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…”
“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.
“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...”
“I don’t think you can do that.”
“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,”
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?”
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,”
“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.

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