Nick wiped his eyes, looking up at the voice. His flatmate was standing above him.
“Hey man, you all good? That does not look all that comfortable.”
Nick sat up, groaning. He clicked his back and cracked his neck as he tried to loosen up.
“Yea, like I am into your Tulpa idea. But falling asleep on a computer chair is a pretty shit idea.”
“Yea, I would call my bad on that, but you know, not my back that hurts right now.” Nicks’s flatmate laughed and sat down on the bed.
“So, how was it. Got a second you yet?”
Nick continued to crack his bones and stretch.
“Na, I don’t even think I got to do it for all that long before passing out. Guess I ain’t a natural. You were wrong, James.”
“Hey, my hypothesis was based on others interpretations of the information I gave them about you. I was working off third-hand knowledge.”
Nick got up and started to head out of his room; holding the door open, he stopped.
“Get the fuck out of my room cunt. Gonna get some food if you want to follow.”
Nick waited for James to leave, following him out as he went.
“What food are we getting?”
“Oh, I am not going anywhere; just going to make eggs on toast.”
“Make US eggs, right?”
Nick rolled his eyes as he shuffled his way to the kitchen.
“Why do I live with you? You are a damn food leech.”
“You literally ate my noodles last night.”
“Fair point, I’ll make some eggs.”
Nick threw his phone on the bench playing the beginning of a playlist from Spotify.
Attempting to wake up, Nick tried to dance along to the music, his lack of sleep magnetizing his feet to the ground.
“You fucking suck at dancing when you are tired, man. Need to wake the fuck up. Put your hand on the element; live a little.”
Nick barely acknowledged James’s remarks as he continued to cook their breakfast. A silent wait later, and they were both sitting down to eat food in Nick’s room. Nick had already started reading more about the various iterations of Tulpa.
“I can’t find any negative side effects on this shit; they just keep saying be careful. Can you get any more ominous?”
James shoveled his face with as much food as it would hold. Tipping the rest onto Nick’s plate. Through slurred words and involuntary egg spitting, James spoke.
“I will go ask the guys on the forum I’m on. I’ll buzz you through the answers.”
James walked out of the room, leaving Nick to his research. But not leaving him alone.
“You’re playing with dark powers. Even by my standards.”
Nick froze; a chill ran down his spine as he felt the Conductor’s presence behind him.
“Not now, please, not now.”
“You don’t get to decide. Neither do I; we are all simply playing our parts. I wouldn’t go down this path; it may lead to undesirable results.”
Nick spun on his chair, turning to face the Conductor as his presence loomed over him. Timidly he responded.
“Clearly, you are trying to get me off the right track, trying to make it worse. So I know this is something I must do.”
Nick spun around and went back to his research; he read as he felt the presence of the Conductor draw closer. He turned ever so slightly, just enough to see the grin rise up the Conductor’s face.
“Unless you want me to think that so I would pursue it and ruin myself more. But you are just an illusion of my mind. Can you outsmart me?”
“Of course not; you are just me.”
“Now you are making sense.”
“What does that mean? And no, I can’t create something that is smarter than me.”
“Maybe I am not smarter than you; maybe it only seems that way because you think you are stupid. You make yourself stupider just by thinking about it. Maybe I am the manifestation of your true knowledge potential, a visage of what you could be. You, you should be.”
Nick’s hands started to shake.
“I need you to leave.”
“But where would I want to be if not here?”
Nick’s voice wobbled, and his eyes started to well.
“Please go; it is too early. I can’t handle this right now.”
“I leave when you tell me to leave.”
“I am telling you, so please leave.”
“Oh, not you, the other you. The you that is yet to come.”
Nick pulled his chair over to the mirror, peering out of the side of his eye.
“Can you please come help me, Jac? I really need someone who can see them too.”
“Call again; maybe he will answer. Maybe he won’t.”
Nick stood up and walked over to his bed; he crawled under the blankets. Covering his head, he curled up; the longer he lay, the hotter he felt his breath. Each exhale feels heavier than the last. Soon he felt sleep take him over as he ran away from the constant chatter of the Conductor.
Nick fell into a deep sleep, he started to dream.
Nick sat on a plain wooden crate, a spotlight revealing a small surrounding around him. Looking around, he remained on his crate. Breathing through his mouth, he watched as his breath escaped him. One by one, all the nightmares from Nick’s visions presented themselves, standing just within the spotlight. Nick went to stand up but found himself locked in place. After struggling, he closed his eyes and focused. When he opened them again, he was still sitting, but an image of him was standing before him. The Conductor Stood forward, standing before Nick’s image.
“I see we have a newcomer. Please name yourself a friend.” The Conductor said as he walked around the spotlight.
“I am Jac, according to him.” Jac turned back and looked at Nick, his accent different but face the same.
The Conductor laughed; he finished his lap and stood right in front of Jac.
“Why exactly are you here? You are interrupting our meeting with Nick.”
“I am here to do that; I am here to interrupt you. I heard Nick calling out; I answered.”
“But who are you exactly?”
“I am Jac; I am here to help Nick.”
