Extra Perceptory

Updated every Thursday.

Thursday, February 28

Installment D

I took a deep breath. Rays of sunshine leaked down from the rows of windows covering the ceiling, exposing the fragments of dust and dirt floating innocently in the air before me. I tried to clear my mind of all distractions. The useless strife that preoccupied my life became as insignificant as the particles of dust that filled the clear silver hallway before me. The sound of footsteps filled the hall as I continued walking slowly through the corridors of the Psychic Academy, my new home.

Before, I had always filled my mind with as much as I possibly could in order to stop my headaches and prevent myself from slipping into the minds of others. However, Mira showed me the procedure officers use to block unwanted mental invasion, and it worked like a charm for me. This led to private meditation lessons with Mira every week, and I soon found myself in total control of my powers and subsequently my headaches. I stopped having to preform strenuous physical exercise daily, and, more than anything, my muscles felt the effects of the exercises I'd already completed.

My father, an ex-military man, had shown me a variety of work-outs, which I preformed several times a week until Mira proclaimed that I was an expert in psychic meditation. Now, I rode my bicycle, carried heavy sacks of groceries, and preformed athletic activities with ease. Every day, I felt more of my strength returning. My muscles became hard, not exactly that of a body builder physique, but noticeably rounder.

With my father by my side, I continued to walk through the rays of sunshine, which filled the bleak gray hallways, toward the office of the Psy Academy's principle.

I was wearing my favorite outfit, a long sleeved pink shirt and a pair of electric blue wind pants covered with my favorite cartoon character. It had been quite popular when I was a child, and I thought other's would think he was still memorable, therein removing some of the social stigma surrounding my gender and race.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Dozens of girls lined the hallway, some stood to talk, while others walked to class. I was enrolling half-way through the year. My face blushed and my hands broke into sweat. I was scared. All the girls wore white and gray uniforms, my florescent ensemble stuck out like a businessman performing in a circus. I tried to go by my father's example, which was looking forward and walking with a calm steady pace. I instinctively did the same, but girls still giggled and pointed.

Eventually we got to the principle's office, which was noted by a small square break in the hallway where the secretary's desk sat. A few chairs where lined up adjacent to the office door. I was lucky to see they were empty. A trouble maker waiting to see the administration probably wouldn't have made for the best experience to start off my academic career here.

The secretary told me to sit in one of the chairs while Amman entered the principle's office. I caught the secretary's eyes as she peered over her desk with a disgusted facial expression. I crossed my arms, and turned my head the other way. I couldn't say if she noticed my contempt , but perhaps outrage wasn't the best response. I decided to switch to a cross-legged position with my hands in my lap. Having to wait patiently was my biggest pet-peeve.

"Hey there Pinky, are you lost?" one of the passing students spoke to me with pure malice. I should have just ignored her. I should have just sat silently.

"No, today's my first day." I responded, anger rising.

"How old are you?" Her voice was sly and mischievous.

"Twelve, I'll be thirteen in a month."

"I'll give you till your thirteenth birthday till you quit. Don't think you're the first guy who's tried to come here."

I wanted to respond, but she walked away with a swift step. A group of girls walked by, one pointing in my direction. Laughter immediately broke out between them. If the secretary noticed any of this, she certainly didn't show it. Then yet another group of girls came over to put in their two.

"Hey there little guy, are you a boy, or just a really ugly girl?"

"I'm Russian too."

"Yeah, no duh," the girl lowered her face until it was centimeters away from my own, "It's obvious enough that you're a god damned freak, you don't have to go singing about it."

"And it's obvious enough that you're clueless," I quickly responded this time so she couldn't run away, "Also, your mother would absolutely die if she heard you talk like that."

My anger had reached the level of blinding rage, leaving my powers free to run rampant. Images and memories filled my mind of this girl's mother. Her father died of radiation poisoning left over from the war when she was four years old. Her mother loved him, and would never begrudge someone simply because they were the opposite sex, that became immediately apparent whether I liked it or not.

"How the hell would you know?" The girl's response was faltering between white hot indignation and gale force fury.

"Think about everything your father did for you and your mother, would he stand hearing you proclaim such prejudice?"

I felt her mind trying to inject itself into mine. She was trying to break open my senses, my memories, my very morals and beliefs. Our eyes locked and her lips pursed in effort as her thoughts rammed against my mind like a bird trying to fly through a window.

The girl's face turned a bright scarlet. Her hand rose as if she meant to slap me, but instead she turned rapidly and walked away. Her friends close behind her, whispering and murmuring.

I should have just sat silently. I don't need to make things any harder than they already are.

The door opened and Amman gestured me inside. The principle's office was dimly lit. It had carpet, and the walls were lined with wooden shelves of books and mementos. It bore no resemblance whatsoever to the generic gray that overcast the rest of the school. It was homely and welcoming rather than uniform and ordered. The principle sat behind her desk, holding a few sheets of paper. Amman stood in the corner, learning against the wall.

"I'm sorry if any of my students have been antagonizing you," the principle apologized as I walked in.

"It's alright, it's not like they really caught me by surprise."

