I pulled out my key and unlocked my locker. Nothing appeared to be stolen or disturbed. I didn't want to show weakness by appearing suspicious, so I put my books in and closed it. Then lay on my bed with a piece of paper and a pen. I was going to write to Amman.
I felt their probes. They were trying to read my mind. All of them. They wanted to say "Look, I can do it too. You're nothing special." So this was their big plan? How infantile.
I concentrated on the piece of paper and what I was going to write Amman. That's when a psychic recoil hit me. It was swift, like an electric shock. A twisting sensation tingled down my spine. With no warning, my head began to ache. Someone, in this room, was trying to project themselves into my perception.
There was a problem this time, they were good. Very good.
Thank goodness for Mira's training. I took a deep breath and subsided the feeling. I decided to show off a little myself. I can't manipulate or control anyone with my psychic powers, but I can inject my own thoughts into their mind with psychic recoil. I shot out a tornado of recoil waves as they continued hammering at my psychic barrier. Either the person was extremely experienced, and was now in my mind. Or they were blocked out, suffering from a fierce headache.
Who the hell was that?
The original recoil I received told me the direction, all I had to do was slip, so I did.
After a few minutes of honing in on their position, I found it was one of the freshies, the one who had been lying on her bunk doing homework throughout the exchange I had with the older girl.
I dug deeper.
She hadn't plotted with the others to show me up. She wasn't trying to humiliate me; she just wanted to know more about me. So she thought she's do a little slip to see what I was thinking, and I pulverized her and left her with a cracked skull and splitting headache.
I'm an expert in empathy, but this is how I respond?
Feeling horrible, I rolled over and turned to look, she was lying on her bunk, just as before, but this time with a crumpled expression, sweat forming on her forehead. I rolled back. It was her fault for trying to slide into me in the first place. It was none of my concern that she was weak. Or at least, that's what I wanted to believe, but I couldn't help but feel sorry.
"Lena? What's wrong?" I heard from behind me. One of the other girls noticed.
"She's just homesick, probably starved for attention."
"No, really. Look at her. She's crying."
The girls gathered around her trying to find the cause of the problem. One suggested that she might be sick, another thought she needed a stasis.
The girl from before walked over to my bunk, I continued writing to Amman.
"It was you, wasn't it?" She accused me with a ringing tone of superiority echoing in her voice.
"No, I had nothing to do with it. It's her own fault, she just needs to calm down and relax her mind." I lied.
"Pfft. Yeah, okay. If it wasn't you, then how do you know so much about it? And if you knew, why didn't you help?"
"Well, I'm not exactly welcome here, you made that more then clear enough. Also, there's nothing I could do. It's something she has to deal with."
I was caught off guard as her hand slide across my face. The slap echoed through the room, leaving a large red make on my right cheek.
"Look Isaac, let me tell you-"
"No," I quickly cut her off, "You're the one who singled me out. You're the one who made sure I knew that no one cares about me. You're the one who was so vindictive, so stubborn, that you took it upon yourself to ridicule me and make me feel unwanted. Yet here you are criticizing me for not 'being part of the group.' For not rushing to help. And in all of your insight and objectivity you took the seeds of your own actions and manipulated them to make sure it's me who must be to blame. Well I didn't do anything. I might actually be able to help, but I'm sure you would be first to object. I realize I'm a male. I realize I'm Russian. You said yourself that just because of that, I'm not going to get any special treatment, but here you are bringing attention to me just because of my gender or ethnicity. You're a horrible person, leave me alone. I haven't done anything."
"How the hell are you to say why I singled you out? You're just a dumbass freshy-"
"Because," I interrupted again, "I know what you're thinking. I know exactly how you feel, as you feel it. And you're heaping to the brim with prejudice and sexism. You utterly despised me from the moment you saw me. That's a fact."
"You stay the hell out of my mind."
"You're completely right. You're the victim here. It was all my dastardly powers. Everyone's out to get you."
"So you come over to my bunk looking to fling groundless accusations at me, and I'm the one who needs to shut up?"
"I'm sorry, okay! But I'm not sexist!"
I jumped out of bed, ready to finish giving her a piece of my mind.
My mouth opened as if to start telling her off, but she just stood in front of me, her face in her hands. I watched as her bottom lip quivered.
I sat back down. With the softest voice I could muster I tried to calm her down. "Apology accepted. I didn't mean to explode like that. It's been a stressful day."
Another girl ran over to me. I just now realized that everyone had been watching.
"You said you might be able to help Lena, right?" She appeared to completely ignore the conflict between me and the older student. Meaning she must've been genuinely concerned, that caught my interest.
"Maybe, probably. Does she get headaches a lot?"
"Yeah, all the time, but never this bad."
Lena was staring at me from across the room. She had brown eyes and soft dirty blond hair. Most of the girls these days had short boyish hair-cuts, but Lena's hair was long, touching down to her shoulder blades. She was tall and skinny, but laid sideways on her bunk, weeping.
