Saturday, November 18, 2006

Telepsis - Chapter 4, Word Count: 30,018

Sorry, This is the longest one yet. But a lot happens, so it should go faster.

Chapter 4:
Getting There is Half the Fun

On the edge of nowhere, they wait. There are just over a hundred of them now, although that information is basically irrelevant. They themselves cannot be bothered to keep a specific count – no one who could knows they exist. In fact, only one person has any idea at all how many there are, and all he can say is somewhere near one hundred. Counting them is difficult because they frequently seem to blend into one another for short periods of time.
What they all know is that there used to be more. A lot more. They can remember that. Their memory is practically infallible. The irony then, is how little happens to them. Even in thousands of years of continual existence, there’s not much to remember.
They are restless, impatient. They know there are fewer of them then there were at first. That there are more disappearing all the time. That there is less space, and they’re being forced together. Some are being forced out. They know that if nothing is done it won’t be long at all before there are none left.
They don’t know exactly how long they have, because that would require keeping track of exactly how many are left, which is difficult. They know that there is a plan in action, a plan to get back the space they had and keep more of them from disappearing. They know it hinges on four or five individuals thosen by them for this purpose. They do not understand it, because it requires knowledge of concepts which are completely foreign to them. But they trust it. They must. They have no choice.
So they wait. And hope. And wonder. Of these, they are familiar only with the last. Before this began they had nothing to wait for. Nor did they have anything to hope for. Conversely, they were had never known what it was to be without hope. But now they were learning many things. Hope, Dread, Anticipation – but above all, they were learning fear. Fear that the plan will not work. Fear that the world will close in around them and disappear. Fear that they will have no choice but to give themselves up to the darkness.

After lunch on Friday, Corrine and Ethan went with Luke to the appointed conference room, mostly for moral support. Ethan still thought the other two were being really paranoid about this meeting, but he came along anyway. He didn’t really have anything else to do.
Anna had come as well. She had gotten the feeling she was being left out of something, but she couldn’t quite figure out what. So she had endeavored to follow her roommate around as much as she could until someone explained everything to her. This was getting a bit tedious.
“I don’t get it,” she asked, as they walked down the stairs towards room 120. “What’s so suspicious about this note again?”
“Nothing,” Ethan replied, “They’re just really over thinking this,”
“It’s complicated,” answered Corrine.
“Something to do with what happened that night, though?” asked Anna.
“Possibly,” said Luke.
“Probably not,” said Ethan.
“Let’s find out,” Luke answered. They had reached the conference room.
The door was standing open, and there was woman sitting at the head of the table. She was middle aged, wearing a dark blue business suit with her dark brown hair tied up in a bun. She got up and walked over to the door.
“Luke Farrar?” she asked, glancing down at a small, yellow notepad.
“That’s me,” Luke replied. If he was apprehensive, his demeanor did not give it away. He sounded as friendly and cheerful as ever.
He went inside, leaving the others standing outside.
“So we just wait for him?” asked Anna.
“Yup,” Corrine answered.
“Why?” asked Ethan.
“Just in case,” replied Corrine.
Anna and Ethan spoke up at the same time.
“In case what?” she asked.
“This is absurd,” he said.
“Look,” said Corrine, “If you don’t want to be here, then go. No one is making you stick around,”
“Fine,” replied Ethan. “I have work to do. I’ll see you at dinner, probably,”
Anna watched him leave, then looked to her roommate. She decided to stay for the time being.
“I really don’t get what’s going on,” she told Corrine.
Corrine looked at her, and her eyes glazed over. For about forty seconds, she stared straight ahead, unblinking, and said nothing.
“Corrine?” Anna said. “You okay? You’re kinda freakin’ me out here…”
“Sorry,” said Corrine, shaking her head. “Got distracted. Look, how much do you actually remember about what happened that night?”
“The night you went into your Coma?” Anna asked.
Corrine nodded.
“Not much,” said Anna. “I was pretty wasted. Just images, you know? Flashes of light, Gunshots, Luke carrying you on his back – it’s all very confusing,”
Corrine shared with her everything she could remember, and everything she’d learned from Luke, which admittedly wasn’t much. She left out Aeolus, of course, and any leads she might have gotten from it. Then she explained their suspicions about the note.
“I guess that makes sense,” said Corrine. “But I still don’t get what you’re expecting to happen,”
“I don’t know,” said Corrine, “It’s just a feeling,”

“Take a seat,” said the woman politely. Luke had never seen her before. This wasn’t that odd, but it was a very small school. He knew most of the administrative workers at least by sight. He pulled out a chair next to hers and sat down.
“A few weeks ago,” the woman began, “You reported an… incident to the security office,”
“Yes,” Luke replied. “It was ridiculed and then promptly ignored. I’m surprised you even found out about it,”
“It was… an easy oversight to make,” replied the woman. “The security staff of your school, while quite competent, is not possessed of the same information as we are,”
“Who’s we?” asked Luke.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the woman replied. She took a small badge out of her coat pocket and displayed it. “My name is Agent Sneed. I work for a branch of the F.B.I. that deals with… special cases. It was really pure luck that brought yours to our attention,”
“So what’s this all about?” asked Luke, “Aliens? Future technology? Some kind of terrorist threat, maybe?”
“I’m afraid that’s classified,” said the woman. “I need to ask you some questions however. If I understood your report correctly, your school may be in great danger,”
Luke retold the story, as best he could remember. He was actually getting quite good at it, as he’d been asked to several times. He left out the identity of the man – he wasn’t quite sure why.
“Your friend Corrine,” asked Sneed, “The one who was in the Coma. Is she one of the young ladies who accompanied you here?”
“Yeah,” said Luke.
Agent Sneed peered through the small window next to the door. “She appears to still be standing outside,” She observed. “Would you send her in please?”
Luke opened the door. “She wants to talk to you,” he said.
“Me?” asked Corrine.
“Yup,” Luke answered.
“What about me?” Anna asked indignantly. “I was there too!”
Luke glanced at Agent Sneed, as if to relay Anna’s question. The agent shook her head.
“Actually, I’d like you to step outside for a moment,” she told Luke. “Corrine, come in,”
Corrine walked past Luke into the room.
“Shut the door,” called Sneed. Luke obeyed.
“Corrine,” the woman began, “Have a seat,”
Corrine sat down.
“My name,” she continued, “Is Agent Sneed. I work for the F.B.I.”
“F.B.I.?” asked Aeolus.
“Just search my head,” said Corrine. She didn’t feel like trying to explain it, and felt sure she’d get it wrong. Plus she needed to listen.
“We’re investigating a threat to National Security that’s been around for a long time,” continued the agent. “The details are highly classified, but I can tell you this a matter of the utmost importance. Now I need to ask you a few questions,”
“Okay,” said Corrine.
“Since you woke up from the Coma, has anything strange been happening to you?”
“Don’t tell her,” Aeolus cut in.
“I thought you wanted me to tell people?”
“Not her. Don’t tell her anything. She will kill you,”
“She works for the government,”
“That doesn’t matter,”
“Corrine?” asked the woman, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” said Corrine. “No, nothing strange. I mean, I’ve never woken up from a Coma before, so I don’t really know what’s normal, but nothing’s happened that can’t be attributed to that in one way or another,”
“No voices in your head?” asked the woman.
“Nope,” Corrine lied.
“No strange lights appearing anywhere near you?” the woman continued.
“What do you mean?” asked Corrine. She was trying to improve her deception by feigning confusion.
“You’d know,” the woman answered. “Hmm. Well I think that’s all. Thank you for your help. Have a nice day. I’ll call you if I need anything else,”
She left the room, where Ethan and Anna were still waiting outside.
“What did she ask you?” inquired Luke eagerly.
“Nothing important,” Corrine lied again.
“What was it?” Luke pressed her.
“Just some weird questions about the Coma,” said Corrine.
“So, F.B.I., eh?” said Luke. “This is big,”
“Yeah,” said Corrine, “Too big. I say we leave it in their capable hands,”
She split off from them. She needed somewhere to think.

As Ethan walked out of the student center, he noticed Radhika sitting on one of the benches, reading. He stopped and sat down next to her, folding his hands in his lap,”
“You holding up okay?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said, barely looking up.
“Anything you want to talk about?” Ethan asked.
“I have to finish reading this,” she answered, her voice rising and falling in her usual almost musical rhythm,”
“Okay,” said Ethan. He got up, then added. “If you need to talk to someone, you know where I am,”
“I do,” she said. “Thank you but I think I’m going to be okay. I am going to see my uncle this weekend,”
“In India?” asked Ethan, with mild surprise.
“No,” said Radhika, “He speaking at some summit in D.C. So I’m borrowing a car to drive down and spend the weekend with him there before it starts,”
“When are you leaving?” asked Ethan.
“Tomorrow after lunch,” she answered.
“Well great,” said Ethan. “I’ll let you get back to your reading,”
“See you around,” she called after him.
He wandered back to his room. His roommate was gone, and he didn’t feel like doing homework, so he sat down to work on his Dungeons and Dragons campaign. He was a good Dungeon Master – he could always come up with some exciting and challenging quest for the players. No, he corrected himself, for the characters. That was the thing about D & D – you could fight trolls and goblins and have all kinds of exciting adventures, but everyone knew it wasn’t real. It was just for fun.
Ethan wondered if perhaps Corrine and Luke needed to start playing role-playing games. That would be a sensible way to add some excitement to their lives. Ethan didn’t even have a problem with conspiracy theories – he himself believed in some pretty outrageous ones. But none that involved him specifically. He never let them influence of impact his life – that was taking things too far. And eventually, someone was actually going to get hurt.
He had been working for some time when Luke came back in.
“How was it?” asked Ethan, without looking up. “Is the world in imminent danger?”
“Could be,” Luke answered, swinging his bag down onto the floor. “The F.B.I.’s involved at any rate,”
“Seriously?” asked Ethan.
“Yeah,” said his roommate. “That woman was an F.B.I. agent. Apparently what we saw was some huge threat to national security,”
“I can imagine,” Ethan remarked, “So she just wanted you to tell her what happened?”
“Pretty much,” Luke answered
“Well, at least she’s one of the good guys,”
“Hmm?” said Luke, looking up.
“You thought she was out to get you, remember?”
“Yeah,” acknowledged Luke, “Nothing like that,”
“Well, that’s good, though, right?”
“Right. I guess,”
“You guess?” asked Ethan.
“Yeah. It’s good. I’m just… not sure about her,”
“Stop being paranoid, Luke,” said Ethan.
“I’m not being paranoid!” Luke protested. “There’s more going on then we know about. Something… very strange and potentially very dangerous is going on here. It only makes sense to be cautious,”
“The cautious thing to do,” replied Ethan, “Would be to forget the whole thing ever happened. But some how I doubt that’s what your thinking of doing,”
“C’mon now,” said Luke, “Where’s your sense of adventure?”
Ethan held up the Dungeon Master’s Guide in his lap. “I trapped it in here,” he said. “You should think about doing likewise,”

“What are you not telling me?” Corrine asked, as she walked away from the others.
“Calm down. You know as well as I do I can’t hide anything from you,”
“So why shouldn’t I tell the government about this?”
“Because they’ll lock us both up and experiment on me,”
“They can’t do that! There are laws and things,”
“The laws don’t apply to us,”
“Why not? I’m a United States Citizen. I have ‘certain unalienable rights’,”
“Trust me, it wouldn’t matter,”
“So you remember all this?”
“Some of it. Some is just conjecture,”
“What do you remember?”
“I remember that I’ve never trusted the government – any government,”
“You don’t remember why?”
“I’m not sure. I remember what I was afraid of, but not where that fear came from,”
“Look, we’re going to D.C. We’re going to have to deal with the government,”
“Minimally. And as a human, as far as they know,”
“Corrine?” said a voice.
Absorbed in her conversation, she had not noticed Radhika coming up behind her and trying to get her attention.
“Oh, hey,” she said, turning around. “Sorry, I was…”
“Lost in thought?” offered Radhika.
“Yeah,” said Corrine. “Something like that,”
“You’ve been acting a little bit odd lately,” Radhika asked, “Is everything okay?”
“Coma story again?”
‘Why not?”
“I was in a Coma for two weeks,” replied Corrine. “It’s a little disconcerting,”
“I’m sure it must be,” said Radhika. “But you seem very preoccupied. You are sure there’s nothing else?”
“No,” answered Corrine. “Nothing,”
“Alright,” said Radhika. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then,”
“See you then,” said Corrine. She walked off.

