Book One: The Innocent Heart

By Ben Douglas All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Fantasy

Innocence


Part 1.1 of 1.8: Dying Innocence

JANI!

A loud booming voice of James shook the house as he ran toward his fallen wife. His heavy steps reverberated among the wooden floor. The watchdog guarding sensed his distress and barked loudly. The man pulled the child from the arms of her mother without care for his own daughter. The not moving form of his own wife concerned him greatly. He caressed her gently as he whimpered through sobs, “Jani my love, wake up!”

Tapping his wrist, an inner light blipped on as he shouted into it, “James Techryn to Steed Medical. This is an emergency! My wife has fallen and quit breathing! Help her!”

Soon as his call ended, James tapped his wrist onto Jani’s own wrist and she vanished in a blinding light of the transport with a whining hum. Soon, after a brief silence, Ashlyn’s cries reached him. James instantly remembered that he had a daughter. Caressing Ashlyn into his arms, he picked her up very awkwardly. She was still crying in pain and James was lost unsure what to do with his own daughter.

The static of the communications hub near him crackled to life. The voice of a young man with a clean British accent spoke, “This is Doctor Walter Steed. We have your wife under watch and if you are ready, we will receive you in the emergency room.”

James held Ashlyn close and pressed on his wrist two times at the invisible button on the surface of his skin. They vanished in a blinding light and reappeared in a new room. They were in the hospital ten miles from his home. Looking around, James saw the empty emergency room. During transport, his daughter’s wailing ceased as she looked around the room with a curious expression. She cooed slightly looking with her wide opened dark eyes. Finally she turned to her father as James spoke into thin air in an empty room, “Hello? Is anyone here? Where’s my wife? Is she okay?”

Receiving no response, James snarled. He placed Ash down on the floor and walked a direction toward the empty reception desk. On the empty desk was a small button for the comm. system. He pressed the button harshly. A few minutes later, a man entered. The doctor in a white gown spoke with a clean British accent, “Mr. Techryn, we need to talk.”

“Of course,” James replied facing him.

“She,” the doctor began while carefully piecing his words together, “Jani’s medical condition was severe. There was nothing we could do. We tried to revive her, bring her oxygen to get her blood moving, but-” he exhaled with a pause before concluding, “I’m sorry, Mr. Techryn, but your wife has passed. She’s gone.”

“I don’t understand. She can’t be dead. What happened to her?” he began, trying to understand the doctor’s words. However, his doctor’s words were the same, “Mr. Techryn. Simply put. Your wife’s circulatory system completely shut down and her oxygen wasn’t going anywhere in her system. Her blood somehow became incompatible with her as it slowly turned darker, no longer red. It had streaks of dark blood mixed in. We don’t understand what happened, so my diagnosis is that she died of unnatural causes. Something happened to her while she was pregnant.”

James sighed with sadness shaking his head. His features grew grim and worrisome before asking again, “What, what should I do?”

The doctor looked at James with confusion. Placing his hand into his coat pocket, he spoke while pointing at his daughter, “Now, I fear what happened to your wife will happen to your daughter. If you will allow me to bring her back under observation, she will be cared for and she will be unharmed. If there is nothing harmful in her, we will bring her to you. However, if there is something that brings our attention, we will notify and we will do something about it.”

Placing his hand on James’s shoulder, Walter responded with resolution, “I will save your daughter, this I promise within my oath.”

James nodded once accepting his assurance while closing his eyes for a moment. The British doctor replied, “If you will wait here, I will send one of my nurses to help you prepare to take your wife home to be buried after you sign a form. It won’t take long, and I will keep you appraised about your daughter’s condition.”


Part 1.2 of 2.8: The Eyes of the Child

At that James sighed walking to the chair to sit down. The doctor approached the two month old newborn. Bending down, he gently picked her up. Ashlyn looked from over his shoulder to watch her father bury his head into his hands. He sobbed softly. She didn’t understand what was going on, or where her mother was or why he wasn’t doing anything for her. Stroking the back of the two month old, the doctor carried her out gently.

