Don't Stop The Flashback | Teen Ink

Don't Stop The Flashback

August 18, 2020
By JacobRamirez, Ripon, California
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JacobRamirez, Ripon, California
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Favorite Quote:
Nobody gets what they want, and that is beautiful.

Author's note:

Oh, boy. This one is not my best work, but I did put effort into the story. 

Groaning, John Clarke struggled to lift his eyelids. As his eyes adjusted, he could make out a white room, void of any color. Confused, he managed to lift himself to a standing position, leaning on a wall for support. Now fully conscious, John surveyed the room around him. The room seemed entirely empty, save for himself. There was no furniture. No windows. Somehow, the room was bright, but no lights were visible. Shaking his head, John slumped back onto the floor. What the hell am I doing here? He thought to himself. He racked his brain for any memories of a white room, but was met with a startling realization. He couldn’t remember anything beforehand. Panic began to spread throughout his body, and he frantically began to run his hands along the walls, searching for any signs of a door. “F*cking…… No…..  d-door…” The panic John felt slowly turned into fear, as he couldn’t find any door. Every surface seemed to be perfectly smooth. No crack or crevice could be found. Just as John was ready to succumb to his fear, a voice filled the room. “As entertaining this is,” Spoke a low, male voice. “I feel obliged to tell you that this room was constructed purely to contain the wonder that is you. You will find no escape, no holes, nothing.” Breathing heavily, John whirled around the room, searching for the source of the voice. This was met with a small chuckle. “All the power in the world, and you can’t get out of a simple box.” John stood still, his eyes darting around the room. Bearing it no longer, John poured all of his anger into three words. “WHERE ARE YOU!!!” As he screamed, a faint gust of wind shifted the air within the white room. Taking a deep breath, John heard a wet squelching noise from behind him. As he spun around, a man was walking through the wall, which curled and clung to his body as he passed through. Once he walked a certain length into the room, the wall retracted from the man’s body and morphed itself back into the smooth wall it once was. “Here I am.” 


John was dumbfounded by the man. He wore faded blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and plain black shoes, yet his actual body was something else entirely. It seemed as if his skin consisted of dead skin and large stitches. It seemed as if he was cut apart and sewn together hundreds of times, yet he still lived. He also had the physique of a younger man, under the age of twenty-five. He had no hair, and smiled with, strangely, perfect teeth. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this.” He spoke with the deep voice from earlier. “You, my friend, are in deep sh*t.” The seemingly dead man walked around John, looking him up and down. “W-... What the hell?” John stuttered. “What did I do?!” He cautiously inquired. The man stopped dead in his tracks. John began to breath heavily as the man slowly turned to him. “Of course you wouldn’t remember, why should you?” He nearly whispered. John opened his mouth to speak, but was suddenly thrown against the wall behind him by an unseen force. Taking a deep breath, the man looked John dead in the eyes as he lay crumpled on the floor. “You don’t have the slightest idea of the pain you caused…. But,” John was thrown yet again onto the wall, the force that threw him was now keeping him in place. “-You will. By god I’m gonna enjoy every last second of this. Very, very much.” John was dropped back onto the floor. “Until then, enjoy your confinement.” 

John lay, defeated, on the smooth floor. Countless thoughts flew through his mind. Chief among them was that the man mentioned how John caused tremendous pain, and that he had some sort of power. This of course, was all new to him. He never had any recollection of powers, or pain. But then again, he couldn’t remember anything. Who’s to say the stitched man is wrong? Maybe I did hurt people. He thought. But why? As he busied himself with these questions, time flew by. Nearly an hour had passed before John gave up. But something began to nag him. He couldn’t explain exactly what it was, but it was there. It was then that he realized something, he never checked himself for possible clues. He looked down at himself. Grey hoodie, black shirt, jeans, grey shoes. He began to dig through all his pockets, looking for answers. Much to his disappointment, there was only a small coupon in his jean pocket for a discount pizza. As he turned the coupon over, however, there was a single sentence written with black ink;


“We never forget the color.” John said aloud. As he returned the coupon to his pocket, he thought it over. We never forget the color? What color? We never forget the-  A blinding pain struck like lightning inside his head. His mind flooded with random words as his body attempted to withstand the pain. 

