Seeing nightmares during wartime was natural. In fact, it would be impossible to find a soldier who was not seeing nightmares at nights. However, in the army, those nightmares were of nobody’s concern. Everyone had their own personal demons to deal with. If you were strong enough to do so, good for you. If you were not, you would break. It was that simple. But never had Cornelius Slate seen someone having that much of a troubling reaction to his dreams.
The White Injun, as the other soldiers called him – Booker, was it? – was something else entirely. He was talking in his sleep, like many others, but not a single word made any sense. He was saying stuff like “constants and variables”, “Doors” – and they could easily hear the capital letter – flipping coins, a river and the future…? The bizarre patterns continued in his waking hours as well; he spoke of stuff that had never happened, and of the things that would happen. He would just… stare at someone random intensely, and tell them to enjoy their last meal.
Those folks ended up dead on the battlefield the next day. There was a word spread about him in the camp, thrown between fearful whispers and skeptical eyebrows. The Prophet. The one who could See. The one who Knew. Booker DeWitt absolutely loathed all those names, but he never denied them either.
Honestly, Cornelius Slate had long since been fed up with this. “Oy, Booker.”.
“Yes, sir.”. The young man – no, the boy – was unusually detached today, even by his standards.
“What in the devil is going on with you? You have everyone here spooked with all that crazy talk of yours. Do you have any idea what does that do to the moral? You can’t just go and tell everyone when they’re going to die, you know!”. The “conversation” had attracted quite a bit of attention already, and Cornelius wanted this over with.
“That wasn’t no dream. More like… a vision.”. Booker practically spat the word as if it were venom.
The attitude did not go unnoticed. “What kind of vision?”. If the kid really wanted to play the prophet…
“Doesn’t matter. Nothing to do with you.”.
Booker looked at him evenly. “You’ll lose your eye. Your left one. In a month or so. Other than that, nothing.”.
“Don’t joke, kid.”.
Booker took a deep breath, trying to gather his thoughts. “I was – no, that’s the wrong tense. No, it’s right, but it hasn’t happened yet- Argh! Anyway, I was at a lake. There was… a priest there, asking me if I wanted to wash away my sins or something like that. Behind me was a girl, I don’t know her, saying something about “smother in the crib before the choice” so they can “break the circle”. She looks different every time but they look the same… I mean, every time it’s the same girl but with different hair, different clothes, sometimes covered in blood…”.
Slate started getting spooked. What was the kid going on about?
“Sometimes she’s replaced by some… twins – I’m pretty sure they are twins – asking me to flip a coin. It always lands on heads, even if I try cheating…”. He took a deep breath. “There is a door next to the lake, but there is no building. It’s just… standing there on its own. I go to the door, sometimes it’s unlocked, other times the girl picks the lock-”.
“The girl picks the lock?”, asked Slate incredulously.
“Yeah… When I go through the door, I end up alone in an office.”.
The other man stared. “What does an office have to do with anything?”.
Booker ignored him. “Someone is banging the door – not the one from before, a normal door – calling out my name. He’s asking me – no, he’s demanding to bring them the girl and wipe away the dept.”.
Slate ignored the dept for the favour of sarcasm. “The lock picking, smothering, covered in blood girl?”.
“Not exactly.”. So much for a clear answer. “Anyway, I refuse to do so. And then I open the door to tell that guy to leave, and… God, I can’t describe it.”.
“Was he that ugly?”.
Booker actually laughed at that. “No, there was no one behind the door.”. The soldier massaged his temples. Wait, was his nose bleeding? Slate would tell him so, but Booker cut him off in mid-breath. “It’s New York…”. Slate’s eyebrows rose to his hairline. He was expecting something less… normal. “In the future.”.
Hold on; “In the future?”.
“The city was larger than anything I’ve ever seen, and the building… Their tops were almost touching the clouds.”, explained Booker. “It was in the middle of the night, but the city was all lit up, so I could see just fine. But… it was burning.”.
“New York was being attacked by zeppelins. One of the blasts gets me too.”.
That was crazy. “Where were you standing for a zeppelin to actually get a shot at you?”.
“On one of them.”.
Slate took a moment to examine that. “…Why would you be aboard on a zeppelin that is bombarding New York?”.
Booker fell in silence. Slate felt a pang of irritation at the thoughtful look on the youth’s face. Honestly, he had been enough of a softie to ask the kid what was wrong with his dreams, of all things, and now he and said kid were standing around making fools of themselves. The boy slowly reached his hand to his nose as if realizing that it was wet just now, and he examined the red trail left behind on his fingers with indifference. How could Booker be so calm when he was bleeding for no reason?!
“I think I’m looking for someone.”.
Months later, after the battle of Wounded Knee – and all predictions having come true, lost eye included, much to the former owner’s irritation – Slate received the most shocking news in his life. “The White Injun is dead.”.
“How?!”, Slate had all but demanded from the postman, some former informant in the army.
“They say that… some girl showed up out of the blue and drowned him! She was covered with gore from head to toe, they say… She said something about breaking a circle before killing him in cold blood!”.
Impossible. This was by all means impossible. That Booker, that White Injun… “He had dreamt of his own death? That is madness! Absolute madness! Don’t tell me he knew he would die this whole time!”. The postman made a run for it. Slate’s mind was reeling as he tried to find an explanation. He could find none. Eventually, he gave up. No matter what the circumstances, Booker DeWitt was dead.
Three years later, BioShock: Infinite came out.