Monday, May 31, 2010

Telepathy 101

Kind of a continuation of yesterdays post. Enjoy.

“Ok, I got this book at the library.” Seth pulled it from the bag, setting it on the bed between them, and she read the title.
“Understanding telepathy?”
“I read the first couple chapters. It had a couple testimonials from telepaths who talked about how they controlled it.” He flipped it open, pointing to a long quote on the page. “Most of them seem to agree it's about imagining a mechanism of some kind that can be opened or closed, like a door. When they want to use their powers, they open the door a bit, and when they want to not use their powers they close it.”
“So my door is stuck open.”
“That's what I'm guessing.” He shrugged. “Anyway. They're a bit more vague on how to pick who you're trying to listen to. I guess you just try to hear a voice, like trying to pick a voice out of a choir. You can read it if you want, but I don't know it'll help.”
“Hm.” She leafed through the book as he watched. “I think I know what they mean about the voice thing. People's mental voices sound kinda like their physical ones. I did what you said last time, though,” she remarked, “with the trying to match voices with people. And I think you're right; as far as I can tell every voice I'm hearing belongs to an individual..”
“So can you pick out an individual one?”
“Not really.” She shook her head. “I can pick just one to listen to, but I can't make the others stop.”
“Hm.” Seth shook his head. “Weird. Anyway, I think you should try it with the hat on.”
“You're sure about that?”
“Yeah. I mean, if you could figure out how to get the so-called door moving with the hat on, maybe you could figure out how to actually shut the thing.” He shrugged. “Worth a shot.”
“True.” She nodded thoughtfully. “But hey, I was wondering something. You said you could see the energy field my head makes?”
“Yeah, sure.” He nodded. “Easy.”
“And you control energy fields, right?”
“Yeah, though I couldn't stop your powers permanently, if that's what you're asking.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I'm gonna try it. But if something goes wrong that you can see, could you... hold it off or something?”
“I guess.” Seth nodded again, letting his hands glow slightly. “Try to read my mind, then. Whenever you're ready.”
“You're sure?” Sam looked unsure again. “I don't know if this will work. If I really do have superpowers, what if I hurt you somehow?”
“Then I'll use my superpowers to pry your superpowers off my head.” He smiled briefly. “Just try it.”
She crossed her legs, sitting indian style across from him on the bed. “Ok. Think of something, and I'll try to see if I can read your mind.”
He nodded, and she closed her eyes, straining through the silence in her mind to hear his voice. At first there was nothing but darkness, but quickly enough...
He watched as the energy field around her head slowly began to focus itself, expanding slightly as she concentrated. Seth wondered briefly why her energy field was always the same color, and wondered if it was like that for everyone. He also wondered if she would appreciate being told that she was a deep reddish purple.
There were faint whispers now. She listened closely, focusing in on one that sounded like her friend, blocking the others out. She retreated a little bit, taking the shred of the voice with her, and trying to concentrate on it and all else.
“Peony. Is that what it's called?” It sounded almost exactly like him, though it echoed a bit and there were whispering tangents falling off it. “What is her favorite color anyway, maybe I should tell her she's that. Wait, elephants elephants elephants elephants should think of elephants but newspaper clippings—hey, I was looking for that one! Wait, elephants, not newspaper clippings. Big happy elephants, peanuts circuses elephants, creepy sideshow guy that came through town last year elephants.” She concentrated further.. He was thinking of elephants, but having difficulty keeping his mind on that one spot alone. Images of elephants flashed into her vision, and she tried to push the voice back a little. She could see into his head, not just hear it. That was unexpected. She considered ending her concentration, but curiosity pulled the voice closer to her again. Pictures of elephants, trailing off into brief spurts of memory or distraction. It was amazing how well she could see into his mind, how well she could hear him now, almost as if she were no longer in her own mind, but...
She lost control, suddenly, and the voice overtook her. A new image filled her eyes, and the voice vanished-it felt like his thoughts were literally inside her head. But she could see herself, sitting cross legged across the bed, frozen with her eyes suddenly wide open. A bright light surrounded her head, in a deep reddish-purple, the color writhing and expanding suddenly. Part of it seemed to be connected to the head she now was in. The whole world looked startlingly different—streams of color ran through the wall in wires, her computer glowed green, her alarm clock looked yellow. In every direction there were tints of neon brightness, and suddenly, she realized what was happening. She was seeing through Seth's eyes—she was literally inside his head. She felt fear rushing up from somewhere that was not her, and she felt a hand move, then saw it—Seth's hand, reaching out towards the body that she was no longer in.