"He's had run-ins with prejudice before. Mostly on the Russian account, but I'm sure dealing with the gender issue will be just as easy to overcome." Amman said. I couldn't tell whether he was trying to defend me or dismiss me, maybe both.

"This instance might be a little more extreme, I fear. I wish I could stop the students from bearing such hatred, but I can only do so much." As she spoke, her face portrayed the deep disappointment she must have felt.

"It's not just your students, I slipped while I was waiting in the hall. Your secretary-"

"Isaac!" Amman stopped me, then shot a hot glance in my direction. I realized my mistake, but it was too late now.

"Yes," the principle ignored our inner dispute, "I've talked to my secretary about her beliefs, she promises me that she wouldn't indulge in any more prejudice while working for me, but I fear her hate runs deep.

"I apologize again, I'm Principle Anna Brix, but you can just call me Anna, or Brix. I'm honored to welcome you to my academy. I'd like you to know, that I'm behind you all the way. If any students, or goodness forbid, any teachers give you trouble, let me be the first to know. I'll do everything in my power to see you receive an equal opportunity under my administration."

"Thank you so much. I really do appreciate that." I responded with a smile.

"I assume you both have a heartfelt goodbye to tend to, I'll be sitting here in plain sight if either of you should need me." She carried a wise aura but spoke with a sarcastic tone.

"I guess this is goodbye." Amman walked towards me, his soft smile accentuated by the shadows of the dim lamps resting on Brix's desk.

"Yep, I'll see you during quarter break."

"Be sure to write to me," Amman bent down to his knees to hug me. He held on tight for several seconds before letting go and walking backwards, slowly, towards the door.

"I'll write everyday."

"I didn't raise any papa's boy. You'll write me when you have something to write about."

"I'll write everyday." I reiterated with a sarcastic tone.

We exchanged a few more goodbyes, then Amman was gone. A feeling of loneliness suddenly crept up my spine, but I fought back with a calm breath and a clear mind. I had just now realized how hard it will be without Amman with me. I was already homesick.

"I'll show you to your room, your baggage is already there. We really tried to get you a room by yourself, but it was difficult. The school's already overcrowded to it's brink. You'll only have to share with a few others, though most of them will be older. I've noticed that the older students are a bit less prejudice, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Two of the girls are actually in your grade. I would recommend trying not to attract their attention, you might have them in some of your classes. Speaking of, your schedule should be in an envelope on your bunk. If it's not, just come back to let me know, I'll get you a new one." Brix was like a nit-picky mother readying her child for school, but that might not be too far off. Regardless, I followed Brix's directions to my room, the school was easy enough to navigate. I was there in no time.


Space was abundant in the wide sky blue dorm. Brix said I'd have to share with 'a few' others, but I found myself standing in the doorway of a long room full of at least a few dozen other students, with bucks covering the walls in odd alternating patterns. Some were bunk beds, others slept only one. There didn't appear to be any set pattern governing bed organization, but in the middle of the room was a pile of bunk mattresses, some were stacked to make couches, others were bent and folded to make lawn-chair shapes, even more were left simply piled up in the center of it all. They had been removed from the bunks covering the right wall, which left only the bunks in the back and on the left left side of the room to sleep in. Rooms were obviously meant to hold twice, or even thrice as many students.

All because of my gender, how ridiculous.

Several girls sat on the mattresses doing homework, playing video games, or reading, but all eyes turned to me as I entered.

A deep breath and a prolonged blink, then my mind was once again cleared. I didn't want to seem threatening, so I bent my head down, let blush appear on my cheeks and said to the room with a soft shaky voice "Hello, my name's Isaac. I'm suppose to be sleeping here."

Around the room similes started popping up, curling the faces of my future roommates, now completely preoccupied with the figure standing in their doorway. I took a step forward and gently let the door close behind me.

"Brix already had a talk with us about prejudice." One of the girls from the middle pile said as her attention returned to her hand held video game.

"We've already talked you over. No one in here is prejudice, so you can desist that hellish act and grow some balls." Another girl added, from her bunk.


"Shut up, we don't care," another girl from the far back chimed in, "We're not those rich prissy bitches that think women are the ultimate life form, but that doesn't mean we're going to throw you any bones. To us, you're just another freshy hurting to get hazed."

"Well then," I began as I walked over to my bunk, my bag sat on the top of the bunk bed to the front left corner of the room. The majority of the girls' bunks were near the back of the room. I was perfectly fine with that. Laying before me were several pairs of uniform, and the envelope containing my schedule. "I thought this was going to be a cake walk, but I guess I might have to deal with conflict and, God forbid, opposition. What will I do to-"

"Shut up, no one thinks you're funny, pinky." The same voice from the back of the room interjected her thoughts.

"Oooh, I get it, because I'm wearing a pink shirt. Clever. That's honestly the first time I've-"

"Allow me to reiterate. You're not funny. Shut up."

