from the medical cabinet. Skull and crossbones displayed the lethal potency of what lay inside. She unlocked the case with a small key and held the small syringe in her hand carefully, the orange liquid inside made Phillip’s stomach churn. She opened Phillip’s palm and handed it to him. Phillip was relieved to see a small cap over the point.

“When you get the chance just stab this into your Guidence and inject the poison. It will do the rest,” the instructor said.

The instructors followed Phillip to his vault. Beads of sweat began to run down Phillip’s forehead and into his eyes. The closer they got to his vault the harder his heart beat. He stood outside the hatch, answered the security question, and gripped the syringe tighter. The hatch flew open as outside light flooded the now darkened room. Phillip breathed heavily. The cocoon was cracked completely open and lay in a layer of mucus on the floor.

“I think she hatched,” Phillip whispered.

Phillip flipped the lights on but nothing happened. The instructors all turned on their wandlights and handed Phillip his own. They scanned the empty vault. Abaddon had left. Phillip shined the light in the small window to his half of the vault.

A face hit the small round window and a scream followed. Abaddon’s sharp teeth reflected Phillip’s light. Her mouth opened as wide as the window. Phillip stepped back to join the other instructors. Abaddon threw the twin mattress against the hatch and pinned the door.

“You can protect your minds, but Phillip forgot to reveal some important information,” Abaddon hissed from the other room. “I am telekinetic.”

Just then one of the instructors held his chest, screaming with pain. He tore open his shirt. His chest moved in and out at a frightful pace. The instructor fell against the wall.

“That witch,” he screamed, “is going to explode my heart.”

“Stop it!” Phillip yelled. “It’s me you want. Leave them alone!”

“Oh,” Abaddon sneered, “look whose brave now.”

Phillip hid the syringe in the inside pocket of his jumpsuit. The mattress tore away from the hatch that flew open. Phillip looked back at the other instructors who were now coming to the aid of their fellow worker.

“Phillip take this,” the head instructor handed him her sonic-wave pistol. “You’ll need it more than me.”

Phillip felt the cold metal against his skin. He gripped it tightly, hesitated a moment, closed his eyes, and stepped into the dark.

“Brave and stupid,” Abaddon hissed.

Phillip was pushed forward as the hatch slammed behind him. He shot the flashlight around the room, looking for his Guidence. His room was destroyed, and Abaddon was not in plain sight. Phillip heard a repetitive click, and he flashed the light to the ceiling. There, high in the corner, Abaddon sat watching Phillip’s every move. Abaddon laughed and revealed another surprise. Two large wings sprouted out from her back. Abaddon swooped down and ripped at Phillip’s head but some invisible force kept her from tearing into his flesh.

“I’m not yet to the point where I can physically hurt you, our bond is still strong,” Abaddon sneered, “but that will soon change.”

One of Phillip’s books flew through the air and struck him in the head. Then his metal chair knocked him to the ground. Phillip struggled to get up as object after object hit him. Abaddon laughed and soared in circles above him. Phillip, having enough, began to throw items back at her, and then, while Abaddon was stunned from the book that struck her temple, Phillip shot her with a blast from the sonic-wave pistol. Abaddon tried to block invisible noise. She shrieked, placing her hands over her pointy ears. The intense noise forced her to the ground. Phillip, still firing the sonic waves, walked toward her.

“I’m so sorry,” Phillip yelled. “I should have been more diligent. I shouldn’t have let him do this to you. I should have been more careful about what influenced you. This is my fault. I’m so sorry. I was so focused on the money...”

Phillip’s speech was interrupted as his sonic-wave pistol was telekinetically swiped form his hand. Then Abaddon rushed at him and gripped his throat in her long fingers.

“Once you attempt to harm me, it gives me permission to defend myself,” she smiled and flashed her pointy fangs. “I’m not sorry, Phillip. I’m stronger without you. Your greatest mistake has created a monster, boy. And now, sadly, I must kill you.”

Abaddon’s grip tightened as Phillip gasped for air. She lifted him off the ground, and his feet dangled and kicked. This only made Abaddon hackle at his misfortune.

“You’re wrong,” Phillip managed to get out. “And now… I’m…starting… over…”

Phillip reached into his jumpsuit and pulled out the syringe. With both hands he plunged it into Abaddon’s forehead. She shrieked with pain as he pushed the orange liquid in. Abaddon tore the syringe from her flesh but it was too late. The toxins began their work. Abaddon clawed in the air toward Phillip as her flesh began to wrinkle and decay. It melted to the floor, and the rest of her body imploded as a layer of suit filled the room.

It didn’t take long for Phillip to feel the disconnection. He became dizzy and stumbled into the room where his instructors were waiting. He fell to the floor and slowly slipped out of consciousness.

Part III

“Follow me to the medical lab students,” the head instructor said to the new batch of trainees. “I want to show you the best example I can of why you must watch what goes into your Guidence. When I open the door to his room you must not make sudden movements. He is on edge and a bit jumpy.”

The head instructor led the students to a hatch at the opposite end of the medical lab. She slowly opened the door to the single room vault. The walls were white and there was nothing in the room but a twin sized mattress. Sitting in the middle, on the floor, was a boy who mindlessly painted strokes of black paint on a blank canvas.

“Hello, Phillip,” the head instructor spoke softly. “You have some visitors.”

Phillip waved. His blank stare caused some students to gasp.

“You see, Phillip lost his Guidence because he wasn’t careful about what went into it. It was corrupt and needed to be killed. Now he has to start over. Don’t worry about Phillip. He learned a valuable lesson from all of this. You can’t mindlessly let anything in, or you too will become mindless. Students, you’ll be a mere shell of a man, a puppet.”

Phillip continued to paint as the instructor shut the door, left alone with his simple strokes of black on a blank canvas.

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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