She, Ashlyn, could never know the path that will take her along to cross her father’s own forbidden path, and that she will suffer his wrath as she grew under his care.

The moment as he carried her out, a nurse entered. Walter responded, “Rhea, Mr. Techryn is waiting. After you get done, I want to see you.”

Rhea nodded walking towards James and spoke to Walter, “Of course, doctor.”


Five hours passed on the clock in the examination room. The curious two months old was still awake on the bed. Ashlyn was lying in an open casket like machine with white lights. She was surrounded by white sheets. Inside the machine, oxygen was circulating. The machine hummed and made soft beeping noises as her body was scanned. It was like an MRI as the inside of her body was being pictured. The display was outside the machine as the doctor scanned it. Walter studied her and took notes with the hopes for the best in mind, but his expression remained grim.

There was something wrong with the child. Her blood slowly changed color. It was becoming incompatible with her system while turning black. Her blood was supposed to stay a normal blood red. However, he noted the streaks of black blood cells being mixed in. Her entire genetic system was rejecting her body and Walter had to figure out how to keep her body from falling apart. Ashlyn became a permanent resident in his medical facility. She was dying and there was nothing he could do at the moment to save her. However, as a doctor, it was his job to keep her alive no matter what.

Ashlyn Sadi Techryn was innocent. She had done nothing to receive this illness that she inherited from her mother. However, it was done. There was no turning back. Both Steed and his nurse, Rhea, watched the results on the display and discussed it between them. With the grim news, Walter exhaled a long sigh. With a nod at Rhea, Walter took the results with him and walked out of the room. The nurse walked over to Ash and prepped the child picking her up from the deactivated machine.

Walter entered the emergency room and opened the door. James rose to listen as the doctor spoke with sadness, “James, your daughter is sick. Luckily we caught it early, so we will take this chance to help her. I would have to hold her a little longer. Just to be safe, it will be five months to a year before you could see your daughter again or perhaps more. I won’t give up, so she is at safe hands. Go home. I will keep you constantly updated with everything that will happen. Every little detail I feel that you should know I will share.”

James nodded slightly concerned for his daughter, “Thank you doctor.”

Doctor Steeds pressed the button on his desk and watched the large man vanished from his medical facility in a blinding light.


Part 1.3 of 3.8: Six years later

During the course of the procedure, Steed slaved caffeine nights to research medical documents throughout history in order to find that one thing that will help him keep Ashlyn in the world to explore her universe. Months changed to years as she was being cared by the nurses. Rhea and several others were teaching her to walk and use a few words. They even started her in a little preschool with the other little children. One day, he had an epiphany. It was something that Archimedes would do or say while in a bathtub only in a slightly different way.

It was 012451.261 TA after New Year’s Eve. Ashlyn was six years old and forty two inches tall as she looked up. Her doctor injected her with a dark red liquid from a hypo canister. He offered a smile, moved the lock of her dark hair from her dark eyes and spoke, “Ashlyn, you will be just fine. I will soon explain to your father what he must do to keep you alive, but he must be consistent. Don’t worry. At a moment’s notice, when or if you miss an injection, I or Rhea will make an immediate house call and give you one until you’re old enough to use it yourself.”

Looking back at him with her dark eyes, Ash stared. She did not understand what was going on. Steed offered his hand. Ash looked at his hand and accepted it. Her doctor took her to a check out room. Taking the stylus, Walter signed the discharge papers. Taking her hand, the doctor led her to the teleporter.

Handing her a small case, he crouched before her emotionless stare and spoke, “Give this case to your father. I know he loves you, and he will want you to live. You are his only family, but you know, if there is a problem and you need to talk to someone else, know that I am still there for you. I will respond to any problems that arises, so call me anytime and I will be there in a moment’s notice, even in the nighttime to scare away the monsters in your closet,” he finished and offered wink with a smile. Kissing her on the forehead, he pressed the button on the desk. Ashlyn vanished from the facility in a blinding light.