All that evening and well into the next morning Corrine tried to come up with a plan to get herself to Washington D.C. on Monday. She couldn’t think of anything that could pass for inconspicuous, though. Aeolus was all for just borrowing a car or even taking a bus and skipping classes – clearly he found them unimportant. Corrine, however, would not relent on this.
“Look, I know this is important to you,” Argued Aeolus as they walked out of English class that morning, “but we’re not going to get another opportunity like this to figure out what’s going on!”
“We don’t know that this guy even knows anything! And even if he does, we have no idea if knowing this stuff will solve any of our problems,”
“We have to try,”
“Not like that we don’t. It’s not worth the headache,”
“Hey Corrine,” hailed Luke. He was walking up to her coming from the opposite direction.
“Hey,” she said. “Where are you headed?”
“Lunch,” Luke answered.
They walked together toward the dining hall. After they passed the library, they took a shortcut through one of the side streets just off campus.
“You’re being pretty quite,” Luke said after a little while. Corrine and Aeolus had been arguing in her head some more, and it had taken all her concentration to keep that up while walking.
“You know me,” said Corrine. “I like to think,”
“I know,” said Luke, “But occasionally you could share a thought or two with me,”
Corrine smiled sheepishly at him. “I’m sorry,” she said, “There’s been a lot going on in my head lately,”
Luke didn’t answer. He was distracted, looking up at the window of the house to the left of where they’d stopped. Suddenly he grabbed Corrine and pushed her down. This was fortunate because the slug zoomed right over her head, hitting the pavement and exploding with a buzz and a crackle of electricity.
“Run,” said Luke.
They sped off as fast as they could. Corrine’s first instinct was to run down the street the way they were already going, but Luke took her hand and pulled her to the right, toward the lawn between two houses. As they ran, Luke heard another buzz about six inches behind them.
They came out on the other side of the houses. As soon as they hit the street they ran towards the student center again.
“What are we doing?” asked Corrine.
“Heading for the dining hall. I get the feeling these guys like their privacy; they won’t relish attacking us with whole building full of students around. Then we can call the police. Actually,” he fished his cell phone out of his pocket, “Why don’t we just do that now…”
“Don’t,” said Aeolus.
“Corrine, someone just tried to kill you. We’re calling the police,”
“We can’t,” the creature continued speaking through Corrine’s voice. “Trust me,”
They had reached the drive of the Student center. The usual crowd was milling about. They slowed to a brisk walk and headed for the door.
“Corrine,” said Luke, “You have to tell me what this is about,”
“I think we can trust him, Corrine,”
“Well why does it matter what I think, you’re just gonna butt in anyway,”
“Corrine, he can’t call the Police. They work for the bad guys. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole sniper attack was a set up so they could take you into ‘protective custody’”
“Memory or intuition?”
“No idea,”
“Corrine? Can you hear me?”
“Yes. I… need to tell you something. But not here. We have to go somewhere private,”
“Okay, let’s go back to our room,”
“That’s too far away,”
“Hey guys,” said Ethan, walking through the door. Anna was right behind him. “You’re here early. Did you run?”
They turned and looked at him, as if to say “Don’t ask.” He looked back bewildered.
“What’s going on?’
“This way,” said Corrine. “Anna, you should hear this too,” She led them to the mailroom, to a small, unused corner devoid of people.
“Ok, what I’m about to tell you might seem odd. But I’m hoping you’ve seen enough odd in the past three weeks that you’ll be able to believe it fairly easily. I have a creature living in my head,”
“Literally in your head?” asked Ethan, “Or are you just saying that he’s sharing your consciousness?”
“The second one,” said Corrine. “Anyway, its name is Aeolus,”
“Like the wind god?” asked Luke.
“I don’t know,” said Corrine. “Will you please stop interrupting?
“Okay,” said Ethan.
“Right,’ Luke echoed.
“Its name is Aeolus. It doesn’t remember what it is or what it’s doing in my head, but it keeps remembering little things, like little pieces of a puzzle. One of the things he remembers is that if the government finds out about him, they’ll lock us up and experiment on us, quite possibly killing me in the process. Hence why we can’t call the police,”
“Why would we want to call the police?” asked Anna.
“We’ll get to that later,” said Luke. “Go on,”
“Another of the things it remembered led me to finding out the name of a scientist who it thinks has more information on what’s going on here. The only problem is he lives in Wales and his phone number, e-mail, and address all seem to be unlisted. Fortunately, he’s gonna be in Washington D.C. in three days for a summit on Global Warming. We’ve been trying to find a way to get to that summit,”
“That explains the sudden interest in politics,” said Luke.
“This way,” said Ethan suddenly, turning to go. “We don’t have much time. I’ll explain on the way,”
He ran out the mailroom door and starting running towards Glaston. The others looked at each other for a moment, then followed. After a minute Ethan stopped.
“Go back to Glaston, pack some clothing as quickly as you can then run to Tristan Hall. Luke, pack me some clothes. I’ll meet you there.” He ran off.
“Wait!” Corrine called. “Why Tristan? What are we doing?”
“Just trust me!” Ethan called back. He was already gone.
Ethan ran as fast as he could to Tristan Hall, where Radhika lived. She had said she would be leaving after lunch. It was 11:37 now, so she most likely hadn’t left yet, but some people do eat lunch earlier then that, he surmised. Best not to risk it.
He could see the building now. He wondered if he should go inside and try and find her room, or go straight around the back to the parking lot. He decided to go around first and see if he could see her. As he rounded the corner of the building, he spotted her emerging from the back door. She was wearing a backpack and carrying a large duffel bag.
“Radhika!” he called.
“Hey,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“I need your help,” he said urgently, jogging up to her.
“I was about to leave,” Radhika pointed out.
“I know,” said Ethan, “We need to come with you,”
Radhika looked at him, startled. After a moment, she simply asked, “Who’s we?”
“Me, Corrine, Luke and Anna,” said Ethan. Then he thought for a minute. “Maybe not Anna,”
“Why, exactly?” asked Radhika. She was quite perplexed.
“It’s a long story,” said Ethan. “But it’s important. Can you wait five minutes the others to get their stuff?”
“And your stuff?”
“Luke’s getting it,”
Radhika contemplated this for a moment.
“Well, it will be nice to have the company,” she said finally, “They will be here soon?”
“As soon as they possibly can,” said Ethan.
“Alright,” said Radhika, “But I am driving. It’s a borrowed car. And you’re going to have to come up with your own living arrangements,”
“We can manage,” said Ethan, although he really had no idea how.
“Do you want to tell me what is going on?” said Radhika, after another pause.
“I think I’ll let Corrine do that,” Ethan answered. “She knows more about it then I do,”
“Anything to do with Professor Bronson Fighting Ninjas in the alley three weeks ago?” asked Radhika, with a hint of sarcasm.
“Quite possibly,” Ethan answered. “I’m really not certain,”
After another ten minutes or so, Anna, Luke, and Corrine finally appeared, coming around the side of the building. Luke had nothing but two backpacks, Corrine a smallish duffel, and Anna was lugging an enormous wheeled suitcase.
“Guess why we took so long!” said Luke sarcastically.
“Hey guys,” said Ethan. He ran up to Anna, and indicated her luggage. “Can I take that for you?” he asked.
Anna stepped away from the large suitcase and let Ethan haul it into the trunk. Corrine placed her duffel bag gingerly on top of it.
“I assume this is how we’re getting to D.C.?” she asked.
“Only if someone can explain why you are all going to D.C.!” Radhika insisted.
“That’ll take some time,” said Corrine.
“Explain on the way then,” said Radhika. “We’re already running late,”
She ran around and climbed in the driver’s seat. Corrine climbed in the passenger’s seat. The other three shoved themselves into the back with Luke’s backpack. Radhika turned the car on, backed out, and they were off.
Corrine was unsure of how much to tell Radhika. On the one hand, she was grateful to her for her help. On the other hand, she really wasn’t sure how much she could trust her.
“I say tell her,” said Aeolus, after thinking this over for a moment. “She’s as wrapped up in this now as the rest of them. She deserves to know what she’s getting into,”
“Right,” thought Corrine, “We’re all in this together,”
“So,” she asked Radhika, “You want the long version, or the short version?”
“We have a long trip ahead of us,” the girl answered, “Plenty of time,”
So Corrine told the story for the second time that day, ending with the story of the assassination attempt (or what she perceived to be an assassination attempt) and her telling the others about Aeolus.
Radhika said nothing. Corrine looked over at her. Her face was screwed up in concentration.
“I really… don’t know what to say about this,” she said after a little while.
“But you believe me?” asked Corrine.
“I think I do,” she answered. “It all fits. And it seems too complex for you to just make it up on the spot,”
“Wait, he can talk through you if he wants?” said Ethan.
“It’s not really a ‘he’” Corrine corrected. “It’s pretty clear they don’t really have genders. But yeah, when it wants to, it can,”
“Does it have anything it wants to say to us, then?” he asked.
“Do you?”
“Umm… not really. I think you’ve pretty much covered everything,”
“No, it’s good,” assured Corrine.
“Ok, I really don’t like calling this creature ‘it’,” said Ethan. “Obviously this is a sentient being we’re dealing with, not an animal or an inanimate object. It deserves a personal pronoun,”
“Well, what do you suggest?” said Luke.
“Does it bother you if we refer to you as it?” Corrine asked.
“Should it?” asked Aeolus.
“It really doesn’t care,” said Corrine, “It doesn’t quite get language, though,”
“How about Spivak pronouns?” Ethan suggested.
Everyone was quite for a moment.
“I’ll say it then,” said Luke, “What are Spivak pronouns?”
“Ey, Em, Eir and Eis. This mathematician, Michael Spivak, came up with them for dealing with just this sort of thing,”
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna stick with ‘it’,” said Luke.
“Well, I’m gonna start calling em ‘em’,” Ethan insisted.
“I am all for English having a gender-neutral pronoun,” Radhika chimed in. “It’s very confusing without one,”
“Why don’t we just ask it to pick a gender?” asked Anna. “Wouldn’t that be easier?”
“Ey doesn’t need to pick a gender,” said Ethan, “The Spivak pronouns work just fine,”
“If you can remember them all,” said Luke.
“It’s the same conjugation as “they” only without the ‘th’” Ethan retorted.
“What are they talking about?” asked Aeolus.
“They can’t figure out how to refer to you,” Corrine answered.
“Why don’t they just call me Aeolus?”
“I don’t know. It would get kind of wordy, I guess. Pronouns are nice because they’re short. They stand in for other words,”
“So they’re meant to increase the efficiency of the language?”
“I suppose so,”
“Then doesn’t arguing about them like this sort of defeat the purpose?”
“I suppose it does,”
“May I address them?”
“Go ahead,”
“Hi everyone,” said Corrine’s voice. “My name is Aeolus. I just wanted to say you may refer to me by whatever third person pronoun you choose. From my understanding of pronouns, however, which I’ll admit is not perhaps so extensive as yours, it would seem to me you should all agree on one, and stick with it,”
Everyone was quite for a moment.
“Everybody ok with Ey?” asked Ethan.
“I don’t understand it!” Anna protested.
“It’s just they without the ‘th’” Ethan explained.
“Look,” said Luke, “For the sake of simplicity, can we just use ‘it’?”
“Or ‘she’?” asked Anna.
“I think the only way they’ll agree to one is if you make a decision,”
“I’m fine with ‘it’”
“Say so then,”
“Oh, just go with ‘it’!” said Corrine.
“Was that Corrine, or Aeolus?” asked Luke.
“It was a general consensus,” said Corrine.
“Ok,” said Luke, “’It’ it is,”
“Well, I’m gonna keep referring to em as a person,”
“That’s your right, I suppose,” said Corrine.
No one said anything for a little while. Then Ethan piped up again.
“SO ey doesn’t remember anything? Like, where eir from, what ey is, is ey like an alien consciousness or something? I mean, did ey originally have a body, or has ey always just lived in people’s heads? Anything?”
“Ethan,” said Radhika, “When you use that pronoun, it sounds like you are trying use a Cockney accent,”
“You answer,”
“Ok,”
Aeolus took over again. “All I can remember for sure is that my name is Aeolus, and my race, or whatever I am, is called a Telepsid. I do not think I have ever had my own body, but it seems to me I must have at some point. I know I have inhabited several other humans before Corrine, including most recently Dr. Daniel Bronson. I could easily be some sort of extra terrestrial, or possibly a human consciousness from thousands of years ago, some sort of ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’. I’ve even considered that I might be some sort of demon – I really have as much of an idea as you do. That’s why we’re looking for Dr. Schiefling. I think he has the answers we need,”
Ethan took a moment to process this.
“I wonder if you might actually be Aeolus?” said Luke after a moment.
“Of course I am,” Aeolus replied.
“No, I mean, I assumed you’d simply been named after Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds in Greek mythology. But what if, like, the Greek Gods were real, but something made them lose their power and they’re all just floating consciousnesses now,”
“First off,” said Ethan, “Aeolus was not a ‘Wind God’ – he was just the Keeper of the Winds. He was either a very minor god or actually a mortal who Poseidon entrusted with stewardship of the winds,”
“He can’t have been that minor,” Luke insisted, “Wind was one of the four basic elements. You can’t be totally insignificant if you control one of those!”
“Ok, wind was never one of the four elements,” said Ethan.
“C’mon, Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Everyone knows that!”
“Like the band!” Anna chimed in.
“Disco groups aside,” continued Ethan, “The four classical elements were Earth, Fire, Water, and Air,”
“I fail to see how any of this is relevant,” Aeolus confided to Corrine.
“Me too,” Corrine agreed.
“What can air do without wind?” Luke asked. “Nothing. Especially since ancient societies didn’t understand that ait is everywhere and we have to breathe it,”
“They so did!” Luke insisted. “Breath has always been associated with life-force and spirit, which has always been connected with Wind. It’s not that hard to figure out that when we breathe we take in and let out air,”
“Still, the primary association was with Wind, which was necessary for navigation. Once the Greeks started lauching ships - ,”
“Guys!” yelled Radhika. “This argument is ridiculous and pointless. It doesn’t matter. Please stop,”
Luke and Ethan looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
“Just trying to pass the time,” said Luke.
“I do not think that I am a god,” said Aeolus. “And even if I am, that answers nothing. If gods can be trapped inside humans, then they’re not really gods at all, which would bring us back to the original questions about my nature. I think it’s useless to speculate. With any luck, we will know in a few days,”
“Which actually brings up something that is worth arguing about,” said Ethan. “Where are we going to stay?”
“A hotel?” Anna suggested, with a look that said “You idiot, where else would we stay?”
“Can you afford that?” asked Luke, “Because I know I can’t,”
“Don’t look at me,” said Ethan, “I don’t know if I can even afford lunch,”
“Any chance we could stay with your uncle?” Corrine asked Aeolus.
“He’s staying in a hotel,” said Radhika. “I could probably put up one of you in my room, either Corrine or Anna, but the rest of you still need to figure this out,”
