Extra Perceptory

Updated every Thursday.

Thursday, November 20

Installment R

I remember this feeling, all too well. I remember it.

It's like trying to forget how to ride a bicycle, no matter what happens, I'll always remember what it's like. My nose crept upwards and downwards as I slowly raised and lowed myself from the ground. My arms were tired, and even the lowered gravity took it's toll on my bones.

So young, but so fragile.

"Hey there, you still aren't in bed? Tomorrow you're in charge of running the combine while I go spread the chicken shit around on the soy beans." Max told me in passing. He had just gotten back to the house after two hours full of doing inventory. I would rather pull a full grown tree out of the soil with nothing but my bare hands than have to take inventory of all of our God forsaken animals. Even the cows won't keep still.

"Chicken fertilizer? On soy beans?" I responded intuitively. "That's no good, Max."

"Well, I know what you're thinking, Isaac, but that's all we have left." Max responded with a tone of thick desperation.

"Wait two weeks and we'll have wheel barrels full of cow fertilizer."

"I know that, Isaac. But the cow fertilizer is already going to be spread on the wheat fields. Cow fertilizer works best with grains, not beans."

"But we've already planted the beans, we have to use fertilizer. With the wheat fields we haven't planted yet. We can finally get rid of the sick old cottonwood by field five's gate, then burn it up and spread the ash over the wheat's soil. Then we can keep the cow fertilizer for the beans, even if they aren't grains, they need it."

Max gave a nod, I couldn't distinguish whether it was in agreement or out of fatigue.

"That's a good plan, Isaac, but you know as well as I do that neither of us has any time to chop up that old cottonwood by field five. Are you expecting Atti to do it? Cause I won't let that boy miss a single day of school, so help me God."

"I figure, the tree's sick as hell anyway. It shouldn't take too much to get it down, and choppn' it up will be even easier. I'll take the flat bed down there tomorrow morning after I've fed the cows, it won't take me past lunch time to get it down and into pieces."

"Well, alright then. I suppose you know what you're doing." Max said as he passed through the sheet draped over the door hole separating his room from mine. I immediately went back to doing push-ups. That's all I could do. Even while I spoke with Max, I could feel the pain in my muscles. Why does my body do this to me? I'm fine without my powers, I can live a happy man without being able to enter another's conscious mind, but the pains that consume my body whenever my powers are gone are too much for any man to take. I'm lucky to live on a farm, there's always some backbreaking work to do somewhere to take my mind off of my body.

After a few dozen more push-ups I decide now would be a good time for rest. My body will surely ache even worse in the morning, but doing push-ups all night is a poor substitute for sleep. As I try to doze off my mind wonders. That's a good thing to have back. Mira practically beat it out of me with all that meditation and training, but here I am again, laying in bed thinking about all kinds of stuff. Everything gets a turn as I mule over one thought to another and so on and so forth.

Such a strange lady, fate. Max and Isaac, childhood friends and also friendly farmers.

It's been almost a year since I last left Earth.

Good riddance, if you ask me.


The next morning was bright . . . too bright. I was still tired from last night. I spent all my time thinking and none of it sleeping. Perhaps a wondering mind isn't such pleasant company after all. Just like I told Max last night, I throw on my denim leggings over my pants and grabbed a t-shirt from my closet. A piece of bread and some jelly are my only breakfast as I walk towards the farm to grab the meal to feed the cows. While in the farm I tilt a barrel of hay into the adjacent pasture for the horses to chew on.

A half an hour later the cows are fed and watered, and a steel axe is in my hands, ready to take down the cottonwood, stroke by stroke. My aching muscles give out a particularly sharp ripple of pain throughout my abdomen, and I drop the axe momentarily. This is little more than a cough or a hiccup these days. It isn't long before my arms are swinging through the air, slamming the axe against the tree trunk.

For as much work as I was doing, I might as well have been using a bat. The bark gave out like it was made of paper, but the split in the wood where my axe was hammering is barely two or three inches in. I brought an electric chainsaw, but it didn't fair well either.

Just as I decide to switch back to the axe, a huge van rolls up to me. I haven't seen anyone besides Max or Atticus in days.

I see a women climb out of the passenger seat, she's wearing a full psymen uniform, which disturbs me. Not because she's a psyman, that's perfectly fine. It's the fact that her uniform isn't that of a recruiter, nor is it the dress uniform. It's tight, and full body. Her gun is holstered at her waist, and her helmet is on and buckled down to her neck piece. She's ready for battle, and psymen don't joke around when it comes time to fight. I stumble anxiously and almost drop the axe from my hands. My stomach gives out a low growl of insecurity as I see her walk towards me. She raises her visor just enough to let me see her mouth.

