Part 14A: I learn some mind tricks.

It’s been two days, the Me told me, speaking into my head. I’d become more accustomed to her using telepathy on me, and I liked it. It was better than talking – especially for some things. As she said this, I got in my mind a flicker of days moving on a digital calendar, and the sun rising and setting quickly like in a sped-up movie, and also a feeling of time passing.

I tried to talk back that way: I know. And I don’t think we’re very close to those towers. I tried, as I thought it, to send pictures of the towers we were trying to get to, the once that Fuzzy Bird had pulled us from in his mad dash to freedom, the one that nearly every Valkyrie in the world had poured out of trying to get to us.

The Me went back to one of the two things we’d discussed, really, for those two days: Shouldn’t they be out looking for us?

I looked up at the canopy of trees above us. Way above us. Way way above us. I still couldn’t believe we’d lived through the fall. Then again, Naked Girl had lived through a similar fall. So I couldn’t be killed? Or I could, but not by falling?

Maybe not by anything, the Me said.

I stopped walking and turned around. “I forgot you can see my thoughts.”

Only if you want me to, she said. Only when you let me.

She’d said that was how it worked, that first night when we’d made love after falling through the trees and narrowly surviving. After we’d been laying there for a while, sweaty and exhausted and frightened and exhilarated (and, for myself, a little weirded out that I’d been having sex with myself, essentially, although not like that) the Me had asked about the weird blank space that she’d seen in my mind.

She’d been careful to explain that she wasn’t reading my mind. Apparently, that could be done, at least here in Valhalla, but nobody tried to do it because it was a horrible invasion of privacy.

“We just automatically make sure that we don’t look at what people are thinking, and you grow up learning how to control it, to have your mind open or closed or kind of screened off, or however you want it. As you get better at it, you can have it open to certain people and not to others, and like that.”

I hadn’t been able to figure it out. She’d worked with me over the past two days, little exercises like the Valkyries had taught her. I’d gotten frustrated with one, once, and balled up my fists.

God, I’ll never get it, I thought, and she’d patted my arm, then held her hand there.

It takes years and years and years, she’d said. When Valkyries, or Clones, or Horses, are little, they broadcast everything. Or nothing. It’s just like learning to talk.

As we’d been walking through the forest, eating fruit off some bushes that the Me found for us and drinking water here and there from streams or pools, she’d continued drilling me on telepathy while trying to talk me through the blankness, too, and she started up on that now, also:

We can practice some more, she thought, and images of us practicing before flashed into my head, too, along with, this time, some music.

“How’d you do that?” I asked, forgetting to try to think it.

The music? She asked me back.

I concentrated: Yes, I thought at her, and tried to replay it in my mind for her.

I heard it, as I thought to you. But I heard it in your thoughts, not mine. I didn’t think it to you, she said.

I opened my eyes and looked around.

Then who did? I carefully thought at her, the skin on my neck prickling. Two days, I thought, and got sad. For two wonderful days the Me and I had walked through this peaceful woods and nobody had shot me or kidnapped me or dropped me off something or tried to grab me with tentacles and demons and I’d thought very little, during that time, of all the rest of the troubles – I hadn’t thought much of Brigitte’s betrayal and of Mr Damned Soul and all the rest.

I had sometimes thought about Doc and felt bad, but the Me had been a great companion and kept me from feeling too lonely. I tried, those times I thought about Doc, to remember that he wasn’t alive. It would be like missing a Read-Or unit or a dirigible. Except that dirigibles didn’t keep people company when they were walking from New York to…

I closed that thought off. I concentrated on the music and hoped that it wasn’t the start of new troubles. Valhalla had been like a vacation, almost, if you didn’t count the exploding left hand and the dropping out of the sky and the whole being-grabbed-by-Fuzzy-Bird thing. I didn’t want, I desperately didn’t want, there to be new trouble.

Relax your mind, the Me said. I felt her hand take mine and squeeze it. We were facing each other in a little clearing in the forest, the trees around us stretching nearly a mile up, I figured, but their branches allowing a tiny opening at the top that created a 20-foot-wide splash of sunlight for us at the bottom, warm and yellow and calm. There were ferns and a fruit bush near us and not far away I could hear a stream, the stream we’d been sticking close to as we’d walked back to the towers.

Relax, the Me sent me again. I’d tensed up when I’d thought about the Valkyries towers. Where were they?

Relax, the Me sent me again.

I relaxed. Or tried to. I let my shoulders loosen and my mind focus on the one thing that almost always worked: sex. I pictured the Me holding me. I pictured her letting go of my hand and moving a step closer to me, until we were almost chest-to-chest and hip-to-hip. I pictured her, then, shrugging her shoulders in that way she… I… had, and I pictured her doing that and pulling her shirt off, the little light cotton-y thing that barely covered her breasts anyway and pulled up at her … my…waist, a little, to show just a little tummy. I pictured her standing there, bare-breasted in front of me and I felt myself relax. I pictured her, then, lifting up my shirt and pulling it over my head until I, too, was bare-chested and then I thought, as I relaxed, about her pulling me to her and me leaning into her and wrapping my arms around her…

Hey! I heard, felt, got whacked with a, shout in my mind. It was like getting slapped in the brain and I opened my eyes.

The Me was standing in front of me, her shirt off and her arms out and my arms were reaching out to her. She didn’t look sexy or nice or sweet, thought. She looked shocked, and angry.

What are you DOING? She yelled in my mind again, causing me to wince.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said.

Images flashed through my mind, though, and she looked exactly like the last of them.

You’re CONTROLLING me, the Me said.

She backed a few steps away from me.

“Don’t,” I said. “I didn’t…. I don’t… I was just trying to relax.”

She was about ten feet away now, at the edge of the clearing.

Nobody should control someone else’s mind, she said.

“I didn’t try to,” I protested. I took a step towards her.

She took a step back: Nobody’s ever been able to do that.

“I don’t know how I did it,” I said.

Don’t come any nearer, she said. I didn’t listen. I stepped closer to her and said:

“Don’t do this!”

She turned to run from me but before she could move an inch she screamed and was lifted into the air, flying up and up and up, still screaming, while I stood on the ground below her and felt helpless.

No comments: