Minds by Joel Fagin

Author's note: This one is another doodle. It seems all of my good shorts are doodles. It was actually originally going to be Alis being bullied and was intended as an introduction to something else I had some sort of vague idea for. I think it works better like this.

There's a really subtle lesson in this one.

There is, in every mind, a sub-conscious. It believes... everything. It is incapable of recognising a lie for the fabrication it is.

The bully grabbed his thick hair as he walked by, and the yank, the sting, was enough to bring tears to his eyes. The bully laughed at him.

Every voice, every experience, every memory relived, every dream, every thought, all recorded as a true event. Everything believed. Everything real.

"That's it, you weed," the bully teased, twisting the boy's hair into a knot in his fist, "cry!"

There is also, in every sub-conscious, a part that defines who you are. It holds your self-image, adjusting it constantly from the experience of the everyday. It, too, knows no falsehood. It, too, believes everything that is said, or thought, or imagined.

"You should!" he jeered. "You're too young for this grade. You'll just fail. You should've stayed back with the little kiddies."

Listen to negative people, and your sub-conscious will believe them whether you do or not, and it will make you into what they say you are. Your mind will sabotage your identity and your skills, bringing you down to the level that it thinks, that it heard is true.

The bully pulled upwards, making the boy stand on tiptoes. "The teacher isn't here, you worthless stain. No one to come to your rescue, so I guess you're just stuck here until I let you go."

It works both ways. Listen to the good, and you will become it. Knowing this is power.

"You're very bright," the teachers had said, "and much higher level than the rest of the class. So we're going to move you up a grade. It'll be more challenging, but you'll excel, we know you will."

Thoughts are more powerful than words. Decide what you want to be. Lie to yourself that you are. Listen to no one with a contrary view. Belief will help it happen.

He's jealous, the boy thought, remembering. I'm smarter than he'll ever be. They know nothing. I'm better than they are. I'm better than them all.

But... what if the thoughts you think are no longer your own? What if something invades your mind, turning it against you, talking to you as if the thoughts were yours? Who else's could they be, after all?

And... you can be stronger as well, his thoughts whispered to him. You can be faster and more powerful. This boy will cower before you. All those who have pained you, all of those who think they are your betters, they will all learn to fear you.

Some form of... Corrupter.

You can be all of this and more. You are far greater than these people will ever believe. And it starts today. Here. Now.

Something subtle and evil. Something which could think its thoughts through you and slowly make you into a copy of itself.

Imagine him burning. Imagine you directing the flame. It can happen. You can do it.

Reprogramming you from within.

I can show you how. You have the talent. You will be the most powerful man alive.

Using your own emotions against you, exaggerating the bad and suppressing the good. Not dominating, but guiding, leading you by a willing hand.

The boy's eyes narrowed, but the bully didn't notice.

Creating the monster we all can be.

Do it! You can! You will!

Listen and you will believe.

The boy felt the magic come to him, felt it form and shape under his mind's savage twisting of the energy.

Believe, and you will become.

Zio's eyes began to glow and the bully stepped back, suddenly terrified.

Good, or bad.