My folks tell me I’ve been writing stories since I was in 2nd grade. Do I remember that? No, but the first stories I do remember writing were fanfic (really, really amateur fanfic) set in comic book universes, mostly X-Men. My friends and I read lots of those and made up our own tales and then I wrote about them or came up with my own stories.
The characters that interested me the most were the telepathic ones and the ones who could teleport. Why? Because people didn’t make sense to me, and I hate long roadtrips. If I were telepathic, maybe people would’ve make more sense. If I could teleport, I could avoid roadtrips. What a deal, eh?
When I wrote Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo, I made the main characters telepathic. That’s why M is for Telepath.
In science fiction, especially the superhero genre, telepathy is as common as breathing. I wanted my telepathic characters to be unique in some way. Giving the normal ones the ability to teleport, too, was not all that unique. Anyone remember the 1970s TV series Tomorrow People? (I understand there’s been a reboot, but I haven’t seen that one).
Calla, one of the main characters in Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo, is a doctor who specializes in psionic medicine. I decided to use that to make my telepathic characters different. How does she perceive the mind? Here, check out this excerpt. (No spoilers.)
Nikk aimed a portable scanner at one of the bullet holes. “Two patients, both in their twenties. Appeared in the waiting room unconscious. Female was shot twice in the chest with an old-style projectile gun. Both patients have psionic injuries, but I’m not sure how severe. Check the male first.”
“I’m on it.” Calla hurried to the male patient and perched on a stool next to a portable vat of pseudo-amoebic growth accelerator.
She reached into his mind. Visualizing his mind as a maze of glass panes, she took a moment to survey the mental landscape. Areas of blackened, broken panes stood out against the others near them.
For such a young man, he’d had a troubled life. Discounting the obvious damage, years’ worth of panes bore witness to endless tribulation.
Childhood, usually marked with brilliantly colored support poles and almost cartoon-like images, looked oddly muted. An illness couldn’t have caused the problem. The panes would have been thin and brittle if that were the case.
Calla had seen the dull, lifeless color scheme associated with feelings of isolation, often from absent parents or a perceived lack of security. The boy she mentored had a similar run in his maze between the time his mother had left and a month later when Calla had met him and taken him under her wing.
Adolescence showed a dramatic change to a blindingly bright scheme marking fear and hypersensitivity. More reds and oranges appeared, and the supports now bristled with spikes to keep people at a distance. Some of that could be normal, but Calla rarely saw such an intense anger.
That span lasted a short distance before the real tragedy reared up. In the space of a few weeks, the maze changed from garish to monotone. Images were blurred and warped, and the frames were twisted and frail. Some pictures were too grayed out to discern. Chemical dependence. Judging from the severe degradation, she supposed drugs rather than alcohol had been his poison of choice.
Then, some seven or eight years ago, there had been a gradual change. Colors returned, first the hot colors of anger and fear, and then in time the cooler colors of happier times until the images looked like photos in an album. The supports showed the change by becoming straighter and melding their colors and materials to provide a pleasing match to the images they held.
He’d righted his life again, and the depressing monochromatic drug addiction hadn’t returned even once. An admirable achievement, given how many patients she’d seen who had never made the journey or had tried, only to lapse back into the old, destructive ways.
She completed her general overview in less than a minute, and then she returned to what damage there was.
Calla shifted her attention. A sense of pain and weakness from teleporting with injuries stood out in her perception. Her natural sympathetic reaction threatened to pull her down, but she kept her focus on the patient.
Two collections of the glass walls lay in black pieces, one in the monotone addict phase of his life and the other more recent. Scorched or cracked single frames and short runs were scattered about.
One of the cracked panes in his drab childhood broke apart and fell. A nearby one darkened and splintered moments later. The floor in this area looked uneven, marking damage to a deeper level of his mind.
Although the male patient’s condition would slowly decline, Calla could afford to leave him for now and come back later, provided she didn’t wait too long. From the other bed, the pain and instability in the woman’s mind demanded more immediate attention. Calla hated to leave her current patient, but the woman’s physical and mental injuries might compound each other.
With a promise to return, Calla pulled away from the young man and spun one hundred eighty degrees to the other victim.
There are other levels of the mind. If you want to check out how Calla sees them, you’ll have to read the tale.
Your next prompt: N is for Jitters