"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."