The Conductor snarled as he watched the nightmares walk from the spotlight; he walked forward towards Jac, looming over him.
“What makes you think you can stop me from doing what I want to do?”
As Jac went to speak, the Conductor threw him out of the spotlight. Returning his Focus to Nick.
“Now, where were we?”
Jac came back, barreling out of the black. He tacked the Conductor to the ground. Climbing to his feet, he ran over to Nick.
“Wake up; you are sleeping. You have to wake up!”
Jac shook Nick; Nick watched as the spotlight started to shrink. Closing in, it left the Conductor behind; the smaller the circle, the faster it shrunk. Till finally, Nick shot up from his bed in a cold sweat.
“Fuck, thanks, Jac.” Nick said as he looked across at his mirror.
“Maybe I will call out to you later tonight.”
Nick left his room, making his way to the kitchen to get some breakfast. James was already there making noodles.
“Hey man, good night? You aren’t usually up this early.”
“The hell are you on about? I am always up this early for work, even on my days off.”
“Oh, you have been to sleep? I assumed you stayed up all night. Look at you, Mr. I can sleep all good.”
“Yea, your shitty Tulpa Idea actually worked. Dude fucking superman-ed in and tackled the Conductor down. Good thing that the dream ended when it did, though; pretty sure that he would still lose in a fight. The guy just got lucky.”
“Come on, man, the forum said that you have to believe in your Tulpa. If you see him as second best, he will be second best. Focus up, make him Superman, not like Superman. Anyway, I got things to do; I will catch you later, boss.”
James took a massive mouthful of noodles and walked out of the kitchen, muttering through slurps as he left the room.
“Good job on the Tulpa thing, though. Crush this shit.”
Nick grinned and prepared his meal.
Nick looked up to the clock.
“Ok, so if it is seven now, that means I still have like three hours before I am bombarded by the cleaning people. Ok, so much food, quick shower, and then write before those damn industrial vacuum cleaners take over this place.”
Nick finished up his meal and finished his list, and sat in his room, getting prepared for his Tulpa training.
“Ok, jac, let’s see if we can do this shit again.”
Nick sat down, aligning himself to peer at the mirror through peripherals. Hours passed, and he failed to achieve anything. It wasn’t until he heard the door opening that he realized the time.
“Shit, fucking cleaning people are always on time. Damn efficient bastards.”
Nick jumped up and ran to the lounge.
“Hey, sorry, the door is unlocked.” Nick slowed as he looked out the window as the usual cleaning lady had clearly taken the day off. He watched as a much younger woman sorted through a backpack with rough hands. She stood up, looking at Nick impatiently.
“Gonna open the door, man?” She yelled as she lifted up the vacuum.
Nick walked across and opened the sliding door.
“Sorry, I yelled it was open, but you must have missed it due to your headphones.”
“Yup, cool; before you ask, another cleaning woman is my mum, and she is sick. So here I am; what do I do? She said you would tell me.”
“Uhh, yea. You just need to vacuum and clean the kitchen and the bathroom. My flat mate and I try to keep it clean for your mum. Don’t really like the idea of a cleaner, but the landlord, you know?”
“Yup, cool. Well, I don’t really want to be here, so I am just going to get on with my work. Just gonna chuck these headphones on and get this over with.”
The woman put on her headphones and started to search for a power point. Staring blankly around, she looked back at Nick. Nick pointed behind a chair she walked behind and plugged in. Starting her work, Nick wandered back into his room.
“That is by far an improvement on the last woman. Sucks she won’t be staying.”
Nick sat back down, the loud sound of the vacuum cleaner blasting through his closed doors. He tried to ignore it, putting headphones on and playing music as loud as he could handle.
“Oh shit, fuck this place.”
Nick grabbed his skateboard and headed out the door. Leaving the cleaning woman behind with James.
“Time to clear my head; thanks, by the way, Jac. Really saved my ass last night, even if you didn’t rock up today.”
Nick stopped and dropped his board. Peering around, he saw nothing but the lawn and his car.
“Ok, getting closer to you. I’ll catch you around, Jac.” Nick fist-bumped the air, picked up his board, and jumped into his car.
Driving off, he could still hear the powerful vacuum cleaner as he left the property.
“Why, why is that such a beast if we have wooden floors that are pretty damn clean.”
Nick looked at his passenger seat, but nothing was there. Adjusting his mirror, he checked the back seat, and nothing but his skateboard lay there. Giving a grin, he turned up his music and sped up to the speed limit.
“Hot damn feels good to go normal speeds again.”
Nick made his way down to his local skate park. Arriving, he was still smiling.
“Not a single scooter to be seen. God, I love school days and the lack of little shits.”
Nick proceeded to spend the next few hours rolling around the skate park. Listening to the music, he skated to the beat of whatever was played, speeding up and slowing down based on the tempo of what he listened to. Towards the end of his ride, he noticed a few children started to filter in on scooters.
“Urgh, fun. There goes any opportunity for a longer ride.” Nick sighed and continued his ride reluctantly. Even though there were only a few children around him, he found them constantly scooting across his path. Three or four encounters in, and Nick kicked his skateboard out of frustration. The kids looked at him, confused, as he picked up his belonging and left the park.