The little girl reappeared in his home in front of her seated father. She looked up at him, and he looked down with a cold, emotionless stare. He scowled at her with cold anger.

“Ashlyn,” he spoke harshly as she lifted the case in front of him. He grabbed it harshly. The doctor told him of what was going on with his daughter. It did not make him happy. His daughter was weak, and required daily injections in her frail body to stay alive. He had no idea how to raise children, as he hoped his wife would be the one to do all the work for him. Now he was trapped between the decision to either let her die, or just find a way to get her to be stronger. Opening the case, he looked through the contents and assessed how many were in there. Ash stared at him with her blank dark eyed gaze.

Uttering a low snarl at being stared at, he spoke, “Ashlyn, go to your room. I will deal with this at dinner, with the two of us, but for now, get out of my sight.”

Without speaking, Ash turned and left the room at his bidding. She wandered the house crossing the corridor passing each locked doors. Stopping at the end of the hall, only one door remained unlocked for her. It was to a rather big closet with a small window so she can look outside. It was clean with one single bed prepared for her. Her father left her nothing to begin with. It was just a poor, shoddy beginning of her long journey of growing up under his care. It just wasn’t expected for her to have a daisy filled room smelling like flowers and have a personal make-up section.

Walking across the big closet like room, Ash approached the window. It was far away from her height as she wasn’t big enough. Blowing a sigh, she plopped onto her bed to get some sleep. Soon, she slept and dreamed for a bit for several hours until it was dinnertime.


Part 1.4 of 4.8: First Word, Last Word

Ashlyn

A voice shouted in her sleep trying to wake her, but the girl was too tired. She moaned, shifted and heard the voice again, “Ashlyn!

“Mother,” Ash spoke once. It was followed by an angry tone of her father.

ASHLYN!

The large man stormed into the room. He grabbed Ashlyn and pulled her awake with a growl, “Do not speak her name!”

He smacked her across the face causing her to flinch. Scampering out of the room, she whimpered as he advanced her while taking large strides. Grabbing her harshly, he looked into her eyes and scowled with fury, “Mention her again, and I will beat you! Dinners ready! Go!”

He chased her out of the closet. Ash ran crying towards the table. James clenched his fist in anger and bashed the rod against the wall. The wall cracked. He stormed towards the table and took his seat across from his daughter. Ash whimpered avoiding his stare and tried not to cry. He placed the rod on the table so that she will see it and snarled, “I do not abide weakness, especially from you. Do not cry or feel pity. Take the pain and become stronger. You may not understand because you are only six, but after a while as I raise you, you will get stronger. Do not expect me to take care of you. Instead, rely on yourself and stay out of my way.”

He let go of the rod, picked his own utensils and began cutting into his steak. Pointing the knife toward her, the man spat, “Eat and become stronger. I make food three times a day on a regular basis on specific times, and I will no longer let you know when it’s time. You are expected to eat when I do, but if you are not and you eat at a time when I don’t,” finishing, he placed his hand on the rod.

Ash cringed turning her head away. Not caring about her, James picked the steak bite with his fork and ate the juicy rare cooked meat. Soon, fearing the rod, Ash picked her own utensils and ate the medium rare steak bits around her plate along with cooked veggies. Soon from the warmth of the food and cold of the drink, she was feeling better. As confused she was, she realized he didn’t want her to feel miserable or be a slave to him. It would take a while, but soon she would have to fend for herself in this harsh household. It was just his way of trying to raise his only daughter.

The food was good and it was his only way of making sure she doesn’t forget her appointment to eat with him. No other times. After eating for a bit, James calmed to a point where he took the case on the table along with several tablets. He got her attention with a calmer but cold tone of voice, “You start school tomorrow. Several weeks ago, I got a message from a principal in a school nearby. She already has you on the waiting list ever since your mother added you to it. I could only do so for her. I am no teacher, so they would do a better job than I. She also sent me a list of things to bring with when you go there. You are expected to attend. No questions asked.”

