August 12, 1970
A bird's eye view.
Below there is a park, full of people, on a hot summers day. Couples walking, people talking, children playing. Close in.
A small group. Five or six kids, in their early teens maybe, playing some game with a bat and a ball. It appears to be rounders. Close in again, on one girl in particular.
Blonde hair, grey eyes - piercing grey eyes. She swings the bat, and it connects with the ball which shoots off along the ground. A boy cries out at her to run. She starts to move and suddenly . . .
Near the centre of her brain, at the junction of two neural pathways, a change occurs. The two pathways fuse, and send out impulses, ones that are totally new to her body. Each of these strikes another junction which fuses in turn, sending out more impulses. A chain reaction. Neural paths connect all over her body. As her brain alters, her consciousness expands, and her entire life changes in an instant.
To the girl, it seems that as if her head is exploding. An incredible clamour of sound inside her head. A wild cacophony of sensations far beyond her experience assails her mind and body. Thousands upon thousands of thoughts, and fears, and pain, and joy, and sadness, and hope, and memories, none of them her own. And then the pain comes. Searing, terrible pain arching from one temple to another, shooting across the inside of her forehead behind her eyes. She tries to scream but her body has ceased to respond. Paralysed with fear, and pain, she tries to focus on something, anything. She sees one of her friends, a short distance off, and so far away, calling to her to run. She focuses on him, and that focus gives her a tiny surge of control, the merest instant of clarity.
And she screams! Her hands fly to her temples as her legs give way beneath her, as her body yields up control and collapses. Less than five seconds have passed from the time she struck the ball. And still she screams! Her friends? Visions of them near her, of people looking at her with fear on their faces. Other kids, whom she thinks she knows but she can't remember. She can see their fear, and she can feel it too. A man leans over her, pushing the kids away. He looks worried, afraid. A woman in white, almost luminous white, leans down next and tries to soothe her head with a cloth, but the pain continues, and so does the screaming, and the worry in the woman's eyes turns to fear, and then to terror.
Then, from amongst all the sounds and thoughts, and memories in her head comes one overriding thought. She feels it come, and she knows it comes from outside her body. But unlike the other sensations crushing her, this one is . . . controlled, and coherent. Not calm. It sounds panicked, as if it has no better idea than she does of what is going on. But it is strong, and steady, and somehow she trusts it, the only thought she trusts in a mind, and a body, that has gone suddenly crazy.
*Relax. Calm down. Give in and sleep. You'll be all right. Just let it go, just sleep.*
She fights on, for a moment, and then surrenders to the pain. The pain eases, and she can hear the dim sound of an ambulance approaching . . .
A dark haired boy, maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, rises from a chair, and attempts to rub from his trousers the lemonade he had been drinking, the glass he had spilled when the screaming entered his head. After a moment, he appears to realise the futility of his effort, and resigns himself to wet trousers.
He grabs a towel from next to the kitchen sink and uses it to wipe up the sticky mess on the floor. He casts his eyes around, and sees what he is looking for on another chair. He picks up the book, a large reference work of some kind, and turns to the back. After a second he flicks to a page. He sits back in the chair and commences reading. Very quickly.