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.
“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,”
“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?”
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.
“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 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.
“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,”
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.
“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,”
“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,”
“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?”
“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,”
“Seems a little odd, that’s all,”
“Maybe. Could just be a coincidence though,”
“I doubt that,”
“What did you mean about the dog?”
“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?”
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,”
“Yup. Actually, I remember it much better then Don Quixote,”
“That’s kind of weird,”
“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,”
“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.
“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?”
“Did you make it disappear?”
“I think you did that,”
“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,”
“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,”