ColorPaintolerancewhyamwecan’tbreaksplitangrysademotionalconsistantwhywhymeWeNEVERFORGETTHECOLORcolorwhyforgetismyauntiemomcancarsoundfeelCOLORWEWENEVER      WE     NEVER      FORGET      THE      COLOR   

Consumed by pain, John began to scream the one thing that came to mind. “WE NEVER FORGET THE COLOR!!!” He began to scream the very same sentence over and over, as if it would ward off the pain. Eventually, the pain became so great that he could no longer function. He writhed violently on the floor, screaming incoherently. For whatever reason, the stitched man came through the wall, confusion spread across his face. The stitched man started to walk closer to John. Slowly, a smile spread across his face. Yes, this is the pain he wanted to witness so badly. But, against all logic, John simply stopped. The air around his limp body shimmered slightly, as if small shards of a broken mirror hovered around him. The stitched man involuntarily took a few steps back, bumping into the now hardened wall. No. No. Nonononononono! The stitched man internally pleaded. Not yet! The fearful man turned towards the wall and attempted to walk through it, but the wall remained as it was. His worry began to blossom into fear as he whirled around to face John. Much to his surprise, John stood no further than five inches from his face. 

As the stitched man gazed into John’s eyes, he could see a myriad of colors, as if they were kaleidoscopes. His fear became pure, primal terror as he knew exactly what would happen next. Before he knew it, John’s fist connected with the stitched man’s jaw. The sheer force of the impact sent a powerful shockwave through the man’s body and into the wall. Unfortunately, both the man and the wall remained intact. Clenching his teeth, the man concentrated his power into a singular point on his body, his fist. As John began to throw another lightning fast puch, the man simply ducked. John’s fist made contact with wall, sending gusts of wind howling around the white room. Again, the wall remained undeterred. Seeing an opening in John’s defense, the man delivered a swift blow to his stomach, releasing the pent-up energy within his fist… The result was catastrophic. The initial shockwave from the punch sent the man back against the wall, breaking several bones and tearing his left arm from his shoulder. Blood sprayed out from the wound and onto the floor, along with the torn limb. There we go. The man thought. There's no way he can fight me now. He’s- The man’s vision suddenly became obscured by John's fist, blowing his head from his stitched shoulders. The last thing the stitched man saw was the perfectly healed John Clarke.

Once John had killed the stitched man, he began to take his anger and pain out on the wall nearest to him. As he continued to strike the wall, he began to regain his senses. No longer fueled by anger, his punches grew weaker. Once the room stopped vibrating from the kinetic shockwaves, John collapsed in a pool of blood. 

Subject has completed task 149a  

“What?” John blurted. 

Begin task 149b



Just then, the white room disappeared as John’s vision faded to black.


John awoke utop a grassy hill, surrounded by casual joggers and passers by. From this he deduced he was in some sort of park, but as he gazed upwards, he gasped in a mixture of fear and awe. The sky was filled with floating segments of inhabited land. Skyscrapers and buildings hovered on cubic sections of concrete and asphalt. Urban neighborhood blocks drifted about in the sky. Other such segments could be found as well. Other parks, hospitals, streets, and even rivers could be seen snaking around and through these floating city islands. John’s breathing became labored, and heavy. The amount of visual input thrown upon him was vast and terrifying. He wanted to scream. To yell. He was about to just that, until a small bird landed on the ground near him. Desperate for some sort of confirmation that this was in fact real, he lunged for the bird. This, of course, was utterly stupid, and John landed face-first into the grass. John whirled around to find the bird. He then saw it leave the park entirely by flying upwards and onto the closest island, little more than fifty meters away. Closing his eyes, he wished for this mental torment to end. As he opened his eyes, he caught a flash. It was so quick, you wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t directly in front of you. A faint flash near the grass revealed a flat, white surface. Now having something to do, John dug his hands into the grass and began to dig in the very same spot where the flash occurred. As he tore the grass from the earth, he concluded that there was no white surface beneath it. Then it hit him like a freight train. None of this is real. He thought. It’s all BS. As if on cue, the world around him came to a complete stop. Birds were frozen mid-flight. Joggers were frozen mid-step. Everything just… Stopped. It was then that John heard several faint voices. They seemed to be arguing vigorously. Then, the world began to shift. Everything seemed to be liquified. The ground, the buildings, cars, but the people remained the same. A liquid combination of grass and dirt swirled beneath John. As he reached out to touch it, John felt a small surge of power. It was small, but still there. Flexing his fingertips, the ground coiled and parted. Shocked, John slowly began to realize that he was influencing the ground. Wanting to test his theory, John concentrated on the liquified ground. Lifting his hand, he envisioned the ground slowly reaching upwards, forming a wall. Lone behold, the ground shifted upwards, solidifying and forming a rugged earthy wall. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. But, the faint voices began to shout louder, and his head began to hurt. God! Why won’t everybody just- “STOP!” Without any prior warning, the world around him blew apart. What seemed to be reality was replaced by a twisted, warping swell of energy. Every known color surged through this now-open space, and abstract shapes came along with it.  