I was lucky the corner I had been allocated was so dark compared to the rest of the room, I noticed some of the florescent lights were turned off. The girl I had been quarreling with lay on the bottom bunk of the bed in the opposite corner of my own, probably doing homework or something. I took off my clothes, as humiliating as it felt, and redressed in the gray uniform I had so longed for earlier that day. The other students' uniforms were once-pieces, and zipped in the back. Mine was a two piece, with a zipper in the front, like jeans. I could imagine why males would find the girl one-pieces uncomfortable. The uniform was all generic, save the yellow and navy 'all seeing eye' emblem adorning the shoulders and upper left chest. I personally liked it.

I didn't have to look around, I just let a little bit slip so I could feel the minds of the other girls. A few of them let smiles creep up the sides of their mouths as I changed. It was rather awkward and demoralizing, but I didn't let it get to me. I cleared my mind again and started unpacking, then I realized. There was no place to put any of my belongings. The room was completely bear except for the bunks, but the other girls obviously had possessions. My breath picked up rate slightly as I tried to think of where the storage might be.

Under the bunks? Nope, there was nothing under any of the other bunks. Lockers somewhere else? No, that would be too inconvenient. If that were the case the other girls would have more with them.

Smiles lit up the faces of several of my room-mates as they saw me franticly looking around. They all stayed silent. If they wanted to play nasty, so could I.

I mentally slipped and searched the room for a thought about clothes, nothing turned up. Then for a thought about homework, nothing. Then about me, everyone's minds lit up like Christmas trees. I slipped into the girl who had been ridiculing me earlier. There it was, in plain sight. She told me more than I ever could have asked for.

I knelt down. The floor was carpet covered with a small square pattern. Every few dozen centimeters there was a floor door. One per bunk. About half a meter on each side, there were three squares that you could press in, then lift the floor to reveal a spacious gap, perfect for books, clothes, etc. I hated all these wannabe futuristic stabs at "innovative" or "original" architecture, but I have to admit that this design really does save space, and I'm sure there are even more compartments throughout the middle of the room.

I felt the mouths of the room one more time. To my displeasure, only a few were open in shock or bewilderment. However I'm sure surprise was currently sweeping over the room.

I unpacked my belongings into the compartment, all the while doing a shallow slip into the girl from before. She had a mischievous plan to start hazing me once I left the room to grab my books, but I decided to shoot it down. I learned from her that there were keys to each compartment, mine had been placed between the mattresses in the pile composing the makeshift couch. Without skipping a beat, I finished unpacking my bag, put it under my bunk, pulled my schedule out of its envelope, and while looking it over walked to the couch, grabbed the key from between the the girls doing homework, walked back to lock my belongings in, and then left to grab my books.


The book room was just closing as I got there. I was lucky the school was so easy to figure out. The classrooms were all neatly designated, and large signs posted above every hallway intersection made it simple to get to anywhere, from anywhere, just by following the signs respectively.

"Oh! You're the new student Brix has been talking about. Welcome to Psy Aca." The way the book lady spoke made it seem as if I were entering a mystical foreign land. I kind of thought it endearing.

"Yeah," I handed her my schedule, "I'm just here to grab some books before tomorrow."

"Let's take a look. American Military History, Ancient History, Modern World History, Dif. Algebra I, English Writing & Grammar, Russian Military History, Dif. Science I.

"That's quite a load for your first year. I can pull up your file on the computer and drop some of these electives for you if you want?"

"No, I actually made sure that I got those. It'll be okay. I'm going to need something to divert myself with anyway, I think homework would be an excellent substitute."

"Oh. I see, you're right."

I wish I had Max's knack for making small talk, but it looks like I always end up bringing up whatever is on my mind. I should learn to keep my worries out of every one else's business, especially if I want to go far here. The book lady was obviously uncomfortable with the discrimination factor, but she hasn't done anything wrong. I should hold my tongue.

I returned to my room quickly after finally securing my mountain of books. I was lucky to be so athletic.

The only thing waiting for me back at the room was more melodrama.

I hate melodrama.

"Hey there Pink!"

All the girls were gleaming as I entered the room again. They all wore mischievous smiles and impish eyes.

"Come on in, Pink!" one of the girls in the back shouted.

I didn't have to slip into anyone's mind to know something was up.

Thursday, February 21

Installment C

"What's that you're drinking?" Monika, the lab assistant, asked while going through the routine checks.

"Tea." I responded as she measured my blood pressure.

"What kind?"

"The worst kind."

"Worst kind?" She moved on to listening to my heart and lungs via stethoscope.



My arms and legs constantly feel heavy. I've been on sick leave for the past month. Amman asked me if I wanted to just quit school, and then have him home school me, but I assured him that I plan on returning, eventually. Until then, I just wait everyday for Amman to come home with tomorrow's homework. Funny thing, when I'm sick, thanks to Amman, I learn everything a day before everyone else. Well, not necessarily. Sometimes the lessons are postponed when the headaches strike; I have abrupt scathing migraines, usually lasting two to three hours.

Two weeks after her presentation at school, Mira came to visit me at home; I articulated rather 'aggressively' that it was probably not in my best interest for my LL-3 sector to be activated. I proceeded to politely plead with her to find a a safe, viable solution that would cease all psychic function from my mental apparatus, if at all possible.