“So no one has money?” asked Luke.
Anna reached into her purse and pulled out a small wallet. She opened it and peered in.
“Let’s just hope they take VISA,” she said. “I’m a little low on cash,”
Everyone turned to look at her (except Radhika, since she was driving on the interstate and that would be dangerous.)
“Anna,” said Luke, “Do you know how much a hotel room in Washington D.C. costs?”
“Maybe 5, 6 hundred for all for of us?” said Anna. “I can cover it,”
Everyone continued to look at her.
“How much do you have?” asked Ethan, incredulously.
“I’m not sure,” said Anna. “Let me check my balance,” She took out her cell phone, dialed a number and held it up to her ear.
“Damn it,” she said, “No dial tone. Oh well. I know it’s I have at least nine hundred,”
“How?” asked Luke.
“Cause every Friday, Daddy loads some spending money on to my card. But this week I haven’t spent much more then a hundred, so I should still have at least four hundred left over from last week, plus this weeks, so that makes –“
“Your father gives you five hundred dollars a week?” asked Luke.
“It’s my allowance,” said Anna, as if this were the most normal thing in the world.
“Anna,” asked Ethan, “What does your father do?”
“He’s an entrepreneur,” said Anna proudly. “He owns a big company that makes – they make a lot of things, actually. Mostly Dry-erase boards and markers. And Drink machines – you know, like the ones in the dining hall. I think he just bought a company that makes fire extinguishers,”
The others looked around at each other.
“What?” said Anna.
“Nothing,” said Luke after a moment.
There was an awkward silence.
“Let’s play a game!” suggested Anna, cheerily.
The awkward silence utterly failed to be broken.
“What sort of game?” asked Ethan, finally.
“How about the Grocery store game?” asked Anna..
“You guys don’t know it?” she asked after a pause.
“I used to play that with my mom when we’d go on trips,” said Ethan.
“How does it work?” asked Radhika.
“Well,” Explained Anna, “I would start with something that starts with the letter ‘A’, like, I went to the grocery store and I bought… an Apple,”
Ethan chimed in. “I went to the Grocery store and I bought an apple and a badger,”
Another pause.
“Corrine, your turn,” prodded Ethan.
“Sorry,” she said, “I was - ” She started to say she was thinking, but remembered they already knew. “We were talking,”
“Should we just skip you?” asked Luke.
“No, we’ll play,” said Corrine.
“I suppose you should have two separate turns…” Anna speculated.
“Aeolus doesn’t want to play,” said Corrine. “It doesn’t really understand the point of this game. That’s what we were talking about actually,”
“His loss,’ said Anna.
“Eir loss!” Ethan corrected her.
Anna rolled her eyes. “Anyway, Corrine, your turn,”
“Ok,” said Corrine, “I went to the Grocery store, and I bought an apple, a badger, and cauliflower,”
“Radhika?” asked Ethan.
“I don’t understand,” said Radhika. “How do you get a badger at a grocery store?”
Twenty three more letters, eight other games, and a very unenthusiastic sing-a-long later (all at Anna’s bequest) they were finally almost to the capital.
It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. Anna seemed to be the only one still in a good mood. She was hanging on Luke’s arm trying to convince him that he had a nice singing voice, a fact which he vehemently disputed. All in all he seemed very annoyed with her advances. Ethan, meanwhile, seemed very envious of them. He was sitting sulkily and reading his DM’s Guide (Luke, remembering his roommate’s comment had stuck it in backpack.) And Corrine and Radhika were discussing just how to accomplish their respective goals.
“So you’re uncle is Amman Aggarwal?” Corrine asked.
“Yes,” Radhika responded, “You know him?”
“No,” said Corrine, “But I noticed his name while I was looking over the speakers for the Global Warming summit. Do you suppose he knows Dr. Schiefling?”
“I have no idea,” said Radhika. “If he’s from Wales, I doubt they’d know each other all that well. Calcutta and Wales are nearly as far from each other as they are from here,”
“True,” accepted Corrine. “In that case, do you think he could get is into the summit?”
“It’s possible,” said Radhika. “Security is usually pretty tight around these things. He might be able to get one or two of you in though,”
“Really I’m the only one who needs to meet this guy,” said Corrine. “I don’t even know why these guys tagged along,”
“Because I was being shot at!” Luke piped up from the back.
“Actually, I have no idea why I’m here,” said Ethan. “Curiosity, I guess,”
“Why not?” asked Anna. “It sounded like fun,”
“So what’s the plan?” asked Luke.
“Well, first, you see if you can get a room at a hotel near where my uncle is staying,” Radhika said.
“Or the same hotel,” suggested Anna.
“My uncle and the other scientists and foreign dignitaries are being put up by the United States Government,” Radhika said with a sigh. “Even if there are rooms still open in their hotel, I highly doubt you’ll be able to afford them,”
“Even if she’s heiress to a dry-erase board empire?” said Luke sarcastically.
“We’ll see,” said Corrine. “Once we get our own hotel sorted out, we have to figure out where Dr. Schiefling is staying,”
“And how to get there without a car,” said Ethan.
“Wait a minute,” said Luke, turning to Anna. “Your father gives you five hundred dollars a week in allowance, but can’t afford to buy you a car?”
“Oh, I have a car,” said Anna. “Actually I have two. I just can’t drive one until I have a license,”
Luke looked ready to punch her in the face, but stifled this impulse pretty swiftly. It wasn’t her fault her parents were ridiculously well off. Besides, he could already see how much it was going to come in handy.
“Anyway,’ said Anna, “What’s wrong with this car?”
“It belongs to my roommate,” said Radhika, “And I’m the only one who she said she would trust to drive it,”
“This is more important then that,” said Corrine (at least, it seemed to be Corrine.)
“We’ll see,” said Radhika.
“D.C. does have a very nice subway system,” said Ethan. “I really doubt the car will be necessary. Besides, it’s Global Warming symposium. There’s probably tons of people their who don’t use cars at all,”
“What?” said Anna.
“’Cause of the CO2 emissions,” Ethan specified.
“Okay,” said Luke. “So that shouldn’t be a problem. How do we find out where this Dr. Schiefling is staying?”
Everyone thought about this for a moment.
“Well,” said Corrine, “We could always ask the hotel staff,”
“They’re not obligated to tell us,” said Ethan. “They might not even be allowed to,”
“I’m sure I could talk them into it,” said Anna, mischievously.
“No seducing!” said Luke.
“Who said anything about seducing?” said Anna, opening her purse again.
“No bribery either,” said Ethan, “That’s illegal,”
Corrine spoke up, but it was obvious it was not Corrine. “One thing you’ll learn soon enough,” said Aeolus, “Is that it’s very difficult to do everything that needs to be done within the constraints of the law,”
“Did you just remember something?” asked Corrine.
“Sort of,” said Aelous. “Actually, this whole trip has been making me remember something. A group of people, actually. Eleanor, Tom, and William. I have no idea who they are, or were, but I went on a long road trip much like this one with them,”
‘Where were you going?”
“Here, actually,”
“Any idea why?”
“To kill someone,”
“Corrine?” said Radhika, shaking Corrine out of her conversation. “I need you help me find the hotel. There should be a map in the compartment next to yours,”
Corrine reached in and flushed out the map, continuing her conversation with Aeolus at the same time. This was to important to put off.
“Who were you trying to kill?” Corrine asked.
“Where do I turn off of George Washington parkway?” asked Radhika.
Corrine stared at the map, hunting around for the George Washington Parkway.
“I don’t remember,” said Aeolus. “Some politician. I can’t remember details,”
“Francis Scott Key bridge,” said Corrine. “You don’t remember why you were trying to kill this person?”
“Where do we turn after that?”
“No, but I’m sure I had a good reason,”
“How are you so sure?”
“Because I wouldn’t just kill people. I’m not like that,”
“How do you know what you’re like? You can’t remember anything!”
“Where do I turn when I get off the bridge?”
“Water street!” said Corrine.
“It’s true,” said Aeolus. “I don’t really remember who I am. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to figure out on this trip. But I know I wouldn’t assassinate someone without a good reason,”
“Now?” asked Radhika.
“Keep going until you hit the hotel,” said Corrine, “Wow, this place is right next to the White House,”
“I love how all the streets are named after patriotic things,” said Anna.
Luke turned to her again. “Your good mood really is infinite,” he said.
“I’m an optimist,” she responded.
“Someone was shooting at us this morning,” Luke reminded her.
“But why dwell on that?” said Anna.
The car pulled up in front of the Hays-Adams hotel. It was a very impressive looking building. They pulled up under an enormous FaƧade, held up my a pair of tall, imposing looking pillars.
“You go in and see if you can get a room,” said Radhika. “I’ll find a parking spot and then call my uncle to let him know I’m here,”
Corrine climbed out. The other three sort of fell out the back doors of the car. Four and a half hours is a long time to sit down.
As Luke opened the trunk and got out the luggage, Anna brushed herself off, quickly redid the loose bun her hair had been in, and turned to Ethan.
“Do I look ok?” she asked.
“You look beautiful,” Ethan replied, with a peculiar mix of sincerity and sarcasm.
“Shall we?” asked Luke, indicating the door.
They picked up their bags and
walked through the door into the lobby. The lobby was just impressive as the outside of the building. Luke had never been anywhere so nice. He was looking around with barely concealed awe. Ethan and Corrine were both quite impressed as well, although they were handling it quite a bit better. Anna alone seemed unphased. She walked up to the counter, leaving her friends to stand gawking at the lavish furnishings.
“I do believe I’ve been here before,” said Aeolus.
“On your little Assassination vacation?” Corrine asked.
“Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”
“You killed someone! You killed someone and now you’re living inside my head,”
“I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure he’s not the only person I’ve killed,”
“No killing! Not while you’re using my body,”
“I can’t guarantee that,”
“Can you believe this?” Luke asked Ethan, as they stood in the center of the lobby.
“Yeah, it’s pretty incredible,” Ethan agreed with somewhat less enthusiasm.
“That Chandelier alone has to cost a semester’s tuition,” said Luke.
“I don’t know about that,” Ethan replied.
“And she’s just going about her business like she does this all the time,” he indicated Anna. “You know what I’d give to not care about money like that?”
Anna was talking with the concierge. Well, maybe more then just talking. As Ethan watched she flipped a loose strand of hair seductively and batted her eyes at him. After a few minutes, she walked over to the rest of the group.
“They have one room left,” she said, “But it has two double beds, so we should all be okay staying there,”
“And you’re okay paying for all this?” asked Luke.
“Of course,” she said. “We’re all in this together, right?”
At that moment the elevator in the lobby opened, and a tall, curly-headed Indian man in a fine beige suit stepped out, and walked over to the desk.
“Radhika’s uncle?” asked Luke. The other’s turned to look.
“I know him, too,” said Aeolus.
“You sure?” asked Corrine.
“He looks very familiar,” Aeolus confirmed. “Of course I have no idea where I know him from,”
“Is it someone Danny knew?”
“Must be,”
Radhika walked in the front door and looked around. She spotted her uncle and ran up to him and gave him a hug. He wrapped his arms around her and patted her on the back, emotionlessly.
She pulled away and said something to him in Hindi. He responded in kind. They talked like this for some time. Finally, she pulled him over to the rest of them.
“Uncle Amman, these are my friends,” she said, “This is Corrine, Anna, Luke, and Ethan. Guys, this is my uncle Amman,”
“Pleased to meet you,” he said. His accent was far less defined then Radhika’s. Luke wondered if she came from a different part of India.
“So what brings you to Washington this weekend,” he asked. “My niece was very vague on the details,”
“Don’t tell him anything,” said Aeolus.
“We’re… very interested in Global Warming,” said Corrine.
“We’re members of the Keansley Conservationists,” Ethan chimed in.
“I’m so excited about seeing Al Gore!” said Anna, in the same cheerful tones that had made the car trip so memorable.
Everyone turned to look at her. She smiled as if to say “what?”
Radhika was giving her friends with a bewildered look.
“It’s good to see young people so concerned about the environment,” said Dr. Aggarwal. “So you’re staying here?”
“Room 341,” said Anna.
“Kind of expensive isn’t it?” asked Dr. Aggarwal.
“For four of us?” asked Ethan. “It’s not so bad,”
“You’re all staying in one room?” asked the man.
“Why not?” asked Ethan.
“Just seems a bit unusual,” he said, “Two young women and two young men. But this is America, I suppose,”
“Dr. Aggarwal,” said Corrine, “You wouldn’t happen to know Dr. Andrew Schiefling, would you?”
“We met several years ago,” he answered, “But I haven’t spoken to him in a long time. I am looking forward to hearing his presentation,”
“You wouldn’t happen to know where he’s staying?” asked Luke.
“I have no idea,” Dr. Aggarwal replied. “Now, my niece needs to get checked into her room, and I’m sure you do as well,”
The four friends got their bags and got into an elevator. Ethan was still lugging Anna’s suitcase in addition to his own small backpack. Luke pressed a button for the third floor.
“I’m so excited about seeing Al Gore?” he asked.
“I am,” said Anna. “”I had such a big crush on him while he was running for president,”
Everyone turned to look at her again.
“What?” she asked.
The door opened. They went through.
“Room 341, you said?” Ethan asked.
“Yup,” said Anna.
“Here we go, then,” he said, coming to a door.
She swiped the key card they’d given her, and he pulled the door open. They all went through and plopped their bags down on the floor by the beds.
It was a very nice room, much larger then the hotel accomadations most of them were used to. There was a large TV between the two double beds, and plenty of room. From the window was a beautiful unobstructed view of the White House. Anna of course, failed to notice all of this.
“Check out this mini bar!” she said.
“Anna,” said Luke, “I really don’t think that’s a good idea right now,”
“You’re no fun,” she said.
“So we’ll share this bed,” said Corrine, “And you two can have that one,”
Luke and Ethan exchanged looks.
“I’ll take the floor,” conceded Ethan.
“No, it’s cool,” said Luke, “You can have the bed tonight,”
“No, really,” said Ethan. “I’m small, I can pull those two chairs together,”
“Guys,” said Anna, “You’ll both fit in those beds,”
Ethan and Luke stared blankly at her.
“We’re guys,” Luke finally said, as if this explained everything.
“You are not sleeping on the floor,” said Anna.
“No,” said Luke, “I’ll pull two chairs together,”
“Or we can see if they have a pull-out,” suggested Luke.
“Or just stop being so homophobic,” said Anna.
“That wouldn’t be a problem if I shared with you and Luke shared with Corrine,” said Ethan. There was silence. Anna broke it my laughing.
“I can’t believe you just said that,” she said, hugging him. They both broke out into laughter. As it let up, she said, “I’d be okay with it the other way around, though…”
“Oh, no,” said Luke, “It’s a simple size issue. I’m big. Corrine’s small. You two are both medium sized. His way makes the most sense,”
Ethan was blushing considerably now. Luke gave him a mischievious smile and a wink, as if to say “Maybe there is a bright side to everything,”
Anna thought about this for a moment. She didn’t want to hurt Ethan’s feelings by bringing up their prior relationship. Besides, to her mind sleeping with a guy, even if it was Ethan, was better then sleeping with Corrine.
“It’s all up to you,” she said to Corrine.
Corrine shrugged her shoulders.
“Ok,” said Anna to Ethan. “You and me. But no cuddling!”