Part 1.5 of 5.8: School Stuff

Standing up, James cleared the table and left the room. Ash sat there in silence. Obeying her father in a stoic manner, she looked at her case and some tablets for school. During her stay in that medical facility, she was taught a few things from the nurses there about what she should expect. What she never expected was her own father to show love to her in his own way by doing things from his own perspective to treat her in a way that wasn’t very human of him. Then again, the things he does around her and the household doesn’t seem human.

Ash kept her eyes away from him as much as possible because his eyes had a tint of red in it that showed occasionally when he got angry. It was a constant reminder that he was very much different. The six year old stood. Gathering her things from the table, she carried it all back to her closet. It was also her shoddy, yet suspiciously clean room with one single bed and one single dimly lit window. It was now nighttime outside. She was tired. Bored with nothing else to do, she packed all her school stuff into her bag and just went to bed alone.


The following morning a lingering smell of warmth waved across Ashlyn’s nostrils waking her up. It was a good unknown smell. Not understanding what was going on, she got up and followed the smell groggily while in pain from her joints. A headache throbbed on her head and she was felt miserable in the morning. A yawn escaped from her as she followed the smell to a table already set up.

Her father had started eating. Looking at her, James spoke once in a cold, harsh tone, “You’re late.”

Ash bent her head down to avoid his cold glare and began eating her breakfast. The warmth of the food and the coldness of her drink calmed her down and made her feel better.

“You start school in an hour,” James began while watching her eat, “So you’d better get cleaned up. Attend to yourself and look nice for your teachers. Don’t want them to think of me as a bad father. In the bathroom, there are things I put there for you to use. Use only those. If I catch you using my things, or touching them, I will remind you. You’re done eating, so go, now. I want you out of this house,” he spoke harshly touching the rod on the table to remind her again.

In that moment, Ash left the table. Her food was left half eaten and unfinished. The little girl didn’t want to feel the rod again, so she hung a left along the corridor and entered the only door unlocked. It was the bathroom. On the counter, she noticed some of her things. It was a bit high for her, so she looked around for a way to get up there. From the blind spot out of the corner of her eye, she spied a single tall foot stool that had three steps on it.

Pulling the step stool close to the counter, she climbed up carefully. Looking at herself in the mirror, she let out a surprised light gasp. The little girl saw her face was bruised among her disheveled dark hair. Touching her bruise, she cringed in pain. It was swollen. Looking down on her towel, she saw a little medical device that she saw doctors use. It was made for her hand to fit. Picking it up, it activated and spoke in a goofy, mechanical voice, “Good morning campers! Its Sparky and its eight to the clock! Hope you ate well! Just be sure to brush your teeth! Don’t want monsters make your teeth grind away.”


Part 1.6 of 6.8: Sparky Says...

Curious, Ash picked it up to her face and looked into it. It emitted a single harmless bright light and flashed scanning her face. The goofy voice spoke, “Well, well, you’re hurt, little one! Say no more. Just press the button and hold it close to your face, let me do the work.”

Not expecting the voice on the device to recognize her, Ash applied it onto her face. It flashed a warm, throbbing light she let out a comforted sigh. The warmth came upon her face and eased her pain.

The medical device spoke, “Alright, just be sure to watch where you’re going! Less pain that way.”

Ash looked at the mirror and gaped in awe touching her renewed skin. It was clear. Remembering the words of her father, she jumped down to take a quick shower. Suddenly she groaned in pain and looked down at her left chest. It was bruised too.

Getting into the shower, it activated giving her warm water. Touching her bruised chest, an idea passed her mind. Pondering, Ash figured if she would wear her shirt over her bruise and go to the school all without her father knowing, the girl might have a chance to get someone to come over to take him away. After that quick shower, she dried herself, groaned in pain while dressing into her clean clothes and ran to her room to get the bag. It was light. There were only a few tablets for school. Picking her bag up, she walked along the hallway over to the door where her father was waiting by the car.