"Get in the back of the van, sir." Her voice is not young. I'm not talking to a new recruit. This is a psyman who's seen battles, lost friends, and came out alive just to prove she could, I could tell. So, naturally, I listen to every word she has to say.

"Sure thing," I say, "just let me grab the keys out of the flat bed and I'll be right with yo-"

"Now! Get in the truck, now!"

If I was alarmed before, there wasn't a word for what I felt now. My stomach turned as I jogged toward the van. I climbed in the back hurridly, bumping my head into the door as the psyman swong it open for me. I barely even felt the pain, there was so much on my mind. Too many worries to worry about and only one of me to soak them all up. The Van only had three people in it, all of them were farmers from the local area. The van was more of a truck than anything. Two long benches sat parrallel on either side, two round bumps on the floor marked where the back tires were. I gave a few quick sniffs to see if there was the smell of blood in the air, but I couldn't find it. That was good news, but it would take so much more than that to quell the relentless torrents of worries spinning through my head.

My head suddenly had a sharp pain run through the middle of it. I put a hand on the pain and pressed. It was just from when I bumped my head on the door, not a big deal. I suppose I should be worrying about my self, too.

"You're the one who owns the acres over by Silvia road, huh?" One of the other farmer's wives asked me. I have no idea why, but lunar colonists are always so pleasant, but this was hardly a time for pleasantries.

"Yep. We grow all kids of stuff. From wheat to yams. You?" I played along.

"We don't have a farm, we have an orchard. I'm sure you've at least drove by our place, it's just a few kilometers up the road."

"Yeah, the place with the strawberry patches and orange trees, you guys must be busy as hell this time of year."

"We don't lift a finger!" the farmer proceeded to let out a short burst of laughter, "We hire them school kids. They pick all the fruits for us, we give them some fruit every day to bring home. You know the newspapers are always sayin' 'everybody's got to do their part.'"

You fat useless son of a . . .

"Really? And that's okay with the childrens' parents? I mean, shouldn't those kids be in school during the day?"

"How would I know that? Not like I go home and visit 'em. And my farm is like a school of it's own, it teaches these kids how to pick fruit. That's a necessary life skill if any of 'em wanna grow fruits."

As much as I hate this guy, there are more important things to consider right now.

"So, what's all this noise about? Do you know?"

They probably don't know anything

"We don't know nothing." The women responded.

The third farmer was yonger, but he just sat at the end of the bench, quiet.

"Do you know anything?" I turned my head towards him.

"The Russians sent half a battallion in here. We're on the bussiness end of the battle of Colony 18, and from what I saw, things aren't looking too good for our side."

The truck fell completely silent. I just leaned back on the bench and looked forward. Too much is happening all at once. I need something to drink. The across the bench from me just stared at him for awhile. Then he pulled out a little bottle from his back pants pocket, took a swig, then tossed it into the other guy's lap. He just looked at it for a few seconds, then took a few gulps, each one longer than the last. Than he took a look over at me and tossed it onto my lap. I raised up out of my slouched position, took what I thought was a normal sized gulp, and let the alcohol burn the back of my throat as it slid down.

Why did I want a drink? That didn't help anything.

The old farmer took a few more swigs and shoved it back in his pocket. His wife was crying silently.

I just shut my eyes for the rest of the trip.


"What the holy hell is going on?" It was Atticus's voice.

The truck picked up a handful more people and took us off to a little psymen base. We all got out of the van, and I heard Atticus's voice amoungst a crowd of students coming from the school.

"Atticus!" I called to him, but he didn't hear me, but another psymen, standing off to the side and helping civilians unload, turned her head. She made her way through the crowd and tapped on Atticus's shoulder, pointing him in my direction.

He ran like a bat out of hell directly into my arms. Max called out my name from behind me, but I didn't turn around to look. I was busy staring at the psyman who knew Atticus. I already had a good guess as to who she was, but I needed more than that. Max eventually caught up, and then the three of us, with Atticus in Max's arms, went to go talk to this psyman. As I made my approach she unbuckled her helmet from her suit and removed it. Her long light-brown hair was put up in the back, and clamped to the top of her head with a little pin.

"Sorry, Isaac. It's really nice to see you again, but I really don't have time to stop and chat." Lena said.

"I can see that." I replied.

"We'll catch up in a bit, though, don't worry. Just make sure you get put in block six, once you're in the barracks."