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Telepsis - Chapter 3, Word Count: 21, 768 words (Or nearly six thousand words in search of a plot.)

Chapter 3:
The Plot Thickens

Luke and Ethan were lost. They had been trying to find a small used book store in what passed for downtown Keansley. Luke needed a copy of Pride and Prejudice for his English class, and he’d waited so long the College book store had run out. Corrine had told them about this place, but had suddenly become to busy to accompany them there.
“What’s gotten into her, anyway?” asked Luke, as they turned the street Ethan thought would lead to the right intersection, “She’s been acting so… odd lately. The first couple days she’d barely say anything at all, and now… I don’t know. She’s different,”
“Maybe an experience like that just changes people,” Ethan reflected. “At first she was probably just distracted by trying to process it all,”
“And the sudden obsession with politics?” asked Luke.
“Maybe,” Ethan began tentatively, “Maybe she’s just realized how fragile her life really is, and she’s trying to turn it towards doing something good for the world?”
Luke shook his head. “I don’t buy it. There’s something else going on with that girl,”
“When would there have been time for something to go on with her?” asked Ethan, “One of us has been with her pretty much all the time since she woke up,”
“That beam of light,” said Luke. “The one that knocked her into the Coma. It… did something to her,”
“Like what?” asked Ethan incredulously, “And I think this is Gopher coming up,”
“Have we passed a Taco Hut yet?” asked Luke.
“I don’t know,” said Ethan, “I wasn’t paying attention. What do you think it did to her?”
“Cause she said Gopher was the intersection right after the Taco Hut, and I haven’t seen one yet,”
“What do you think it did to her?”
“I don’t know! I just know there has to be more to this then what we’ve seen. She’s been awake for a week now, and I’d just hoped…” he trailed off. “What do you know,” he said, after a minute, “There’s the Taco Hut!”
“What had you hoped?” asked Ethan.
“I’d hoped she’d remember what happened that night,” Luke finished.
“Me too,” said Ethan.
“You still don’t believe me, do you?” his roommate asked.
Ethan was silent for a moment as they walked.
“Hey, it’s Gopher St.” He pointed out after a moment.
“Why don’t you believe me?” Luke pushed him as they crossed the street.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Ethan said, finally. “I want to believe you, I really do. But neither of the two other people who were there that night have corroborated your story,”
“Anna was too drunk to remember anything,”
“And Corrine?”
“Has she actually told you anything at all?”
“No,” Ethan confessed, “She just keeps changing the subject,”
“Same here. I think something happened to her, something besides just being knocked into a coma, and I think it’s keeping her from wanting to talk about this,”
“Like what?”
“Maybe she found out something. About… that guy, or something, and she won’t tell any of us because it’s dangerous. And she won’t talk about it in case she let something slip,”
“Again, when would she have had time to find out anything between when she woke up and the first time I asked her about it? That was less then a day, and I was there for most of it. I don’t buy it,”
“Why would I lie to you?” asked Luke, “You really think I’d just make up a story like that and then keep it up for three weeks? What possible reason would I have for doing something like that?”
“I don’t think you’re lying,” Ethan specified.
“What do you think then?” asked Luke, bearing down on his roommate. Since he was fully eight inches taller than Ethan, however, this did not exactly have the desired effect. Ethan dodged out of the way and walked ahead to the door of the bookstore.
“Ethan…” Luke growled. He made himself as large as he could, towering over his scrawny, five-foot-six friend, and slowly began to advance, backing Ethan against the wall.
“Don’t be mad,” said Ethan shly.
Luke glared at him silently.
“I don’t think you’re lying,” Ethan said, “But…”
“But?”
“Look, I know alcohol isn’t the only thing you… indulge in, and something when a person is… under the influence of certain, uh, certain - ”
“You think I was high?” asked Luke indignantly, dropping his intimidating act and falling to his regular height. Then he started to laugh. “You think I was high?” he repeated. “Ethan, have you ever actually seen someone who was high? You can tell. It’s actually easier then telling if they’re drunk. Believe me; I was not high that night,”
Ethan glanced at the wall behind him. “Are we actually going to go inside?” he asked.
Ethan opened the door and held it for Luke, but the larger boy stopped in the entrance way. He was holding up a flyer tacked to the small window next to the door. Ethan closed the door and went over to see what it was.
It was one of Radhika’s flyers. It had a large picture of Dr. Bronson’s face, laughing, and the caption read, “Have you seen this man?” There was a number saying who to contact with any information. Luke was staring at the flyer, completely transfixed.
“Radhika put those up,” Ethan explained. “She’s trying down her professor who disappeared. I’m sure she’s - ”
“That’s him,” said Luke, still staring at the picture.
“It’s who?” asked Ethan.
“That’s the man I saw that night. The one who exploded. It was Daniel Bronson,”
“You sure?”
“Completely. This is the guy,” he ripped the poster down, folded it up, and stuffed it in his pocket. “Maybe that’ll jog her memory,” he said. They went inside.

Corrine’s plan was not going well. She and Aelous had decided that if they wanted to get to the summit, they were going to have to start early – earlier than was really possible at this point. The first part of the plan had been for Corrine to go to one of the campus political groups and sign up. Through them, she figured she could find out any developments about the summit, and it would help her convince people she was very enthusiastic about politics, an a effort to make her sudden desire to go to Washington D.C. a little less random. She had chosen the Democrats because they seemed a little more on board with the whole “stop Global Warming” thing.
The first meeting she had attended, however, had revealed the absurdity of this plan. Corrine knew absolutely nothing about politics. In fact, she only knew that the Democrats were more into fighting Global Warming then the Republicans because she had checked on Wikipedia.
Still, Corrine was very accomplished at sitting in the back of the room not saying anything, so the meeting itself went fine. There was, apparently, a mid-term election coming up next week. Corrine decided not to mention that she wasn’t registered. She had no idea what was actually being discussed. Aeolus, fortunately, was paying rapt attention and even asked the occasional question. Corrine got the feeling he had remembered a few things about American politics, and therefore knew more then she did. After the meeting, however, things started to get awkward.
A lanky-looking girl with wavy, short dark brown hair walked up to her. She had been talking quite a bit during the meeting.
“Hey,” she said, “I’ve never seen you at one of these before. My name’s Julie,” She held out her hand.
“I’m Corrine,” Corrine answered shyly, taking it.
“Are you interested in joining the College Democrats?” Julie asked.
“Yes,” said Corrine.
“Good,” answered Julie, “We can always use more people. Especially women. Look at this bunch,”
The group actually looked fairly gender-balanced as far as Corrine could tell, but she decided to let that slide.
“So, I assume you’ll be out voting on Tuesday?” she asked.
“I’m voting absentee,” Aeolus answered, before Corrine could think of a response.
“I had that covered! Thought Corrine.
“Sorry,” thought Aeolus.
“Really?” said Julie, “What state are you from?”
“Indiana,” Corrine answered.
“That was silly, then,” Julie said. “A democrat’s vote in Indiana doesn’t count for much. You should have waited and registered here,”
Corrine was at a loss for words, but this time Aeolus didn’t step in.
“Say something,” thought Corrine.
“I didn’t know I could,” Aeolus responded, borrowing Corrine’s voice again.
“Well,” said Julie, “If you’ve lived here for more than three months, you can register as a Pennsylvania voter. We’re a swing state, so you’ll do a lot more good. Remember that in 2008,”
“I will,” said Corrine.
“Good. Indiana doesn’t have a senator running, does it?”
Corrine honestly had no idea. Neither did Aeolus.
“I don’t think so,” said Corrine finally, going on the assumption that Julie probably wouldn’t have bothered to check.
“Pity,” said Julie. “So, being a democrat in a place like that must be pretty tough, eh? Any horror stories you want to share?”
Corrine got out of the discussion as quickly as she could, but she never had a chance to bring up Global Warming. They had figured out what they needed to know, though – the College democrats were not going to help her get to D.C. to meet Dr. Schiefling. She needed a new plan.
As she was thinking this, and walking home to Glaston, Ethan and Luke ran up to her.
“Corrine, look at this!” said Luke, unfolding the flyer he’d taken from the bookstore. She looked it over. A flood of memory hit Aeolus, larger then any he’d gotten thus far. Corrine felt it to.
‘You okay?” said Ethan.
Corrine looked around. She was lying in the grass. She had collapsed. Ethan was holding out his hand to her. She took it.
“I’m fine,” she said.
“Corrine, you just collapsed,” said Ethan, “I think you need to see a doctor,”
“No, I just lost my balance, that’s all,” said Corrine, “I’m fine,”
“Look,” said Luke, picking up the flyer. “The man we saw that night – it was this guy! Dr. Daniel Bronson, the professor who’s been missing. We have to tell someone now, Corrine!”
“Tell him about me,” thought Aeolus.
“No,”
“He’s not going to think you’re crazy. He saw everything. He deserves to know what we know,”
“What do we know?”
“A lot more than we did ten minutes ago. I’m still processing it all,”
“Corrine?” asked Luke.
“Tell them about what?” asked Corrine.
“You know what I’m talking about,” Luke said crossly.
Corrine thought for a moment. She looked from Ethan to Luke. Finally, she made a decision.
“Who would we tell?” she said, softly.
“Well, you could start by telling my roommate that I wasn’t on drugs that night!” said Luke, relieved.
“He was telling the truth,” said Corrine. “Everything that he told you we saw, we saw,”
“Now can we tell them about me?” asked Aeolus.
“No.” said Corrine, “And since when are we a ‘we’?”
Luke clapped Corrine on the back. “I told you!” he said to Ethan.
“So what was it?” said Luke. “Aliens? Some sort of genetic enhancement? Magic?”
“Physical manifestations of psychic energy?” Aeolus suggested, but it refrained from saying this out loud.
“I don’t know,” said Corrine. “And anyone we tell is going to think we’re crazy,”
“We at least need to tell Radhika,” said Ethan. “She’s sure he’s still alive,”
“We’ll tell Radhika,” agreed Corrine, “Although I really doubt she’ll believe us,”
“We need to tell the police,” Luke insisted.
“I thought you already tried that,” said Ethan.
“I tried Security,” Luke corrected him.
“And?” asked Ethan.
“They thought I was crazy,” Luke conceded.
“See?” said Corrine.
“I was drunk at the time!” said Luke. “If we both come to them sober…”
“Then they won’t have alcohol to blame it on and they’ll assume we’re just insane!” finished Corrine. “We should just let it go. Whatever it was, it’s not a problem anymore,”
They had reached their building. Corrine turned and went down the hall that led to her room.
“Don’t be stupid, Corrine. Why are you doing this?”
“I can only deal with so much at once. Besides, once I get you out of my head, there will be no need for them to know you were ever here,”
“Yeah, about that...”
“What?”
“I don’t think you can do that.”
“WHAT?”
“Get me out of your head. When I saw that picture I remembered a few things about how this works, and that’s one of them.”
“What is?”
“I’m… pretty sure I’m here for good.”