James grabbed her bag. Ash cringed in pain for one moment as he removed the bag. Tossing her bag into the car, he let out a sigh. Taking out another medical device from his pocket, he knelt down and lifted her shirt. Staring back at her with a scowl, he waved the device to repair her bruise and spoke coldly, “You were supposed to take care of that. What are you trying to do? Arouse suspicious? Get me in trouble? Where would I be without you in my life, but if I wasn’t there for you, then I would be somewhere where I will hunt you down and hurt you. We can’t have that.”

He stopped with the device. Inspecting her chest, he was satisfied placing her shirt back down and enforced his command, “Attend to yourself, don’t expect me to do everything for you. What you do, how you do it will impact where you are going in life. Get strong or get weak, I don’t care. Just don’t bring me into it, cause if you do, I won’t hold back.”

Placing the device into his pocket next to his rod, James pushed her towards the car harshly, “Get in, we’re late.”

Upon getting in, the car hummed to life as energy swirled around in the engine. No longer powered by gasoline, the car rolled forward out of the driveway. The Earth no longer offered her fuels. Instead, they discovered how to harness energy and made it easy to start their cars. It wasn’t entirely a hover car as you would expect. It still had four wheels, ignition, and a steering wheel. It caused fewer accidents that ways. They did try hover cars, but it caused more accidents and mortality rates.

Still, the cars could hover to drive across a rift on the earth or from one building to the next or even across the great expanse of the white sands; where the world oceans used to be before they vanished at the end of World War Three. Once the seas of the world encompassed Earth, now only the sandy and rocky bottom remained, the water of the oceans having vanished by that great cataclysm that defined the war. Still humanity prevailed as it always did, finding useful ways to use an error caused by themselves. Five lane highways now criss crossed the planet where the great Oceans once were, joining the continents. The water was still there in large pools and adjoining lakes and rivers. They still flowed to support the former salty ocean life. Only those that were fortunate enough to have man-made barriers protected them from the seas around the world that barely remained, keeping the fresh waters safe from harm.


Part 1.7 of 7.8: First Step - Introduce yourself

Ten minutes later as Ash watched from the window of the car, she saw a new building come up. James stopped the car and said nothing. He waited from his driver seat in front of his wheel. She looked back to him, but he stayed stoic like stone. The car was still running. Not wanting to get whipped, Ash left the car closing the door. The car drove away.

Her father left her there standing in the middle of a walkway. She looked around watching kids her age being led by their own parents into the school expecting to be checked in. She was confused and couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t go in with her. Adjusting the strap of her bag, she took the first step into getting an education in order to have a better understanding of her life. She will learn what she will face without holding the hand of her father.

With a blank expression, Ash walked across the grounds following the kids and their parents. She felt nothing and showed no emotion only because she didn’t know how to feel. She looked up to see a woman with dark blond hair standing in front of the door. Seeing the little girl in the in front of the steps, she inquired, “Are you Ashlyn?”

Without speaking, the six year old nodded. The teacher approached offering her hand, “I’m Kay Tindermin, the school’s headmistress. Your father told me he was busy and couldn’t get you to be checked in, so he asked me personally to do so. He’s a great man, so I’m only honored to do so for him. Come.”

She offered a smile. Ashlyn looked up with a blank stare, accepted her hand and was led into the school. “Mike,” the woman spoke at the reception desk showing her the girl, “I found her! Check her in please. I’ll just take her to her classroom.”

The woman led the new girl around the school on the way to her classroom, showing her around and pointing towards important points of the school she might be taking a visit while smiling in the attempt to make Ashlyn feel like she belonged. With her mind filled with wonder and willing to learn, Ash kept the same innocent face while the same time trying to withdraw into her own world.

Kay opened the door and ushered her in speaking, “Tiera, I apologize for the interruption, but this is Ashlyn. She will be here for the semester.”

The blue skinned Tricetra smiled waving a hand, “It’s alright, thank you,”

Kay left the classroom and closed the door as Tiera spoke holding out her hand, “Come Ashlyn. Don’t need to be shy. It’s alright.”

Ashlyn looked at her and approached warily. Tiera pointed to the kids before her and spoke, “They will be your friends. Why don’t you take a seat and get familiar with a few. I’ll start class shortly.”