Subject has reached maximum mental strain, execute code T78-aeG

As John gazed into this kaleidoscope of realities, the metal strain became too much to bear. He tried to close his eyes, but the colors and shapes remained. What the hell? What the hell is going on?

What th

E hel  l

Is w


Ith m




W A K E      U P 



Who are you?

I am what you might call “god.”

I don’t believe in god.

Good. I’m glad to know that my host does not indulge in lies.


That is what I said, yes.

Where even the hell are we? I can’t see sh*t.

We are within the confines of your vast mind.

I marvel at your mental capacity.

Oh my god, this is such BS! 

Why are you so upset? This is a good thing.


And yet, you know the truth.

You know exactly how to differentiate reality from illusion.

I see through you, John. 

I can show you the truth.


John woke in cold sweat, his clothes now damp with sticky moisture. “Damn.” he muttered to himself. Glancing around, he noticed that he was back in the white room. And this is all my mind? John asked himself. 

Subject has regained a functional state of mind.

Begin task 150a.

“Subject?” John said aloud. With a rising anger, John stood up. He began to pace around the room, swinging his arms. “Subject? GET IN HERE!! I’m tired of this ‘subject’ crap!” He yelled. Moments passed, and no reply came. Frustrated, John swung his fist at the pristine wall closest to him. As expected, the wall remained unscathed. Just then, John could hear faint murmurs in the distance. Although vague, he caught a few words. Test, facility, threat, lost asset, shame….. Rapture. Upon hearing the last word, John stumbled backwards in shock. He thought back to the conversation he had with the so-called “god.” Of course, the rapture was a biblical prophecy that depicted the second coming of god, in which he would reap the sinners from the world and take the purest to heaven… Of course the world was ending during all this. Finally putting the pieces together, John came up with a theory;

He himself was the harbinger of the rapture, and his coming frightened the world, so they contained him within an impregnable white box in order to be studied and watched.

Of course, this was only a theory. If anything, I’m still going cra-  John was interrupted by a wet squelch from the wall in front of him. Exactly as the stitched man had once done it, another man walked through the wall. Unlike the stitched man from before, this one seemed to be perfectly normal. The only exception was that his face was obscured by a gas mask. He was lean, and had short, black hair. “I’m required to tell you in advance that I too, have power of my own.” The man spoke. His voice sounded slightly garbled due to the mask. “If you make any attempt on my life, I shall simply end you. Do I make myself clear?” The man inquired. John simply nodded. “Good, take a seat.” The man waved his hand, and the floor rose upwards to form a basic chair. John looked from the chair, then back to the man in bewilderment. Before John could inquire as to how the hell he did that, he suddenly found himself in the chair. “I’m going to be brief,” The man began. “You have caused immense trouble here on mother earth…. But we’ll get to that later. I shall start from the beginning….”

The man then informed John of his past actions. 