Radhika Aggarwal was having a very bad day. To be really truthful, she was having a really crappy month in general. She was struggling under the weight of an unusually heavy class load, made even heavier by the catch up work necessitated by having missed more then two weeks of Anthropology dur]e to her professors disappearance. She missed Dr. Bronson quite a bit. He had been an amazing professor. But what really bothered her was how apathetic everyone else was being about him.
The other students had actually been happy to get a few weeks off. Didn’t they realize how much they were paying for this education? Didn’t they realize how hard it would be to catch up? And then, when he really disappeared, no one else seemed to care what had happened to him. Radhika felt like she was the only sane person in all of Dr. Bronson’s two classes.
And on top of all of that, she was homesick. The feelings of being alone in her quest to find her professor had translated to general feelings of being alone. Next week was Diwali, the festival of lights, which back home would have been a time of joyous celebration, but the fact that no one else here even knew what it was making her feel more lonely then ever. There were other students from India, but lately she wasn’t getting along with them very well. A number of them had fallen into really terrible study habits. They were, in her opinion, wasting all the money and effort they’d put into securing this expensive American education. So she’d been avoiding them for a while, which left her feeling very alone.
She was sitting by herself at a table in the dining hall, contemplating this, when Luke, Ethan, and Corrine came in.
“Mind if we join you?” asked Luke.
“No,” Radhika replied, looking up at them. Then she slumped her head back on the table. There were bags under her large, brown eyes – she had not been sleeping well. She noticed Luke and Corrine sharing a strange look, as if to say, “You want to tell her, or should I?”
“What is it?” asked Radhika, “Is something wrong?”
“It’s about professor Bronson,” said Luke.
“You have some information?” Radhka asked hopefully. She sat up straighter in her chair and looked straight at him.
“This isn’t gonna be easy for you to hear, so I’m just gonna get it out of the way now,” Luke began, “Dr Bronson… is dead,”
Radhika swallowed and held back any tears that might have been welling up. She had known this was a possibility for a long time. Now she needed answers.
“The police found a body?” she asked.
Corrine and Luke looked at each other again. Finally, Luke continued.
“There was no body,” he said. “Corrine and I saw him…” he trailed off.
“Saw him what?” asked Radhika. She was more then a little confused.
“They saw him explode,” said Ethan.
There was silence. Radhika stared back at them, her mouth gaping.
“In a shockwave of blue light,” Corrine added, hoping for some reason that this would help clarify things.
Finally Radhika spoke up, indignantly. “This is not a funny thing to joke about!” she said, standing up. “I am seriously trying to find a man who may be hurt, may even be dead, and all you can do is make up stories to make fun of me? You are disgusting,” She picked up her tray and turned to leave.
“We’re not making anything up,” said Luke, calmly. Radhika stopped, still turned away. “The night Corrine was knocked into that Coma, we were on our way home from a party. We saw a man fighting a group of men in black armor. He was using some sort of bizarre weapon made out of blue light. Then he exploded in a huge shockwave, taking them with him. When it faded away they were all gone and Corrine was unconscious. We didn’t recognize him at the time, but when we saw your flyers, we realized it was Dr. Bronson. That’s all we know. I’m sorry,”
There was silence again. Slowly, Radhika turned around and looked to Corrine.
“All of this is true?” she asked, softly.
Corrine nodded. Radhika considered for a moment.
“And you don’t know anything else about it?”
Corrine shook her head.
“Thank you,” said Radhika. She turned and walked away.
She had no idea how she felt about this. What they said sounded too fantastical to be true, but she couldn’t imagine they would lie to her like that. And they seemed to be sincere. Still, was she sure enough to give up? Well, she would ask them more about it later. First, she needed to talk to someone else. She walked out of the cafeteria and back towards her dorm.

“Well, that could have gone better,” said Ethan as they watched her walk out of the cafeteria.
“We told her what we know,” said Luke. “It’s up to her whether she believes us or not,”
“So now what?” asked Ethan.
“We finish eating,” said Luke, shoveling some lasagna into his mouth.
“You know what I mean,” said Ethan. “Do we tell the Police? The Government? Anyone?”
“No,” said Corrine, suddenly. Something about her voice sounded very different – more sure of herself, almost to the point of being commanding. “We need to keep this down,”
“Why?” asked Luke.
Corrine shook her head slightly, as if trying to get a crick out of neck, then looked at him and addressed him in her normal voice. “
“Look,” she said, slowly and carefully. “Whatever this is, it’s big. There were people with guns involved. And… obviously, it’s all supposed to be pretty secret. So if either side finds out we saw this…”
“They might not want any witnesses,” finished Luke.
Corrine nodded.
“So we just pretend nothing happened?” said Ethan.
“That’s not a big deal for you,” said Luke, “You didn’t see anything,”
“You think that’ll keep me safe if someone goes after you two?” Ethan asked.
“As long as you don’t poke around asking questions,” Luke replied.
“Then why did we just tell Radhika?” Ethan asked suddenly, with a look of panic. “If anyone is fond of poking around and asking questions, it’s her. We have to warn her about this!”
“We shouldn’t have told her,” said Corrine. She was staring straight ahead again.
“Well, it’s too late to fix that now,” said Luke.
“I’m going to go warn her about this,” said Ethan. He got up and ran off towards the door, leaving his tray on the table.
“I have some things I need to get done,” said Corrine. She gathered up her things and got up to take up her tray, leaving Luke sitting at the table alone.
Luke finished his lunch, slowly, thinking about what was happening. He was as freaked out as everyone else, especially concerning Corrine’s observations. But he didn’t see the point in panicking. It had never done him any good before, and he didn’t see that it would now. When he had finished eating, he got up, taking his and Ethan’s trays in hand, and went to take them up. Then he headed out of the cafeteria and went downstairs to check his mail.
In his mail cubby was a small, folded piece of green paper. On the front it was unlabeled, except for his box number. On the inside was a small type-written note. It read:

Mr. Luke Farrar:

Please come to conference room 120 at 2:00 on Thursday, November 3. If this time is not convenient for you, please leave a message at extension x1397 and we will call you to reschedule. This is a matter of the utmost importance to the security of this institution.

The note was not signed. Luke found this highly suspicious, and resolved to tell Corrine and Ethan about it at the earliest opportunity. Thursday was only two days away, so he had that long to figure out what was going on. Things were starting to get very odd.

Ethan had run some ways after he got out of the cafeteria, so he was quite winded when he finally caught up with Radhika just outside the steps of one of the science buildings. She turned to him, and he could see that she was crying.
“I do not want to discuss it right now!” she told him. She doubled her step back towards her dorm.
Ethan stood for a moment, staring back towards her.
“Radhika!” he called out.
She stopped, turned, and looked back at him. Tears had welled up in her eyes. She didn’t say anything.
Ethan had intended to warn her not to go snooping around, but seeing her like this the thought went out of his head. He walked up to her and held out his arms. After a moment, she ran up to him and hugged him. It was strange, he thought to himself. She didn’t even know him that well. But she was squeezing him pretty hard. After a few moments, she let go and turned away. She was still crying, but a little less now.
“I’m sorry,” she said after a moment, “I don’t know what got into me…” She turned away and stood there, sobbing.
Ethan put his hand on her shoulder. To him, it felt slightly awkward, and he wasn’t sure whether or not he should leave it there. He wasn’t sure why he was doing this – he wasn’t a very physical person. This sort of thing was normally more Luke’s forte. But she needed comforting, and Ethan was the only one around.
“It’s ok,” he said, rubbing her shoulders a little. He wanted to say something else, like “I know how you feel,” or “I know how close you were to him”, but the fact was she didn’t know any of these things, so he just kept repeating “It’s ok,”
After a while, she moved over and sat down on the step. Ethan hesitated for a moment – he wasn’t sure if she wanted him to stay or go. She looked up at him, with a look he couldn’t place. She had stopped crying now, but her face was still wet with tears. He sat down next to her.
“I’m... usually a lot more put together,” she said after a moment, with a forced smile.
“I know,” said Ethan.
“I… I’m sorry you had to see me like that. It’s just… it’s been a very tough week,”
Ethan didn’t really know what to say. Or if he should say anything. He sort of felt like he should hug her again, but he was afraid the moment had passed and she’d take it wrong. Fortunately, saying nothing seemed to be the right thing to do.
“Thank you for indulging me,” she said finally, standing up. “I’m going home. I need to be alone now. I’m… sorry,”
She walked off. He wanted to call after her, that she had nothing to be sorry for, and in fact if she hadn’t been crying he would probably have thought less of her then he did after that display, but none of that came out. He also realized he’d never gotten a chance to tell her what he had been planning to. Oh well, he thought. There was no way he was going to now. He decided to go back to Glaston and see how the others were getting on.

“What the hell was that?” Corrine asked Aeolus as they walked out of the Dining hall.
“What was what?”
“See, why do you even ask that? You’ve never been afraid to just go inside my thoughts and figure out what I mean before,”
“Your thoughts are jumbled right now – and so are mine. This seemed easier,”
“What about all that stuff you used to say about trying to avoid translating our thoughts into language?”
“That was before I remembered how this works. Language is the way it has to be for a while,”
Corrine wasn’t sure what to think about this, so she decided to change the subject back to what she had wanted to ask in the first place.
“We need to set some ground rules,”
“I thought we had,”
“Well, they’re obviously not good enough. My voice? It’s mine. You do not get to just use it to say whatever you want to say, then be completely silent and leave me to explain it. Ok?”
“Of course. It’s your body. I’m not a parasite or a demon… as far as I know. But you have to realize I’m acting in your best interests – and those of your friends,”
“Then why didn’t you tell me first, and let me tell them?”
“It just slipped out. I’m sorry. I had a flash of memory – nothing concrete, just a series of images – and I was afraid for you,”
Corrine opened her door and went into her room. Anna was asleep again. It occurred to Corrine that Anna had been left somewhat out of the loop as far as recent developments were concerned. She wondered if she should tell her.
“Best wait for now,” thought Aeolus.
“Why the sudden change? An hour ago you were encouraging me to tell everyone I know about you. Now you don’t even want me to tell my roommate?”
“I don’t know why. I may have been hasty. Your going to need to tell people about me eventually, but… keep it to people you can trust, ok?”
“What did you just remember?”
“Why Danny was killed,”
“Ah. Anything you’d like to share?”
“You can see everything I’ve got, but it’s not much. I still don’t know what I am, but I know few humans know about us, and the ones that do want us dead,”
“That could be a problem,”
“Yeah,”
Corrine was sitting slumped, staring blankly at the wall – the posture she normally adopted while conferring with Aeolus. How strange, she thought, That there’s a way I normally talk to this thing in my head. The lights were off.
Anna yawned and turned over. She turned to face Corrine and looked up at her through half-shut eyes.
“Where’s that light coming from?” she mumbled.
Corrine looked down. The little ball of blue light was floating next to her right hand again. She lifted the hand and turned it toward her, so that the light was between her hand and her face. It looked slightly larger then before.
“Remember anything new about this?”
“Nope. Want me to do anything with it?”
“Like what?”
“Like this,”
The ball of light slowly began to orbit her head. Then it flew off and began to do tight circles around her. Again, Aeolus’s emotions bled through to her – there was a strong sense of excitement, of exhilaration. Eventually the ball of light stopped in front of her face again.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
Go away now. Thought Corrine. The light obeyed, spreading out briefly into a ring before it winked out.
“That was odd,”
“Not really. I told you were the one who could make it appear and disappear,”
There was another knock, more cautious now. Corrine went over to the door and opened it. It was Luke. He was holding a small piece of green paper in his hand. He held it out to Corrine.
“What do you make of this?” he asked.
Corrine stepped out into the hallway and shut the door behind her. Anna was still sort of asleep, and she didn’t want to bother her. Once she was outside, she took the note and read it over.
“Suspicious?” asked Luke.
“Very,” answered Corrine, “Why isn’t it signed?”
“That’s what I was wondering,” said Luke.
“Are you gonna go?” Corrine asked.
“Of course,” said Luke.
“Even though it could be a trap?” Corrine asked.
“I think that’s a little paranoid,” said Luke. “Chances are it’s actually about school, anyway,”
“And they just forgot to sign it?”
“Maybe,”
Just then Ethan walked through the door.
“Hey,” said Luke.
“Hey,” he answered.
“You tell her?” asked Corrine.
Ethan looked at her for a moment, then shook his head.
Luke gave him a quizzical look.
“She didn’t need to hear that just then,” said Ethan, by way of explanation.
Corrine and Luke looked at each other again, then shrugged.
“She’s not gonna go looking for trouble right now,” said Ethan. “Trust me,”
“Okay…” Corrine began, but she trailed off.
Luke took back the note and handed it to Ethan.
“What do you think of this?” he asked.
“I think someone probably needs to meet with you before you sign up for your courses next semester,” Ethan said, regarding his roommate with a puzzled expression. “Why are you showing this to me?”
Corrine and Luke exchanged another set of quizzical, and perhaps slightly embarrassed, glances.
“We thought it looked suspicious,” Luke explained after a moment.
“It’s not signed,” Corrine added, pointing to the lack of a signature.
“So someone forgot to sign it,” Ethan replied.
“Or it’s a trap,” Luke suggested.
“In a conference room?” pointed out Ethan, “In the middle of the day? With people walking by the entire time? Somehow I doubt that,”
“Good point,” said Luke.
“I know we’re being cautious,” said Ethan after a moment, “But let’s try and stay away from the realm of paranoia, at least for a little while yet,”
Ethan turned and went up the stairs.
“See you around,” said Luke. He turned to follow his roommate.
Corrine went back inside and closed the door. In all the recent excitement, she had somewhat neglected her attempts to get to the Global Warming summit to meet up with Dr. Schiefling. She sat down to try and come up with a new plan.
Getting to DC shouldn’t have been hard. It was, after all only a four hour drive. This seemed simple enough to Aeolus. Corrine, unfortunately, saw things differently.
“I can’t just miss a week of class for no reason,” she told him. “My parents would definitely find out, and that would lead to… questions. Akward ones. Besides which, I’m already two weeks behind. I need an excuse,”
Corrine’s parents had actually come down immediately after she had fallen into the Coma. They had stayed with her for several days, but eventually they had lives to get back to. She had called them after she woke up, but they hadn’t spoke for long – she had still been overwhelmed by Aeolus to the point that conversation was difficult. They’d certainly have a problem with her skipping classes to take a trip to DC, though.
“Corrine,” said Aeolus, “This is important,”
“My life is important! To me! And I’m still the one in control of this body. I am not going to drop everything for this!”
“Ok. Calm down. I’m sure there’s a way to do this without inconveniencing you too much,”
“Besides, there’s still the matter of a car. No one we can trust has one here,”
“That is a problem. So obviously we have to find some legitimate excuse for you to be going to this summit,”
“Yes,”
“Well, Let’s see what else is happening there. Maybe that’ll give us some ideas,”
Corrine dutifully got back on the computer and returned to the summit’s website. There were numerous scientists, business owners, and others addressing the crowd. None of the names looked familiar in the least to Corrine, though. Certainly there was no one she knew or cared enough to go see. As she was scrolling through the list of names and presentations, however one entry finally popped out at her.
“Dr. Amman Aggarwal, from Calcutta Institute for Scientific Advancement, will unveil a new technology which will help in the fight against Global Warming,”
“I wonder if he’s related to Radhika?” thought Corrine. “No, it’s probably a really common name there,”
“May as well check. You never know,”
“How do you bring that up though?”
“You’re asking me? I barely understand why humans use language – you can’t ask me to help formulate a conversation,”
“I was asking that rhetorically,”
“Well, that just goes to prove my point then. That makes no sense to me. I mean, I get questions. That’s just a way to structure a sentence so as to indicate that a response is required from the other party. So why word it as question when you don’t want a response?,”
“I… really have no idea. It’s just something we do,”
“I was asking that rhetorically,”
Corrine laughed in spite of herself. He had made a joke.
“See that’s the problem with language,” He continued, “It’s a perfectly sensible concept, but the execution is terrible,”
“What would you have different?”
“Well, honestly, pure telepathy is much easier. But assuming that isn’t an option, I think your society would benefit from a single language with consistent rules. That means no words with two different meanings, or even two words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Each word should have precisely one meaning, spelling, and sound. That way there will be far less confusion,”
“Good luck implementing that. I’m going to try and write a paper now,”
“I’m not stopping you. But sooner or later we’re going to have to figure this out, and I think sooner would be a much better idea then later,”
“Okay. But I also have schoolwork to do,”
“I know, I know. Your life. Just, keep in mind we have a bit of a deadline here,”
“I know. And you know I know, because you can pretty easily figure out exactly what I know and what I don’t know. You know, for someone who hates language you sure do talk a lot,”
“Actually, I don’t ‘talk’ at all…”
“Shut up,”
“Okay. Geez,”
Impossible or not, she didn’t have a choice. She had to get him out of there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Telepsis: Chapter 2 WC: 15,949 (It should probably be two chapters.)