“Sam?” His voice asked, and she felt him speak it, heard it with his ears. “Sam! Sam, are you alright?”
“I'm fine,” she said quickly, out of reflex. He spoke those words in the same instant, and then suddenly looked extremely alarmed.
“...Sam, what on...”
“I lost control. I don't know what happened.” He managed to stop saying her words about halfway through the second sentence, listening instead to her voice somewhere in the middle of his skull.
"Sam," he asked softly, “Why are you in my head?”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Voices, hats, and superpowers

“So you can't hear the voices when you have a hat on?”
“Nope.” She shook her head, wincing as she took her hat off. “I line them with tinfoil. That's what does it.”
He took the hat from her hand and examined it. “Wait, you have the shiny side on the inside.”
“Is that that that unusual?” She took the hat back from him, placing it on her head.
“I thought the shiny side was supposed to be out.” He shook his head. “Something about it deflecting mind control waves or something.”
“Huh.” She narrowed her eyes in thought. “It definitely has no effect on mind control waves. From what I've heard mind control is really difficult to block—you need an interfering circuit, and...”
“It's alright, nevermind.” Seth glanced up at the web of twine and newspaper strewn across the ceiling. “So, assuming you're not crazy...”
“I'm not,” she said defensively.
“Then where are the voices coming from?” he finished. “They can't just be coming from nowhere.”
“I... I used to think they were trying to talk to me.” She glanced over at him. “But half the time they're ignoring me, or talking about something else. I think they're something natural that I just happen to be able to hear.”
He thought for a moment. “So you're psychic or something?”
“I guess.” She wrapped her arms around her knees.
“So that would make the voices other people's thoughts.”
“That's one theory.” She nodded. “I've thought about it sometimes. It would make a lot of sense if it's true.”
“Can you control what voices you hear?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I told you, it's a sea of noise. I can barely pick out one over the other.”
“What about when you have the hat on?”
“...I can't hear anything when I have the hat on.” Sam looked at him skeptically. “I just told you that.”
“Have you tried?”
“Why would I want to?” She flopped back on the bed, staring upwards. “The hat makes the voices be quiet. It's the only time I can hear myself think. If I try to hear them, maybe it'll make a way for them to get in, and then where would I be?”
“You could just make a new hat.”
“That's not what I mean. I mean, if I open that door in my head, I don't know if I can close it.”
“No, you could. It's not a door.” Seth rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “I told you I can see energy fields if I want to. That includes mental energy, and well... You've got one heck of a field.” He looked away, out the tiny window and across the street. “That hat contains it.”
“Really?” Sam sat up again, torn between skepticism and hope. “Is that how it works?”
“I think so. But there are still edges getting out. I think if you tried to control it, you could focus that small amount enough to hear someone's thoughts.”
“So what, I can control what I hear?”
“I guess.” He shrugged. “I don't know. All I know about powers like this are from a couple of self-help books my mom made me read. But it seems like it'd be a good thing to try, right?”
“Sure.” She stared at her hands. “I just don't know where to start.” She paused for a moment, realizing what he'd said. “Wait, powers?”
“Sure. Telepathy. You read people's minds.” He nodded. “It's a superpower.”
“...Huh.” She looked thoughtful. “I'd... never thought of it that way.”
“Sheesh, it's either superpowers or insanity. And you keep saying you're not insane, so...”
“I'm not!”
“So it's superpowers.” Seth shrugged. “Question is, how do you control it?”
“I... have no idea.” Sam looked away again. “Tinfoil?”
“Well, other than that. I mean, can you like, do some kind of insane yoga concentration thing, or...” he gestured vaguely around his head. “Something with your hands, I guess?” She laughed, and he pouted. “I'm serious! There's always hand signals in the movies.”
“I really don't know.” She shook her head. “I've never tried it.”
He shook his head. “I just don't understand how you didn't think of this before.”
Sam smiled a little. “You try sharing your head with a million voices and see how well you do.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No parent ever expects their child to go crazy.