It began on a Sunday morning, in the early days of February. The year was 2031. The global economy was falling, as was the human condition. Famine and poverty spread like wildfire through all known civilization. The world was dying, and all hope seemed lost. The entire world began to devote itself to religion, hoping that prayer would save the planet… They couldn’t have been any less wrong. “The Presence” as it came to be called, took the form of a human. This presence was the collective knowledge of every known living being. It also had…. Other…. Abilities. Chief among them was the power to control both time and reality itself at a whim. Using these powers, The Presence erased all life from Europe, presumably as a warning. Then it simply vanished, as if it was never there… Months after the incident, a man was discovered in America that had destroyed an entire city block in his sleep. Another man in Australia was able to repair his severed limbs, and even return from death. Another individual was found in Canada. A woman, who allegedly inverted the bodies of a street gang attempting to rob her. The last man to be found resided in China, eyewitness reports all agreed that this man had twisted a skyscraper into an arch as if it were made of butter. Swiftly, the American government sought out these men and women, captured them, and contained him in a highly secure underground base. Although transporting them was a hassle, one man in particular was most troublesome. This man, the one who destroyed the city block, could somehow move through space whilst he was unconscious. Almost as if it was a defensive reflex. It was two days after the government had successfully shipped this man to the base that he started to brutally murder the dettainment crew responsible for his arrival. The man from China, along with the Australian man, were able to fashion a large white box. It seemed to be indestructible, and the man inside couldn’t possibly escape. The reason for this was that the box was composed of the same energy that the “Sleeper” as he came to be known. The “Sleeper” being John Clarke.

As the world’s most renowned scientists studied the Sleeper, they found that whenever he was given anger-inducing stimuli, he would revert to an unconscious state of blind rage. The scientists all agreed that a certain combination of colors could provoke his primal state. As they tortured the Sleeper with all manner of stimuli drugs, he began to lose memory. It was then that the scientists began to test their color theory. As expected, the Sleeper flew into primal rage every time. Satisfied with the outcome, the scientists were able to drill a certain phrase into his consciousness, whenever this phrase was spoken or even read, the Sleeper would enter his primal state of mind. Unfortunately, this also put a tremendous strain upon his mind, and the Sleeper began to show signs of insanity. As the scientists tested on the Sleeper, he began to talk to himself in his barely conscious state. Full conversations could be heard from John, as if he was speaking to somebody. Strangely enough, an entirely new set of brainwaves were detected during his primal state. There was no telling what else was going on in that mind of his. As of now, the scientists are still studying the Sleeper.

“Of course, you won’t remember any of this.” The man sighed. “It’s a shame, really. Although I can’t say I’m sorry for you. You did murder my freind.” The man gestured around the bloodstained room. Wait. Wasn’t the room white? They never cleaned the blood? All this time, John thought he was seeing a white room, but the blood still remained. “It’s okay John.” The man said as he put his hand on John’s shoulder. The floor then liquified and curled around John’s limbs. Solidifying, he was now rooted to the floor. There was no way out. He began to struggle, grunting with effort. The man chuckled. “You get what you give, asshat.” Tears streamed down John’s face as the man stepped backwards. Crouching, the man looked John directly in the eyes. Smiling, he uttered a single sentence. “WE SEE THE COLOR.”

Hello again, John.

F*ck off.

Why are you upset?

I know you’re not real. Just stop.

We are within the confines of you-

Why- why so upset?


See the color?

It’s beautiful.

What the hell?

I know you en-enjoy it.

The power.

You love the feel of bones beneath your feet

You love the ocean stained crimson

You cannot resist the symphony of painful screams and wails


I don’t… I Would never!

Oh, but you HAVE.

The man from before, he was our enemy

We killed him

And we loved it.


Yes, it was US.

WE are the killer.

Even now, we are killing those who dare oppose us.


Yes, his bones are fragile.

He is weak.

He deserves death.

What… ARE you?

I am YOU, John.

Always have been

Always will be.

I am your shadow, your truest self.

You’re a monster..


I am the REAL you!





As John fought against his inner self, reality began to settle in. As he regained consciousness, he bore witness to a gruesome scene. The man who wore the gasmask was murdered in the most brutal way imaginable. His limbs lay scattered across the room, and spikes impaled them from the floor, so the man couldn’t regenerate. The man’s torso was thrust upon an upward spike, the tip protruding from his mouth. All of this pain, and the man remained alive. John was rendered mute. Had he done this? Or was it the “Shadow” in his mind? John had no time to ponder, for the man began to noisily regurgitate blood. 

Subject has resisted stimuli, commence psycho-conditioning.  