Next, I politely expectorated a lovely fragment of saliva in the general direction of her feet, then exited the room, lamenting. These actions prompted the obligatory scolding from Amman, but later that day I received via email an apology in the form of 10-point, black, aerial text. In this genuine piece of Mira's heart, I found out that she had once been my father's grade school teacher, and was invited to take part in the search for a procedure to make a working psychic apparatus go dormant. Naturally, I was ecstatic.

My father received an email outlining times, the exact location, and the necessary precautions concerning the research. As an extra added bonus, Mira decided to reminisce about Amman and a childhood girlfriend of his, whom he apparently made storm out of the classroom weeping back in the 5th grade.

I had no objections thus far.

So, every few days I found myself being driven the long awkward stretch to the Psy Operations building.

What a horrible place. Every pair of eyes that met mine sent looks of pure loathe and despise. My father, being a civilian, couldn't accompany me, so I had to walk alone all the way from the front doors to the clinic wing, then off to the laboratories. Usually they just have me swallow this pill, or give me that injection. Then they see that there's either absolutely no change, or I leave even more lethargic than I was to begin with. I found the lack of progress somewhat demoralizing, but stayed strong, hoping for a breakthrough.

I've been relaying on things like coffee to give me my energy, but Mira protested by buying me a jump rope. She says I'll feel stronger if I exercise.


"You like your new jump rope?" my father asked one evening as I concentrated on synchronizing my jumps filling the night air of our backyard with the soft swoosh of the rope on the grass.

I stopped jumping. "I think it's helping." I held it out to him. "Would you like to give it a try?"

"Sure!" Amman reached for the jump rope. I had no idea how fit he was. In seconds, the rope had whirled around him like an impenetrable force field. His face did not contort, nor show any signs of discomfort despite the impressive display of physical ability.


"Doesn't quite have the nostalgia of a hula-hoop, does it?" I asked him, trying feebly to sound smart.

"That was a little bit before my time."

"What? Those thin, cheap, plastic hoops are older then this old man who can jump rope like a pro-athlete?" I noticed he wasn't even breathing hard.

"Well, to be fair, the jump rope has always been a form of exercise and recreation. The hula-hoop is dead for all practical purposes."

"At school they have hula-hoops every Physical exercise period," I answered.

"Well, looks like they aren't nearly as dead as I thought they were."

"You're not saying you didn't have a hula-hoop when you were a kid?"

"You did your homework. I did have one, just like everyone else. They were one of the only toys the government let us play with. Everyone had one. The thing is, I never touched it. Didn't really care for it."

"What else could you have? Besides the hula-hoop?"

"For me? Four varying shades of colored crayons, and a sail boat. Never had any sisters. Couldn't tell you want sorts of things girls were given. Now, let's talk about something else."

I wanted to know why my father didn't like hula-hoops, but suddenly a pain shot through my eyes to the back of my skull. I clutched my head and fell to the ground, gasping for air.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," my father muttered as he put an arm under my back to support me. "These headaches are becoming unbearable. What's Monika doing?"

Headaches were a normal part of life now. They came and went, sometimes bad, like the one I was having now, and other times unbearable. "I'm okay," I said to Amman, squeezing my eyes shut and willing the pain to subside.


I found myself occupying a lot of time reading, which helped to contain the headaches. My brain didn't hurt when it was occupied, or rather if my brain was occupied it couldn't know it hurt. I became an expert on things like the Second American Civil War, which happened a few decades back. I learned that my father fought as a rebel commander. I also found out a lot about technology, and the evolution thereof. That sort of stuff was just a byproduct of my interest, though. What I truly loved was history, world history from World War II and after. Naturally the books were only fluent in American History, but I got my fix one way or another. Luckily enough for me, reading not only calmed my headaches, but it also kept my powers in check. Whenever a book wasn't around, I would doodle frivolously, or write.

A few days ago I learned just how vital it was to keep my powers under control. I 'slipped' and jumped into Max's mind while he was visiting for lunch. I lived through him in a sensation I could never describe no matter how hard I tried. I was still myself, but heard what he was hearing, saw through his eyes, even tasted the soda in his mouth and felt it go down his throat. Unfortunately at that moment in time Max had been remembering an old memory of his best friend back on the moon. He was making a mental comparison of him to me. We really were remarkably similar in personalities. His name was Sean. So, with boyish delight, moments after I regained my full, undivided consciousness, I asked Max if he kept in touch with his old friend Sean. Max began to tear up and left the room. His mother, who had been visiting my father, later explained that Sean died of skin cancer at the age of 6.

Since then I've been trying not to 'slip.'


"Well today's the day!" Monika exclaimed.

"Hopefully." I replied as lab assistants hooked me up to a moderately sized machine. One of them kept giving me dirty looks. Most of the Scientists didn't carry any grudge against men, but she had me on the Russian account, too, which is bound to piss some people off. I felt my mind start to somersault but I pulled my eyes away from the hard-eyed Scientist and thought of facts from the 2nd Civil War.