I did just as she said. Max, Atticus, and I all marched our way, slowly, to block six. From there on we sat quietly as the room became more and more crowded. One of the psymen outside shouted something about the first wave being on it's way. The next few seconds would determine how long this was going to take. If we get explosives shoved down our throats, they mean to siege us out, which could take months. If the first wave means the first offensive line of Russian psymen, then this will take no more than a few days, give or take a few depending on how strong the bunker we're in is.

In the next moment we all heard an explosion off in the distance, then the ground shook from a hard report. They meant to shell us out, probably because they think we don't have enough resources to carry on for too long, or because they have such a large amount of resources they don't care, or maybe both.

Everyone still in the halls were rushed to a room, and the doors slammed shut behind them. Two psymen were in the room with us, another shot went off in the distance, but they were getting closer now. A loud booming sound shook us and the lights flickered. Few of us were alone, many were crying, and everyone was quite. Even the air around us held still.

"Hey, Pink." Lena wispered in my ear, "So how've things been going for you?"

"What?" Was she seriously going to use this time as an opportunity for catching up?

"Tell me what all happened after the discharge."

"Don't you think this is a little inapproprate timing?" I could feel sweat forming on my forehead and hands.

"Nope. I know we'll be just fine." Lena smiled.

"Why's that, exactly?"

"Because you're here!" A voice rang out from behind Lena, a voice I knew all too well.

Both Jessica and Lena grabbed my arm to pull me off to the side.

At first the crowd was dead silent, but then mummers started breaking out. Later everyone started talking to each other as if nothings going on. I had no idea what's going on up there, but the shells had stopped hitting us. Lena, Jessica, Max, Atticus, and I all elected for a position closer to the corner. We all dropped down on the floor, as isolated as we could be a room full of people, but there was too much background noise from the crowd to be heard by anyone anyway.

"So tell us, Pink." Jessica persisted.

Atticus became upset, threatening Jessica that he would tan her hide if she insulted me like that again. Atticus had apparently forgot the days when Lena use to call me Pink, or maybe she never used that name in front of him, either way, Lena and Jessica both decided Isaac would be an appropriate alternative for the time being.

"It's a boring story, really." I told them.

"We have time, Isaac." Lena said sarcastically.

"Well, it all started once I got back to Earth. I was a steaming pile in everybody's eyes. Hobos would walk up to me and give me change." Everyone laughed. "I found that my father had suffered a stroke, and now he's in a deep coma. I mail the hospital every now and again to see if there are any updates on him. I decided there wasn't much for me back on Earth, and I was so use to lunar gravity that I decided I might as well come back. That's when I met Max and Atti for the second time each."

"Me and Isaac use to go to the same school when we were growing up." Max added.

"Yep. And It turns out I sat just two rows away from him on the volunteer shuddle to colony 18. I switched seats with the women next to him, and we put our heads together and decided we would become farmers. Originally Max wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to be a police officer, but we made a deal. And that was if either of us couldn't get the job we wanted, then we'd buy a few acers and start up a farm."

"So, that means one of you didn't get the job you wanted?" Jessica asked.

"Neither of us. They told me that all this colony needs is five police officers, and they already have seven."

"And they told me that all this colony needs is five teachers, and they already have eight." Max chuckled.

"Yep, so Max and I bought ourselves some land."

"With Atticus, of course." Max added again.

"That's right! When did you meet up with Atticus again? And where in the world is Sigmund?" Lena asked, leaning in with interest.

"Hey Atticus!" Max called, "looks like you could use a walk around the blocks!" It was a clever quip, surprisingly not lost on Atticus.

As we were speaking, Atticus apparently grew bored and found the nitch running along the wall very interesting. Max took him by the hand and they left to take a short walk.

"Sigmund is dead, we know that for sure, but no one really knows exactly what happened."

"What?" Lena cryed out.

"Well, I remember back on Earth how Sigmund was telling me he wanted to go to the moon, so apparently he decided he would try to sneak into the cargo hold of the same ship that I got on, the one headed for this colony. Sigmund made it past take-off, he was a very clever boy." A tear formed in my eye, and my voice began to quiver. "But the luggage shifted again when we landed, and Atticus was in the way of a heavy crate. Sigmund pushed Atticus out of the way, but . . . Well, no one really knows exactly what happened. We have a grave for Sigmund on our farm, Atticus like to give it food every supper."

The noise of the crowd turned to that of excitment. An old man got up and started telling exciting war stories from when he fought in the revolution. Everyone was hooting and hollaring, and laughing at jokes, or going on about their own conversations. Everyone but the young man and the two psymen in the corner. They were pale in the face, hugging each other as tears formed streams down their faces. Atticus saw them and let go of Max's hand. He ran twoards them and tried to console them, but it was all in vain. At this point, if they could not console each other, there wasn't anything in the universe that could.

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