The world is so new. Information is constantly pouring in every time I open my eyes. The colours are so bright and there are so many noises and all the thoughts buzz around in my head. I get a headache when I try to take it all in at once because there's so much I have to learn in a short space of time. I can't see what isn't right in front of my face. My vision is all blurry. I can't get closer to things yet, I'm not strong enough to move my legs or even sit up. I can't answer the voices when they talk to me, my voice just comes out a cry. They don't respond when I talk to them in the other way, they can't hear me. My body is so limited. All I can do is eat and sleep. I'm so fragile, the slightest thing goes wrong and it could end my life. I've found fixes, ways round all of this...
"Mom. Mom! The baby's in the bathtub!"
"What? Don't put him in there! Leave your little brother alone!"
"He got in by himself! Was there one moment, then PING! He wasn't there, and then he was in the bathtub!"
"Have you been telling those stupid stories again? I warned you about that!"
"But its true!"
"I don't believe for one moment that the baby can teleport. Or that it can read your mind. You mustn't tell everyone these stories! They're starting to talk, you know. They're starting to blame it all on us. The weird noises. The animals suddenly going strange and attacking people. The lights in the sky at night. The disappearances."
"What? How can that be our fault?"
"How can the baby teleport?"
"That's got nothing to do with it!"
"People think it does. They see the only other unusual thing in the town and they put two and two together. I've heard people whisper that the other weird things will stop if we just leave town. It doesn't do to be spreading these stories right now, Tom. You just want to live a normal life with your friends and your mom and dad, right?"
"That makes me think you're scared." replied Tom, folding his arms and sulking, "I think you've seen it too. You must have. It happens all the time in this house. You're just too scared to say anything."
"That's enough! Don't you talk back at your mother like that! One more word on the subject and you won't get any supper!" Her tone was angry. Angry enough that her son believed she really meant it. He was hungry, so he dropped the subject, "And put the baby back in its crib before it hurts itself!"
I was already back in the crib. I heard their thoughts. My mother was thinking:
Odd things really are happening in this house, though. Odd things are happening everywhere these days. I wonder if they really are related? I hope nothing bad happens to us as a result!
My brother was thinking:
I hate being called a liar. One day my brother will grow up and be able to talk, then nobody will be able to just ignore his special powers. I'll be able to say "I told you so!". I wish I had special powers. Damn it, where did that baby go now?
I can hear other thoughts too. My sister at school, the other townspeople, the crows on the roof and in the trees who have been unusually violent lately. I can't always tell where the thoughts come from. Sometimes I pick thoughts up from a long way away, some of them don't quite feel like an animal or a person. Some of them aren't really in this world at all.
I still need to sleep a lot, I'm so exhausted from just being alive. When I sleep, I can go to the other worlds. I can do more in those worlds than this one because it depends more on what your mind can do than what your body can do. However, I won't know what to populate my world with until I finish learning everything. I talk to the woman called 'Queen Mary'. Her mind works properly, like mine, so we can talk properly. She's very sad and lonely. I don't think she gets many visitors. She is teaching me how to make a proper world like hers.
"Please don't wake up. Please be quiet. C'mon, we need to move. We need to get away..."
I hate being woken up. I start crying out in distress before I can try and control myself. I can hear all the loud, chaotic thoughts all around me. Everyone is terrified. They are all running from something. They keep suddenly shutting off, disappearing. Suddenly I start to hear all the other minds too. The confusing minds that I can't read. Some of them work properly. One is particularly strong.
"Shush! Its okay. Don't cry. Or teleport. Your big brother will look after you. We're going to hide. They're taking the adults away..."
The strong mind draws ever closer. It is hunting for us, like an animal, except it is quicker and more intelligent than any animal. It scares me. I try and hide my mind from it. It notices what I'm doing. I feel it probing my mind. At first it is curious – it hasn't found any other human minds that work properly – but then it becomes insistent. It is trying to control me. I ignore its insistent urging, even thought it is even more difficult to resist doing what it wants than it is to ignore the urge to cry and wet myself.
I see its face in my mind. We stare each other straight in the eyes. It has narrow eyes, like a cat's. Suddenly, I understand what it wants. I resist it. I haven't used my power in this way before but it comes instinctively to me. I place a shield over myself, my brother and the other children. I think about being safe, about being in my mother's arms or deeply asleep, sheltered in Queen Mary's caste, in a world of our own. A world where nobody can find us. I feel the enemy growing angry, its mind battering against my shield. My defences hold. The enemy grows frustrated. It lopes off somewhere else.
I wish I had woken up in time to save the adults.
I am alone again. The adults haven't come back. My brother and sister are looking after me now. It has been a long time. None of us are quite sure how to survive on our own. We all wish the adults would come back. I help them by working out ways to help myself. I can keep myself alive with my mind. At first I need to stay awake to keep a shield around them in case the enemy comes back. After a while, it becomes apparent that the enemy isn't interested in us any more, so I spend most of my time asleep. Being alive is easier when I'm asleep. Queen Mary comes to visit me. She says there is something important she needs to explain to me. A visitor is about to arrive in the town and I need to teach them how to teleport. His name is Ninten. I ask how I am going to talk to him. She says that these people are different, like me. I am excited by the prospect of meeting people like me.
I try and talk to her about the enemy, about how I heard its mind and looked into its eyes, but for some reason it makes her sad and she doesn't want to talk to me any more. I can't get back into her dream. I return to my own dream. I'm better at shaping it these days.
"So this is little Raynor Garrickson." said the young man in the labcoat, "Just looks like a kid to me."
"You're not psychic." said the young woman who sat next to the sleeping infant, gently stroking his hair, "And if you were, just scanning the kid would give you a migraine. That kid was a fully developed telepath and could teleport when it was a baby."
"That's impossible! Babies don't even have coherent thought patterns!"
"Its possible that a baby with powerful extra-sensory abilities could use them to learn at a faster rate. He would have developed much more complex thought processes at a much earlier age."
"So he's also hyper-intelligent?" he squinted and stared at the sleeping infant, "I can't just take your word for it on something this incredulous. I want a demonstration."
"The child's not a lab experiment, Loid." she replied, "You've seen the readings from the machines. There's far too much activity going on there for a small child and almost all of it matches the wave patterns for psychic activity. He's asleep and I'm not waking him up."
"He's been asleep for the past thirteen hours. Five-year-olds don't sleep that much."
"Yes, that's become a bit of a problem." she admitted, "The child seems to have developed a sleep disorder. My theory is that its caused by trauma due to the Youngtown incident and the strain on his underdeveloped ego from dealing with powers that humans aren't supposed to have to deal with."
"It must be hard for the kid." said the man, "You and Ninten are the most powerful psychics in recorded history and this kid was teaching you new tricks when he was a baby. His powers are off the scale. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a match for Giegue. He's not exactly going to be able to lead a normal life."
"This is why I'm watching him closely." said Ana.
"Is there a chance he'll go out of control?"
"And that's why I'm not allowing any of you to wake him up. What would be the first thing you would do if you were a hyper-intelligent psychic toddler and some idiot in a labcoat woke you from a nice dream and started poking you with medical instruments?"
"Make things explode with my brain." admitted Loid, "But what if he's not having a nice dream? And what if he doesn't wake up this time?"
Just then, the child's eyes flickered open. They were bright blue, full of intelligence tempered by innocence.
"...Ness?" he asked curiously. Then he yawned, turned over and went back to sleep.