Today's the day I'm suppose to have my powers turned off, according to Monika. She had been the lead researcher and developer of the new procedure which sends a special wavelength electromagnetic pulse into your psychic apparatus, which supposedly disables it. Maybe the wavelength varies depending on the person, or maybe it doesn't work. Otherwise the main branch of the military would be all over this lab like a field full of ants on a cherry, so they could turn the device into a weapon against Russian psymen.

"Ready?" a voice asked me over the intercom. It was male, calm and pleasant. Probably a computer. All the researchers stayed in the adjacent room with a large pane of glass separating us. Their white lab coats were covered by a huge glare, but I could still make out most of their faces. They looked skeptical.

"Anytime," I answered apathetically.

A rush of dissociation flowed into my brain. It wasn't my first time experiencing a stasis field. I closed my eyes and let my head rest softly on the rest behind it as the machine buzzed swiftly around my cranium.

I looked down at the shiny white shoes. The stockings had a run in them, so I pushed my lab coat down slightly to try to cover it up, then looked up to see me lying on the long lab bench, my shirt off and probes attached all over my chest. A machine spun around my head, buzzing. I toke a quick glance at the closest computer console to check the ratings. According to the sensory probes I was still outputting well over 300p's of psychic impulses. I realized I wouldn't be able to stop it, but maybe I could bring it down to 200p's or so. My powers would surely shrivel and die after that kind of drop.

I reached down and started pushing buttons. One to increase the spectrum, another to re-verb the waves being emitted in my stasis field. I wrote down the changes on the clipboard I was holding.

My brain's electro wave output level was down to 60p's. All the waves and emissions would probably detract a lot from my immune system, through. I better send myself off with some antibiotics and cold medicine.

I looked down again, startled. I had to throw up, badly. As I looked up I saw vomit creeping down the side of my chin. I put my hand up over my mouth to keep it from spilling out. Purely out of habit, I took a look at the screen one last time before running to get a bucket. My psy level was well over 1000p's. I tried to run, but slipped and landed firmly on my nose. The warm blood crept across my face as I lay glued to the floor, the taste of copper met my lips as the blood pooled. My assistants were calling out behind me. "Monika, what's the matter? Monika, are you hurt?"

Wait a second, I thought, I'm not Monika, I'm Isaac.


"He broke the machine?" My father erupted with laughter, grinning from ear to ear.

"That's right," Mira responded, "His psy levels were higher than Monika's. He slid into her mind, and she didn't even notice it, but Isaac could answer all of Monika's questions and indulge us with deep detail when asked what Monika thought and felt. He verifiably was Monika."

"So?"Amman interrupted, "I know Isaac's slipped into people's minds before, in fact just last month he-"

"Sliding to such a high degree, unnoticed, into a high-ranking psy officer with special training in warding off psychic intrusion is an act worthy of high praise for a 12-year-old boy." Mira interrupted back.

"That's just great and all, but I'm waiting for you to explain the new plan to get these powers to die out."

"There is no new plan," Mira said. "They're probably going to be with him for the entirety of his lifetime."

"The entirety of his lifetime is what I'm worried about."

"In my personal opinion, I think he'd do great at the Psy Academy. I think you should enroll him there. They'd take him, no doubt."

"He's been to the Psy Academy. He's obviously Russian, and male."

"It's getting better. These days teachers and staff enforce a zero tolerance, no discrimination policy. My granddaughter told me all about it."

"We've been there. He's not going," Amman's voice had shifted from light sarcasm to his regular stern teaching voice.

Mira tilted her chin upward but said nothing.

"I didn't know you had a granddaughter," Amman said into the awkward silence.

"Her names Lena, she's a wonderful girl, and a pacifist."

"Then why is she going to the Psy Academy?" he asked.

"Just because you're going there doesn't mean you have hopes of becoming a military officer. The majority of the students go into math, science, business, psychology, technology, you name it. And I know you don't want to hear it, but I think the Psy Academy might be the only option when it comes to controlling that boy's powers. Think about it, Amman. Where else can provide him with the means necessary to focus and control his abilities?"

"That's all very well, Mira, but can you guarantee that Isaac won't be killed before graduation?"

"No, I can't guarantee that it'll be a cake walk, but I can guarantee that what doesn't kill him will only make him stronger."

Amman picked up a glass and filled it with scotch. "Well, we'll see what Isaac has to say after we tell him all this."

"I think he already knows," Mira said softly, a twinkle in her eye.

Mira and Amman both turned their heads to look at me as I lay on a couch, sleeping. They were both thinking of the same thing, but their attitudes towards it couldn't have been more different.

Amman drained the glass and closed his eyes, his face set in a grimace.

"I'll be off then," Mira rose from her seat and began walking towards the door.

"I'll contact you later," Amman voice was quiet, he continued to stare at me. "Good bye, and thank you for everything."

"It's my pleasure, really. I'll look forward to your mail." Mira glanced at me as she shut the door. "Sweet dreams."

Wednesday, February 13

Installment B

"Really? So that makes you a psyman?" I gleamed. I've always had an extraordinary interest in ESP.

"Yep, and I'm here today to give you all the aptitude test."