It was as if a thousand needles and a thousand knives pierced every atom in John’s body. His mind rattled, and a deafening ringing ensued. John began to wraith on the floor while screaming at the top of his lungs. The pain became unbearable, and John slipped into a state of unconsciousness. 

It was a sunny day. Birds chirped as they traversed the bright, blue sky. Cars cruised down a neatly-paved road as John sauntered down the sidewalk. Stopping at an intersection, he began to survey the surrounding area. Where am I? He internally questioned. Without warning, his body moved. He began to cross the road. With great effort, John tried to resist, but had no such luck. It was as if he was reliving a memory. All he had to do was enjoy the ride. As he strolled down the sidewalk, he began to feel a sense of dread. Something was about to happen. Something rather unenjoyable. After half an hour of walking, he found himself standing in front of a middle-class home. It was grey, with blue edges. The door was jet-black, and the bronze handle glistened in the sun. Steeling himself for the worst, John walked to the front door and gave a single knock. Immediately, the door swung open, and standing there….. Was his girlfriend. 

“Where the hell were you?” She demanded. “You’ve been gone for hours! You said all you needed was some paint!” She scolded. That’s right. Though John. The walls in the backyard needed to be painted. “I’m sorry.” He unwillingly apologized. “The store was closed, and my car’s bust.” This seemed to calm John’s girlfriend. What was her name? “You should’ve just called me.” She continued to scold. Reaching into his pocket, John pulled out his phone. “Dead.” He simply stated. John’s girlfriend sighed. “Dammit, John, why can’t I just be right for once.” A smile pulled at her lips. “It’s not like you’re never right.” John countered. John’s girlfriend retreated back into the house, leaving the door open. “You’re a pain in my *ss!” She playfully called back. Stepping inside, John closed the door. “C’mon!” He hollered back. “I know you love me!” John’s girlfriend stepped back into the hallway, a smile spread across her face. “Damn straight.” 


I’m gonna kill them… 

I can help you.

You. Me. Together, we can kill anything we wa-

Cut the crap and help me. 

It shall be done.

I’ll let you take the wheel this time.

I wonder….


Suddenly, John was thrust back into reality. Leaving the blissful memory, he found himself standing in a pool of blood within the ever familiar white room. 

Subject has resisted psycho-conditioning. 


Damn straight.” John whispered. His body began to pulse with otherworldly power. His breathing became slightly labored. Pure adrenaline coursed through every inch of his body. As he looked towards the bloodstained wall in front of him, he clenched his teeth. Raising his hand, he simply wished it to disappear. “Screw this.” The wall violently tore itself apart, leaving a gaping hole leading into the unknown. Having no fear, John stepped through the wall and onto a metal railing. He found himself within a large concrete room, nearly the size of a soccer field. Glancing behind him, he saw the large white box he hated so much. With a clench of his fist, the room imploded, growing smaller until it vanished completely. Whirling back around, John saw thousands of scientists gaze at him. “I… I HATE YOU!!!” With a single shout, in that very moment, an unfathomable kinetic force blew everything around John outwards. Metal twisted and bones snapped. Workstations were blown apart, bodies were mutilated. The blood of said scientists rained down upon everything in sight. The entire facility was layered a dark crimson. Wanting to feel every bit satisfied, John stretched his arms out, letting the blood seep through his clothes and cover his face. In the back of his mind, John could almost feel his shadow smiling. In a spurt of pure rage, he leaped to the nearest concrete wall. Everything would be fine once he reached the outside. He would find the girl in his memory. Fueled by this new purpose, John began to punch the wall. Each swing created a monumental crack, sending bits of shattered rock cascading around the facility. Grunting, he began to speed up his attacks. They grew faster, up until a point where one could no longer see the punches. Eventually, John beat his way to the outside world. With one final swing, sunlight streamed through the cavern he created. Brighter than expected, John strode into the outside world. Looking back, John saw that he had carved his way through a small mountain, in which both the facility and the dreaded white box once resided. Well? The shadow inquired. What shall we do now? Taking a deep breath, John closed his eyes. “It’s quite simple, really...” Stretching his arm towards the mountain, John snapped his fingers. The mountain then inverted upon itself and disappeared on a whim. “... Anything I want.” Taking one last look, John muttered one final sentence... 


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