Ashlyn walked across the floor and found an empty desk. Sitting down, she placed her bag on the floor. One of the kids bent close and inquired a question, “Where’s your mom?”

She stopped for a moment to look back at him speechless. However the parent pulled her kid as the teacher started the class. Tiera spoke, “I would like to welcome you all to a new semester of school. I hope you all had a great New Year’s, because it’s time we start a new class, and this time with a new addition to the school. Everyone across the globe has those in their households, workplaces, schools, but not this one, and I’m happy to announce this new program.”


Part 1.8 of 8.8: Holo-vision, the greatest educational technology ever devised...

Ceasing her speech, she picked up a remote and pressed a button. The room shifted and shimmered thrusting them underwater. All the kids and the parents gasped in awe as the teacher smiled finishing her thoughts and held her hands, “Holo-vision, as inspired by the greatest man ever lived two generations ago. It was his vision, his promise we can only uphold as he wanted us all to be inspired to look beyond with holo-vision. This new interactive classroom.”

She pressed the button again and they were no longer underwater. They were in Africa in the past. Ash gasped in awe to see a lioness lying besides her gnawing on her bone. Before her eyes, beside the teacher was a waterhole where all sorts of animals were around it. On the sky, birds were flying free. It was paradise reborn on Africa’s own soil as the teacher resumed, “can come in all sizes and shapes. The vision I bring, I want to show will help you, your children grow to experience the wonder of that is life and get a slight glimpse into the future of what you will be and what you want to do.”

Pressing the button, the light blue half human thrust them into Roman times back in sixty-five BC as the entire classroom appeared smack in the middle of a huge coliseum with gladiators around them screaming in Latin. She added, “We can even go back in time.”

Tiera pressed the button as the room returned to normal. Ash sat there with wide eyes in wonder and excitement. The teacher finished, “Just remember. If you were to use the holo-vision device and you do a little test for yourself, you can adjust the setting. For children, for you, the setting will be adjusted already for your ease so you won’t feel any pain or injury. If you wanted to you could change it or adjust it to make it harder, but I wouldn’t recommend it especially if you’re trying for the easy way of learning or training.”

However Ash got sad when her new teacher replied, “For those of you who have Holo-vision already at your homes, feel free to use those. They only work if your place is installed with some attachments or it won’t do anything. You can also have a portable Holo-vision, but they would be hard to find. Of course, you can find all those at no price. They are free, as our visionary made us promise not to use his vision for the wrong reason. You can never put a price or can never pay to receive an education. The future is yours. It’s in your hands. I’m only here to provide that guidance.”

As Tiera ceased her presentation, the kids talked among each other with excitement as their parents watched on. Ash sat there saddened. Tiera sensed the girl’s negative mood. Opening the drawer of her desk, she took out a device and approached Ash. Kneeling before her, Tiera placed it on her desk and spoke with gentleness in her tone, “This is one of mine, a portable Holo-vision. Kay told me that your father doesn’t have Holo-vision in his home. This is a gift from me, a welcome back from the facility. I heard about it on the news, and I want you to know, I’m always here if you need me. This vision will only work plugged in, so show it to your father and he will allow you to place your entire household into any fantasy world of your own choosing, if he will allow you. I’m sure he will, darling.”

Offering a smile, her teacher stroked her dark hair and turned to begin class. Somehow cheered up, Ash placed the device into her own bag and withdrew several tablets as instructed by her teacher. Tiera gave a few assignments and proceeded with instructions. Ash listened and couldn’t wait to get home to try out the new device.

Ash had spent the entire six hours of school including eating lunch and later went home with a slightly heavier backpack with the holo vision device included. She wasn’t picked up, so the headmistress was willing to drive her back to her father’s home. She waved goodbye as Ashlyn went inside the house. In the quietness of the home, she heard talking somewhere. She followed the source into a room and opened the door slightly to see a holo of her mother speaking from a recording,

James

It was a recording of her mother.
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