Ten minutes later I found myself in the same white rectangular room, although the rows of desks were now full of chatty, anxious preteens. I sat with Max near the front of the room, while Jessica, the girl I had a crush on since 2nd grade, sat directly behind me. It was shaping up to be a pretty good year so far, I thought. Max and I talked away our worries, while I tried to inconspicuously glance back at her. Mira and my father were standing directly in front of the projection screen, a meter or so from the door.

"You know, you can still go to the Psy Academy even if you're not an esper. If you're really that interested in them, just become a scientific researcher or something. You can spend all day studying them, and get paid for it."

"No, I'm not the type for that kind of commitment. I'm interested in just having psychic powers, not dissecting brains or running tests. Besides, you know how sexist and xenophobic those people are. I'm not just male, I'm of direct Russian descent. I'd be eaten alive."

Jessica decided to lean forward and chime into the conversation, "You're of Russian decent? How in the world did you end up in America?"

"I have no idea. They found me near Warsaw when I was just a baby. Amman was studying abroad at the time, before we were at war with Russia, and after he saw the state Europe was in he considered it his duty to lend a helping hand. So he walked to the nearest homeless shelter to give a donation, but on the way he saw me through the orphanage window. He said I was staring right at him with my big hazel eyes, and he couldn't help but try to find me a home back in America. The rest is history."

The three of us turned our heads to stare at Mr. Erlenmeyer.

My father and Mira appeared to be discussing something serious, but then they both stopped and faced the class. Everyones' attention was abruptly directed towards the front as my father clapped his hands with a force that could've killed a small woodland creature. Dead silence quickly filled the air.

"Hello class," he glanced around the room, "I'm happy to see that you all know each other. I guess we can skip introductions and dive straight into the curriculum. You can call me Mr. Erlenmeyer. Let's start off with a little treat that I've arranged for you all today. A good friend of mine, Psy Ensign Mira Hunther, is going to talk to you all about ESP users and then administer the test that'll tell you whether or not you have ESP aptitude. Ms. Hunther, if you'd take the floor?"

"I certainly would," Mira took a step forward with a gleaming smile. She wore basic civilian cloths, plain gray pants with a forest green button down shirt. Although she still wore her dog tags, as well as the psyman emblem pinned nonchalantly to her collar.

As my father (or, excuse me, Mr. Erlenmeyer) introduced Mira two more psymen walked into the room. One of them carrying a box full of odd semi-circle contraptions.

They wore tight green heavily armored uniforms. The two looked ready for a fierce battle, not exactly appropriate for a classroom, but I assumed all psymen had to wear them until they either finished their military service or got promoted like Mira. The thing all of them had in common was the yellow and navy 'all seeing eye' that marked the Psy Corps division on their shoulders. I wondered why they called themselves psymen, when nearly all of them were women. It seemed to me like psyperson, or psywomen would've broken out long ago, but maybe that just doesn't roll off the tongue quite the same.

I sat in admiration as Mira continued her brief lesson.

"Good afternoon everyone. I'm sure you've all seen on the news or read in the paper about all the work being put into ESP aptitude, right? Well, today's the day it'll all come together, so who's ready to see if they have psychic powers?"

The two privates began distributing the white plastic devices without regard for Mira's still going speech.

"About thirty percent of the human population has ESP aptitude. Of those thirty percent, only five percent are male. This is because the physical node which creates and manipulates the electromagnetic waves linked to ESP-like functions is located in the corpus callosum. For some reason, the physical appendage has yet to begin showing up in males. The life expectancy of a male with mediocre ESP powers is anywhere from 5 to 25 years, and for a male with very weak ESP powers it's anywhere from 20 to 50 years. However a female with any strength or type of ESP capabilities can make it to 150, easily. The reason for this drastic difference is as of now unknown, but ESP is the fastest growing field in research, so don't be surprised to know the answer to that by the end of this year."

"Excuse me, Mira," My father interjected and turned to address the class, "You don't have to worry about any terms you don't know. You'll be covering this more extensively next year, anyway."

Well, that made sense as to me as to why there aren't any men in the psy army. But then why are they giving the testing modules to the males too? Even, if one of the guys in here just so happened to have ESP aptitude, it basically just means he'll die abnormally fast. Why put someone through that experience? Probably in the light of fairness. Mira's likely thinking that no one in here's actually going to have real ESP powers. A girl or two might set a reaction off, but probably nothing notable. I hate people who take such useless risks.

"Of those that do have ESP aptitude," Mira continued, "only around half of them ever use it. Usually the powers die out after a few years, or never become strong enough to serve any practical implementation. But, those girls that do develop powers are considered a natural resource. Psychic abilities are re-inventing the fields of entertainment, to marine-biology, to waste disposal, and everything in between. Chances are, you're all going to work with an esper sometime in your life. And they're becoming more common everyday. When I was a young girl, about 5% of the population total had psychic abilities. The numbers just keep going up. Within our lifetimes, we'll probably see male espers become common, and perhaps eventually everyone will be able to talk without even opening out mouths.