Note: The italics didn't copy, and I'm way to lazy to redo them.

And then she was here, with this bizarre, irritating voice in her head speaking so fast she could barely make out a word it was saying. Actually, it sounded as if it was saying five or six things at once at any given time. Then she was opening her eyes, looking around… Aeolus stops searching her memories. It’s confusing and annoying to look at ones that took place just a few minutes ago. It can feel a strong sense of disorientation and confusion, and it wonders how she had experienced its probing of her mind, of if she had at all. It could, it surmised, search her most recent memories to see if she remembers remembering anything, but that seems pretty pointless to it.
“Corrine?” asked Ethan, gently, “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” she answered, then, “No. I’m… a little disoriented, that’s all,”
Aeolus is a bit confused. Why doesn’t she mention his presence to her friends, or to the doctor? It decides to broach the subject.
“You could mention me to him, you know,” it suggested helpfully.
“What?” thought Corrine.
“I know you don’t really have any idea who or what I am, and I’ll be straight with you, I don’t really either, but there’s no reason to keep it a secret,”
It can sense her thinking about this. Even though with her insistence on thinking linguistically there is no noticeable difference between her thinking to herself and directing a thought at Aeolus, somehow it can tell when it’s being addressed. She thought more slowly, more deliberately. Her mind, like its, is constantly racing with background thought that it has to filter out.
“What’s going on? Am I crazy? I don’t feel crazy. Is this what crazy feels like? Confusing, disorienting, with twice as many voices in your head as there should be, and you pretty much know which one’s are yours, but you’re not sure? Of course, if I’m crazy, then they’re all mine, some of them just belong to a different personality. Have I really been in a coma for two weeks? Wouldn’t I have known? It feels like I just blacked out, like it was just a few minutes or something. Oh my God, who was that guy? And that thing hit me. What’s going on?”
It tunes out. It can’t process that much linguistic thought at one time. How much less energy would she use if she could just learn how to think conceptually?
She is now directing a thought at it once again. It’s another carefully formulated thought, and it is:
“Are you a figment of my imagination?”
“I hope not,” thinks Aeolus, half to itself and half to her, “I really hope not,”

Ethan stared down into Corrine’s blank face. What must be going through her head right now?, he wondered. He’d been so worried about her these past two weeks. He remembered it so clearly.
Luke had woken him up at about four in the morning. He was talking very fast, about a battle and Ninjas, and an explosion, and kept repeating the phrase, “She won’t wake up!” Eventually, he calmed down long enough to tell Ethan the whole story. To which Ethan responded,
“Luke, did you take anything at the party tonight?”
“Ethan, I’m not high!” Luke protested. “I’m a little tipsy, but you know how much alcohol I can handle. I wasn’t hallucinating,”
“Did you tell security?” asked Ethan.
“Yeah, I even took them there – after I saw to the girls. But Anna’s drunk off her ass and Corrine’s unconscious, so I was the only one who saw it who could take them there. But then there was nothing there. No guns, no soldiers – it’s as if it was all disintegrated by the shockwave,”
“But none of the ground or walls were disintegrated?” asked Ethan, “Forgive me if this doesn’t sound terribly believable,”
“You believe in fucking flying saucers!” exclaimed Luke. “You believe that Martians helped the ancient Mayans establish their civilization based on the Martian city that NASA is ‘hiding from us’ because you read about it on the internet, but you won’t believe your own roommate when he tells you something that might have a perfectly rational explanation?”
“Whoa, slow down,” said the smaller boy. “I’m not saying I don’t believe you. It’s just a lot to take in. How’s Corrine?”
“Out cold. They can’t wake her up. They figure she might be fine in the morning though,”
“I hope so,” said Ethan, “God, I hope so,”
They didn’t manage to get back to sleep that night, but it was a Friday, so that was okay. Around 7:00, they got sick of doing nothing, and decided to go see how Corrine was doing. They got to the Health Center and she was gone. That was when the word “Coma” had first started to be bandied around.
He’d missed her a lot, these past two weeks. It’s hard to notice just how much someone can mean to you until she’s gone for a little while. Especially someone like Corrine. The past two weeks he’d been coming in every day; usually bringing his guitar with him. He would sit and play songs for her. Usually Beatles songs – those were her favorite. Sometimes doctors and nurses would come and listen.
Secretly, he thought Anna might notice and appreciate what he was doing for her roommate, and maybe be impressed by how kind and loyal he was. But that wasn’t why he came. He’d really come to think of Corrine as a friend in the few weeks they’d been there, and he felt it was his responsibility to come see her. He was glad she was awake now, though. Walking downstairs to see her was a lot easier then biking the mile and a half to the hospital with a guitar on his back.
Awake was a strong word to use in this case, though. The doctors had come in, checked her vitals, and asked her some questions to make sure she had her memory in tact. She had answered all off these quite accurately, but she semed incredibly distracted. At one point, despite not being asked anything, she had yelled out “No!” for no reason, then apologized and sat back down. That had been the only incident of its kind, though, and the doctor had decided it was just stress. He had asked her to stay over night for observation and they’d release her in the morning. Ethan had offered to stay with her, at least for a little while.
She hadn’t been herself, though. Corrine was usually pretty quiet, but she hadn’t said a word in over an hour. He knew she’d been through a lot, and losing two weeks of your life is a lot to process. Even so, it wasn’t like her to be this quite. It was as if she was still comatose.
“I don’t get you,” Ethan joked, “If I hadn’t spoken in two weeks, I’d be babbling my head off to make up for lost time,”
Corrine looked up at him. Her face looked tired. There was a look of confusion and disorientation he’d never seen her with before.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just… so weird. I don’t remember any time passing. It feels like I’ve only been out a few minutes. I’m still trying to take in that it’s been weeks,”
“Maybe talking about it would help,” suggested Ethan.
“I think – I think I just need to be alone for a little while,” Corrine answered.
“You want me to go home?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” Corrine apologized again, “It was so nice of you to offer to stay with me…”
“I understand,” said Ethan. “You’re an introvert. You think best alone,”
“Exactly,” replied Corrine.
Ethan went over to the door, picked up his jacket and put it on. “See you tomorrow?” he asked as he bent down to pick up his guitar.
“Hopefully,” said Corrine, looking up at him. She didn’t look all that hopeful.
Ethan left the hospital, got on his bicycle, and started the trip home. He hoped Corrine was alright, that it was just the shock of losing two weeks of her life that was doing this to her. He still missed the old Corrine, and he wanted her back. He also desperately wanted her to confirm or deny Luke’s outlandish story. He wanted to believe it, but it just sounded too fantastic, and too full of holes. Anna was to drunk too remember anything at all, so so far all he’s had was Luke’s slightly tipsy word to go on. It was worrying him.
He was home. He jumped off of his bike and locked it to the rail. He was about to go inside when he noticed a familiar figure walking by the front of the building. She was a tall, beautiful Indian girl
“Hey Radhika,” he asked, “What are you doing out so late?”
“Putting up these,” she said. She held up a handful of flyers.
“Still no sign of your prof?” asked Ethan.
“He’s been missing for almost two weeks!” Radhika lamented. “His apartment is abandoned, but everything was left in order. It’s as if he just disappeared!”
“Has anyone taken over the class yet?” asked Ethan.
“Dr. White’s been taking it while they try to find someone,” she explained, “But she’s overstressed and she’s not nearly as good. Professor Bronson was only sabbatical replacement anyway, so when Professor Horenstein comes back, they won’t need him. And what’s the point of hiring a professor for two months?”
“Still,” said Ethan, “Don’t you think the police are doing everything they can to find him?”
“The police in this town don’t know anything,” she said.
Ethan looked at her quizzically. Then he remembered his news.
“Oh, good news!” he said.
“I could certainly use some,” said Radhika.
“Corrine’s awake,”
“That is good news indeed,” she replied. “When will she be back on campus?”
“Tomorrow, hopefully,” Ethan responded.
“Give her my regards when you see her. I must be off now. I have test in the morning. Goodnight.” She walked off past the dorm. Ethan opened the door and went inside. He climbed up into his room and opened the door. The light was on.
“Hey man,” said Luke, running up to him, “I got your message. How is she?”
“Disoriented,” Ethan answered, “She said she needed time alone with her thoughts,”
“I would too, if that happened to me,” the larger boy reflected, “Hey, did you get a chance to ask her about that night?”
“No,” said Ethan, “Not really. It’s weird to say she was tired because she’s essentially been asleep for two weeks, but she seemed exhausted,”
“Makes sense,” said Luke, “Think about how sleepy you are when you first wake up.”
“I don’t think that’s it,” answered Ethan. “She said it felt like she hadn’t even slept at all,”
“Weird,” said Luke. “Man, I want to talk to her,”
“Me too,” said Ethan, “I’m sure she’ll be fine tomorrow,”
“I hope so,” said Luke.

“You hope not?” she asks, “Don’t you know what you are?”
“That’s the problem,” Aeolus thinks to her, “I really don’t. I remember things but they’re… random. Fragments. There’s no structure at all. No framework. Why am I needing to tell you this like this? Just search my memories yourself,”
“I can do that?”
“Why not. I can search yours. Try it,”
“I don’t know how to start…”
“I’ll help you. Here,”
It opens its mind to hers, and she peers inside. It’s a gelatinous mass of memory – no structure at all. It has a few visual elements – faces mostly. One or two short scenes. And lots of little streams of information. Whenever she gets close to one, though, it fades away. The scenes she can either see or hear but not both. And they’re jumbled. Only the faces are clear, but they have no names or contexts.
She pulls back, into the relative safety of her own mind. She’s not sure what she just saw, but it scares her. Her confusion that had seemed so terrible moments before seemed tame compared to the wasteland of the creatures mind.
“That’s what I can remember,” thinks Aeolus, “That and my own name. Or at least I think it’s mine. I remember how to translate thoughts into human language. Everything else I can’t quite get a hold of though. It’s very frustrating,”
“It’s frustrating to have someone else in your head and know idea who it is,” thinks Corrine. “I have to go back to school. I have classes on Monday. And if I’ve been out two weeks, I really need to catch up. But I can’t think with you in my head!”
“That will calm down. It’s always like this at first,”
“Always? You’ve done this before?”
“I suppose I have. Hmm. I just remembered something new,”
“What?”
“That I’ve done this before. More than once. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s a start, right?”
“A start at what?”
“Figuring out what’s going on. I want to know as much as you do, you know.”
“I just want you out of my head.”
“Oh, don’t say that. You don’t even know me yet,”
“Ughhh. Shut up. I can’t think,”
“You are thinking. And shutting up implies talking. Language is a human construction. We don’t use it,”
“Who is this ‘we’?”
“I don’t know, I told you,”
“I can’t deal with this right now. I need to sleep,”
“You just slept for two weeks.”
“It doesn’t feel like it.”
“I don’t get you. If I hadn’t spoken in two weeks, I’d be babbling my head off to make up for lost time,”
“Can you be quiet for a few minutes so I can talk to him?”
“I’ll try,”
It listens to her dismissing her friend. It saddens it. It knows what it’s like to be alone, and it doesn’t want to put her through that.
“I’m sorry,” it says suddenly, As he walks away.
“What?”
“I’m sorry. I… don’t know what I’m doing here, or how I got here, but I’m sorry this happened to you. It seems like you had a nice life going on, and I’d hate to have disrupted that,”
“I didn’t,”
“Hmm?”
“I didn’t have a nice life at all. That’s why I was at that party. I was trying to change myself, change who I was,”
“Somehow I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for you anymore,”
“I… don’t even know what’s going on,”
“Me neither,” it thinks, “You know more than I do,”
“I still feel like sleeping,”
“You’re concentrating too hard. Stop trying to translate all my thoughts into useless human language – that’s what’s exhausting you. Just think them as if they were your own. If we don’t learn how to function as a team, we’ll both be completely useless,”
“How do you know all this if you can’t remember anything?”
“It’s instinctive. Like muscle memory, only of course we don’t have muscles,”
She says nothing – well translates none of her thoughts into language. It senses them nonetheless – she’s overwhelmed, confused, and full of self-pity. Her thoughts are as muddled and unfocused as its are at this point. Effectively, they are thinking alike. And, in this moment of shared befuddlement, something new begins to form.