But she had, undoubtedly. Their beautiful eight year old tomboy daughter had started hearing whispers, just lightly at first, so barely there that they though it might be her very active imagination. She told them it was like the wind was telling her something, and she had to be very quiet to hear.
But the whispers were not what made her crazy.
As she got older, they caught her flinching, or twitching, or covering her ears when she didn't think they were looking. In completely silent places she spoke loudly, as if trying to speak over something. She started looking tired; her schoolwork suffered, and she didn't want to do anything but lie her head on the table and stare with open eyes at the grain of the wood. They asked her what was wrong.
The whispers had stopped being whispers.
Every day, when she got up, the whispers had gotten a little louder, just enough, she said, that she barely noticed. She'd thought she was just getting better at listening, but no. There were thousands of voices now, she said, that talked constantly, saying things that made no sense and repeating themselves and randomly coming and going. It was a sea of noise, and she had no way of stopping it.
She woke up screaming when she was twelve. They asked her why. She said she'd been murdered, and then she'd been the murderer. She said the body was in a dumpster two blocks down.
That was where the police found it.
She didn't want to sleep anymore, but her body fought her until she lost. The visions were always terrible, more realistic than any dream, feeling pain and pleasure as if she really were there. She woke up staggeringly drunk one morning, and it took a few minutes for her to return to normal. Another day she woke up asking what cocaine was, and why it made her see such strange things in the dream. Her parents worried, but she never left the house at night. She began stuttering, repeating entire words and phrases, going off on wild tangents as she struggled to think clearly. She could barely go to school, she was so exhausted, and her classmates were not kind.
They decided to move, thinking the change might do her good. A little town called Springfield seemed like a good choice at the time—her father got a job fixing computers, and her mother substituted at the elementary school. They were sure, that without the depravity surrounding them in the city, their daughter would get better—the dreams were surely subconscious wonderings, and the voices the product of stress and fear. It would get better.
It got worse.
There was no doubt, now, that she was insane. She refused to see the doctor, screaming about the noises the voices made around him, fighting and thrashing until she escaped the office. There was scarcely a day that the school did not call home to ask about her, if she'd been sleeping, if everything was alright at home. The stuttering got worse. The psychiatrist said she was schizophrenic, and gave them some medication. Nothing got better—the dreams consumed her in her waking hours now, too, freezing her in place as she watched something they couldn't see with wild blue eyes. They had to check, every day, if she'd taken the medication. They caught her throwing it away or flushing it down the sink more often than not. Her father had to sit on her, once, so that she would stop flailing long enough for her mother to force it down her throat.
It wasn't like she hadn't fought for her sanity. Every waking moment was dedicated to making sense of her world, and the results stretched out in newspaper clippings and scribbled dreams across every wall and surface of her room, connected with a web of twine and bright blue yarn. She theorized, trying to think clearly through the wild tangle of voices, trying to come up with something, anything, that would explain her misery.
No parent ever expects their child to go crazy.
Not many know how to deal with it when it happens.
Her mother clung to her husband, turning to him as her rock as her dreams for her daughter's future unraveled before her eyes. He stopped looking at his daughter, seeing straight through her when she had an episode, shutting his emotions off when she broke down screaming, looking away when she huddled on the floor sobbing. They were not a happy family anymore.
They came home one day to a silent house. Her backpack sat in the hallway, but there were no sobs, no screams, no nonsensical ramblings. Her mother assumed the worst, and ran to her room, with her father following close behind.
And they found her there, curled up in a ball on top of the sheets, with tinfoil wrapped around her head, completely silent, and for once, for the first time since she was eight, completely at peace.
“It makes the voices stop,” she'd said, without stuttering at all. “I can't hear any of them—it's quiet now. I like it.”
They'd looked at each other, unsure of how to respond. She was quiet, still, happy, sane, for the first time in years. But neither dared let down their defenses; they'd been guarded for so long that they'd almost forgotten how to love her.
They bought her hats, and sewed tinfoil into them. She wore them to school, and her grades improved immediately. The teachers stopped calling home. The medication wasn't an issue anymore. She didn't wake up screaming, or stutter, or freeze for minutes on end. Her father could look at her, her mother could smile.
They were almost happy.
They should have known it wouldn't last.