"Usually mental abilities begin to form around the prepubescent period in females, or as early as the toddler years in males. Sometimes, a person will have something called extra-sensory perception aptitude, or ESPA. That means this person has the physical lobe which creates and manipulates electromagnetic waves, but it's dormant. For most cases, the lobe can be activated by surrounding the brain in a specially calibrated electromagnetic field that we like to call a stasis. However usually the lobe remains dormant forever. Scientists from all over the world are still researching around the clock to discover alternate methods of awakening this psychic apparatus. Sometimes even a person older then me will suddenly find themselves in the presence of psychic powers. This is usually too much strain for the brain to take, so that's why we make sure everyone knows whether or not they have ESPA or not early in life."

I couldn't help but take notes. Espers are so amazing. Mira walked over to one of the privates and held up the semi-circular device.

"These stasis devices are going to measure the electromagnet pulses originating from the center of your brain," Mira continued, "All you have to do is place it over the back of your head when I give you the go ahead."

I saw Mira glance at me as I feverishly scribbled. A pity she spoke so quickly.

"Don't worry guys, you don't have to know any of the scientific terms, you're not going to be quizzed over any of this. It's just some information officers are required to divulge whenever administering ESPA tests.

"Now, everyone can go ahead and place the instruments over your head, just like this."

As Mira spoke, she placed the object over her head, letting it rest on her ears. At once, an arsenal of lights on the back lit up a bright purple. Mira's eyes immediately glazed over.

"Don't worry, it doesn't hurt a bit." One of the psymen reassured us as we stared at Mira with wide eyes and open mouths.

Each light was probably color coded, I thought, and stood for a different ability. That was obvious enough to assume.

So, I found myself gently placing the device over my head, and felt oddly relaxed as it graced my ears with its light smooth surface. It was hard to keep a train of thought. Everything started mingling together, it was impossible to concentrate on any one object. I felt dizzy, like the room was moving around me, but I soon realized that I was the one swaying.

My concentration returned to me suddenly, as if the flood gates opened and conscious thought swept through the inside of my head. I looked around to see the other students in the same opiate-like daze.

One of Mira's soldiers had taken the device from me. My father was still standing by Mira, an alarmed expression on his face. He came over to me and put a hand on my shoulder. "One of your lights turned on. It was dim, but it was on. You're the only one." My father said as he leaned down next to me. It was sort of awkward, us being at school, and him being my teacher. But none of the other students were conscious, so I suppose I could save face easily enough.

"Perspective projection, as it's called today. Located in the LL-3 sector, It's the ability to place yourself in another person's mind and experience exactly what they're experiencing. It's probably active to some degree now." Mira's soldier spoke to my father.

I looked at Mira and thought there was no way she got all that information just from seeing which light turned on. She must have been using her own powers. As fascinating as that was, it didn't especially help the current situation.

"So, how long does Isaac have to live?" My father asked in return, annoyed by her lack of concern.

"There's no way to be sure. Maybe five years, maybe 50. It all depends on the person."

"So, what happens now?" I asked the room in general.

Mira wore a serious, almost stern, expression, but her voice was almost motherly. "If it's alright with you, Isaac, I'd like to take you to the Psy Academy for a closer look."

Thursday, February 7

Installment A

The dark brown soil was soft under my feet from today's rain. It was sort of annoying, but not quite annoying enough to keep me from sauntering down to the local bookstore, more out of habit than need or interest.

I walked through the front door and straight to the newspapers. The owner of the bookstore started peering over his paper at me, but quickly returned his gaze. It was a small bookstore, more of a book stand with walls. Three rows of books and magazines and a stack of newspapers were all it had to offer. I had just opened up the front page when I heard the salutations from a long known schoolmate.

“Hey, sup Isaac?” greeted Max, probably there to buy a text book for the first day of school later today.

“Nothing much,” I replied while still scanning the newspaper headlines.

I didn't really know Max that well, but he was the courteous type. It was natural for him to say hello to anyone he knew, especially after having been raised on the lunar colonies. I've noticed the colonists have an odd air of decadence and civility about them. It's almost reminiscent of chivalry, but more so a way of the land rather than a set manner of rules to follow.

“Why do you get a paper everyday?” Max was browsing through the shelves of books to my right as I read leaning against the wall. His ability to make small talk was impeccable for a 7th grader.

“It's my right as a citizen of the United States.” I knew he was aware.

“Yeah, that's true. But why? The only ones that actually read newspapers are grown ups, we're still into toilet humor.” Max continued.

“Did you know that back during the Roman golden years all of the citizens got a loaf of bread everyday just for being Roman citizens?” As I spoke, I threw Max the comics, as he had been eying them.

“No, I had no idea.” Max's interest became large enough to capture his gaze, but only briefly as he began scanning the comics.

“Well, it's the same thing right now here in America. We're enjoying ourselves with all our prosperity, so naturally the thing that most citizens sought after became the easiest to access. Back then it was food, today it's information. So I'm thinking, why not cash in on it?”

“Well, I would, but I hate reading newspapers.” Max had shown his fading interest by returning to the book shelf.

“Like the Russians say 'Every man has his own way of eating yogurt.' I think some of the articles are interesting.”