This is going to be pretty painful, but she's really cute.
"I'll see what I can do." I replied after a few moments pause.
All eyes were on me, as I walked across the room.
Why can't they just go back to their homework? Do any of them realize how hard what I'm donig is? Well, I suppose they don't even know what I'm doing.
I sat down on Lena's bunk, she turned and stared at me with wide eyes and an apprehensive look.
"You're a liar." She said.
"Why is that?" I asked calmly as I cleared my mind and focused my thoughts.
"Because you said you had nothing to do with my headache, but I got it from trying to project myself into you." She answered with an exhausted tone.
"Indeed. All I did was write a letter to my father. I felt someone pressuring themselves against my mental wall, so I shoved them off. I never sent any recoil, or used any psychic dampening. You have to be careful when it comes to entering another psychic's mind. You never know how much experience they have with protecting themselves." Here I am, lying to make Lena happy. What a horrible person.
"You just said you did a projection into Ashley's mind."
"I try not to. Bits and pieces find their way into my mind sometimes. There's nothing I can do to stop it." That was also a downright lie, but 'Ashley' was watching. I had to put on an act for her, although I doubt I can stop a grudge from forming.
Well, I can call myself appalling as much as I want later, but I can't forget the task at hand.
"Do you ever get headaches?" Lena began for me.
"Not anymore, I use to have horrible migraines. Sometimes several times a day."
"How did you stop it?"
"Simple. It'll take a lot of practice, but there's something called psychic meditation. It helps."
"How do I?" Lena still cringed as she spoke. Her throbbing head was obviously to the point of bursting. This was going to be hell on Earth.
"I can't teach it to you when you're in this much pain. Can I get permission to enter your mind?"
"If it will help, sure."
"Don't think about anything you wouldn't want me to know."
I let all of my mental restrictions go, focusing all of my attention on Lena. I saw myself sitting cross-legged across the bed from her. My eyes were closed, my face was neutral. My uniform looked great on me. That was good, I wanted to look cool.
I was barely scratching the surface of Lena's mind, but this was a good place to start. My chest slowly began to raise and lower as I started taking long deep breaths. I imagined sending the message to my lungs to slowly raise, then slowly lower. With enough focus and patience, the recoil from my thoughts started hitting Lena. I noticed her chest eventually follow suit. I can't manipulate anyone or take control of their minds, but I can try to show them what to do. Creating psychic recoil that actually carries a message in it is difficult, and if I send too much I'll only worsen the ailment I'm trying to cure. Finally, my recoil got the rest of the way through. Lena and I were now completely in phase with one another. Her breath was an exact mirror of my own.
I jumped into her head all the way now. The pain was intense, but nothing I hadn't felt before. I saw my face crumple up as the splitting agony hit my nerves. Sending the mental recoil now was a breeze. I focused hard on thinking of absolutely nothing, save breathing. My mind was completely clear and Lena soon followed suit. The pain gradually subsided, and Lena's thoughts returned.
I couldn't help but catch a few wisps of information before I pulled out of her consciousness.
Darn, she has a boyfriend.
I opened my eyes to see Lena staring back, awestruck.
"That was amazing!" She praised.
"No problem." I said softly. I guess I just didn't want to admit it to myself, but I had a huge crush on Lena. It was discouraging to know that she already had someone, but that's life.
I got up, and went back to my bunk, mentally exhausted and deeply depressed.
"Wait!" Lena ran after me and stood by my bed. She played with her thumbs as she spoke. "My name's Lena Hunther, I'm 13, thanks for everything."
Hunther? Mira's granddaughter? Her?
Everyone else chimed in, without missing a beat.
"I'm Ashley Gates, 16. Sorry for earlier."
"I'm Nicolette Muller, 13. Me and Lena have been friends since we were babies."
"I'm Claire May, 16. Nice to see a guy who can pull his weight around here."
One by one the introductions continued, then came a hodgepodge of personal inquires. A dozen names, each with a dozen questions, and one mentally exhausted me.
The girls pulled me from my bunk out to the huddled pile of mattresses in the center of the room.
"How did a Russian boy end up in America?" Someone asked.
"Long story, it doesn't really matter." I replied, drained.
"Do you know any Russian?"
"How did you learn how to do that?" Lena asked.
"Just something I picked up." I'll tell her that story another time.
"What all kinds of powers do you have?"
"Only one that I'm good at."
I fought so hard to gain their respect, but now that I had it I became uninterested and distant. Preteen politics are a glorious thing.
"Who were you writing to?" Ashley asked.
"Is he Russian too?"
"Nope, I was adopted."
"Really? Cool! How old were you?"
I looked at the faces around me and saw the intensity, the interest, "Well, actually I don't remember much, but somewhere near Warsaw, when my father was studying abroad..."
Well, I guess I have the energy for a story or two. . .maybe three.