“Damn, little shits don’t understand how damn annoying they are. It is like anyone not on a scooter is invisible to them as they just roll around everywhere.”
Nick threw his skateboard into the boot of his car, slamming it shut as he climbed back into the driver seat; reaching for his bottle of water, he jumped in his seat.
“The fuck are you doing here?” Nick Yelled at Jac, who now sat beside him.
“You seemed distressed, so I thought I would come.”
“I am not distressed, just annoyed at the stupid scooter kids.”
Jac looked across at the skate park.
“It is kind of like they are a part of hive mind; they never seem to annoy themselves, just others.” Jac stated as he turned back to Nick.
“Ha, yea. I have had that exact thought before. Like there is just one really annoying kid that holds synapse, and they all huddle around him.”
“Or maybe that one twenty-year-old that rides the scooter; the kids always seem to follow him.” Jac Jested.
Nick sat back in his seat, reclining it slightly.
“So I can summon you when I am in a bad mood just by being in a bad mood. I wonder if I can summon you on a whim. Like if I wanted to talk to you for any reason.”
“You can one day. Just not yet.”
“Wait, so you know things about yourself, like how you work?”
“I know everything you know without the burden of human memory. I know you don’t recall, but you did read that summoning me will be something you can do once we sync our souls together.”
“Wait, you have a soul?”
“Well, I have part of yours; that is how you summon a Tulpa. You have to split your soul as an astral project, leaving a fragment behind for your reflection, me, to inhabit.”
“And this is all information I have read and forgotten; you would have been helpful during high school.” Nick shot up in his seat and stared across at Tulpa Jac.
“Wait, you said I fragmented I could to summon you. Is that a bad thing? Like I have read harry potter, that makes splitting souls seem very bad. Can I use you to make me immortal, like Voldemort?”
“I don’t know about immortality, but from what you read it says that souls are like a resource. You can split and re-forge them during your journey. You just have to make sure you own the majority, or something else will take control of your body. There have been debates, but the worst that is assumed is a Tulpa consumes around one percent of your soul. We are a moderate costing soul apparition.”
“In theory, could I have multiple of you?”
“In theory, yes, but I don’t think the human brain could function all that well with multiple. I think it would drive them insane. At least that is what you have read; who knows, it might work.”
Nick sat up and turned to Jac. “Oh yea, we can; high five.”
Nick and Jac went to high five, but as soon as they made contact, Nicks’s head was filled with a stabbing pain. He closed his eyes and grasped at his head. A loud ringing sounded as he grasped his head tighter.
“Son of a bitch. What the fuck.”
Nick looked up through the pain, and his car was empty once again.
“God damn, all this shit is confusing.”
Nick took a moment to sit and let his brain settle. Reclining his chair fully, he covered his eyes with his forearm and let his brain slowly return to normal.
“Guess my brain could not stimulate what a high five with a hallucination powered by a fragment of my soul should feel like. That is an odd sentence to say out loud. I think I need to go home for a nap.”
Nick turned on his car and slowly began to drive home; he felt all his energy drain from his body as his journey seemed to drag on. The road seemed endless as he felt all his emotions drain from him. His mood was sapped, but he did not know why. Pulling into his driveway, he sat in his car, turning off his engine. Still holding the steering wheel, he stared blankly at his dashboard.
“Why am I like this? I was having such a good day. Why the fuck do I feel like shit?”
His blinks started to get longer and longer. Suddenly, he realized that it was now twilight. The golden light from the sun illuminated his yard as he sat quietly in his car. Flickering lights passed through the trees covering his yard; they swayed in the breeze allowing the light to pass through on a flicker. Nick watched as the flickering lights animated a moving shadow that made the image of a strange man walking across his yard. He watched as it moved from the flickering lights and passed across his yard. The strange silhouette of the man turned to Nick before walking into his home; again, another strange individual walked from the flickering lights and made their way into his home. Time and time again, more shadowy images made their way into Nick’s home.
“I wonder what is happening in there.”
Nick got out of his car and walked sheepishly into his home. Following the shadow person who apparated before him, he made his way to his front door; peering in through the window, he watched as the shadows all danced in his lounge. His breath slowly became more and more visible as he stared at the shifting shadows moving in beautiful unison. They changed between partners and danced with whoever was next in the line. More individuals walked past Nick as he remained outside. One takes the time to tilt a hat towards Nick before moving into his lounge. He pushed his hand against the window, the cold glass forming white vapor around it.
“Why are you all here? Why now?”
No answer, just more motion. Jac took his place next to Nick; standing by his side, he looked into the lounge.
“Who are they?”
“I don’t know; I have been staring for a while.”
“Hey Nick, I am sorry I kind of disappeared before.”
“All good, my brain could not keep up, I don’t think. Hard keeping you around, I guess.”
“What about him?” Jac stated as he pointed to the other side of Nick.
Another image of Nick stood there in a large brown coat and blue glowing eyes. Nick and the newcomer locked eyes for a moment before turning back to the dance floor before them. Nick pulled his hand from the glass and felt the water against his hand.
“What are we?”