Corrine took a cab home from the hospital. None of them had cars, and it seemed silly for anyone to go all the way over there just to walk her home. Plus the doctor was worried that the strain of that long a walk couldn’t be good for someone who just got out of a coma.
Luke, Ethan, and Anna were waiting for her outside the student center where the cab was to drop her off. As she climbed out, Luke ran up to her and embraced her.
“Corrine!” he exclaimed as he swung her around and set her back down on the ground beside him. “I’ve been worried about you. You feelin’ ok?”
“I think so,” she answered, “Just kind of disoriented,”
“That’s understandable,” he answered, “But hey, at least it’s a Saturday, right? Couple days to recover before you have to worry about classes,”
“I guess,” said Corrine. She smiled weakly at him.
“What do you want to do?” asked Ethan, “I’m sure there’s a lot of people who want to see you,”
“I doubt that,” Corrine answered after a moment.
“Well, at least there’s some people at Glaston who will be happy to know you’re alright,” Anna chimed in.
“Can we get some breakfast first?” asked Corrine, “I’m starving,”
“Sure,” answered Luke, “Let’s go,”
As they headed into the student center, Luke and Anna got ahead somehow. Ethan hung back to talk to Corrine. Now that her head was clearer, he was ready to try and validate Luke’s story.
“So Corrine,” he began, “Luke told me about - ” he stopped. That sounded wrong. “I was wondering – I mean, I wanted to ask you about - ” he was interrupted by their arrival at the card swiping station.
As they swiped their cards to get in, Ethan looked over at his friend. Corrine had that same strange, distant look in her eyes that he’d noticed the night before. Something was weighing heavily on her mind. Perhaps it was what had happened that night. He decided not to press her too much for details, though.
They got their food and sat down at the table. For a while, everyone ate in silence. No one knew exactly what there was to talk about. It was Corrine who finally broke said something.
“If it’s been two weeks,” she began, “Then I had an English paper due on Tuesday. Do you think Professor Hansen will let me turn it in late?”
“Why wouldn’t she?” asked Anna, “I mean, for God’s sake, you were in a fucking Coma! It’s not like you just overslept or something,”
“She’s not that mean,” agreed Ethan.
“Speaking of oversleeping,” said Anna, “I’ve missed four classes without you there to drag my ass out of bed,”
“That’s what Alarm clocks are for,” chided Luke.
“Let me know when they invent one that shakes me and then rolls me out of bed,” Anna retorted.
“Or there’s always going to bed at a reasonable hour,” suggested Ethan.
“Dude,” said Luke turning to him, “We’re in college! Have you ever tried to go to bed before midnight?”
“Actually, I’m usually in bed by eleven on weeknights. I figured you’d know that, being my roommate and all,”
“I have never seen you go to bed at eleven,” said Luke.
“See?” pointed out his roommate, “This is why I don’t believe you when you tell me crazy stories about people covered in blue light and Ninjas! You don’t even remember things that actually happened!”
Since her comment at the beginning of the conversation, Corrine had been staring blankly straight ahead. Now she shook her head as if she was being awakened.
“What?” she asked.
Ethan saw his opportunity.
“The night you… got knocked out.” he said, “Do you remember what happened?”
She stared a head for a while, as if deep in thought. The whole table had turned to look at her.
“Kind of,” she finally said, “But it’s like a dream. I’m not at all certain if it really happened,”
She described the scene in as much detail as she could. Ethan soaked it up, comparing it to what Luke had told him.
“Thank God,” said Luke, “I was afraid I was going crazy! No one believes me!”
“So you saw all that too?” asked Corrine, eagerly.
“Of course,” Luke answered.
Corrine turned to Anna. “And you?”
“I… honestly can’t remember anything that happened that night,” she said.
Corrine sort of rolled her eyes at her. Then she slunk back in her chair with a bemused look on her phase.
“I’ve been dying to talk to you about this,” said Luke, leaning in towards her. “What do you think it was? Aliens? He certainly looked like some kind of Alien. And that shockwave – it just disintegrated all the guys and left the buildings and the ground fine! What could do that? No technology I know about, that’s for sure. Or was it technology at all? Maybe it was like, the force or something, you know? Any thoughts?”
“It was telepathic energy,” Corrine stated.
Everyone turned and looked at her. It wasn’t so much what she said as how she said it – with complete conviction. After a minute she looked around.
“What?” she asked.
“You just sounded so sure of yourself,” said Ethan, “As if you actually knew what it was all about,”
“I didn’t say anything,” said Corrine.
The rest of the table looked around at each other.
“We all heard you,” said Anna, “You said something about telepathic energy,”
“I did?” asked Corrine.
They nodded.
“Weird,” she said. “I… should go now,”
She picked up her tray and walked away. The other three got up to see what was wrong, but Luke motioned the other two to sit down. He got up as she walked past and followed her, catching up with her just outside the dining hall.
“Hey,” he asked, “You okay?”
“I’m fine,” said Corrine, “Don’t worry about me,”
“You just seemed like you were in a bit of a hurry,”
“I’m fine,” she insisted, “Really.”
As Luke looked into her blue-green eyes, he could swear they flashed, for an instant, with a bright blue light, just as she said the word “really”.
Luke started to comment on this, but thought better of it.
“Look,” he said, “You know where to find me, okay?”
He walked off to join the others.

“I didn’t say that,” Corrine thought, “I didn’t even think that.”
“I know,” thought Aeolus, “I did,”
“So why did I blurt it out?”
“I don’t know. I just suddenly remembered that that’s what it was and then everyone was looking at us,”
“At me, you mean. Right?”
“Of course. Looking at you. Obviously they can’t see me,”
“Obviously. I’m Corrine. This body? Mine. You can’t just take over my voice whenever you want to,”
“I wasn’t trying to. I didn’t even know I could,”
“Then what happened?”
“I don’t know. I’ve told you before, I don’t have all the answers. You might even have more then I do,”
“But things keep coming back to you,”
“Seems that way,”
“Try not to blurt anything out that will make me look any more crazy then I already do,”
“I’ll do my best,”

The President of the United States was a very busy man. Running the most powerful nation in the world was an enormous amount of responsibility. Fortunately, this allowed him to delegate rather a lot. He had the people who’s job it was to make him look good, people whose job it was to make him sound good, and people whose job it was to make him not get killed. He had someone to make his appointments, someone to tell him about these appointments, and a third person whose sole job was to make sure he remembered about said appointments. This was the person who was confronting him now. Her name was Celia – she had been hired because she was good at yelling.
“Dr. Amman Aggarwal,” she repeated, “From Calcutta,”
“Oh yes, the plan to solve Global Warming,” the President chuckled, “Send him in,”
A tall, curly headed Indian man in a blue business suit walked into the room.
“Dr. Aggarwal, I presume?” asked the president, offering his hand. He couldn’t remember what the reference was from, but he had to make it nonetheless.
“You presume correctly,” answered the man. He took his hand in a firm grip, and smiled charismatically. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me like this before the summit. I know you’re a very busy man, so I’ll try not to take long,”
“It’s quite alright,” said the president, in the easygoing, southern manor that had so endeared him to his country. “Always glad to hear new perspectives on global issues. Have a seat,”
Amman sat down. The President noticed how eerily calm he was – normally people in this situation were at least a little nervous – after all, they were meeting with the leader of the free world. But this man seemed completely at ease.
“So,” said the President, “What can I do for you?”
“As you know,” Amman began, “Global Warming is something the international community has taken for granted for a long time. Your country, however, seems remarkably unconcerned,”
“On the contrary,” retorted the President, “We’re very concerned. That’s why we’re hosting this summit – to discuss measures to fight this problem,”
“And yet you refuse to sign the Kyoto accords,”
“Did go through all the trouble of getting here just to tell me to sign the Kyoto accord?” The President asked indignantly, “Because if that’s it, I’m gonna have to fire my appointment guy. I have on authority from some very influential people that you and your colleagues have developed an easily implemented plan to fight global warming,”
“Easily implemented is a strong term,” said Amman. “But the plan is fairly fool-proof. With your support we can solve the entire problem once and for all. You wont have to decrease your emissions, stop using your cars – any of that. All we’ll need from you is funding, man-power, and perhaps a bit of land. I’m not going to go into detail, because we’re going to formally unveil our program at the summit, but I wanted to make sure you understood the nature of what we’re trying to do,”
“I think I do,” said the president, “As well as I can not being a scientist, at least. But there’s one thing I don’t understand. What you need from us – money, man-power, a location – you could get that from any country in the world. Why would you pick the one country who, as you pointed out, hasn’t signed the Kyoto accords?”
“Because,” said Amman, “The United States is the world’s number one contributor to Global Warming. We thought you would appreciate the chance to undo some of that damage. That and we needed three geographically disparate locations,”
“Well,” said the President, “I look forward to seeing your presentation in a few weeks. Now if there’s nothing else, I have other people I need to see,”
“Of course,” said Amman, standing up, “Thank you again for taking the time to see me,”
The tall Indian man walked out of the office. As he left the White House, his cell phone began to ring. He picked it up.
“How did it go?” said the gruff yet familiar voice on the other end.
“Hard to say,” Amman replied, “He’s a difficult man to read. But I think he’ll take the plan quite well once he finds out what it is,”
“Good. Listen, I didn’t call just to chat about your appointment with the President,”
“I didn’t think you were. Why did you call?”
“We have confirmation. Daniel Bronson is dead,”
“You found a body?”
“Of course not. Don’t be silly. We have an eye witness account, however. One of the students at the school observed the battle between Bronson and our agents. Apparently he ‘exploded in a shock wave of light’,”
“Taking our agents with him?”
“It would seem so,”
“That’s… unfortunate. Was the student alone?”
“We’re checking on that. The account came to our people second or third hand,”
“Keep a close eye on anyone who witnessed the explosion. He may have sent out a spore,”
“Will do. We’ll contact you when we know more. Good luck,”
“You to,”
He hung up.

On Monday Corrine decided she would have to go to class. She was not looking forward to it. For the one thing, she was two weeks behind on the reading. The professor had assured her she would have the time she needed to catch up, but she wasn’t so sure. Normally, she’d have made a good start on it by now, but it was very difficult to read with Aeolus in her head. It found Don Quixote absolutely fascinating, and was eager to discuss it with her.
“Am I seriously discussing literature with the creature in my head?” she had asked it impatiently.
“Well, why not?” thought Aeolus. “Your thoughts about this book are all I can hear while your reading. You can’t expect me not to chime in,”
“Yes I can. I can expect to be allowed to think without you chiming in. I’ve barely gotten through three pages thank to your incessant babbling!”
“Look,” thought Aeolus, “I don’t want to be here any more than you want me here. But as long as we’re stuck with each other, we might as well make the most of it. I thought I might have some insight into this story that you might have missed,”
“And do you?”
“To tell you the truth, not really. I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before, but-”
“You can’t remember” they thought in unison. It was hard to say though. It was difficult to tell, sometimes, who was thinking what.
She was very concerned about how Aeolus would behave in class. Especially as she now suspected it was capable of taking over her voice, even though it was probably unable to control this ability.
She showed up for her nine o’clock class, as usual, about ten minutes early. As usual, she sat down in the back and started reading. Since having Aeolus in her head, she’d actually been less social, since it sometimes made it difficult to focus on a conversation. She still hadn’t told anyone about it yet – she didn’t want anyone to think she was crazy.
She was reading in the back of the room when Aaron came up behind her.
“Hey,” he said, “You’re back! You had us all pretty worried for a while there,”
“I doubt you were all that worried about me,” she thought.
“Why wouldn’t he be?” asked Aeolus. She tried to tune him out.
“Yeah,” she said to Aaron, since she couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Suddenly, every time she’s come into contact with Aaron in the past two months flashed before her eyes.
“Ah,” thought Aeolus.
Corrine sighed. Aeolus was going through her memories again. This was quite possibly the most annoying thing he had done so far. He had agreed to try and tone it down, but thus far she hadn’t noticed a change.
“You’re feeling better now, though?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she repeated.
“Good to hear,” he said, clapping her on the shoulder. He sat down. Corrine tried to get back to her reading.
“I’m starting to remember how confusing your courtship rituals always were to me,” Aelous commented.
“Well, you’re not alone in that,” Corrine replied. Apparently, she had actually muttered this under her breath. Aaron turned and looked at her.
“What?” he asked.
“Hmm?”
“You said something,”
“Did I? Sorry. Just thinking out loud,”
“Technically true,” Aeolus pointed out.
The professor entered the room. His name was Jacob Potter, he was a tall, robust man with a very tiny and meek voice.
“Good morning everyone,” he said. “Today we’re going to be getting ready to finish up Don Quixote. I hope everyone has done the reading. Everyone also please welcome Corrine back to our class. She’s been out sick the past two weeks,”
A few people turned around to look at her. Corrine smiled weakly at them and gave a nervous little wave.
“Alright,” said the professor, “Now today I’d like to begin by talking about the Knight of the White Moon, aka Dr. Carrasco. If everyone would please turn to page 826…”
Corrine dutifully took out her book, and also her notebook, and began writing down everything Professor Potter said She liked writing things down. It made her feel in control of the situation.
“Fascinating,” commented Aeolus.
“What is?” thought Corrine, distractedly.
“I didn’t know humans could do that, that’s all,”
“Do what?”
“The words he says go directly to your hand, which writes them down. You don’t take any time to process them. Your mind continues to be on everything else,”
Corrine thought about this for a moment. Aeolus heard her.
“Fortunately, I have been paying attention,”
Corrine performed the mental equivalent of a shoulder shrug and went back to her note taking.
Aeolus was right, though. She did have a tendency to tune out. Fifteen minutes later, she realized that at some point she’d stopped taking notes and was, in fact doodling. Aeolus, oddly enough, had not seemed to notice – it seemed to be fixated entirely on the class discussion.
She had drawn a rough figure of a man, with a large whip made of energy in his hands. He was swinging the whip around, and it had caught another man, who was flying backwards and hitting a wall. This had taken up most of her paper. There were no notes for some time.
“Corrine?” asked the Professor. “Do you have anything to say about Kyle’s comment,”
Corrine did not. She did not, in fact, have any idea what Kyle had said or, indeed, who Kyle was.
“I think the point he’s forgetting is that its Dr. Carrasco who rights Don Quixote’s epitaph at the end of the book,” she said, much to her own surprise. “So even the man who’s basically been trying to destroy this reality for the whole book has been taken in by it,”
“That’s an interesting point,” observed Professor Potter. As he went on about Don Quixote, Corrine tried to figure out exactly what had happened.
“Your mind was blank,” thought Aeolus, “So I stepped in. Actually, I’d wanted to say that for a while,”
“I haven’t read that far,” thought Corrine, “How did you know that?”
“Read it before, I think. I just remembered how it ends,”
“Didn’t we talk about you taking over my voice without asking?”
“Well, we didn’t talk about anything. That would be ridiculous. But I see your point. I’ll try to be more courteous in the future,”
As Corrine was leaving the classroom, the Professor stopped, touching her lightly on the arm.
“I thought you comments today were very insightful,” he said, “Especially since I didn’t think you’d finished the book,”
“I… read very quickly,” said Corrine.
“I’m sure you do. I think if you contributed to the discussions with that sort of comment more often, you might see your participation grade start to go up,”
As Corrine walked off, an idea occurred to her.
“So you actually like this literary discussion thing?” she asked Aeolus.
“Like it? It’s wonderful. So intellectually stimulating. I feel so… at home with it. It’s familiar somehow,”
“Well, in that case, feel free to take over my voice whenever you like in English class. Or my hands, if there’s a pop quiz,”
“I told we’d start to get along eventually,”
“Don’t push your luck. I’m still getting you out of my head as quickly as possible,”
“Suit yourself,”
“I think your friend Luke may have misjudged that boy Aaron,” Aeolus commented, randomly.
“Since when do you take any interest in my friends?”
“Why shouldn’t I? I have to see them as much as you do,”
“That doesn’t mean you get to make judgments about them,”
“Well, I can hardly avoid that, now can I?”
Corrine sighed, and tried not to think about much of anything. She was thinking, to herself and not to Aeolus, that Luke was her friend and obviously had her best interests at heart, but perhaps he might have been to paranoid about Aaron. Or was Aeolus the one thinking that? She honestly couldn’t tell. Again, just for a moment. Then there was once again a clear distinction between their thought patterns.
“Corrine?” asked an accented voice from behind her. She turned around. It was Radhika.
“They told me you were awake. I missed you on Sunday though – I was very busy. How are you feeling?”
“Damn she’s familiar,” thought Aeolus, “I know I’ve met this girl before,”
“Stressed,” Corrine answered, “Lot’s of catching up to do,”
“I know what that’s like,” said Radhika, “Our whole Anthropology class has been playing catch up like crazy since we finally got a new professor,”
“Dr. Bronson still not back?” asked Corrine.
“Bronson…” though Aeolus. Suddenly a memory popped into its head. It was talking to this girl about something; it had run into her somewhere it didn’t expect to – a supermarket. And it was telling her a story. The memory fainted as quickly as it had appeared.
“No one’s seen him or heard from him in two weeks,” said Radhika. “I’ve been putting up signs all over the town, but I don’t think it’s doing any good,”
He’s not a dog, Corinne thought.
“I hope he’s alright,” she said, reassuringly. She patted Radhika on the arm.
“Me too,” she said. “I really miss him,”
They walked on in silence for a while. Aeolus was lost in thought, and Corrine was listening.
“I guess this is where we part, then,” she said, walking off towards her dorm.
“Goodbye,” said Radhika, “See you at lunch?”
Corrine shrugged.
“Do you know this Daniel Bronson?” asked Aeolus.
“Not really. I don’t think I’ve ever actually met him,”
“These must be my memories then. Odd,”
“You know him?”
“Quite well, I think. I’ve met that girl, too. I think if we could find this guy he could tell us what’s going on,”
“Too bad he’s been missing for two weeks,”
“Exactly how long we were in that coma,”
“So?”
“Seems a little odd, that’s all,”
“Maybe. Could just be a coincidence though,”
“I doubt that,”
“What did you mean about the dog?”
“Huh?”
“Radhika said she’d been putting up posters, and-”
“Oh that. People just usually put up posters for lost animals. Seldom for lost people,”
“Odd,” thought Aeolus. Then after a moment, “Why do you think so many things as if you’re going to say them, but then not say them?”
“Huh?”
“Never mind,”
Corrine had reached her dorm. She went inside and headed for her room. To her surprise, Anna was inside and awake, sitting on her bed painting her nails. Normally when she went to her eight o’clock class she came home immediately and took a nap.
“Hey,” she said as Corrine walked in, “What’s up? How was your first class back?”
“Not really any different,” said Corrine, “Except that I hadn’t finished the reading,”
She sat down on her bed and took off her shoes. Then she pulled her feet up onto her bed. She leaned down and picked up her backpack. Then she opened it and pulled out her Anthropology text book.
“That’s what I’m trying to avoid for tomorrow,” she finished.
“I would so not be able to do that,” commented Anna, then went back to admiring her left hand.
She opened the book and began the first of the four readings she had to get through today to catch up.
“Hmm,” thought Aeolus, “Odd. I think I’ve read this one too. Yes, very familiar,”
“Seriously?”
“Yup. Actually, I remember it much better then Don Quixote,”
“That’s kind of weird,”
“Why?”
“Because it’s a text book,”
“Nonetheless. No real point in you reading it. All the memories are in my mind, you may as well just go dig them up,”
“I’ll pass,” thought Corrine, “Going in there creeps me out. You know that,”
“I’m in a nail-painting mood,” commented Anna. Corrine could see this – she seemed unusually cheerful and girly. “Can I do yours?”
Why not? She thought.
“Sure,” she said.
“Yay!,” said Anna. “Okay, what color do you want?”
Corrine looked over Anna’s bottles of nail polish. She didn’t really have any preference. Fortunately, she didn’t need to.
“How about turquoise?” Anna suggested, “It’ll bring out the blue and the green in your eyes,”
“Sure,” said Corrine. She sat down on her roommates bed and held out her hand. As Anna began to paint her nails, she started chattering.
“So,” she said, “While you were in your Coma, I met this boy. His name is Mark, he’s on the LaCrosse team, and he’s absolutely gorgeous! Anyway, he’s in my biology class, Chemistry class, I don’t really know cause I haven’t payed much attention, but - ”
“Since you’re not really listening to her anyway, do you mind if I ask what we’re doing?”
“You’re not doing anything. I’m getting my nails painted,”
“Why?”
“So they’ll be pretty. Why are you asking so many questions about this? You never asked me about anything like this before,”
“I don’t know. Most of what you do seems natural to me. This I just have no memory of,”
“ – and the other day, he passed me at lunch and he said my hair looked really nice,” Anna finally finished, “What do you think of the color?”
Corrine held up her hand to look at the nail.
“What’s that?” asked Anna
“What?” asked Corrine
“In front of your hand,”
Corrine turned her hand over, looking at it. There was a small bead of blue light floating just in front of her palm. She reached out with her fingertips to touch it. It moved forward slightly, then immediately flew back to its original spot.
“Telepsis!” thought Aeolus.
“What?”asked Corrine.
“I don’t know what that means,” Aeolus reflected, “Hang on.”
The little ball of light flew away from her hand then zoomed around in a circle, landing back where it was before. Then it started zooming around like a bug. Corine reached out and grabbed it. It felt warm, and slightly tingly. For a minute it struggled to get out, but then it stopped.
All Corrine could detect of Aeolus’s thoughts was a feeling of childlike delight.
“What is it?” asked Anna, leaning close to Corrine’s clenched hand.
Corrine cupped her other hand around the clasped one and opened them as small a crack as she could, like someone who has just caught a firefly. The little ball of light zoomed out of the crack, did several loop-de-loops, then finally went ‘pop’ and disappeared.
“Weird,” said Anna.
“Any idea what that was?” Corrine asked Aeolus, as Anna took her hand and continued painting the nails.
“It has something to do with something called Telepsis, and I can make it do what I want it to,” Aeolus replied.
“You were controlling it?”
“Yup,”
“Did you make it disappear?”
“I think you did that,”
“I did?”
“Yeah, and I’m pretty sure you made it appear in the first place,”
“What makes you think that?”
“Corrine? You okay?” Anna asked, “You’re being really quiet,”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” answered Corrine, “Just trying to figure out what that was,”
“Yeah,” commented Anna, “Kinda looked like a firefly. But too small,”
“And blue,” Corrine added.
“That too,” conceded her roommate. “I hope it’s not some weird kind of pest,”
“Probably just a trick of the light,” suggested Corrine.
“Yeah probably,” Anna agreed, “So, anyway, Mark… ”
As Anna began to talk again, Corrine found her attention drifting back to Aeolus.
“Why do you think I made it appear and disappear?”
“I don’t know why. It’s just one of those things I know. The host creates the stuff, and the Telepsid manipulates it – hey, that’s what I am!”
“What are you?”
“I don’t know, but it’s called a Telepsid,”
“Well, that’s useful at least,”
It was going to have to be. Now that Corrine had a name, she decided to see if she could drag up some information. As soon as she and Anna had finished with their less-then-successful girl talk, she sat down at her computer and typed “Telepsid” into Google. There were no hits
“Telepsis”, however, yielded exactly one article, written about ten years ago for the Journal of Scientific Thought. Corrine clicked on the link. It was entitled “An Alternative Theory of the Emergence of Intelligence in Humans”, by Dr. Andrew Schiefling.
“That name sounds familiar, too” Aeolus commented.
“The theory of Evolution,” it began, “Is one that has been the center of much controversy in the one hundred and thirty years it has existed. Almost all of this controversy, however, has centered on religious issues. I intend to offer a very different reason for doubting the validity of Darwin’s theories.
Now as any physicist no doubt will tell you, every scientific theory is just that – a theory. There is almost nothing that we know for sure. All we can do is make hypotheses which seem to explain and predict who certain aspects of the universe will behave. We keep these hypotheses until they no longer accurately explain the data we have, collected, or in other words, until some experiment disproves them. For instance, for hundreds of years the working hypothesis of what then passed for the scientific was that the earth was flat, supported by four pillars on the back of a giant disk, with the sun and moon revolving around it in turns. This hypothesis slowly began to develop holes, and by the time Magellan sailed all the way around the globe, it was abundantly clear that a new hypothesis to explain the shape of the earth was needed, since if the original had been correct, he would have fallen off the edge. The general hypothesis that was adapted, that the earth is spherical, has held up ever since. If however, we were to discover that everything explained by the earth being round (gravity, day and night, seasonal changes, etc.) could be explained by another hypothesis, say that the earth was a giant cosmic hedgehog that had only been curled up in a ball for the past ten billion years, that would be just as viable a theory,”
The article continued on like this for some time, with no reference whatsoever to Telepsis. Corrine was about to give up when she finally found it.
“The theory that seems to work, then, is that humans are smarter than all other animals because the smarter humans survived better then the less intelligent ones, and as the smartest in each generation were allowed to breed the most, the population evolved to be smarter and smarter, until we figured out how to use tools and develop culture and become what we now think of as sentient.
I want to present an alternate solution which also seems to explain human intelligence. What if there was a type of energy we were completely incapable of detecting, which existed only in certain places in the world. This energy, which we’ll call Telepsis, greatly enhances the electrical impulses of the neurons in creature that passed through it, causing momentary increases in cognitive ability, what we would call flashes of inspiration. Because it moves over the surface of the planet, no creature stays in contact with it for long enough for this enhanced intelligence help it survive longer and pass on it’s genes. Now let’s imagine, just by chance, that a mutation in one of our ancestors caused that creature caused some of that Telepsis to cling to it. That creatures cognitive abilities would be greatly enhanced. This mutation would pass on very quickly, and eventually all of the Telepsis, instead of existing only in “oceans” floating around the planet, would exist in fields around individual humans.
Eventually, of course, if the population continued to expand, there would be no Telepsis left, and people would become gradually stupider as there was less and less Telepsis to suck up. There is surprising evidence for this theory, then, to be found in this year’s election records. Now I’m not meaning to suggest that this theory is correct, or even “more” correct than conventional..”
“It’s true,” thought Aeolus.
“It’s ridiculous,” thought Corrine, “I’ve had less then a semester of Anthropology and less then a semester of biology, and even I can tell how crazy it sounds,”
“It’s true,” Aeolus repeated, “I remember it now. And we have to find this guy,”
“What?”
“This Andrew Schiefling. Unless he’s disappeared too. Scroll to the bottom of the article,”
She did. It read, “Dr. Andrew Schiefling is chair of the Science Department at Wentsworth College in Wales. He holds a Doctorate in Theoretical Physics, as well as a Masters degree in Biology. He lives in a Wentsworth flat with three cats and a Budgey,”
“Where is Wales? Is it close?”
“It’s on the other side of an ocean,”
“Drat. Well, we’d best start figuring out how to get there,”
“We couldn’t e-mail him or something?”
“Nope. You want me out of your head, we gotta do this in person,”
“I’m not going to Wales because you have a feeling this guy knows something,”
“At the very least, let’s make sure he still lives there,”
“Okay,” thought Corrine.
She typed “Dr. Andrew Schiefling” into Google. Just for fun she clicked on “I’m feeling lucky”.
The website was for The First Annual White House Summit on Global Warming.
“He’s gonna be in DC!” Corrine explained.
“Who is?” asked Anna groggily. She had been napping.
“Sorry,” said Corrine.
“Is D.C. closer?”
“Way closer. It’s only like four hours,”
“Perfect. We have to get to this summit,”