An article caught my eye about the new testing procedure being used to distinguish espers, but soon found myself once again preoccupied in small talk.

Max had found the book he was looking for, and started towards the front counter before turning to me to ask, “Isn't today suppose to be a rain day? Or did it get canceled like last time?”

“How should I know that?”

Max's face showed little sign of annoyance as he politely pointed toward my newspaper.

“Oh, sorry.” Max gave me a small affirming nod to continue. “Well, it doesn't say anything in here about it being canceled, but the forecast doesn't' say anything about today being a rain day, which is especially odd because I'm positive that just yesterday it said it was suppose to be.”

“Yeah, Mom told me it was going to be, but I suppose not. Maybe they're having some troubles down at the plant.”

“Troubles at the plant? You boys think the weather plant makes the weather?” the owner of the bookstore butted in from above his newspaper as he sat behind the front counter, “I'll tell you both this, the weather plant doesn't make the weather, that's the planet's job. It just manipulates it to make it more convenient. You know, when I was your age, manipulating the weather was illegal.”

“So was reading a newspaper, or owning a bookstore.” the owner gave me a look of sheer frustration as I spoke.

“I was just saying that's how it was, I never said I agreed with the laws.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Max and I decided to share thoughts over a sandwich and a chocolate malt for lunch, then we could hurry off to school together. Our slow talking walk became a sprint as we rushed to the nearest shelter, completely surprised by the sudden downpour of rain. We were both shivering as we stood dripping wet in the door of Max's parents' teahouse. It was the first time in our lives that we hadn't known the rain was coming.

Max was a bit shorter than me, so the shirt I borrowed from him left a rather embarrassing naval gap, his pants were fine though. I was just happy to be in something dry, after my terrorizing experience with an unscheduled rain. I munched away happily at my bacon and lettuce sandwich and chips while enjoying a frosty refreshing glass of strawberry shake. It was delectable. Max's mother, with that same colonist politeness, called my foster father to expound on the recent events that took place. He showed up, not but five minutes later, holding a set of clean clothes, and my school backpack. My foster father, Amman Erlenmeyer, insisted that Max's parents receive reparations for their hospitality, but naturally Max's parents wouldn't hear a word of it. So, Amman insisted that he take Max and me to school, seeing as he would be going there regardless, being our teacher. Max's parents complied and soon enough the three of us were on our way to the car.

Just as we were leaving the front door, Max's mother hurried up to offer Amman a plastic bag of unknown contents. Amman peered in, then with a surprised expression pulled out a damp shirt littered with thick black blotches of ink.

“Care to explain this one, Isaac?”

There was nothing to explain, really. “I was holding a newspaper when it started raining.”

“You didn't just throw the newspaper down, did you? I shouldn't have to tell you about the consequences for littering, and the police won't care how surprised you might have been.”

“Don't worry, I kept the paper all the way to Max's teahouse, his parents threw it away.”

“It's true.” Max offered.

“Teahouse? You mean restaurant, or maybe diner.”

“Nope, we call it a teahouse,” Max's voice was somewhat adamant, which was odd considering his usually docile nature.

“Well, when I was a kid it was called a burger joint.”

An odd feeling was festering in the pit of my stomach. I had been attending the same school for the past 7 years, but now, finally, I was going to be taught by the man that raised me. Today was the first day of 7th grade. My father split off from Max and me as he went off to see the registrar for something. There was still a good quarter of an hour before 1 o'clock rolled around and classes started, so we just waited in my father's classroom patiently. I hate having to be patient.

“So what's it like to be in space?” I found myself asking Max. Somehow, I've always wanted to ask him that, but never felt like I really knew him until today.

“You'd think I get that question a lot. Not a lot of colonists move to small towns like this one. But actually you're the third person to ever ask me that.”

“Well, this may be a small town, but half the people here have at least traveled to space before.”

“You never have?” Max seemed pleasantly surprised.

“I've never been to an airport in my life.”

“Well, space really isn't as captivating as you think it would be. It's different, and that kind of makes it exciting, but when you're born and raised there it's just boring. For the kids that lived in my colony, we always thought living here on Earth would be interesting. I guess it's just a matter of where you're raised.”

“That makes sense.” I had already imagined he would think something like that, of course it was boring if you've grown up there. “So what's it like on the moon?” Please don't say boring.

“Well, it's pretty boring. From what I understand, it's nothing like it was 100 years ago when the first settlers came in and started digging out colonies. I don't know too much about the surface, but the colonies are just like little pieces of earth. We have sun lamps all over the top, or the roof, we grow crops, we have streams of water, we even had wind and rain. The only real difference is the gravity, and the fact that you're living in basically a huge cave sometimes creeps up on you.”

“Oh wow, streams? Really? That must be one big cave.”

A woman's voice rang in to add her two cents to the conversation.

“Yep, and plenty of them. The moon has come a long way in the past 100 years.” said the mysterious middle-aged women from behind me. She was just walking in along side my father holding a brief case in one hand and a stack of papers in the other.

“Hello, my names Mira. I was one of the first settlers on the moon.”